letters to the editor 88.
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Sir, - I write regarding Caroline B. Glick's recent commentary discussing the American Jewish peace movement ("Soros moves on to Israel," October 13). As board president of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace, I am deeply disturbed by Glick's ease in rejecting any opinion contrary to her own, even when this flies in the face of facts about those who have dedicated their lives to fighting for Israel's well-being. It is harmful and unwarranted for Glick to characterize such individuals as being something other than pro-Israel.
As Glick rightly contends, "One of the great strengths of the American Jewish community is its pluralism." Brit Tzedek has always maintained that there are many ways to be pro-Israel, and we are founded on a distinguished Jewish tradition of vigorous debate which has long strengthened and sustained both Judaism and Israel.
Glick referred to former Meretz leader Yossi Sarid's positions as within the range of acceptable opinion. Like Brit Tzedek, Sarid called on Israel to stop the war in Lebanon this summer and has long been a supporter of a Palestinian state. There is a lively debate about these issues among Israelis, including former head of Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen (res.) Sholmo Gazit, Amos Oz and David Grossman, who lost his own son in the latest war, hours after calling for a cease-fire. As American supporters of Israel, we must speak out for negotiations, just as do these distinguished Israeli citizens.
Brit Tzedek v'Shalom advocates initiatives leading to a negotiated, two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because this offers the best prospects for Israel's enduring peace and security. Polls taken just last month show that 67 percent of Israelis agree with our support for direct negotiations with the Palestinians.
Furthermore, as evidenced by Israel's long-standing peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, negotiations can bring peace. The ongoing violence and retribution between Israel and the Palestinians, however, will never lead to anything but more death.
We are pro-peace because we are pro-Israel.
Brit Tzedek v'Shalom
Over the top...
Sir, - David Forman's tirade against Orthodoxy was, to put it mildly, over the top ("How to break the Orthodox stranglehold," October 17). Throwing in everything from personal experiences, Ethiopians, agunot, even Palestinian farmers - quite where they fit into the equation is beyond me!
While sympathizing with his daughter's experience at the Rabbinate, he must surely realize what a daunting task it has: Attempting to ensure that marriages are 100 percent kosher while dealing with immigrants from all over the globe cannot be anything but difficult, and no one should be surprised by an arduous investigation. Having said that, however, my own three married children had no negative experiences when being processed.
It is indeed a shame that Rabbi Forman cannot come to terms with the reality that Jewish reformism, which basically attempts a transformation of the religion, is a non-starter. Like all practitioners of fringe activities, he must proceed in an orderly and dignified manner without expecting recognition or acceptance from mainline Orthodoxy which, having been quite successful for the past 5,000 years or so, apparently is in no need of reformation, transformation, amendments or whatever.
DAVID S. ADDLEMAN
...Way to go
Sir, - A resounding "hear, hear" and "well done" and especially an emphatic "way to go" to David J. Forman. Unfortunately, we the Israeli public, and indeed the government, are being held to ransom in the political/social welfare arena and until the hostages are released, the stranglehold will continue unabated.
Sir, - Jonathan Tobin correctly indicates that "support for Israel is a bipartisan affair, and Democratic party leaders, as well as the overwhelming majority of their caucus in both the House and the Senate, are genuine backers" ("Let the Democrats and the Republicans compete," October 15).
Hence the competition should consider other important issues, including that the Bush administration and Republican-controlled congresses converted major federal surpluses to huge deficits, largely due to tax breaks for the wealthy; endangering future US economic security; used false and misleading information to lead the US into an invasion of Iraq that is having disastrous consequences, including increasing the spread of terrorism and reducing respect for the US in much of the world; has appointed incompetent people to key posts, with very negative results, including failure to properly respond to Hurricane Katrina; is failing to adequately respond to global climate change, although some experts are projecting that it could spiral out of control in a decade unless major changes are soon made.
When these and other important issues are considered, I think there should be little doubt as to which party Jews should support.
RICHARD H. SCHWARTZ
Advice for Dichter
Sir, - Re "Dichter to dispense security advice in US" (October 15).
Please, Minister Dichter, there is a whole cadre of personnel - ranging from the prime minister, through the foreign minister, down to interns - who are appointed to take care of diplomacy with our neighbors. Spare us gratuitous advice which will only reveal our weaknesses to our adversaries.
Sir, - Prof. Moshe Sharon's brilliant article "Negotiating in the bazaar" (October 11) should be made required reading for every member of the government and the Knesset.
First on the list of those who must read this article should be Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter, who violates every one of Sharon's rules for negotiating with the Arabs.
Sir, - The Lieberman plan does not offer real reform to the election system ("Coalition slot for Lieberman in doubt," October 16). The problem with Israeli system is not whether it a presidential system or a prime ministerial system, but that there is no directly accountability to the public neither from the head of state nor from the members of the Knesset.
The corruption occurs because Knesset members have only party loyalty and no loyalty to the public at large. True reform will only be achieved when we switch to an American system of election, i.e. direct election of the head of state (president or prime minister) and direct election of Knesset members on the basis of geography by dividing the country into election districts based on population and electing one or two representatives from each district.
Change the date
Sir, - After two postponements, because of the recent war and again the onset of Rosh Hashana, the date on which the police has finally agreed to allow the homosexual community in Israel, supported by their friends from all over the world, to hold its parade through the streets of Jerusalem will be Friday, November 10 ("Compromise reached on timing of gay parade," September 19). It will no doubt be a colorful, opulent, noisy and very conspicuous affair.
But whether one views homosexuality as an unnatural or offensive way of behavior in public, or even if one agrees with its legitimacy as an accepted lifestyle, there are certain boundaries that should not be crossed.
I can only assume that when granting permission to hold the march on November 10, neither Jerusalem police chief Cmdr. Ilan Franco nor the justices at the High Court were aware of the significance of that date to Holocaust survivors and millions of Jews, both in Israel and abroad.
On that day in 1938, almost all synagogues in Germany, Austria and the German-occupied part of Czechoslovakia were burned down, looted and the Torah scrolls desecrated. Some 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps and much Jewish property was badly damaged. The date was the "Night of Broken Glass," also known as Kristallnacht.
It is not my intention to make a moral judgement, but it is apparent that after two postponements the organizers were prepared to accept any day, even if the consequences insult and affront the feelings of those who lived through that ignominious day in Europe and witnessed the destruction - and I include myself.
It is not too late to postpone the event, knowing the pain it will cause. This highly visible, exuberant and frivolous occasion takes place on the day when many people light a candle to commemorate the worst Nazi pogrom prior to the Holocaust itself.
Sir, - I was very disturbed on reading that police interrupted prayers at the kotel on Rosh Hashana in the middle of shofar blowing during Musaf and even arrested the ba'al tekia ("Yeshiva student detained for blowing shofar at 'Kotel Hakatan,'" September 29).
It made me recall an incident as a boy in Danzig in 1937 during Rosh Hashana. The Musaf service was suddenly interrupted by a crowd of Jews who were fugitives from another shul which was broken up by Nazis. The poor Jews could not even speak because they were in the middle of the Musaf tekiot when you are not allowed to talk.
That such a thing could have happened in a Jewish state is beyond belief. It can only be ascribed to the fact that these boorish policemen are the products of the general education system of Israel, bereft on any knowledge and feeling for Torah and Judaism.
No wonder the attachment of these graduates to the Land of Israel in on a slippery downward slide.
Sir, - All Israeli newspapers should have on their front page every day how long our soldiers have been captive, and what the government is doing to release them ("After 20 years, Ron Arad's family friends seek closure," October 16).
It could so easily be your child, and you would want the whole country to be thinking of him constantly and not forgetting about him for one single day.