letters to the editor 88.
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Sir, - How very sad to read Paul Golin's op-ed against the significance of in-marriage for Jewish continuity ("[Steven M.] Cohen is splitting the Jewish community," February 8).
He tells us that "generalizations are too often wrong when applied to actual individuals, rendering the exercise useless... So why bother?"
Then he takes great offense at giving in-marriage a higher value than intermarriage. As associate executive director of the Jewish Outreach Institute, one assumes he and his organization support maintaining Jewish identity. If in-marriage indisputably produces more Jews in future generations, why is it so difficult for Mr. Golin to accept that it is vastly preferable to intermarriage?
Mr. Golin twice reduces in-marriage to "tribalism" and maintaining "tribal blood lines." There is something grand and wonderful in a Jewish identity, and that should be the underlying message to both the in-married and the intermarried. In that context, even the intermarried can accept our reaching out to them, while understanding that in-marriage remains the primary goal of the Jewish people.
If Mr. Golin blurs the basic truth that Jews marrying one another is more desirable than intermarriage, it's hard to see what he has to offer those he's reaching out to.
Let 'em go
Sir, - Steven Cohen and many other Jews spend too much time and effort on outreach to those who have proclaimed to the world that they have little interest in remaining Jewish (" I want people to realistically understand intermarriage," February 8). "Marrying out" is the ultimate statement, especially if a Jewish man marries a non-Jewish woman, since it will effectively end his family tree in Judaism.
I say, let them go. It is better that we be "fewer but Jewer," with those who remain committed to Judaism and a Jewish life. Let the others call themselves Liberals, or Christians, or Yankee fans - just not Jews.
Edison, New Jersey
Sad and beautiful
Sir, - Ruthie Blum touched my day with this sad story, but beautiful article about fallen soldier Yosef Goodman ("Life without him," February 8).
TALLY R. ELHYANI-BASSALI
Sir, - Jonathan Tobin's "Who will speak for the Jews?" (February 3) was eloquent and compelling - but its premise was factually wrong. It furthered the canard that the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) paid to bring "Breaking the Silence" to American college campuses - which, as we've clarified repeatedly, is not the case. Rather, one member organization chose to lend its name to support this program on campus. Thus the question our coalition's Steering Committee considered (and rejected) was not whether the ICC should be promoting and paying for such programming, but whether a member organization should be expelled for lending its name to such a program.
To receive an answer to the piece's closing existential question - wondering why we should exist - ask one of the hundreds of American college students, from vastly differing ideological backgrounds, who came together to the north of Israel in December and January to repair Katyusha rocket damage; or students on the dozens of campuses this academic year who have received ICC Israel Action Grants to engage in pro-active Israel education and advocacy; or students on the dozens of campuses who heard from pro-Israel speakers this year paid for by the ICC.
Our strength stems from working collaboratively on what we all agree upon, which is frankly much greater than what divides us.
DAVID A. HARRIS
Israel on Campus Coalition
Funds for demonization
Sir, - "Pinochet judge visits to see if officials culpable for house demolitions" (February 7) was irresponsible publicity for Jeff Halper's one-man NGO, the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions (ICAHD). It repeated, verbatim, ICAHD's claims to hold Israel "accountable to human rights," and ignored its record of anti-Israel campaigning.
Halper supports boycotts and uses terms such as "apartheid" and "war crimes" to refer to Israeli policy against Palestinian terror. He often joins Naim Ateek of Sabeel, whose use of anti-Semitic themes is well documented.
The article also omitted the fact that the European Union gave ICAHD 472,000 euros in 2005 under its Partners for Peace Program, which ostensibly supports civil society projects promoting the peace process. In effect, the EU is funding this latest example of anti-Israel demonization, which contrasts sharply with the claim of contributing to peace.
to NGO Monitor
Sir, - Irwin Cotler highlighted the tragedy unfolding in Sudan and the relative inactivity of the world community in doing anything to stop what amounts to genocide ("Meltdown in Darfur - what happened to 'Never Again'?" February 6).
Perhaps the poor black Muslims being massacred by the Arab Sudanese government and its Janjaweed militia allies should learn a lesson from their Palestinian co-religionists and play down the true perpetrators of these atrocities. They would get far more sympathy in the UN if they peddled the story that the whole affair was being organized by Zionist gangs to divert world attention from the suffering of the Palestinian people under the illegal occupation of their homeland.
MARTIN D. STERN
Israel isn't Saudi Arabia
Sir, - In "Bus abuse" (Letters, January 24) your reader complained that friends who went to visit them were informed that the wife would have to sit at the back of the bus. The couple felt humiliated and discriminated against and instead traveled by a much longer, roundabout route.
The reason for separating men and women is modesty. There is also a slight risk that they might bump into each other. At all Orthodox synagogues in any country in the world men and women are seated in separate sections.
If your reader was living in Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed to drive a car, and wrote such a letter to the press, he would soon receive a visit from the religious police and be in serious trouble.