Archive for June, 2008

Giving in to terrorism

Selective sympathy trumps

common sense

By Ralph Dobrin

Author of “How to Avoid Armageddon”

To order the book click: www.amazon.com  type: how to avoid Armageddon

I bet that not one in ten thousand people in Israel remembers Eyal Benin, Shani Turgeman or Vasim Nazal. They were also caught in the July 12, 2006 Hizbollah ambush that led to the fatal abduction of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. No one remembers Eyal, Shani or Vasim – except their families, friends and army comrades because, well … they were simply killed in that ambush. Also another five conscripts were killed in the tank that tried to give chase to the kidnapping assassins. Their names are never mentioned either. The families of Gadi Musiev, Alex Kushnirski, Yaniv Bar-On, Nimrod Cohen and Shlomo Yirmiyahu grieve alone. Another 114 Israeli soldiers were killed in the war that followed. The public doesn’t remember them either.

And that’s life. You just can’t keep thinking about so many lives so tragically snuffed out. In the same way the general Israeli public knows very few of the names of the tens of thousands of soldiers who have died in Israel’s many other battles, most of them while actively trying to defend the nation.

Most bereaved families try to get on with their daily routines after their loss. For many the grief lasts for the rest of their lives. They grieve anonymously and that’s probably the way they want it. In some cases, for a day or two television and radio crews interview them and then they are forgotten.

But Israeli combatants captured by terrorist forces elicit far more media coverage. Their plight sounds absolutely nightmarish. Their families spend years of uncertainty, wondering endlessly whether their sons, fathers, brothers are even alive and if so, how badly have they been wounded? How are they being treated? How are they bearing up under the strain of incarceration at the hands of some of the nastiest people on earth? It’s natural for the public to feel enduring sympathy for the families and for the captured soldiers themselves. The media and the politicians nurture that sympathy by giving the subject of one hapless young man in Gazan captivity, Gilad Schalit and two mutilated bodies somewhere in Lebanon, an enormous amount of attention. Thus, for the newspapers and television channels there are more rating points to be gained, while the politicians have yet another subject that helps them obscure the perennial issues of unsolved national importance, which they are supposed to be handling.

So one can understand the media and the politicians for dealing so intensely with the subject. And one can certainly understand the families of these young men. They are simply doing what must be natural in such freak circumstances – they are trying to move heaven and earth to get their sons, husbands and brothers home again – in one piece or in a body bag – and everything else be damned.

THE NEED FOR SOBER ASSESSMENT
However, the situation demands suspension of emotion and a deadly sober assessment on the part of the political and military leaders, and the public should be lending them their support. A major consideration should be the fact that negotiations with terrorists gives them legitimacy in their murderous efforts, and encouragement to keep repeating their evil. By offering them any agreement gives them complete victory and opens the way for the next kidnapping.

Releasing hundreds of prisoners (sometimes even thousands) leads to many of them returning to their careers of terror and the murder of yet more innocent people. This has been the case over and over again. It’s particularly self-defeating when imprisoned terrorists are freed in return for the bodies of two or three soldiers. When it comes to the release of a live captured soldier, former Israel Army Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon, one of the few public figures to speak out against making a deal with the Hizbollah, said: “In some situations, the price to pay as part of the deal is much heavier than the price of losing the captive soldier.”

Soon after the Six Day War Arab terror groups began making attempts at kidnapping and hostage-taking of Israelis. At first, the policy of Israeli governments was total refusal to negotiate with the terrorists. A crack army unit would immediately be despatched to engage the terrorists, who were usually killed, sometimes with collateral death of a number of their hostages.

The first time an Israeli government agreed to negotiate with terrorists was in July 1968 (exactly 40 years ago) following the hijacking of an El Al airliner by members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. A plane flying from Italy to Israel was hijacked and forced to land in Algeria. The hijackers demanded the release of 1,200 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons. Under the cirumstances Israel was powerless to do anything but agree to negotiations. The Algerian authorities managed to achieve the release of all the passengers and Israel freed 16 Palestinian prisoners.

This incident was followed by numerous hijackings and kidnappings with the intention of gaining world attention and releasing prisoners from Israeli jails. The most spectacular outrage was during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich when eleven Israeli athletes and trainers and one German police officer were killed, during a botched German attempt to free the hostages.

There were also a number of truly heroic rescue operations by Israeli armed forces, the most incredible was the Entebbe rescue in 1976.

Subsequent Israeli governments swore never to submit to terrorists’ demands, but this resolve crumbled in 1985 when Israel swapped more than 1100 Palestinian terrorists for three of its soldiers, who had been captured by Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. In 2004, Israel released over 430 Arab and Palestinian prisoners and terrorists in exchange for the bodies of three of its soldiers and a retired army colonel-turned gambler and drug dealer who had previously been ensnared by the Hizbollah.

Now coincidentally, poignantly close to the 30th anniversary of Israel’s most famous rescue mission – the raid on Entebbe in Uganda – Israel is closing a deal with the Hizbolla on the release of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. In the light of previous prisoner exchanges, negotiations (through a third party) might seem warranted. Hizbolla’s demands seem quite reasonable by Arab terror groups’ standards – in the return for the bodies of Regev and Goldwasser, Israel agrees to release five Lebanese prisoners. The trouble is that one of these people is Samir Kuntar, as ruthless a murderer if there ever was one.

On April 21, 1979, Kuntar and four other terrorists infiltrated Israel from Lebanon. Kuntar entered the Nahariya apartment belonging to Danny and Smadar Haran. In course of a rampage, Kuntar forced Danny and his four-year-old daughter Einat to the beach below. There he shot Danny in the head and then drowned him in the sea. He crushed Einat’s skull on a rock with his rifle butt. He was caught by Israeli security forces and sentenced to multi-life imprisonment. Ever since, his name has frequently come up in talks about swapping terrorist prisoners in Israeli jails for kidnapped Israelis held in Lebanon.

Cutting a deal with the Hizbolla doesn’t just mean awarding them an incredible prize for their kidnapping of Regev and Goldwasser two years ago. It will act as any open invitation to keep kidnapping Israelis and Jews everywhere in the world. Also, why should this ploy be limited to terrorist organizations? Why not the mafia every time one of their bosses or henchmen is arrested and sentenced to prison? And what about flouting the process of justice. Samir Kuntar is a despicable murderer who will go free in return for two body bags. No thought about the feelings of the wife and mother of the people he so brutally murdered! No thought for the families of thousands of Israelis murdered by other terrorists.

Many people point out that a soldier must be reassured that his country will stand behind him completely if he is taken prisoner. That’s how it should be – to a limit. Every soldier should know that in the event of war his country will do everything possible to minimize the chance of his slaying or injury on the battlefield. But it is impossible to guarantee absolute immunity to death or injury. And of course every soldier knows this. Every soldier knows that there is a limit to how much he can be protected against enemy fire and that when he goes into combat he might be killed. He accepts it. It’s the same with the kidnapped prisoner. Everyone must know there is a limit to what a country is willing to bargain in a prisoner deal.

TERRORISM SHOULD BE PUNISHED WITH ABSOLUTE RUTHLESSNESS
Retaliation to terror should be in the form of dreadful deterrent – similar to the way that Prime Minister Olmert sent Israel’s air force into action immediately following the abduction of Regev and Goldwasser – bombardment of vital installations – preferably connected with terrorist organizations, together with a demand for the immediate release of the hostages. But ridiculously, two years ago, Israel was not prepared to deal with the retaliatory rocket bombardment of Northern Israel. That was utterly unforgiveable because every seventh-grade kid in the country knew that for a number of years prior to the outbreak of the war, the Hizbolla organization had tens of thousands of rockets aimed at northern Israel. They should have been destroyed the moment they were installed, which began almost immediately after Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon in the year 2000. Mr. Olmert was not solely responsible for that unforgiveable shortcoming. Lessons should have been drawn from this fact. The inability to cope with massive rocket attacks on Israel’s civilian population, renders her unable to exact appropriate deterrent action against the terror organizations and this situation, it has been said by sources in higher circles, is being remedied. If not the bungling on Israel’s part will continue and the scope of the terror from the north will erupt again in the future and probably be far more worse than ever before.

Meanwhile in the south, Hamas is demanding the release of 1,000 terrorists now in Israeli jails in exchange for kidnapped soldier Gilat Schalit. Most of them are convicted murderers including the fiends behind the Seder massacre at the Park Hotel in Netanya where 30 people were murdered on March 27, 2002. What kind of bearing will the release of a satanic murderer in return for the bodies of Regev and Goldwasser, have on the outcome of the negotiations regarding Gilat Schalit?

Caroline Glick of The Jerusalem Post recently wrote: “It is impossible to know precisely how many Israelis will be killed in the future if the deals now on the table are approved. But past experience shows that at a minimum, dozens of Israelis now innocently going about their business will be murdered by the terrorists Israel releases. And at a minimum, (in the future) one or two Israelis will be abducted by Hamas or Hizbullah or one of their sister terror organizations. They will be abducted in Israel or while they are travelling abroad and they will be brought to Lebanon or Gaza and the cycle of blood extortion and psychological warfare will begin anew.”

Actually, the Regev, Goldwasser and Schalit families, in their determined and understandable quest to have their sons returned, have become powerful, compelling voices for Hizbullah and Hamas.

Nathan Sharansky, the former prisoner of Zion, once said: “As a prisoner, it is important to know that your country is doing everything it can to secure your release. But it is also true that you are not willing to be released at any price. There are things that are more important than your personal survival.”

Everything should have been done to have prevented the abduction in the first place – the Hizbolla should not have been allowed to build up their rocket arsenal, thus hamstringing Israel. But once Israel had retaliated, following the abduction of Regev and Goldwasser, she should have perservered until the Hizbolla was vanquished and their rocket arsenal destroyed. Also, in the Israel of former times, it would have been more likely that those northern residents cowering under rocket fire would have been summarily and properly looked after during the fighting.

It all boils down to two things – a leadership capable of making the right decisions and a public that’s actively serious about ensuring the tenure of such a leadership. As personally tragic as the abductions have been, they really represent small potatoes in the the overall picture. Unable to contend with midgets Hamas and Hizbollah, how will Israel contend with a real monster like Iran. With Mr. Olmert running things? With the present ongoing mood of appeasement with fanatical evil? With the inability to see the overall picture because of a locked focus on small details – albeit heart-wrenching? With such an outlook the future portends to be a lot more tragic!

But I am a firm believer in the Law of the Pendulum. Right now, it must be reaching the end of its present Chelmic swing because there just has to be a limit to the amount of time that silliness continues to determine the affairs of any country. Soon that swing will be reversed. We all have to be part of that swing.

For more on Israel’s survival: www.israelandtruth.org

 

To order “How to Avoid Armageddon” click: www.amazon.com  type: how to avoid Armageddon

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June 29, 2008 at 3:31 pm 3 comments

The new type of Jew in Israel

Honesty and brashness was a

bad combination

By RALPH DOBRIN

Ralph Dobrin is the author of “How to Avoid Armageddon”

To order the book click: www.amazon.com  type: how to avoid Armageddon

“So, how do you like it here in Israel”? I was asked by a friendly, middle-aged man waiting at the bus terminal. It was fifty years ago and I had been in Israel for about six months. The general atmosphere in Israel in those days was stoic, dynamic and full of hope. “It’s so exciting,” I answered. “So much is happening all the time. And there are people here from all over the world. It’s so very interesting and exciting.”But then I added, “The trouble is that there’s too much pushing. People have no consideration for others. They aren’t polite.”

The man’s smile disappeared and he frowned. “Well of course you’d say that. You’re an Anglo-Saxon (the term people in Israel use for anyone whose mother-tongue is English) !”

“But the lack of manners spoils everything,” I continued.

The man shook his head. “No my friend, what you call a lack of manners is actually a sign that people here are straightforward and honest. All those nice English manners that you want – all that ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and ‘I’m so sorry’ –  it’s all a lie. It’s just useless, corrupt falseness.”

“Maybe you’re right,” I had gulped adolescently, eager to be agreeable and see only good in the country.

“I know I’m right,” the man said emphatically.

Well, today I know he was wrong. Dead wrong! But I can understand why it was the way it was. Firstly, the early pioneers at the end of the 19th  century had shed the rigid community-mindedness and piety of the ghetto and the shtetl for an earthy, robust practicality, that was probably necessary for survival in a barren, hostile land. They were very conscious of the historical moment – they were creating a new world for themselves and their children. They had forged a change from the craven Jew in Europe, from their fathers, uncles and brothers who had submitted meekly to the humiliations meted out to Jews in general. They even thanked their oppressors obsequiously and apologized for unjustified accusations.

They had resolved that there would be no more of that galut mentality in their ancestral land! The sabra (the term given to the local-born Jew) was brought up to be gruff, curt and focused only on absolute essentials. Also politeness was deemed quite irrelevant in such circumstances and furthermore – it was not entirely honest. For those early pioneers blunt honesty was another important characteristic they were trying to cultivate in the tough, self-reliant, straightforwad New Jew in his ancestral homeland.

But I think that it was a grave mistake to belittle the importance of politeness. True, one didn’t need the airs, invariably phony, of Elizabethan gentry. But basic good manners are imperative for any society, especially one that was emerging like Israeli society of that time.

During the nineteen thirties, in the wake of the rise of Nazism, waves of new immigrants arrived from Germany and other parts of Europe. Many were people with a high level of culture, education and etiquette, but their influence was restricted largely to their own children and immediate circles. In any case many of their children got into the curt sabra spirit themselves.

Subsequently, the partition of Palestine and Israel’s independence took place under turbulent circumstances. In the midst of a desperate war of physical survival, waves of immigrants poured into the land, coming from scores of different countries, bringing their own particular customs, values, and norms of behavior. The population doubled within the first three years and continued expanding rapidly for the next few decades. Under such conditions it was natural that a strident, abrasive, impatient, anxiety-ridden national mentality would take form, in addition to the existing abrasive lack of politeness.

But things never stay the same, especially in a nascent society like Israel. That lack of basic politeness deteriorated into a lack of inconsiderateness – especially with the arrival of millions of newcomers.

For a few generations, many, if not most, Israeli parents have not taught their children any manners whatsover because they themselves never learned proper conduct from their parents. Similarly a large percentage of Israeli children have received no guidelines regarding consideration for others.

A lack of consideration for others readily leads to an overly self-centered perspective on life which can be expressed as: “I don’t care about anyone but myself. No matter what it takes, I’m going to get what I want and I don’t care who I hurt in the process.” In other words, common decency and integrity become irrelevant.

A LOT OF VERY NICE FOLKS

Nevertheless, many people in Israel, including the descendants of those old-time pioneers, are decent folks who do live by a universal code of politeness, consideration and respect for others. This might be partially due to the frequent trips abroad by Israelis, who can see for themselves the preferability of common courtesy. Also, gratifyingly, despite a reported general increase in crime and violence, there is more niceness within Israeli public than there was a generation or two ago – when to be served politely in a shop or office was a rare occurrence, or to get on a bus one often needed to physically push one’s way to the door, only to have it abruptly slammed in your face.

But the general norms of politeness and consideration are still far from being satisfactory. Over the years this has led to greater self-centeredness and slacker moral standards. That’s why, today there is far less general willingness to actively take part in Israel’s struggle against her adversaries. More than ever before, many young people do their utmost to avoid the compulsory military service; that’s why there is so much underhand, unethical behavior at every level of Israel’s society. It might still involve only a small percentage of the general populace. But it is painfully noticeable.

The lack of courtesy during the early years of modern Zionism, sometimes once regarded as something wholesome, has resulted in the present boorish ego-centricism, which in turn has led to cynical, self-serving, defective governance. For all these reasons this nation has lost the confidence it once had in its people and in its leadership. That’s also a significant factor in Israel’s unimpressive showing against the Hizbollah during the Second Lebanon War.

COULD RELIGION HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE

The beginning of modern Israel’s renaissance over a hundred years ago entailed the establishment of hundreds of farming settlements. Most of the new settlers of those days, discarded the religious upbringing of their former communities in Europe. In all likelihood, had the Return to the Land been accompanied by more significant religious activity, there would still have been a low standard of common courtesy, but it would probably have forestalled the ego-centricism and lowered ethical standards plaguing Israel today.

However, for over a generation, there has now been an enormous effort to promote Judaism in all sections of the public. Despite impressive results, the majority of Israelis still see themselves as non-religious. Judaism, which gave the world a very practical, commonly-used ethical code, is nowadays presented by too many rabbis as something dealing mainly with ritual, Sabbath observance, dietery laws and government funding, rather than a code that emphasizes common decency.

Meanwhile, Israel is in the midst of a crucial stage in its history, facing stern military challenges and continued deterioration in its society. Seldom has any nation been so desparately in need of good, honest, wise political and spiritual leadership. Never has any society faced such a need to be willing to give of itself for a common cause, and to believe in itself and in its leaders.

The key to Israel’s future is integrity at all levels of its society. Integrity is easier fostered in a society imbued with consideration for others. And consideration for others begins with a basic level of politeness. Without this common human trait – no matter how many yeshivot are opened, or how many fighter aircraft Israel acquires – the Return to Zion, created with so much hope as a haven for the Jewish people, will prove to have been nothing more than a brief historical irony.

However, judging by the many groups and organizations that have appeared in the last few years, more and more Israelis are realizing the importance of basic common decency and personal involvement. It’s not nearly enough. It must burgeon into an overwhelming national quest. And everyone living in Israel who realizes the situation must actively bring integrity and common courtesy into their lives. It will prove to be a significant factor in the future of Israel … and the Middle East.

For more on the subject click: www.israelandtruth.org

Ralph Dobrin is the author of “How to Avoid Armageddon”

To order the book click: www.amazon.com    type: how to avoid Armageddon

June 21, 2008 at 3:21 pm 2 comments

The Israeli conversion crisis

Maybe by their own strict standards …

Even some of the rabbinic

judges aren’t really Jewish

By Ralph Dobrin

The High Rabbinical Court in Israel, headed by Rabbi Avraham Sherman, recently dropped a bombshell – they announced that the conversion of thousands of proselytes to Judaism might need to become nullified. It all started when a woman who had converted 15 years earlier, was going through divorce proceedings with the Rabbinical Council of Ashdod. Following a few questions by one of the rabbinic judges, it was deemed that she had not observed the Jewish laws, therefore she had forfeited her membership among the Jewish people.

This verdict, though extremely rare, might according to the High Rabbinical Court in Israel, have rendered the Jewish status of thousands of other converts who had undergone conversion through Rabbi Haim Druckman’s Conversion Authority, retroactively invalid. What a slap in the face for these people who opted to throw in their lot with the Jewish people, and who invested considerable time studying in order to prepare for their conversions. For the men, it also entailed painful circumcision!

Also, this could mean that their children, are not recognized as being Jewish in Israel, and therefore any religiously conducted marriages might be impossible for them in this country. They could be doomed to becoming less than second class citizens in Israel. Even those who served in Israel’s army, some of them with distinction and heroism.

The High Rabbinical Court is a department of the Israel Rabbinate. It is staffed mainly by Haredi rabbis with an even stricter view of Jewish observance than the Chief Rabbis themselves. The High Rabbinical Court’s seemingly extreme stand on conversion has deepened the rift between Haredi Ultra-Orthodoxy (usually non-Zionist) and the rest of the Jewish population, especially the religious Zionists, of which Rabbi Druckman is a highly respected and prominent figure.

Clearly, whether you’re a convert or a Hebrew with roots going back a hundred generations, being Jewish should be a serious status, because it implies an ancestry or affiliation stretching back to Mt. Sinai, through King David, Solomon, the Talmudic period, the Golden Age of Spain, the Enlightenment and Emancipation, weathering all the frightful challenges until the present day.

But taking note of the Rabbi Avraham Sherman’s drastic-sounding pronouncements against the conversions, I am prodded into asking myself: am I really a Jew by their standards? After all, I am just an agnostic (although I am nevertheless awe-struck by the wonder of life and I do have a deep gut-feeling that a totally unfathomable power is behind it all.)

Moreover, according to rabbinic law (halacha) it’s the mother’s religious affiliation that determines one’s Jewishness. It is the female lineage all down the line that determines one’s identity. Paternal lineage is not an issue. Your dad could have been the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Grand Mufti or even Adolph of the Schicklgruber line, but if your mom is bona fide Jewish that makes you Jewish in the eyes of the strictest rabbi.

Solomon’s women

But there’s a big problem here if you’re serious about halachically bona fide Jewishness. Indeed, here’s a challenge for the good Rabbi Sherman himself. The Bible tells us that Solomon had 700 wives and 300 mistresses, none of whom were Israelite. Probably the appetite for non-Israelite gals in those days wasn’t limited to Solomon. Therefore thousands upon thousands of their progeny were not halachically Jewish. Israelites – they might have become, but by today’s strict Orthodox standards none of them would have been considered Jewish. And by the laws of gender, a certain percentage of these women kept propagating girls who remained in the Jewish fold, but willy-nilly, kept turning out more non-Jewish girls right up to the present day.

By today’s stringent rabbinic standards Ruth would definitely not have been considered a convert. Indeed even King David would have had difficulty being recognized as a bona fide Jew? Preparing for marriage in present-day Israel, for instance, with his ruddy complexion, David would have been questioned about his parentage. “Show us your mother’s marriage certificate!” the rabbis would have demanded. “And show us her mother’s marriage certificate!” “Bring us a letter from the rabbi who officiated at her wedding.” And heaven forfend if the rabbi who had officiated at David’s grandmother’s wedding happened to have been of the Reform or even Conservative branch of Judaism. No chance buddy! Go through our lengthy conversion program or have a civil marriage in Cyprus.

In addition, over the ages there were always cases of gentile women coming into the Jewish fold, sometimes as wives, mistresses or a housekeeper or servant woman succumbing to infatuation or lust. Not all went through any kind of conversion. How many of their female progeny were subsequently accepted into the Jewish fold and begat halachically non-Jewish offspring who kept the disqualifying trend going?

If I’m asked, how far back I can trace the female lineage of my family, I would have to say that I might have difficulty even assessing my late mother’s biological lineage. Not all the Jews lived in an East European shtetl. My maternal grandfather was religiously-observant Jew. Most Jews were a hundred years ago. He had four daughters. Wonderful gals, I’m sure. From what I hear he was also a very fine, compassionate man. He was well-off, had a nice-sized store near Konigsberg, then East Prussia. His wife was very sick and died at an early age. He also had a fine looking housekeeper – a Christian lady who stayed with him and his family for twenty years after his wife died. I’m not saying that any hanky-panky took place, heaven forfend. But the guy was a guy after all and if I were a rabbinical judge sitting on the High Rabbinical Court of Israel, I could easily be suspicious of Ralph Dobrin’s kosher roots.

And maybe very, very few Jews today, including Rabbi Sherman himself and all the other venerable rabbis fastidiously making lists of persons disqualified from being counted as Jews, would find it quite impossible to show proof of a continuously untainted line of female ancestry, all the way back. Especially if you have blue eyes and fair hair. (Turn in your grave Schicklgruber).

Is all this as ridiculous as it sounds?

Now, to the average person – religiously observant or not – this is simply facetious rumination. And yet it should be a serious issue for the people running Israel’s High Rabbinical Court. After all, if they are so serious about Jewishness and religious observation that they are ready to nullify the hard-won conversion of thousands of good folks because of the perceived laxity of one convert, then they should be serious about themselves, too. Shouldn’t they be ferreting for their great great grandmothers’ ketubot (marriage certificates) to determine if they were indeed halachically Jewish? And if they can’t find the necessary documents, maybe they themselves and their zealous followers – might need to pursue conversion! I’m sure that Rabbi Druckman would know where to send them. Either that or be less fastidious regarding the Jewishness of others !!!

As a totally secular Israeli I am saddened by this rift because there seems to be so much ugly invective and hostility exchanged by Israel’s religious leaders, as well as pain meted out to the thousands of good people who converted to Judaism. Also, I am sure it can only weaken Israel. I would like to believe that the argument is based on what is really best for the Jewish people in the context of rabbinic law. So is it naïve to hope that the strenuous Ultra-Orthodox opposition to Rabbi Druckman’s conversions is based solely on what is halachically correct in the name of the Almighty and that it has absolutely nothing to do with clashes of personality, power play or plain nastiness? Sadly, it is often hard not to feel that that is the case.

Many special committees have been set up over the years to find a solution that could satisfy the strictest demands while facilitating a process that would not cause unnecessary prolongment for the prospective convert. None of the results of these committees satisfied everyone. But there has to be an end to the question of generally accepted conversion. It can only come through sensible, constructive debate at the highest rabbinic levels.

There is a way of deliberating wisely over any issue. At the outset there must be sincere resolve to find the best possible solution. Sectarian considerations must be subdued enough to be able to see the issue from an overall perspective. Each point must be viewed and discussed with total openness and honesty. Also personal feelings about others with whom the polemic is being conducted, must be set aside.

It is significant that after thousands of years of tradition, people in the loftiest clergical positions still haven’t learned how to conduct a meaningful discussion with others who might differ from them. One would have thought that all that endless study of holy texts and praying and observing of laws and mitzvot, said to enhance wisdom and spirituality, would have given the Ultra-Orthodox rabbis some compassion, humility and common sense. If they want to learn how to debate constructively they can visit the following site: https://truthandsurvival.wordpress.com/2008/05/29/why-argue/

 

 

 

June 14, 2008 at 3:39 pm 3 comments


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