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March 27, 2015 / 7 Nisan, 5775
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EU’s Main Priority

The Middle East is in great turmoil. Iran is continuing its development of nuclear weapons and the intercontinental missiles needed to deliver them. Tens of thousands have been murdered in Syria, heavy fighting continues there, and the threat of poison gas is very real. Egypt is on the verge of civil war. Terrorists are creating havoc in Iraq, Jordan, Yemen and Lebanon.

While all this is going on, what most worries the European Union is the proposed construction of new housing on vacant land in eastern Jerusalem. Israel has no less a right to Jerusalem than the British have to London or the French have to Paris – and that is actually an understatement because the Jews lived in Israel long before either London or Paris was built.

Arthur Horn
East Windsor, NJ

UN’s Palestine Resolution

“Jabberwocky” was the perfect title for your Dec. 7 editorial on the UN General Assembly’s resolution granting nonmember-state observer status to the Palestinian Authority.

It makes no sense either from an international law perspective or in terms of the UN’s own rules governing UN membership. Nor, as you said, was there any possible logic to the worldwide criticism of Israel’s announcement of increased settlement construction on disputed land when the UN itself just got finished handing far more disputed land over to the Palestinians.

I fear we can expect more of the same. The Palestinians have an automatic majority for securing anything they want from the General Assembly at Israel’s expense, even when that includes bending the rules.

Doris Cooper
Buffalo, NY

Legitimate Criticism Or Mere Politics?

I take strong exception to ADL National Director Abraham Foxman’s implying that Jewish criticism of Ambassador Susan Rice over her work at the UN is tantamount to an attempt to drag the Jewish community into a political fight (“Rice’s Work at UN Wins Plaudits from Jewish Communal Leaders,” front page news story, Dec. 7).

Several weeks ago some female members of the Congressional Black Caucus claimed that any criticism of Ms. Rice was ipso facto racist and sexist. Now we have an attempt to delegitimize such criticism from another angle. Can one only take issue with the effectiveness of her policies but not what underlies them? Can there not be honest and objective debate over Ms. Rice’s controversial actions?

This is sadly reminiscent of Mr. Foxman’s attempt in October 2011, together with the American Jewish Committee’s David Harris, to have the Jewish community sign onto a “unity pledge” designed to avoid Israel becoming a partisan political issue in the 2012 presidential election. At that time President Obama was at odds with both Democrats and Republicans on the issues of Israeli settlements and the 1967 lines. Yet Messrs. Foxman and Harris wanted to take those issues off the political table.

I certainly agree that it is important that support for Israel be bipartisan and not become a political football. But it is hardly helpful to discourage legitimate inquiry.

Harold Sklar
(Via E-Mail)

Lieberman On Pollard

The callous statements by Sen. Joseph Lieberman on Jonathan Pollard’s highly disproportionate sentence of life in prison – especially when contrasted with Lieberman’s expressed compassion for U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice for her far from comparable treatment by Congress – are offensive and incomprehensible (“Time to Let Pollard Go,” editorial, Dec. 7).

Pollard agreed to a plea bargain with the government – a plea bargain that was insidiously and disingenuously abrogated by then-Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger, who sent a secret memo to the judge deciding Pollard’s fate.

Pollard received a life sentence for transmitting life-saving information to an ally. He was not given compassionate leave to attend his father’s funeral and has suffered several medical crises – and each time has been returned to his cell.

Unfortunately, to expect President Obama to commute Pollard’s sentence is to believe in the tooth fairy.

Fay Dicker
Lakewood, NJ

Rabbis For Higher Taxes

Recently, Conservative Rabbi Jack Moline of Alexandria, Va., said his family earns more than $250,000 a year and he still supports ending the tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans.

“That is very much against my self-interest and the self-interest of many of those in our community,” he said. “It makes a lot of sense for people who are not going to pay this tax to advocate for others to pay it. But it gives this position more credibility if people who would be affected say, ‘I’m stepping up and you should too.’ Is it the best solution? I don’t know, but the worst response would be to do nothing.”

Rabbi Moline added that he “admire[s] Warren Buffet because he consistently said he was not paying enough of his fair share of taxes, and that is something we in the Jewish community should be emulating.”

In fact, nearly 240 “progressive, left-wing” rabbis have signed a letter in support of the president’s proposal to allow tax cuts to expire at the end of the year for those making above $250,000 annually.

Earning $250,000 a year in the New York metropolitan area does not make one wealthy. How many of the Reform and Conservative rabbis who signed that letter live in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut? How many of them pay exorbitant tuitions to day schools and yeshivas beginning at age four for their children?

Who are these rabbis to tell us we have so much money that we can afford the luxury of higher taxes?

Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg
Edison, NJ

Shechita More Humane Than Any Alternative

Reader Shimon Geller (Letters, Dec. 7) noted that the recent Polish court ruling “effectively declared and underscored that religious tenets that prohibit stunning during animal slaughter are inhumane.”

Of course, we know shechita is more humane than the stunning process advocated by misguided animal welfare activists.

First, it is a matter of dispute whether stunning renders the animal unconscious or just paralyzes it. Even in the former case this would only happen if the stunning were carried out perfectly.

Unfortunately, under the conditions prevalent in abattoirs, it fails to work about 20 percent of the time and has to be repeated. I have personally witnessed several such cases.

Anyone who has suffered an electric shock knows it is both painful and distressing.

The electric stunning method used is essentially the same as that in electro-convulsive therapy, which has been banned unless the patient is first anaesthetized for this very reason.

Second, in shechita the animal’s throat is cut with an extremely sharp knife. Those who have cut themselves with a sheet of paper know they only became aware of the cut when they saw the bleeding.

Even the slightest nick in the knife that might catch on the throat tissues renders the process invalid and the slaughterer is obliged to check his knife regularly to ensure that none is present.

As a result of the cut, the blood flows out so rapidly that the flow to the brain is reduced to such a low level that unconsciousness sets in within seconds, certainly long before the animal could feel any pain from the incision.

It is because of these facts that those concerned with animal welfare should reconsider their campaign to enforce the dubious “merits” of pre-stunning and, dare I make the suggestion, insist on only eating meat produced by shechita, the most humane method available.

Martin D. Stern
Salford, England

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