David M. Weinberg, in “Sacks, Carlebach and Kahane” (November 18), brought up some interesting similarities among the three rabbis, but he left out one important distinction and got something else completely wrong. Kahane and Carlebach were contemporaries, while Rabbi Sacks was almost a generation younger. Comparing just Kahane with Carlebach would really be fascinating, as they both targeted Jewish youth showing two very different sides of Torah life and human nature.
But one glaring mistake really bothers me. Weinberg fell for the Kahane lie that he “...almost single-handedly put the issue of Soviet Jewry on the radar of the global Jewish community.” This is false. I know. I was there as a Jewish student activist at the time.
In either 1964 or 1965, American Jewish organizations called for a massive information event called something like “Jewish Youth Council for Soviet Jewry.” American Jewish youth organizations, Zionist, religious and social, were invited to send a couple of representatives. I was there representing NCSY – National Conference of Synagogue Youth of the OU. There, I and many of my contemporaries learned about the tragic and dangerous situation for Jews in the Soviet Union. That’s all I needed; I became a Soviet Jewry activist.
I have no memory of seeing Meir Kahane at the conference, certainly not as a featured speaker. As I remember, he was getting headlines defending Jews in New York neighborhoods who were being attacked by blacks and other antisemites. According to what I found on the internet, JDL started in 1968/9, but I remember reading about him earlier. He gave young Jews the confidence and legitimacy to physically fight back.
Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry (SSSJ) began organizing protests, which I attended and even became a member of the Steering Committee in the late 1960s. By then Kahane had added Soviet Jewry to his protests and encouraged his followers to challenge the police and get arrested, which gave him headlines. The press also wrote about the demonstrations of SSSJ and establishment Jewry, but obviously, our articles focused on the issue and Kahane’s on his followers’ arrests.
Kahane’s protests usually ended in arrests, which his followers considered a “badge of honor.” At one of the SSSJ meetings, we discussed whether we should also challenge the New York Police and risk arrest. As I remember, it was Glenn Richter who was totally opposed, saying: “If any of our kids end up arrested because of our demonstrations, then I’d feel obligated to call their parents. I have no desire to do that.”
So SSSJ continued with their “cleverly themed” demonstrations coordinated with the police.
My husband and I, whom I met for the first time at the 1967 “SSSJ Fast-in for Soviet Jewry” on Tisha Be’av, made aliyah in the summer of 1970, so I was no longer actively involved in the movement after that.
Dowry for marrying
Your editorial highlighting lone wolf attacks (“Pack mentality,” November 18) misses an important reason for these attacks, namely Palestinian families who are prepared to literally sacrifice a young member in order to receive the not inconsiderable “pay for slay” stipend from the Palestinian Authority so that they can afford to pay a dowry for marrying a daughter or some other large expense. In light of this, it is important to refuse entry permits to all unmarried Palestinians under the age of 30 without at least one child.
If that policy had been adopted, eighteen-year-old Muhammad Murad Sami Souf, who murdered three innocent people last week, might not have reached the entrance to Ariel so easily on his killing spree.
Putative Palestinian state
Regarding “Palestinians hail UN self-determination vote” (November 20): So the United Nations has passed yet another one-sided, anti-Israel resolution, supposedly calling for Palestinian self-determination, pushed by the countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and opposed only by the United States and a very few other countries.
It’s a typical action by the UN, which still bears the stain of its infamous “Zionism is Racism” resolution from decades ago, despite its tardy repeal years later. But it won’t accomplish its goal.
Why? Because it is not really about Palestinian self-determination. That’s because the Palestinians have already turned down multiple generous offers of their own state, and peace. Therefore their true goal continues to be the destruction of Israel.
Which is precisely what would happen if Israel was forced to withdraw to the 1949 Armistice Lines as demanded by this despicable document. The country, only nine miles wide, would be under terrorist siege from every square inch of the Palestinian-controlled territory comprising a putative Palestinian state, as is the case with the Israeli border towns near Gaza. Its survival would be tenuous at best.
Which is exactly what its implacable enemies desire. But Israel is under no compunction to commit national suicide by obeying this flawed resolution and will survive despite this and all other similarly flawed, hostile UN resolutions and actions. The people of Israel live!
DANIEL H. TRIGOBOFF
It’s a shame that the UN continues to enable Palestinian leaders’ denial of the fact that Israel is the only nation that ever gave the Arabs of Palestine the opportunity of living under the administration of leaders of their own choosing.
Had the chosen leaders lived up to their obligations, as outlined in the Oslo Accords, a Palestinian state could have been set up, coexisting with the nation-state of the Jews, within recognized and secure borders for both states, long ago. But that required the Palestinian leaders to negotiate with Israel, with the understanding that they, as well as the Israelis, would have to make compromises.
And the Palestinian leaders simply refused to accept that reality. Instead, they chose to use violence and to vilify Israel in international fora, in world media, and on college campuses.
It is a tragedy for the Palestinian people that groups like the Organization of Islamic Cooperation are still feeding them the idea that they are entitled to a state, based on the June 4, 1967 borders with a capital in Jerusalem. Arab armies lost the wars against the Jews and Israel in 1948 and 1967; Arab organizations do not have the right to set the parameters of the peace agreement.
It’s past time for the UN and other international bodies to stop supporting Arab intransigence and start reminding the Palestinians that Israel has been most generous in offering to share land of religious and historic importance to her people, land that is of strategic value to Israel, land that was liberated from illegal Egyptian and Jordanian occupation, while defending her people from the genocidal intentions of multiple neighboring states.
TOBY F. BLOCK
Prospective election denial
Once again Douglas Bloomfield (“Are election deniers good for Israel?” November 17) attacks Republicans, AIPAC and anyone else who disagrees with his political views. This time he assails “election deniers” without defining the offense or explaining why it is a mortal sin.
Apparently, election denial must be condemned and eradicated unless, of course, it helps his favored party capture or retain power. He ignores the following: challenges to American presidential election results have been common for many years.
Hillary Clinton (among many others) asserted that president-elect Trump was an “illegitimate president.” She has spent the last six years claiming that she was cheated out of the presidency that was rightfully hers. She alleges that Trump won because of collusion with Russia, a hoax initiated and funded by Clinton herself.
Democratic Party darling Stacey Abrams lost the 2018 Georgia governor’s race by over 50,000 votes yet denied the election outcome. This time around she lost by a much wider margin. She conceded while asserting that her loss was due to voter suppression.
Some of the Democrats now demanding unquestioning acceptance of election night results vehemently challenged 2016 results in favor of Trump.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the leading candidate to replace Nancy Pelosi as leader of the Democratic Party in the House, strongly implied Trump’s illegitimacy two years after the election.
Democrats threatened to impeach President Trump even before he took office. There were violent Antifa demonstrations before and after the inauguration.
In the run-up to this year’s midterms, Democratic leaders charged that if Republicans won, it would be proof that they had cheated. This was nothing less than prospective election denial.
Bloomfield refuses to admit, perhaps cannot even fathom, that raw vote totals are not always indicative of fair elections. What is required is a free exchange of ideas unfettered by social terrorism, including deplatforming and silencing of candidates, broad censorship of inconvenient information, and fantastical allegations of foreign intervention.
Ballot counts can be wrong. Even when accurate, they do not tell the whole story. Questioning election procedures is not only appropriate, it is essential if the electorate is to have confidence in the outcome.
Gershon Baskin is a good and well-meaning citizen, and I agree, there should be peace (“Jewish or Israeli?” November 17). But there is something I have to mention: How many times have Jewish citizens killed Arabs without being provoked? Yes we know, we know, and it was terrible. Now, how many times have Arabs killed Jews without being provoked?
Let’s start counting.
Very slippery slope
The article by Yaron Schwartz headlined “Israel is not a Banana Republic” (November 17) begins with the remarkable assertion that Israel acted like a banana republic over the past year and a half and was treated as such.
The term “banana republic” was originally coined to describe Honduras and neighboring countries, that contained natural food resources and a large impoverished working-class population that was exploited to provide huge profits for a minority elite group within the country, and the American companies which traded in their agricultural products.
The meaning of a banana republic has been rebranded to describe a politically unstable country whose leader usually considers himself above the law and treats the savings in the treasury as a way of getting into power and retaining power. Bribery and corruption are all part of the game. Getting elected is the only thing that counts. Offering financial incentives of public money to one section of the public to get their vote becomes part of the game.
Nothing that brings in the vote is out of bounds. Systems of checks and balances are considered anathema. Morality and ethics are sidelined. Dishonesty becomes a way of life. Reappointing people convicted of theft of public funds, tax evasion and fraud are condoned. It’s all part of the game.
I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine. Getting into power and staying in power is the only thing that counts.
What we had in the previous Israeli government was not a banana republic in any sense of the phrase. Rather it was a functioning democratically elected government of Jews and Arabs that passed a two-year budget and worked for the benefit of the State of Israel. It respected minorities, as well as checks and balances on power.
It raised Israel’s level of respectability in the world. It strengthened Israel politically, strategically, militarily, and economically. It worked hard to maintain and advance bipartisan support of the United States of America for the State of Israel. In short it acted responsibly.
I hope that in the fullness of time, I will be able to write the same about Israel’s current government. However, in three separate cases of varying degrees of severity, Netanyahu is presently facing criminal charges for breach of trust, accepting bribes and fraud. He needs to prove his innocence in court.
If he gets the cases dropped or canceled by political means, Israel will be on a very slippery slope of becoming exactly what Yaron Schwartz erroneously calls the previous 18 months – namely a banana republic.