Reward and punishment
Sir, â€œTextbook nixed for bias against Jews, Hindusâ€ (October 9) presented a false dichotomy between the concept of reward and punishment, on the one hand, as characterizing Judaism and the Jewish claim that Judaism is â€œsocial justice and morality.â€ Why apologize for reward and punishment and why should these stand in opposition to social justice and morality?
On the contrary, any moral system posits the concept of good results emanating from good action, and bad results emanating from bad action. Is the essence of social justice not that all should have an equal share in the good things of life and that when the balance is disturbed it be restored by appropriate judicial or executive action? Christianity bases its core doctrine of salvation on rewarding believers in Christ with heaven, and deniers of Christ with hell.
As a Jew I am proud of the system of reward and punishment in Torah and Halacha. That is what Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are all about. And Christians should admit that it is what Christmas, Good Friday and Easter Sunday are all about.
RABBI JACOB CHINITZ
Sir, I was fascinated to see the bizarre photo of Zimâ€™s president kneeling before a shrine to a Japanese fisherman killed in a maritime disaster (â€œZim to compensate families,â€ October 9). Entwined in his fingers is what appears to be a rosary. It would be enlightening to learn according to which religion Doron Groderâ€™s â€œprayersâ€ were expected to be operational.
Sir, In this New Year 5766 all Jews in the Diaspora, and especially in the US, might give serious consideration to â€œcoming homeâ€ to Eretz Israel. After all, at the time of the Exodus it is thought that only 20 percent of the Jews of Egypt left with Moses. The rest were lost to us.
So it is today with Jews in America where, again, only some 20 percent have a chance of remaining Jews. Once again our people are being devastated by assimilation and intermarriage in continually greater numbers. The 20 percent that will survive or 0.2 x 5,000,000 equals about one million dedicated American Jews.
Imagine, were history to repeat itself, the effect of this aliya on Israel!
Walk the walk
Sir, â€œIsrael hails Bushâ€™s Islamist attackâ€ (October 7) was certainly a long-needed clarification by the president of precisely what the civilized world is fighting. And, yes, the inclusion of Israel and Netanya specifically on the laundry list of Islamic terror targets was long overdue. I will give credit to President Bush for talking the talk. However, I withhold all credit and kudos until I see him walk the walk.
My cynical side tells me his speech was mainly intended to beef up his dismal approval ratings and that we can expect little in the way of real followthrough. Sadly, I admit that I will never trust him as a true friend of Israel given his familyâ€™s long-standing, cozy and lucrative relationship with the Saudis. May 5766 prove me wrong.
Sir, Re â€œBushâ€™s lonely voiceâ€ (Editorial, October 7), you have no idea how lonely liberal-minded American Jews, strong traditional supporters of Israel, feel due to this manâ€™s unfettered support only for the most wealthy, his disregard of the poor, and his stupid, two-front war on terrorism; or how sad many of us feel to watch many young American Jews becoming disaffected with Israel as a result of their mistakenly identifying Israel with Bushâ€™s plan to maintain American economic suzerainty in the Mideast. But as long as you give him carteblanche support thatâ€™s the way theyâ€™ll go on perceiving Israel.
While demeaning fundamentalism in the Muslim world Bush has attempted to make predominant his own form of fundamentalism, thereby threatening as never before the traditional American separation of religion and state... something that severely threatens most American Jews.
Does Abbas want peace?M. PINSLY
Out of context
Sir, In â€œMusical hasbaraâ€ (September 29) Evelyn Gordon used a statement by Ali Haider, co-executive director of Sikkuy, as quoted in Haaretz, out of context and misleadingly. To clarify, Mr. Haider was referring to the specific instance of the â€œevents of October 2000â€ in which 12 Arab citizens using their democratic right to demonstrate against government policy were shot and killed by police.
But what really seems to have bothered Ms. Gordon was the list of Israeli writers and public figures who are invited to speak before Jewish audiences abroad. We are proud to be on this list that includes David Grossman, Sami Michael and Amos Oz, who was the keynote speaker at Sikkuyâ€™s recent annual conference in Rahat in the Negev (see The Jerusalem Post, September 8). The other speakers at the conference included Israelâ€™s minister of the interior, the director of the ministryâ€™s southern district and leaders of the Arab community, as well as Jewish and Arab mayors. All expressed support for achieving full equality between Israelâ€™s Jewish and Arab citizens.
The strategic decision by mainstream Jewish organizations to engage in an encounter and ongoing dialogue with the Arab citizens of Israel is a very positive step. This is a responsible and courageous attitude and, indeed, those who really care for Israel are deeply concerned about the inequality between its Jewish and Arab citizens.
The Chicago Jewish Federation and others have chosen, by inviting Sikkuy and other civil society organizations to speak in their communities, to present Israel, with its strengths and weaknesses, to their constituencies, and we believe that this is a realistic, positive action.
SHALOM (SHULI) DICHTER
Evelyn Gordon responds:
Shalom Dichterâ€™s statement that â€œ12 Arab citizens using their democratic right to demonstrate against government policy were shot and killed by policeâ€ in October 2000 is precisely the kind of slanderous disinformation that American Jewish organizations should not be feeding their guests and offers further evidence of why Sikkuy should not be providing speakers for such events.
The â€œevents of October 2000â€ were not peaceful demonstrations against government policy but violent riots that coincided with the outbreak of the Palestinian intifada in the territories. The rioters, chanting peaceful slogans such as â€œdeath to the Jews,â€ hurled stones and Molotov cocktails both at police and at passing Jewish cars on the roads, killing one Jew and injuring dozens. This forced police to close major traffic arteries in the north until the riots ended, virtually shutting down northern Israel for several days. The rioters also caused massive property damage, torching police stations, banks, etc. There is no â€œdemocratic right to demonstrateâ€ violently only peacefully.
There are valid questions regarding both the decision to open fire at the rioters (such as why the police lacked crowd control equipment) and the subsequent investigation into the shootings. Nevertheless, Israel is far from the only Western democracy in which badly outnumbered and frightened policemen have opened fire on large mobs of violent rioters.
The integration of Israelâ€™s Arab minority is indeed a crucial challenge facing Israel, and visitors should be educated about this issue. But propagating the lie that police callously murdered 12 peaceful demonstrators does not enhance understanding of Israelâ€™s challenges; it merely vilifies Israel.
Sir, â€œPhysicians protest Gaza Strip closureâ€ (September 27) on the report by Physicians for Human Rights Israel (which is not a branch of the US-based Physicians for Human Rights) should have noted that this group promotes a radical political agenda that undermines the credibility of its claims regarding humanitarian issues. NGO Monitor has documented PHR-I's emphasis on its political and advocacy activities, and reports such as the one on the impact of the disengagement from Gaza must be analyzed in this light.
In February 2005, PHR-I and a partner organization issued a political statement claiming to examine the impact of the separation barrier (â€œthe Wallâ€) which erased the context of Palestinian terror. Earlier, PHR-I published highly offensive cartoons to promote this agenda, leading to public censure from the Israel Medical Association and a decision by the Israeli Physiciansâ€™ Union (Histadrut Harofim) to end cooperative activities.
The reports by members of this NGO, which is funded by the European Union and other external sources, cannot be taken at face value.
Director of Communications
Iâ€™d like to know Israel
Sir, For a long time I have desired to learn about Israel. Please publish my letter so I may get someone writing to me to enable me to know more about your holy land.
Natural choices can be dicey
Sir, To Chen Gurewitzâ€™s â€œCautionary word on St. Johnâ€™s wortâ€ (Letters, October 10) I would like to add that not only is it dangerous to take Prozac with St. Johnâ€™s wort, there are some people who may react adversely to St. Johnâ€™s wort itself.
Unfortunately, not everything natural is healthy for everyone, which is a great shame.