I was intrigued by Meir Weingarten’s spin on the El Al cheap ticket fiasco of a couple of weeks ago (“Is ‘Gotcha!’ a Jewish Value?” op-ed, August 24).
First, I’m not sure he is the best choice to present the case for voluntary surrender of the tickets. After all, as a self-described “leader in group travel to Israel” he is not exactly a disinterested party when it comes to matters affecting El Al.
Second, while he referred to “some rabbis who wrote long, intricate articles why it’s not assur” to keep the tickets, he dismissed those articles without any authoritative explanation yet took it upon himself to apply a p’sak issued in a different context, again without authoritative explanation.
Third, he spoke of El Al as if it were human and therefore the beneficiary of halachot governing these kinds of transactions. Can a corporation be Jewish? And who says so? Finally, El Al did not request a return of the tickets and thereby legitimized the choice of customers in keeping them.
Why does Mr. Weingarten take it upon himself to go beyond what the owners of El Al demanded from the purchasers?
I wish those who initially took advantage of El Al’s mistake had had the benefit of Meir Weingarten’s article. However, it’s not too late for them to do the right thing – the Jewish thing. We are in Elul, after all.
Egypt And Sinai
Re: “Israel’s Trojan Horse” (editorial, Aug. 24):
Wonderful analogy. The Egyptian military was given a way to reenter Sinai without Israel’s protesting. Why should they leave? Would you? And what will Israel do if they stay? Start a war? Another example of Israel’s continuing dilemma.
A Reelected Obama
Reader Gary Stein (Letters, Aug. 24) got it exactly right. It is very clear that on Israel and the economy, Mitt Romney is the clear choice over Barack Obama.
Concerning Israel, I have yet to hear from anyone why a reelected President Obama will continue to act as a friend of Israel when there is no longer a political reason to do so.
Presidential Double Standard (I)
Re: “The President’s Double Standard” (editorial, Aug. 24):
It’s really very simple why President Obama would ignore attacks on Dennis Ross’s loyalty and rush to the defense of Huma Abedin when similar questions are raised about her.
Obama has always demonstrated a hyper-sensitivity to the feelings of Muslims (to be fair, George W. Bush did so too, as when he repeatedly declared that Islam is a “religion of peace”), while he knows most American Jews are so mindlessly beholden to the Democratic Party that they will vote for him no matter what he says and does.
Presidential Double Standard (II)
I was frightened by the “dual loyalty” implications in last week’s editorial titled “The President’s Double Standard.” In discussing a 2011 New York Times article about the pro-Israel advice Dennis Ross gave to President Obama and several presidents before him, you wrote: “The inference is that such advice is so self-evidently against American interests that it could only have been offered by someone whose pro-Israel agenda trumps U.S. interests.”
That really opened my eyes. I’d read that Times article last year and was oblivious to what the writers were implying.
New York, NY
I really appreciated the letter to the editor from Michael Brenner in the Aug. 24 issue. His views on the Siyum HaShas reflect my own and those of many other Modern Orthodox Jews.
I noticed that none of the speakers at either the Citi Field Asifa on the Internet or the Siyum HaShas wore a kippah serugah. Does what we wear on our heads define who we are?
I also appreciated the second item on the My Machberes page, concerning the conflict in the Satmar community between the two Rebbes and their respective followers. That split is a good example of why Mashiach has not yet come. In the name of their religious beliefs they are violating basic precepts of respect for each other.
I read with pleasure Naomi Klass Mauer’s interview of Itzhak Perlman (“Through the Ages In Jewish Song,” Aug. 24).
In 1986, as a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University, I was asked to suggest names for an upcoming honorary doctorate. I nominated Itzhak Perlman and was present when he received it.
I have twice heard Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot perform live (at the last two Siyumei HaShas). Each time it was a moving experience.
To have a collaboration of these two extraordinary talents is an occasion to celebrate. I hope the forthcoming “Eternal Echoes” CD is only a beginning.
Dr. Elie Feuerwerker
Highland Park, NJ
An Outspoken Tour Guide
It may come as a surprise to many of your readers that tour guides in Israel like me, who observe the holy Sabbath and who speak some uncomfortable truths to tourists, are increasingly off limits to Jewish groups.
Once I had a wonderful position with an important tour company but it chose to discontinue my services when I would not guide optional tours on Shabbat. And I was fired by a national Jewish organization because I dared point out that the “Green Line” cuts through Jewish neighborhoods in the very heart of Jerusalem.
“Land for peace” no longer means giving away some lone dusty hill out of sight and out of mind. Relinquishing land liberated in the Six-Day War now constitutes a threat to the 250,000 Jews living beyond the “Green Line” in the capital city. The organization preferred that I not upset its support for the “peace process” by presenting unwanted facts to its visiting members on “fact finding” missions.
Yet another company recently dismissed me when a non-Jewish American tourist objected to my educating the group about the facts surrounding the plight of Jonathan Pollard.
Despite the challenges over the years, I am pleased with my choices. I suppose I am not everyone’s type of tour guide, but if I could turn the clock back thirty-two years I would not change a thing. It’s been a wonderful ride.
May we merit seeing the rebuilding of our Holy Temple in its place.
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