Insofar as I’m neither a runner nor much of a walker, I’ll unfortunately not be registering for Ben-Zvi Institute’s tours highlighting the American Jewish flavor that can be found throughout Jerusalem (“Walking and running in the footsteps of American Jews,” April 4). I’m curious, though, if any consideration was given to providing the possibility for those less mobile to participate in what promises to be an interesting three hours.
Although I’m far from a tech-wiz, I’m sure there are any number of ways participants can tag along remotely. Sensitivity to the homebound or mobility-challenged has become a leading item on the public agenda; it seems to me that the Diaspora Week tours and activities should not exclude anyone from taking part wherever possible.
That aside, even though the themes of the tours focus on American Jewry’s contribution to the growth and development of Israel, I do hope that they will not exclude non-Jews from appreciating the very special connection that exists between Israel and the United States. With expressions of antisemitism and BDS promotions becoming alarmingly routine and a United Nations that has become openly hostile to Israel, ensuring that visitors and tourists come away with the big picture is essential. These Diaspora Week tours provide an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the mutually beneficial relationship that exists between Washington and Jerusalem. And with mid-term elections in the United States only half-a-year or so away, properly structured public relations are essential.
Diaspora communities, of course, are not limited to those in the US. And Golda Meir and Moshe Arens were not the only notables who arrived in Israel bearing foreign passports. Vibrant, Zionist Jews live in countries throughout the world, each of which have also made significant contributions to the color, character and personality of Israel in general and Jerusalem in particular. Will appreciation to these other communities also be expressed during Diaspora Week? I certainly hope so. After all, Cadbury is as much a part of the Israeli nosh culture as Hershey, no?
Furiously swerves its way
Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli, with Finance Minister Liberman, has proposed to reduce the price of bus tickets for elderly people (“‘Equal Commute’ reform: Lower prices, elderly ride for free,” April 5). This action is presumably motivated by a desire to give elderly people more access to public transportation, a goal I, aged 84, applaud. But I am writing to the Post in the hope of attracting Ms. Michaeli’s attention to the fact that the price of a ticket is hardly the reason elderly people like myself refuse to board buses.
I don’t know about Jerusalem but if Ms. Michaeli boards a bus in the Ramat Hasharon/Tel Aviv area, she will find herself to be in danger of serious injury. This is because the bus drivers refuse to stop until all passengers sit down or have something to hold onto while the bus fast and furiously swerves its way through the streets. I had thought that since the bus driver does not have to collect fares now, he or she would have time to observe the speed limit, but as it is now, I cannot even validate my card without being thrown about, to say nothing about rising again to add three shekels once we cross the city line.
In addition, the bus drivers are not taught to courteously answer their passengers relevant questions.
DR. BEVERLY LEWIN
‘Self-inflicted and humiliating wound’
If Francesca Albanese had the slightest interest in truth, she would read contemporaneous Muslim and Arab media and learn that the “Nakba” was self-inflicted (“Israel accuses UNHRC’s new investigator of comparing Nakba to the Holocaust,” April 4).
Muslim and Arab journalists were not silent about the alleged Nakba. Even a cursory glance at contemporaneous Arab and Muslim newspapers and other Muslim media makes clear that it was Arab leaders who commanded the local Arab population to “flee” their homes in anticipation of the genocide of the Jews:
On April 3, 1949, the Near East Arabic Broadcasting Station reported: “It must not be forgotten that the Arab Higher Committee encouraged the refugees’ flight from their homes in Jaffa, Haifa and Jerusalem.”
On October 12, 1963, the Egyptian daily Akhbar el-Yom reported that “the 15th May, 1948 arrived... On that day the Mufti of Jerusalem (the Grand Mufti Amin al-Husseini) appealed to the Arabs of Palestine to leave the country, because the Arab armies were about to enter and fight in their stead.”
On April 9, 1953, the Jordanian daily Al Urdun reported: “For the flight and fall of the other villages it is our leaders who are responsible because of their dissemination of rumors exaggerating Jewish crimes and describing them as atrocities in order to inflame the Arabs. By spreading rumors of Jewish atrocities, killings of women and children etc., they instilled fear and terror in the hearts of the Arabs in Palestine, until they fled leaving their homes and properties to the enemy.”
Even the contemporaneous reporting of The Economist makes clear that the alleged Nakba was self-inflicted. On October 3, 1948, The Economist reported: “Of the 62,000 Arabs who formerly lived in Haifa not more than 5,000 or 6,000 remained. Various factors influenced their decision to seek safety in flight. There is but little doubt that the most potent of the factors were the announcements made over the air by the Higher Arab Executive, urging the Arabs to quit... It was clearly intimated that those Arabs who remained in Haifa and accepted Jewish protection would be regarded as renegades.”
On August 19, 1951, the Beirut weekly Kul-Shay opined: “Who brought the Palestinians to Lebanon as refugees, suffering now the malign attitude of newspapers and communal leaders, who have neither honor nor conscience? Who brought them over in dire straits and penniless, after they lost their homes? The Arab states, and Lebanon among them, did it.”
The Arab National Committee in Jerusalem, following the Arab Higher Committee’s March 8, 1948 orders, instructed women, children, and the elderly living in Jerusalem to leave their homes: “Any opposition to this order... is an obstacle to the holy war... and will hamper the operations of the fighters in these districts.”
Furthermore, the Jordanian newspaper Filastin on February 19, 1949 stated: “The Arab states who encouraged the Palestine Arabs to leave their homes temporarily in order to be out of the way of the Arab invasion armies have failed to keep their promise to help these refugees.”
The Syrian prime minister in 1948-49, Haled al-Azm, also openly acknowledged the Arabs’ role in persuading the refugees to leave: “Since 1948 we have been demanding the return of the refugees to their homes. But we ourselves are the ones who encouraged them to leave.”
Further, the word “nakba” originates with Syrian professor and intellectual Constantin Zureiq. In August 1948, he first used the term nakba as “a self-inflicted and humiliating wound caused by the Arabs themselves” (Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth,” Noa Tishby, 2021).
Zureiq’s own words make clear that the Nakba has nothing to do with Israel or the Jews:
“When the battle broke out, our public diplomacy to speak of our imaginary victories, to put the Arab public to sleep and talk of the ability to overcome and win easily – until the Nakba happened... We must admit our mistakes... and recognize the extent of our responsibility for the disaster that is our lot.”
Only after 1968 did the antisemites of the PLO and their allies on the Left pervert Zureiq’s clear meaning and make the Jews the villain.
Betraying the trust
Regarding “Rape allegations at YU stirs reforms – and skepticism” (April 3), I have much to be grateful for when discussing Yeshiva University. I am a graduate of the Manhattan High School for Girls, class of 1965, and received an excellent education in Judaic and secular studies. The members of our graduating class still share warm relationships and we celebrate class reunions every few years.
I was never naive enough to believe that no Jew, or even any religious Jew, ever committed a crime or indulged in unacceptable behavior. However, I firmly believed that if such problems arose, they would be dealt with morally, ethically and swiftly. That is where the dream fell apart.
My community in Riverdale, NY has had a number of unpleasant situations. The first involved the “Sauna Rabbi” (Jonathan Rosenblatt) who was finally forced out eight months after The New York Times made his alleged behavior public. Despite this the Riverdale and Jewish community at large has had great difficulty facing the need to take a serious stand to prevent others from betraying the trust of the vulnerable.
YU hosts an online group of shiurim (religious studies) called YU Torah. Rosenblatt was a contributor over the years. Although no further shiurim were uploaded after his ouster from his Riverdale synagogue, those shiurim were never taken down. When Richard Joel was leaving the presidency at YU, I asked him to take down those shiurim. I never received a reply. As Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman was coming into the presidency, I asked him to remove Rosenblatt’s shiurim; also to no reply. When I casually ran into Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman and brought it up, he was non-responsive. To see my letters, please look on my Times of Israel entries under Enough is Enough.
I have no idea what happened on the YU campus. However, this story sounds like it is playing out the same way that these occurrences play out on secular campuses. Time will tell if we will see real change in the way that Jewish institutions handle moral challenges.
Precedence over the Jewish holiday
Prime Minister Bennett assures us that we’re working “around the clock” to prevent terror attacks and restore security (“Security forces kill three Palestinian ‘ticking bombs,’” April 3). The reality of course is that it’s impossible to secure security while we allow our enemies to grow and infiltrate throughout our land. Bennett states that “our people are acting with courage around the clock in a hostile and violent environment.”
It’s only such because we have allowed it to be, because we have virtually disowned this land to which we were returned to build and settle it for the Jewish people, because we have abandoned our holiest site the Temple Mount together with all other holy sites to our enemies and take our orders from them as to Jewish visitation rights. President Herzog has the audacity to actually thank King Abdullah of Jordan for the important role he plays as custodian of our Temple Mount, a custodian that denies its Jewish heritage and ownership.
What about the need to retain calm for Passover? Why has the Muslim holiday taken precedence over the Jewish holiday? Indeed why are we in such a situation where we have to bother about such calm? Why are we in such a situation where we no longer control what is rightfully ours, namely, the sovereign State of Israel and actually have discussions about making concessions to those who make no secret of their intention to destroy us?
In a sovereign state, only one people can rule, that is of course unless it’s the State of Israel where we have nurtured and strengthened a people that never existed called Palestinians. We have been denied our right to live here in peace and security for too long because of an insane acceptance of non-existent rights by our enemies.