letters to the editor 88.
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Sir, - Isi Leibler's article "Take on the billionaires" (October 24) grossly distorted the positions of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace.
By calling on the US government to become "more involved" in ending the "violence and retribution" between Israel and its Arab neighbors, we were not being Orwellian as Leibler suggests. Brit Tzedek is a pro-Israel organization that would never call on the United States to "reverse its support for Israel." To the contrary, we advocate for US leadership in achieving a negotiated two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, because it is key to Israel's long-term peace and security.
Brit Tzedek is a nationwide network of 39 chapters and 35,000 supporters advocating for our pro-Israel, pro-peace position. Our dramatic growth in less than five years leaves us no need to exaggerate our "public profile." Additionally, polls of American Jews consistently show strong support for Brit Tzedek's call for a negotiated, two-state solution to the conflict. As Leibler himself notes, Brit Tzedek successfully worked to moderate the Palestinian sanctions bill by mobilizing our grassroots network.
We are greatly encouraged, yet not surprised, that leading American Jewish philanthropists are contemplating investing in pro-Israel, pro-peace advocacy. Nothing will bring them or Israel a better return on their investment.
DIANE M. CANTOR
Brit Tzedek v'Shalom
Educate the public
Sir, - In "How to (really) fix the political system" (October 26), Daniel Doron correctly points out that the reason there is so much political corruption is that there is so much opportunity for corruption and that the opportunity can only be decreased by decreasing the size and power of the government over the economic life of Israel.
Doron suggests the pro-free market solution: Shift the power over economic life to the decision-making of consumers and producers and away from politicians and their supporters.
There are two problems: the public's level of understanding of how free markets work and many producers are themselves supporters of politicians that distort the free market. Israel dearly needs people who will educate the public concerning the merits of economic freedom.
I had to adjust
Sir, - Who conducted the poll showing a "high rate of olim going back" ("Poll shows high rate of olim going back," October 26)? I know of many new olim who have no plans to go back.
As a new immigrant myself, I am surprised about the administrative and language-barrier problems mentioned in the article. I had no problem getting my health insurance or medical care. My counselor from the Absorption Ministry has been extremely helpful.
Yes, I had some bumps in the road, but the big picture was that I wanted to live in Israel, not in North America. I was the one who had to adjust, not the country.
Sir, - I also have environmental concerns regarding the Venice Beach Jewish community's efforts to set up an eruv ("Eruv raises environmental concerns along California's Venice Beach," October 26).
Many members of Diaspora Jewish communities may have good reasons for choosing to live outside their natural environment.
But while it may sometimes be necessary to maintain an artificial Jewish environment by building institutions that are castles in the sky or poles and string in the sand, separated from their roots, Judaism was intended for life in Israel.
Please join us, we want you here.
No reason to believe
Sir, - Avi Shafran argues in favor of "bending of our imperfect human notions to the will of an omniscient God" ("On being a Jewish 'fundamentalist,'" October 25). At a minimum, his position requires that (1) Jewish morality is in fact of divine origin; and (2) there is some reason to believe that the deity who transmitted that morality is himself good in some meaningful sense. There is no reason whatsoever to believe that either of these conditions hold.
DAVID J. BALAN
Sir, - Reading what Xiaoan Zhang of the Chinese Embassy has to say about Falun Gong is eerily similar to reading about what Goebbels had to say about the Jews while they were being subject to genocide in Europe not so long ago ("The search for truth," October 24).
This current genocide in China has been well documented by many UN organizations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and, most recently, by Canadian statesman David Kilgour, who defines the recently uncovered mass organ harvesting of living Falun Gong practitioners as "a new form of evil on the planet."
Perhaps Xiaoan and his cronies in the Communist Party need to revamp their lies, as their current ones are getting old and have been thoroughly disproven.
Vancouver, British Columbia
End the feud
Sir, - I admire both Michael Lerner and Alan Dershowitz and wish they would get over their feud. Lerner is not a hard-leftist. Dershowitz is not a hard-rightist. Both supported Al Gore and then John Kerry for president. Both are American liberal Democratic Jews. Both are progressive strong supporters of Israel.
Both oppose violence and terrorism against Israel, and both oppose the Israeli occupation and the settlements. Their books - Lerner's Healing Israel/Palestine and Dershowitz's The Case for Peace are remarkably similar.
In fact, any anti-Zionist who doesn't know why the Jews are in Israel, and why they did what they have done through the last century, will never learn better than from Lerner's book.
I don't know who "started" this apparent feud between them - when my children bicker, no one "starts" it and there's a little bit of blame on both sides.
But both gentlemen are pro-Zionist and believe that the Jewish people have the right to a state in the Holy Land - Lerner as much as Dershowitz, and I have heard him, in person, when challenged by anti-Zionists, passionately defend this right.
I wish they would forgive each other, forget their feud and concentrate on the progressive and pro-Israel (and pro-Palestinian) future upon which they emphatically and mainly agree with each other.
Sir, - Clearly, the National Infrastructure Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office have closed their eyes to the actions of Russia in the past year with respect to energy supply ("Energy cooperation key part of Moscow visit," October 19).
In the last 12 months, Russia deliberately cut off supplies of natural gas to both Ukraine and Georgia at the height of the coldest winter in decades. EU ministers recently met in Finland to review and express their concern regarding the situation as they become more dependent on Russian natural gas.
If Russia can cut gas supplies to countries of the former Soviet Union at the drop of a hat and raise prices by large orders of magnitude, how much more so would it be when it comes to us - or perhaps Prime Minister Ehud Olmert thinks we have a special relationship?
We have to be self reliant on energy supply and should develop the vast resources of indigenous oil shale reserves from which oil can be produced for $30-$40 a barrel compared with today's world prices of $60 a barrel.
It is irresponsible for both government and opposition to turn a blind eye and rely on foreign sources and goodwill.
COLIN L. LECI