June 17, 2018: Caring about the Kurds

Our readers respond.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Caring about the Kurds
While our existence as a Jewish state is miraculous, our contribution to the world in many spheres, including medicine, is admirable and our constant sending of teams to help in disaster areas very commendable, our behavior and response –or lack of it – to the Kurdish problem (“Israel, Turkey and the Kurdish question,” June 8), is a national disgrace.
By our fawning behavior to the Turks, not for the first time, we are distancing ourselves from a people whose history is similar to our own and who desperately need support. They are being ignored by the leaders of the world; are we to follow their example?
Surely there must be some members of the Knesset who feel their pain and realize they need help. What will they answer their children when asked why Israel isn’t helping them?
Yishuv Bar Yochai
Not in my summer camp
Regarding “If not now, then when?” (June 8), the position of Rabbi Mitch Cohen, director of Camp Ramah on the If Not Now movement’s attempt “to bring the group’s ideology into Camp Ramah” is made clear in an official letters he wrote on June 11:
“Earlier this year, a number of young Ramah alumni started a protest campaign against Ramah’s decades-long Zionist education and strong pro-Israel programming. According to these individuals, who were acting under the umbrella of a group called If Not Now, Ramah needs to “teach the Occupation” so that our campers and staff better understand “the truth.”
Ramah camps have not engaged – and will not engage – in any way with If Not Now as an organization. This past winter, members of the National Ramah staff agreed to meet with 15 Ramah alumni affiliated with If Not Now, who wanted to share their perspectives. After listening to their views, we made it very clear to them that while liberal pro-Israel views on the conflict can be voiced and taught at camp, we do not allow any anti-Israel, antisemitic or anti-Zionist education at Ramah.
In recent weeks, some press reports have erroneously stated that Ramah was partnering with If Not Now. We are not. Ramah will not partner with any organization that is not unequivocally pro-Israel. As we say in the statement we released last Wednesday, Zionism is one of our core educational pillars and always will be.
We proudly continue to nurture a deep love for Israel among our thousands of campers and staff.
AMY SKOPP COOPER, Associate Director
National Ramah Commission, Inc. of The Jewish Theological Seminary
Gazing at Gaza
I find it fascinating that most people who talk about the problems in Gaza seem to think that the history of that area started in 1967.
From 1948 until 1967 Gaza was under Egyptian sovereignty. Also, for some reason or other, they think that between 1948 and 1967 there was a connection between the population of Egypt-controlled Gaza and the population of the Jordanian-controlled area of Judea and Samaria. That didn’t exist.
They also ignore the fact that in 1978, when Egyptian president Anwar Sadat requested the return of Egyptian territories that had been taken by Israel in 1967, he didn’t include Gaza. Apparently, Egypt didn’t want Gaza any more than Arik Sharon.
They similarly ignore the fact that Gaza borders on two countries, Egypt and Israel. No mention is made of the lack of aid given to the people of Gaza by the Egyptians. The closure of the Egyptian border is just as much “occupation” as the closure of the Israeli border. Egypt is supplying electrical power to its cities in north-eastern Sinai. Why can’t it also provide power to Gaza? Why does humanitarian aid not come through the Egyptian border? Egypt is larger than Israel, why should they be exempt from assisting Gaza?
The same people also ignore the history of the Indian peninsula. When Pakistan was established with two non-contiguous areas under one country, it was not viable and there were serious conflicts. In order to solve that problem, Bangladesh was created as a separate state. Why should they think that a single Palestinian state including Judea-Sumeria and Gaza would work any better that East and West Pakistan? And if they think that there should be contiguity between these two areas, how do they propose to provide that and preserve the contiguity of the State of Israel?
Petah Tikva
Smoke signals
Two weeks ago there was an ad in your paper for cigarettes. I wrote a letter wondering how the best Jewish newspaper could possibly sink to such depths like the rags of the netherworlds outside of Israel. I said l wouldn’t buy the publication and forgo my Shabbat reading of it.
My friend brought me the paper this week announcing that you pulled the cigarette ads and furthermore, there was a fabulous article by Reuven Hammer (no relation) about how permissive we are with the habit. To my delight, he concurred with me that Jerusalem Post was clearly not the right place for cigarette ads.
Thank you all for “hearing” us.
Bach to the future
In “A Jew saved J.S. Bach’s church masterwork” (June 9), the writer mentions Sara Levy without mentioning the she was the real progenitor of the Bach tradition in the Mendelssohn family, and she (unlike Abraham Mendelssohn, Felix’ father) never converted to Christianity. She was the foremost harpsichordist of her day, a student of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, and a patroness (after her marriage to the banker Levy) of C. P. E. Bach. J.S. Bach’s sons were among his greatest achievements, he had four who achieved European renown and were deeply influential on Haydn and Mozart.
Mendelssohn’s achievement in promoting Bach often overshadows his achievements as an original composer, which was substantial, and perhaps suffered from the antisemitic biases of his time, which obviously didn’t start with Wagner. But nobody had forgotten Bach; what was different was that before the 19th century, most performances were of new music; old music was just not performed. Bach’s solo violin sonatas were published in 1803; nobody had forgotten him. Historical music performance started in England, with the Academy of Ancient Music in around 1750, which did performances of Renaissance composers like Byrd. Like a lot of things in England, it took almost a century to come to the continent.
I would also debate whether Bach’s music is the greatest church music. I would say it isn’t, not by a long shot. Mozart said he would have traded his whole oeuvre to have written the Gregorian preface (the Gregorian chant that introduces the Christian Kadushah). So personally (obviously there’s no debate about taste) I think the corpus of Gregorian chant is far superior to anything Bach wrote, and following that, the Medieval/Renaissance mass writers, like Josquin des Pres, Dufay, Okheghem. And following them, Palestrina is better than Bach.
Trump paradox
In “Is Trump good for the Jews?” (June 12) Shmuley Boteach refers to his debate with Bret Stephens on this subject. While presenting only his side, he decides the debate in his favor for two reasons. One, for the lack of impartiality by Stephens due to his birth in Mexico and the other by describing Trump as a paragon of Jewish values in a manner similar to his recent defense of Roseanne Barr.
Boteach ignores a number of Jewish basic values that Trump chronically violates. His constant shaming and belittling of anyone who opposes him – “crooked Hillary,” “little Tony” and others – brings to mind the rabbinical edict that one who shames another person publicly has no place in the world to come.
Trump’s pride and hubris run counter to Moses’ greatest attribute, that of humility.
One of the reasons why the monarchy was given to the tribe of Judah was his ability to admit that he was wrong and Tamar was right. The phrase “I made a mistake” does not exist in Trump’s lexicon.
I would like to suggest a new description of President Trump along with a new concept – the Trump Paradox. It might give us better insight into this complex man.
Trump is a self-made man who fell in love with his creator. The paradox lies in the fact that he is a broken clock that is often right more than twice a day.