With regard to “A passion takes flight” by Izzy Tapoohi (Comment & Features, January 3), I thought Birthright Israel was reserved for Jews. The new president and CEO of the arm that funds the program seems to think otherwise.
Tapoohi asserts that “there is no better way to secure the future of the Jewish people and the State of Israel than through Birthright Israel.” Yet how is this true when Birthright only requires one parent to be Jewish or to have undergone conversion, including through the Reform and Conservative movements? Explain how organizing a free trip for Jews and non-Jews alike will secure the future of the Jewish people. If anything, Birthright will increase the percentage of intermarriage, which will only serve to hinder the continuation of the Jewish people.
I admit that Birthright is essential for the State of Israel, but to claim that it is equally critical to the Jewish people demonstrates Tapoohi’s misunderstanding of what a Jew is.
Since when do non-Jews have a stake in the Jewish birthright? JACOB PHILIPS
I agree that giving young naïve Jews a chance to come to Israel and develop a love for both the land and people is vital, but what about the religious aspect? While being able to tour sites and experience historical events relevant to Judaism is crucial, it doesn’t help clarify to a young, inexperienced Jew how and why being a Jew is so important, and how and why being able to show you are a Jew is so important.
People can participate in Birthright with zero knowledge of Judaism and leave with a wealth of information regarding the Land of Israel, yet after that 10-day period, how many of them are able to answer someone in the street who asks what it means to be Jewish?
JerusalemKeep blaming Israel
Alan M. Dershowitz (“Kerry’s speech will make peace harder,” Comment & Features, January 3) says that US Secretary of State John Kerry’s pessimism about a two-state solution poses the danger of being a self-fulfilling prophecy, but then says Kerry’s speech taking Israel to task was one of little substance and no importance, and will soon be forgotten.
On the contrary. Whether or not by design on the part of President Barack Obama, who undoubtedly blessed the whole text, history will soon judge the speech as killing the two-state solution.
The more Kerry and Obama, along with other world leaders, specifically in the West – with the notable exception of Australia and US President-elect Donald Trump – seek to blame Israel alone for the lack of progress toward peace and change the ground rules for negotiations, the more it will be a blessing for Israel.PETER SIMPSON
Prof. Alan Dershowitz is an articulate and effective supporter of Israel. However, he makes two observations that are somewhat misleading.
Dershowitz writes that the Palestinian Authority is unwilling to sit down and negotiate with Israel, with each side making painful compromises and both sides agreeing to end the conflict once and for all. This is correct, but it gives the impression that the lack of peace is somehow the fault of both sides.
Israel has made painful compromises since 1948 with the goal of ending the conflict once and for all, but the entire onus for the lack of peace is because of the inability of the other side to do so.
Dershowitz also refers to the hard-right extremists who believe that there is no difference between Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.
The terms “hard-right” and “extremism” have derogatory implications. But in 1937, when the British-appointed Peel Commission asked David Ben-Gurion what right the Jews had to Palestine, he held up a bible and said: “This is our deed to the Land.” Ben-Gurion’s hard-right extremism eventually brought about the creation of the state.JAY SHAPIRO
So Secretary of State John Kerry decides that Israel cannot be a Jewish state and a democracy at the same time. That would be news to the country’s founding fathers, who turned to the Bible in creating the Declaration of Independence. But Kerry chose to join his petty, vindictive boss in taking a final vicious swipe at the government and people of Israel.
I would like to offer the following correction to his speech: Islam and democracy cannot exist together. He should take a look at Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Libya, Yemen, etc. Then, he should go back to his home state, stay out of public life and pray for the success of our new government and for peace for the US, Israel and the world.ELIAS HERSCHMANN
Reader Moshe Stern (“How dare he!” Letters, January 3) accuses Secretary of State John Kerry of antisemitism for saying that Israel cannot be both Jewish and democratic, but omits the crucial words “if the choice is one state.”
Many Jewish leaders at home and around the world have declared time and again that due to demographic pressure, a onestate solution must result either in an Arab majority, ending the exclusive nature of a “Jewish” state, or in denying non-Jews civil rights.
From the Center to the Left, the argument is that only a twostate solution can ensure that Israel remains both Jewish and democratic. Are we all to be labeled antisemitic? AMIEL SCHOTZ
While I would hate to be thought of in any way as coming to the defense of the noxious deeds of US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, I can’t help remarking on the lack of any sort of balance in the reaction of your columnists and letter writers, who attack the US administration in an almost hysterical fashion.
It’s not as though we had any illusions about Obama’s attitude to settlements or, indeed, his fundamental approach to the problems here. What puzzles me more is the total absence of any comment on the fact that it is not just the US that carries veto power in the UN Security Council.
If Theresa May, prime minister of the UK, and Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, are such good friends of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, why did they not veto the resolution on settlements? That would have been a wonderful jab in the eye for the outgoing US president, for whom neither has any particular affection.
Even the president of France should have learned by now through the actions of terrorists in his own country that you don’t reward violence with a pat on the back. So leave the US alone for five minutes and point the finger at our other “friends.” Ask them: “Where were you when we needed you?”
With reference to “IMI Systems inks 7-year, NIS 1.75b. ammunition deal” (January 2) and replenishing IDF ammunition stockpiles depleted since the Gaza war in 2014, is it not unacceptable for ammunition levels to have remained depleted more than two years? How can the Defense Ministry be so complacent? A surprise attack, perhaps in both the North and South, could come at any time. We should be fully stocked at all times.
Some in government have short memories. Having to beg the US for urgent shipments of ammunition should not be the unspoken way forward.GRAHAM WEINBERG