A rigged survey
With regard to “Poll: Majority support pluralistic prayer at Kotel” (November 3), Darrell Huff’s 1954 book How to Lie with Statistics explains how easily this Reform-sponsored survey could achieve its desired responses.
Most obviously, an Internet poll excludes the ultra-Orthodox, who do not use the Internet.
There are other population sectors that less frequently use the Internet – they, too, would be under represented.
Additionally, non-consumers of regular synagogue use were asked opinions about hypothetical scenarios in which they had neither involvement nor concern. It’s not uncommon for the non-involved to simply respond to a nuanced question in favor of the desired response.
I am certain that the questionnaire did not ask if the respondent would be interested in attending a lengthy weekly worship service without a gender barrier that’s led by a lesbian “rabbi” who delivers a sermon that is a diatribe against US President Donald Trump.GERSHON DALIN
Modi’in Liberal American Jews
Shuki Friedman’s “Two Jewish nations and the abyss between them” (Observations, November 3) ignores several facts on the ground with regard to American Jewry today, and incorrectly juxtaposes cause and effect with regard to the strained relations between Israelis and their American brothers.
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Friedman, for example, asserts: “For many American Jews, identification with the State of Israel is a significant component of their Jewish identity.... Solidarity with the Jewish state is steadily decreasing among the younger generation as Israel becomes less important to their Jewish identity.... The State of Israel is not only pushing Jews away from identifying with it, but it is also pushing them away from the Jewish people.”
For both the parents and the “younger generation,” not only Israel, but Judaism itself has ceased to be a priority. Yet the fault hardly can be placed at Israel’s doorstep.
For the past 20 years, American Jews and their organizations have been eager to speak as the voice of American liberalism and even as the soloists of the liberal chorus. The problem lies with so many American Jews who are less interested in their fellow Jews and Jewish issues than in doing a twirl on the larger, national stage.
They are being led by liberal theoreticians who use the general Jewish public as a personal power base. The spokespeople of American Jewry should realize that they are not the American Civil Liberties Union nor the general conscience of the American people or even of American Jewry. Alas, Jewish baby boomers have moved on to find new worlds to conquer.
Not finding any or ignoring Israel’s need to defend itself as any normal nation would, they have continued to embrace the liberal doctrine of Franklin Roosevelt without noting how far to the left their cherished ideology has drifted. Jewish organizations in America are not concerned so much about Jewish survival (note the frightening intermarriage statistics over there) as they are about catching column space in The New York Times
It seems that the American liberal Jewish establishment and many of its radical offspring on campuses believe they are unable to get headlines when they help their own people or fight against intermarriage or the radicalization of their young. Wealthy Jews in particular achieve their recognition by contributing vast sums to Democratic candidates who view Israel as the recalcitrant party in the Middle East.
Today, the successful American Jew truly believes that he has been fully accepted into gentile society and that defending Israel might jeopardize his sense of acceptance. There also lingers the old fear of being accused of dual loyalty.
Since liberalism has become their basic religious identification, these Jews reject anything from the Jewish world that clashes with “secular liberal social justice.” Unfortunately for them, Judaism is not based on the theories of Thomas Jefferson, Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein or Gloria Steinem.
To the liberal American Jew, the abandonment of Judaism and Israel is not a desertion at all, but rather an expression of moral growth.
In short, it is not Israel that has alienated younger American Jews from the Jewish people – it is the desire for acceptance and integration into the wider gentile society, and at any price.
Uber in Israel
Reading “Let Uber drive in Israel” (Editor’s Notes, November 3), it is hard not to recall ads on our radio stations warning soldiers against accepting rides: “You never now how the ride will end.”
Would that the security situation here warranted Yaakov Katz’s comparisons with Montreal, Australia or New York (the latter being something of a problem these days, with the writer’s cavalier statement that a background check “does not always weed out potential criminals” reflecting little understanding or sensitivity).
Our enemies, who do not have to travel all the way from Uzbekistan, make no secret of considering the kidnapping of Israelis a most lucrative achievement. There is, tragically, no shortage of examples.
Allowing UberX on our roads could prove much like letting in a Trojan horse for terrorists.
As a long-suffering elderly Anglo, I heartily agree with Yaakov Katz. I must point out that bad, unpleasant or just plain incompetent taxi drivers can be found worldwide – I recently rode from Brooklyn to Kennedy Airport with a driver who spoke only Spanish.
Even worse is the situation where you need a shared taxi to the airport (one company has the monopoly for this).
A few months ago, I tried to book a ride for my teenage niece. Hearing my English-accented Hebrew, the controller switched to a very poor English. I gave him the necessary details, but in hindsight, I guess I should have stuck to Hebrew, as the vehicle did not arrive at the appointed time.
(The next day, I called the company. The controller started yelling at me. He said my name was not on his list and he called me a liar. Shocked and panic-stricken, I hung up without stopping to take his name.)
The trick is, when you find a good driver, keep his name and number. My “good driver” saved the day, and 15 minutes later, my niece was on her way.
Making the connection
As we just celebrated the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, I thought you might be interested in the following.
My great-grandfather, Joseph Massel, emigrated from Russia to Manchester, England, in 1895. He was the pioneer of Zionism in the UK. In 1897, he went to the First Zionist Congress in Basel and met Chaim Weizmann. He met Theodor Herzl at the Second Zionist Congress in 1898, also in Basel.
When Weizmann first came to Manchester, my great-grandfather collected him from the station, put him up for the night and arranged lodging for him. They became lifelong friends. Weizmann was to go on to refer to him as a “veritable angel” and described his Friday evening visits to the Massel household as the “highlights of his life.”
My great-grandfather introduced Weizmann to Charles Dreyfus. Dreyfus was the president of the Manchester Zionist Society, a member of the Manchester City Council and a leading figure in the East Manchester Conservative Association.
Arthur James Balfour was the member of Parliament for East Manchester and befriended Dreyfus.
This connection resulted in Dreyfus introducing Balfour to Chaim Weizmann, Zionism and my great-grandfather. The rest, as they say, is history.JONATHAN HALPERN
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