Sir, – You gave details in your newspaper of the letter
sent to the United Nations secretary general by Israel’s UN Ambassador Ron Prosor
(“Prosor takes issue with UNRWA’s map of ‘Arab Palestine’ during UN speech,” May
The office of the secretary-general has responded to the allegations
against UNRWA, categorically rejecting them as “completely false” and pointing
out that the organization that originally made them has been
CHRIS GUNNESS The writer is a spokesman for
UNRWA.The larger picture
Sir, – I read with keen interest Gil Troy’s
article, in which he contrasts the media’s latest emphasis on cynical and
corrosive issues, with its ignoring of more positive and crucial issues (“From
the media’s ‘gotcha’ grip to Zionist fulfillment in one week,” Center Field,
Comment and Features).
For longer than we care to admit, Israeli society,
fragmented by religious, political, and ethnic allegiances, has been manipulated
and cajoled by a media which has as its sole purpose the objective of celebrity
and self-serving prestige.
The result, as Troy illustrates, is that we
are so eager to blame isolated sectors in Israel for our troubles that we lose
sight of the larger picture.
Yes, daily life in Israel is a kaleidoscope
of human experience.
How sad, however, that most of our journalists today
see only the negative, the pessimistic, the despair and those to castigate,
rather than report on hope, enlightenment, unity of purpose, “builders and
nurturers who protect our nation, developers who create, educators who elevate
I applaud Gil Troy for reminding readers what the Zionist
experiment was all about and why we are far short of realizing Herzl’s dream
Modi’in Work in progress
Sir, – The Jerusalem
editorial on May 21 (“Entrepreneurial Judaism,”) begins with praise for
Minister Naftali Bennett for the changes he proposes to the way in which the
religious councils function. Then it goes on to condemn him for not going far
One of the characteristics that defines a democracy is that it is
a “work in progress.” Changes are introduced at a rate that the public can
accept. This, incidentally, is in keeping with the halachic rule that “a decree
cannot be instituted that the community cannot fulfill.”
Or, as Woodrow
Wilson expressed it so succinctly: “Politics must follow the actual windings of
the channel of the river: If it steers by the stars it will run
aground.”The Jerusalem Post
editorial’s criticism of Bennett reminds one
of the old Yiddish adage concerning a prospective bridegroom who turns down a
proposed match because “die kallah is tzu shoen – the bride is too
Sir, – I was thrilled to open
the paper last week to see so many of my old friends and former campers smiling
out at me from the picture taken at the British Bnei Akiva expat reunion (“An
aliya reunion: 40 years and going strong,” Borderline Views, Comment and
Features, May 21).
Your proviso at the end of David Newman’s excellent
op-ed states that “the views expressed are his alone.” In this particular case,
they certainly aren’t... I guarantee they are shared by hundreds of olim like
myself whose formative years were influenced in such a positive way by Bnei
Akiva, and whose children are often envious of the deep and abiding friendships
we have with each other until today.
Sir, – David
Newman appears to have been amongst a fortunate group of people which he
describes as well educated with good professions.
Perhaps one should ask
the question: Why was theirs such a successful aliya? He has clearly answered
that question, but he has not considered how many of his contemporaries that
either remained in or returned to their country of birth would like to have been
in the same position.
He also suggests that they should plan aliya now or
at least for retirement.
Many have a similar dream, but the reality is
more often than not a question of economics.
It is not whether to have
two cars and a luxury vacation – as so often perceived – but rather it is to own
a home and to be able to give something to your own children.
that didn’t make aliya 30 years ago, it would have meant living hand to mouth
and renting apartments, having to move every few years, risk of unemployment and
lack of stability for their children.
The situation for those same people
is certainly no better today, which does not mean the dream of retirement to
Israel has diminished in any way. The reality yet again is economics. It is well
documented that this generation is the first to be financially worse off than
London Playing on emotion
Sir, – Once
again Shmuley Boteach steps in it big time (“Was the Holocaust punishment for
sin?” No Holds Barred, Comment and Features, May 21).
He is incapable of
curbing himself or his pen or disengaging himself from things not in his
purview. The subject under Boteach’s microscope is the reasons or lack thereof
for the Holocaust.
Although it is a subject known only to God, Boteach
still obstinately chooses to wade in where those with a modicum of humility and
reverence for God fear to tread. It is a piece meant to play on emotion – all
too prevalent a tactic in today’s day and age, regardless of the distance from
any vestige of truth.
Boteach utilizes generalities and emotional
arguments to get his point across, hoping it will play well with the unlearned
or neophytes to this topic (which is most).
We learn in the Torah from
the death of Miriam, juxtaposed as it is to the laws of purification by the Red
Heifer – even though they were approximately 38 years apart – that it is the
death of the righteous that brings atonement to the nation. Who knows if our six
million saintly sacrifices were not perhaps atonement for us all until the time
of redemption. It is no excuse and doesn’t answer why it was them, but at a
minimum it may give some a measure of comfort.
If there is a correlation
to anything remotely resembling a Torah response to the question, it is this,
much more than the rhetorical flourish attempted by Boteach.
Shmuley, I don’t pretend to know or ascribe motives to God’s plan. To attempt to
try is an exercise in futility not to mention foolhardy. What a shame Boteach
couldn’t suffuse his whole article with his conclusion, which is actually
beautiful and well-stated.
JOSEPH ISAAC KORF
Shmuley Boteach’s article was for me – a secular, yet proud Jewess and proud
Israeli – a surprisingly refreshing logical understanding coming from a
He actually takes God out of the picture in trying to cope with
the nightmare of the Holocaust without expounding on the time honored phrase “We
don’t understand God’s ways.”
My only problem with the rabbi’s otherwise
very well written article is in his conclusion.
If we’re taking God out
of the picture for not being with us in our hour of greatest need, one can’t
extoll the almighty that “has sustained us, for the most part,” and “be grateful
to God for our longevity” as a people and appeal to an omnipotent deity to “show
Himself now,” because we’ve been basically devoted faithful for 3,000
It is actually thus an affront and a chutzpa to request this of
God, who chose not to participate in the Shoah, to shower us now with his