Uproot for good
Sir, - Contrary to Amnon Rubinstein's op-ed "Jews don't expel children" (October 26): The children of illegal foreign workers, sent back home with their parents, will be enabled to learn about their own culture, enriched by comparison with what they have imbibed in Israel, and make a positive contribution to their ancestral homeland.
Admittedly, they must cope with being uprooted from what has become familiar to them as a result of their parents' infiltration into Israel. But they will avoid the alienation from family and national heritage they might well have come to feel later on.
The third world countries from which their parents came are in sore need of the values they have learnt here. Rather than help strengthen Israel, they will strengthen their own countries. The picture is not so morally black and white as suggested by the emotionally loaded terms "deportation" and "expulsion."
J Street's Jews...
Sir, - To be credible, J Street's Jews must first commit to basic Jewish values. Then they must experience life in Israel under the threat of annihilation by our enemies. Then they must be prepared to send their children to war to prevent this catastrophe. Only then will they have the perspective required to judge Israel's actions and policies.
This also applies to "arm-chair Zionists" sitting in the comfort of the American Diaspora ("J Street's spiritual conceit," David Weinberg, October 23).
...and those they invite to speak
Sir, - David Weinberg writes that because I accepted a speaking invitation at the upcoming convention of the J Street organization, I "undoubtedly see past the pious claptrap, and know - and appreciate - exactly what J Street is up to."
I don't know what Mr. Weinberg has convinced himself about me and my organization, the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP); however, our founding mission is to promote a negotiated end of conflict agreement resulting in two states - Israel and Palestine - living side-by-side in peace and security. We strongly agree with both George W. Bush and President Barack Obama that such a peace agreement is in the interests of Israel, the Palestinians, and our own country, the US. These positions are clearly reflected in all our public positions and can be amply found on our website (www.americantaskforce.org).
This has been recognized throughout the foreign policy community in the US and elsewhere. For example, Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), both a staunch supporter of Israel and chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, sent me a letter on the occasion of our gala, which reads in part:
"I want you to know how much I, as Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, value my association with you and your colleagues at ATFP. Your integrity, your knowledge of the issues, and your unswervingly principled stand on behalf of peace and fairness - as well as your deep commitment both to the land of your birth, Palestine, and your adopted homeland, America - have all had a powerfully positive impact on discourse in Washington about the Middle East. You and your colleagues have also been an important influence on my own thinking about Middle East peace-making and that of many of my colleagues in the Congress."
ATFP is interested only in working with all parties sincerely committed to achieving a negotiated end of conflict agreement that allows Israel and a Palestinian state to live side by side in peace and security. My agreement to speak at any function is a reflection of this commitment, as is everything ATFP has said and done since its founding in 2003.
ZIAD J. ASALI
Hardly on the ball
Sir, - The Goldstone inquiry was reported in mid-September. Yet only now, six weeks later, does the government set up an investigation "to minimize the diplomatic impact of the report" ("PM and Barak: We won't let soldiers be probed," October 26).
What has it been doing all this time? Is it any wonder that this country's voice is not heard effectively in the outside world?
Sir, - Enough about Judge Goldstone's report and his subsequent call for Israel to initiate its own inquiry. Israel prosecuted its last war in the only way possible, palatable or not.
What's important in warfare is not who is right, but who is left.
DAVID S. ADDLEMAN
Rabbis from Mars?
Sir, - Reported pronouncements by various Orthodox rabbis on how observant Jews are meant to run their lives make me, an observant Jew, begin to think these rabbis are living on a different planet and have lost their basic humanity and common sense.
The notion that receiving charity from Christian sources is "close to idolatry" is insulting and completely untrue ("Christian donor to 'out' haredi recipients of funding," October 23). Both present and past talmudic authorities clarify that Christianity is not regarded as idol worship.
As for the recent ban on using Shabbat elevators, it makes our religion a laughing-stock.
I have had the privilege, over many years, of knowing well the kind of Christians Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein refers to when he recalls the millions of dollars raised every year by Evangelical Christian organizations for Jewish causes in Israel. I have never heard their leaders say one word indicating that they would like to convert Jews. There are, of course, Christian organizations that do set out to do this, but they are not found in the mainstream, Zionist-orientated Evangelical Christian groups who always express their love, support and admiration for the Jewish people and Israel.
In the short, turbulent history of modern Israel, it has always been the Evangelical Christians worldwide who have flocked to Israel to show their support and solidarity. Their generosity has contributed to the welfare of the needier strata of Israeli society, as well as the IDF, universities and hospitals. They have also made a major contribution to resettling Jews from the former Soviet Union. These contributions are given unconditionally, and from the heart.
Far from desecrating God's name, they are examples of the highest level and spirit of true charity.
Sir, - We read this item with amazement. We have been acquainted for years with the activities of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, headed by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, and we have no words to describe the enormous contribution this organization makes to the needy citizens of Nahariya and other communities outside the main population centers.
During the Second Lebanon War, it helped us out with every hardship and never turned us away - whether our need was help for the elderly, for families in need, or for children and youth under stress. Just recently it responded to our request to set up a "home from home" for impoverished teenage girls.
We bless this organization, and wish there were more like it.
Colette Avital, author of the October 22 op-ed article "Why knock the new kid on the block?," is a senior adviser to J Street.