Regarding "Not just Hamantaschen," Haaretz Magazine, February 26
I hope that Haim Cohen and Eli Landau's recipes are more accurate than the sidebar in which the connection between poppy seeds and opium was explained last week. First of all "the secret of poppy seeds" wasn't such a secret, and their qualities were known already in Chalcolithic societies that preceded ancient Egyptian society. The city in eastern Turkey called Afyonkarahisar (black castle of opium) is named after the opium that was produced there, and not vice versa. As for opium itself, it is the hardened resin that is extracted from the seed pod of the cultured poppy (which is also called the opium poppy), which is known by its Latin name: papaver somniferum.
Heroin is not produced directly from opium; it is a synthetic derivative of morphine that should first of all be separated from opium. To say that poppy seeds do not contain opium is more or less like saying that pine nuts do not contain oak resin. Even if we assume that the writer meant that poppy seeds do not contain morphine, he is mistaken and misleading, and anyone who eats large quantities of hamantaschen with a poppy seed filling and undergoes a blood or urine test to check for drugs will get a positive result because of the vestiges of morphine in his body.
Regarding "Court of first resort," Haaretz Magazine, February 26
I read your article about the Badatz (religious Court of Justice) in Bnei Brak with great interest. The tension between one law for everyone and the right of self-determination for communities in Israel is known and interesting, and I do not reject the existence of a voluntary body acting as an internal judicial body in a specific community.
I think that this is a real court of justice with dayanim who are merciful, willing to listen, and objective. Only one aspect is completely missing - what happens when a woman comes to this rabbinical court? It seems to me to be no coincidence that both the reporter and the photographer are men, and that a woman is mentioned only once in the entire article - when she is waiting in line.
I don't know anything about halakha (Jewish religious law), nor about laws that stem from the Hoshen Mishpat (a section of the "Shulhan Arukh," the authoritative codification of Jewish law), but my gut feeling is that as a woman, I would not like to be represented in that rabbinical court. I would be happy if you could present this subject in a follow-up article.
Regarding "One space for two peoples," Haaretz Magazine, February 19
If we are truly and honestly to seek the "foundation for the conflict," as Prof. Yehouda Shenhav challenges us to do, I propose we look to the most important potential alternative narrative. It can be found just prior to 1948, the date Shenhav prefers.
What if the Palestinians and the Arab world had understood the advantages of the "two state solution" and had accepted, however unhappily, the 1947 partition plan as the only just resolution to the justified claims of the two peoples to this same land?
Or for a real challenge, let's go just a little further back; if that realization had come during the 1938 Peel Commission attempts to find a just resolution to the conflicting claims, what a different world we and they could be experiencing.
No one even proposes this because of the apparently universal understanding that the basic obstacle in this conflict is the inability or unwillingness of the Arab Muslim world to accept the Jewish people's claim to any of the land between the river and the sea - despite the specific recognition in the Koran of the Divine promise to the "children of Israel."
Yet another model
Both Yehouda Shenhav and Meron Benvenisti point to the victory of Western-Ashkenazi-leftist-liberal Zionism over the Palestinians and the Mizrahi-Arab Jews (as Shenhav calls them). A sense of despair emerges from their articles, if only because of the great confusion that overcomes the reader in light of the various solutions and arrangements they propose.
Shenhav proposes three models and Benvenisti proposes various models of a binational state. But are these theoretical models feasible in light of the demographic, religious and cultural currents that are stronger than any Zionist or Zionist-Palestinian model of one kind or another?
In his response, Tom Segev rightfully directs our attention to Mandatory Palestine, in which Jews and Arabs lived alongside one another under problematic British custody. The question arises as to whether the correct solution for the region is perhaps custody or international rule that will gradually develop around the focal points of the conflict (from the Holy Basin, via the Western neighborhoods of Jerusalem, to Greater Jerusalem, the areas of the Green Line and the cease-fire lines in the north of the country) and in the end will include most of the area of Mandatory Palestine.
The solution is undoubtedly problematic, but are the models frequently proposed by research institutes - divorced from the human infrastructure on both sides of the Green Line - more feasible?