July 22: J Street disingenuous

J Street has enraged many American Jews by calling on its members to lobby the US Treasury to question the tax deductibility of charitable donations benefiting institutions over the Green Line.

By JERUSALEM POST READERS
July 21, 2010 22:20
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J Street disingenuous

Sir, – As I wrote in my July 19 column (“J Street’s new outrageous initiative”), J Street has enraged many American Jews by calling on its members to lobby the US Treasury to question the tax deductibility of charitable donations benefiting institutions over the Green Line.

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It is now running for cover by disingenuously claiming it seeks to question the legality of these donations, as distinct from their tax deductibility status (Corrections, July 21).

The fact is that it has launched a major campaign highlighting a New York Times article titled “Tax Exempt Funds Aid Settlements” that questioned their deductibility.

In its press release, J Street explicitly states that funds raised are “tax deductible contributions.”

So there can be no doubt as to its intention, it has urged its supporters to bombard the Treasury Department, which is responsible for matters of tax evasion, with demands for an investigation.

It goes without saying that if the donations are deemed illegal, they shall not enjoy deductibility.



Even if J Street’s campaign does not explicitly call for the revocation of deductibility, the result would effectively have far more serious ramifications for the donations than for the loss of this status, for it would render illegal any charitable contributions beyond the 1949 armistice lines. This would affect US organizations providing charitable contributions that might benefit the uncontested major settlement blocs, the Jewish suburbs of east Jerusalem, the Old City, and even the Western Wall and Temple Mount.

It is unprecedented and utterly unconscionable for any Jewish organization, especially one that has the gall to describe itself as “pro Israel,” to lobby the US Treasury to investigate the legality (and, by implication, the tax deductibility) of contributions to Israel that are inconsistent with its political agenda.

ISI LEIBLER
Jerusalem

Start elsewhere, please

Sir, – MK Danny Danon (“Danon visits Temple Mount,” July 21) calls for “complete religious freedom” at the holy site. How about starting with “complete religious freedom” for at least part of the Kotel?

GERRY MANDELL
Omer

‘Meshiggeners’ and simpletons

Sir, – Delighted as I am to read about the work being done to preserve the riches of my forbears in Galicia, I would have been even more appreciative had you employed correctly transliterated terminology (“Sites in Jewish Galicia being documented by Hebrew U. team,” July 21).

The word is meshiggener.

And, oh yes: We can do without the “happy-go-lucky simpleton” with the inane grin, thank you very much. Please refer to der Chelmnishe chevra for information about those!

STANLEY COHEN

Jerusalem

Personal covenant

Sir, – So the new Jewish convert eats a ham sandwich. So what? It doesn’t nullify his conversion and simply means he has failed to observe that particular mitzva. The conversion to Judaism is a covenant between the non-Jew and God, not the Beit Din or the rabbis.

As “Orthodox leader: Conversion bill good for Jews” (July 20) sadly illustrates, the issue of conversion in Israel has become so politicized and such a matter of who has and doesn’t have power that the beauty, sanctity, spirituality and thus real meaning of the convert receiving a Jewish soul from God has been almost entirely lost.

KENNETH S. BESIG
Kiryat Arba

He should understand

Sir, – I am writing to inform David Newman that in the US, as in Israel, we have to endure security checks that often seem tedious and unnecessary, for the sake of overall safety (“When is a border not a border?,” Borderline views, July 20). Changing buses without reason appears to have triggered enhanced security in his case.

In addition, as a professor with tenure, Newman may not understand that if a security guard overrides regulations, he may very quickly lose his job.

A bit of understanding, humor and tolerance by the professor would be a wiser approach in these situations.

MARJORIE BARNETT, MD
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Sir, – David Newman goes too far in castigating the soldiers who man crossing points for demonstrating “...the blind acceptance of a regulation... rather than using their brains for themselves.” We may laugh at the Americans for demanding that we remove our shoes, but in the US the law is the law. Is Newman suggesting that the regulation is immoral and mandates refusal by the soldier, or is he suggesting that the soldier pick and choose which orders to follow?

SYDNEY L. KASTEN

Jerusalem

Sir, – It is a sad day, indeed, when you foist both David Newman and Gershon Baskin (“Settlements and the anti-Zionists,” Encountering peace, July 20) on your readers in one issue. Was it to help us mourn on Tisha Be’av?

DR. JEANETTE DERSHOWITZ

Jerusalem

Map says it all

Sir, – The column reporting the interview with Frank Luntz (“The word according to Frank,” Editor’s notes, July 16) is particularly instructive to those who travel abroad and want to speak up for Israel, and also to those who are active here in explaining its positions and attempts to defend itself.

I found great interest in the reaction of the anti-Israel British to the Hamas charter that Luntz had given them.

Some years ago, I was invited to give a “parlor talk” in the US to a group of elderly women – intelligent, university-educated and active Israel supporters – about life in Israel, “but nothing political.”

The latter was strongly emphasized.

No problem. I talked about schools, medical care, the role of the “corner grocery,” work relationships.

But first, to show them exactly where Israel was, I held up a map of the Middle East, with Israel in bright yellow. “Here, to the east of the Mediterranean,” I said, as I casually pointed to it with my finger.

They were stunned. “It’s so small?” No need for further comment, and “nothing political.”

RUTH M. SEGEL
Rehovot

Out of time

Sir, – It is long past “five to midnight” for Britain (“A political culture gone bad,” July 15).

The UK is a classic example of what happens when you become a society without any moral absolutes, and where virtually anything goes, especially if you are a Muslim. It is now a country without a soul, without direction, where the Islamic voice is heard in every quarter more than any other, and where honor killings are described by police as “a community matter.”

There is no Geert Wilders ready to spring to the fore for restoration of the country’s original values, to stem immigration and the dangers it brings.

A country that permits people to abuse their freedoms and demonstrate against soldiers killed in defense of their nation in Afghanistan and Iraq has lost sight of the “democracy” it purports to defend.

England will not recover and there are no more “midnights.”

I. KEMP
Nahariya

No laughing matter

Sir, – Regarding your article “Despite perjury conviction, Kadima activists urge Hanegbi to run for party chair” (July 19), one is compelled to ask whether the activists truly grasp the meaning of perjury or at all appreciate its seriousness.

Deliberately lying while under oath should be sufficient reason to disqualify a candidate from any public office, and even more so as the head of a major political party.

The above should be self-evident, unless those activists in the murky politics of Kadima feel MK Tzahi Hanegbi’s skills at disingenuousness are vital to the party’s advancement.

ZEV CHAMUDOT
Petah Tikva


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