May 27: Allegations rejected

Details of letter sent to UN by Ron Prosor discussing UNRWA map of "Arab Palestine" categorically rejected as “completely false”.

May 26, 2013 23:08

Letters 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )

Allegations rejected

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 23).

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against UNRWA, categorically rejecting them as “completely false” and pointing out that the organization that originally made them has been discredited.

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 us all.”

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 state.


Work in progress

Sir, – The Jerusalem Post 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 enough.

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 pretty.”


Aliya appeal

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.

For many 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 their parents.


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.

Unlike 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.

Hollywood, California

Sir, – Shmuley Boteach’s article was for me – a secular, yet proud Jewess and proud Israeli – a surprisingly refreshing logical understanding coming from a rabbi.

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 years.

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 blessing.


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