Sir, – “Hallelujah” is right! I read with great interest and emotion “Hallelujah! Evangelicals hold gospel gathering in Israel” (October 7). It brought back many memories for me from my native South Africa, where I had the privilege of growing up with some of these people. I was truly affected by their loyalty, love, warmth and devotion.
Much publicity has been given over the last few years to those South Africans who are ferociously anti-Zionist. Rightly so, since there is a large group of people who despise Israel and support groups like Hamas. (The controversy surrounding the Durban II “anti-racism” conference was not a coincidence.) However, there are also thousands of individuals like the people in this group living in South Africa that have a strong passion for Israel. It is long overdue that the Tourism Ministry focuses on them, too. As the article says, they will without a doubt become “ambassadors” of Israel.
I hope to read of many more groups such as this one visiting our Holy Land.GINA-DEVRA SHAFFER
Jerusalem I do solemnly aver
Sir, – Requiring a loyalty oath (“Cabinet asked to approve loyalty oath
to Israel as ‘Jewish, democratic state,’” October 7) does not in any way
constitute any racism toward Israeli Arabs or anyone else.
The United States requires an oath swearing loyalty to the Constitution
every time an official is elected to office, and no one charges that
bastion of democracy with racism in doing so.
Israeli Arabs are citizens in good standing and should have no
difficulty in recognizing Israel for what it is – namely, a democratic
national state of the Jewish people. For them to live under this
classification does not in any way infringe upon their status as
As far as I’m concerned, requiring such an oath should be extended to
anyone applying for Israeli citizenship (Jewish or not) and for anyone
ascending to public office, including those haredim who oppose the
Zionist entity but hypocritically accept its funding.HAIM M. LERNER
Sir, – Regarding the new loyalty oath, it would make infinitely more
sense to make it mandatory for members of Knesset rather than for new
immigrants. This might result in the pruning of our parliament of
anti-Zionist elements among both Jewish and non-Jewish parties.
As they say in Yiddish, “The fish stinks from the head.” So why not start there? JJ GROSS Jerusalem US parking immunity?
Sir, – It is ironic that only as the US Consulate moves to Arnona (“New
US Consulate to open in capital’s Arnona neighborhood,” October 5) have
the major violations committed on Rehov Agron by the CC- and CD-plated
US diplomatic and consulate vehicles come to attention.
This has been going on for over a decade, and dangerously extended to
adjacent streets such as Hess and Lincoln. Opposite the US residential
building on Jabotinsky, there is a US CC-vehicle regularly parked in the
entrance to Mendele – a one-way street – the opposite way.
The Jerusalem Police cannot claim they are powerless because of US
diplomatic immunity when such violations are a danger to the safety of
the public. The diplomatic immunity claim would not be tolerated in any
Western capital and should not be tolerated in Jerusalem either.DR. COLIN L. LECI
Jerusalem The human right to defend oneself
Sir, – Dan Izenberg reports (“Rights group: 80% of Gaza civilians need
aid,” October 5) that on October 13 the Turkel Commission will hear from
three human rights organizations about the humanitarian aspects of
Israel’s blockade of Gaza. The three are PHR, Gisha, and B’Tselem.
These three organizations give a free pass to Hamas while showing a
total lack of sympathy toward Israelis who suffer from terror attacks
emanating from Hamascontrolled Gaza. What the Turkel commissioners
should ask them to discuss is how Israel should defend itself, if
economic “warfare” against Gaza bothers them.STEVE KRAMER
Alfei Menashe Conservatives seek real peace
Sir, – Douglas M. Bloomfield published in this newspaper a misleading
caricature of the views of American Jewish conservatives on the peace
process (“Can the GOP block a Palestinian state?,” October 3). He
simplistically classifies Democrats as good guys and derides “the Jewish
Right” as enemies of peace.
He accuses conservatives of hating Obama so venomously that they seek failure of negotiations urged by the US administration.
I do not presume to speak for all American Jewish conservatives. We are a
minority (but a growing one) within a minority, most of us proud of the
rubric that neocons are liberals who have been mugged by reality.
We share with all responsible American Jewish leaders – notwithstanding
our disparate opinions – the realization that we should support the
policies of Israel’s government, whose electorate will bleed and die if
those policies fail. Acceptance of a two-state solution is a decision
entrusted to Israel’s government.
Bloomfield asserts that our hateful desire to see Obama fail “takes
precedence over anything the Israelis and Palestinians may want.”
This is partisan calumny.
Bloomfield fails to comprehend that conservatives desire peace as
ardently as he does, in my case all the more so because my daughter and
grandchildren are Israelis and serve in the IDF.
But our desire for peace does not blind us to realities with which Israel has been mugged previously.
The peace we seek is real – not illusory – with security for Israelis and Palestinians.
When Bloomfield assails us for seeking 15 years ago “to thwart the Oslo
process,” he is oblivious to the reality that Oslo proximately led to
the murders of more than 1,000 Israelis. This is not our ideal of real
peace, nor was Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza.
Supporting Israel’s policies does not numb our reality-driven skepticism.
We are skeptical of the ability of Mahmoud Abbas to deliver any
concessions. We find it bizarre that people like Bloomfield ignore the
reality that Hamastan is violently opposed to any solution that will
leave Israel in existence.
I participated in the 1990s in three meetings with Yasser Arafat. I came
to understand that he could not compromise the “Right of Return” of
four million “refugees.”
He dwelled obsessively on the plight of Palestinians in Lebanon.
Arafat aides told me that he would be assassinated if he compromised the “return” of those refugees.
Scholars of the region understand that the word “assassin” was born in Lebanon.
If the powerful Arafat could not compromise this demand, is it realistic
to assume that the weak Abbas can do so? And yes, we conservatives are
skeptical about Obama’s preconceptions and judgments. Passing over his
unprecedented snub of Netanyahu in March, Obama gravely erred in
elevating a settlement freeze into a Palestinian precondition for
We believe Obama is compounding that error by seeking a two-month
extension so that negotiations will not collapse before November
Our views are hardly partisan.
Eighty-seven senators have bipartisanly sent a letter to Obama urging
that pressure be applied to Abbas for refusing to negotiate during the
first nine-and-a-half months of the freeze.
In stating this, I am not unmindful that Obama has done a number of things to strengthen Israel’s strategic edge.
Nonetheless, Bloomfield’s peroration that, to conservatives, “defeating
[Obama] is more important than peace in the Middle East” is shrill
partisanship rather than sound analysis.JOEL J. SPRAYREGEN
Chicago The writer is a vice president of The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs