letters pink 88.
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Sir, - Re: "Forced to bid farewell to Israel," (June 22), as a private citizen, I appeal to our authorities not to deport Esther Olivier and her parents. The Ministry of Interior can rise above its own bureaucracy and rescind this cruel decree.
As an ex-South African myself, I would be grateful to others who would endorse this appeal to grant the Olivier family, if not Israeli citizenship, then at least permanent residency status.
Sir, - The op-ed by Irwin Cotler, "Human rights under assault," (June 25) about the UN Human Rights Council, calls into question the usefulness of Israel's continued participation. Would it not be wiser for your government to officially withdraw its representation?
Sir, - Rather than request "recognition" by the Orthodox religious establishment for other streams, "Agency to debate call for Israel to officially recognize non-Orthodox," (June 25), a better strategy would be to defang the Orthodox stranglehold. This is something the Jewish majority can achieve.
New York City
Sir, - Re: "B'Tselem calls Schalit's captivity a 'war crime,'" (June 25): Israel should stop worrying about what the world may say about collective punishment. Hamas says they know where Schalit is. Therefore we should turn off the electricity to Gaza until they return him unharmed.
Sir, - It is pains me that we do not have one leader who understands what Halacha demands of us in connection with redeeming our captive soldier.
Give Hamas six hours to hand over Schalit. Failure to do so should result in curtailment of family visits to Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli prisons. If this does not work Israel should close off Gaza - no one enters or leaves (remember Biblical Jericho).
And if that does not work, then cut off water and electricity - the world will scream gevalt! And we will explain, before each step, that this is what a Jewish state does to get back its son.
Sir, - Re "Claims Conference, JDC help WWII Survivors Who Fell Through the Cracks" (June 17): While your article admirably notes the crucial aid which the Claims Conference and the Joint Distribution Committee are providing to these elderly Holocaust survivors who have suffered so much during their lifetime, Post readers should know that in the past few years a large portion of the assistance programs in the FSU (over $30 million) have been funded by Christians in America, through the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, headed by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.
ANAT SHAVIT-MALZ, IFCJ
Wise vs Bergson?
Sir, - In "Skeletons rattling for US Jews," (June 21) Charley Levine is mistaken in labeling Rabbi Stephen S. Wise as Peter Bergson's main enemy. Bergson may have labeled him that, but the Jewish leaders who publicly opposed Bergson were from the American Jewish Committee, and Wise was affiliated with the rival American Jewish Congress.
If you check the written record of the period, you will find no sermon, no public statement, by Wise, in any way opposing Bergson. Again, Bergson may have thought that Wise was working against him behind the scenes, but he was wrong. Wise was one of the founders of the Zionist movement at a time when most Reform rabbis opposed Zionism.
Actually, Wise had a Vienna Orthodox smicha, but assumed the pulpit of a Portland Oregon Reform Synagogue before moving to New York and founding the Free Synagogue. According to my father, Dr. Julius I. Klepper, Wise began speaking against Hitler as early as 1930. I heard impassioned sermons from him against the Nazi menace in Carnegie Hall in 1937, age five.
At a meeting that took place in Wise's office at 40 West 68th Street, as reported to my dad, Wise told Bergson: "Roosevelt said: 'Wise, anything you suggest that I can do that will aid the War Effort, I will try to do; but anything you suggest that is purely to help Jews, I cannot do.'"
Wise told me, personally, at age 12, that he considered Roosevelt the only leader who could have unified the US and vigorously forwarded the war effort.
Another Reform Zionist, Rabbi Abba Silver, like Wise, also knew about the Holocaust. Wise and Silver were actually good friends but pretended to be enemies. It was left to Silver to attack Roosevelt on the issues concerning quotas for Jewish immigration, the S. S. St. Louis tragedy, British policy toward Israel and Roosevelt's connivance. Both were committed Zionists, and, as Wise explained: "I work the Democratic side of the street while Silver works the Republican side."
Meanwhile, because Wise would not support Bergson in any way, leaving that job - within the Reform movement - to Silver, Bergson regarded Wise as an enemy and thought the opposition that he was getting from other Reform leaders, those affiliated with the American Jewish Committee and not the American Jewish Congress, originated with Wise.
Sir, - Charley J. Levine's writes that Rabbi Stephen Wise was the founder of the Reform movement's Hebrew Union College. Actually, the founder was Isaac Mayer Wise. Levine attributes to Stephen Wise much more influence in the Reform movement in the 1940s than he merits.
Stephen Wise was actually persona non grata among the classical reformers. One reason that Wise founded the Jewish Institute of Religion, later merged into the Hebrew Union College was to combat the anti-Zionist attitude of HUC.
This does not of course excuse Wise's behavior toward Bergson.
Kick, don't bat
Sir, - The creation of the Israel Baseball League is a big mistake. Israel has two main sports, soccer and basketball. We have our favourites such as Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv for basketball and Maccabi Tel Aviv for soccer. There is no significant demand for baseball as a professional sport in Israel except from American olim.
The six teams around Israel do not stand a chance of enabling Israel to compete in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, in part, due to the quality of the players.