Letters to the Editor: Simone Zimmerman

Then, too, apologists for Jews and Israel metastasized among the Hillel organizations on American college campuses.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Simone Zimmerman
In many respects, Natan Nestel’s “Simone Zimmerman: Pro-Israel enthusiast turned anti-Israel radical” (Observations, May 28) hearkens back to the late 1970s and 1980s, when the disproportionate numbers of Jewish kids getting sucked into cults caused great consternation to the American Jewish community.
Then, too, apologists for Jews and Israel metastasized among the Hillel organizations on American college campuses.
Then, too, those of us who attempted to address the problem head on were stymied by the local Jewish Federations, which found it too politically uncomfortable to acknowledge the communal failings.
Having had occasion in those days to delve quite deeply into the psychological, sociological, and political aspects of the cult problem, it is obvious to me that the current Israel-bashing movement employs many of the same mind-programming strategies and dynamics used by the cults.
Unless the “Jewish leadership” in America is shocked out of its inertial complacency, it cannot be expected to effectively address the problem. It will take an outside stimulus (perhaps a film by the likes of Natan Nestel) to spur them out of their denial.
While I wholeheartedly agree with your scathing April 25 editorial “Dayenu” about Simone Zimmerman, you were factually incorrect when stating: “She plays the role of the so-called Jew-in-name-only.”
Simone, who happens to be a cousin of mine, has profound Jewish roots. She attended Jewish day school, Camp Ramah and USY. She has an Israeli half-sister, a grandfather who fought for Israel in 1948, and survivors on the other side. Say what you will about her idiotic stances and actions, but she is through-and-through a Jew, however misguided.
That she holds her views despite her massive Jewish foundation is the real tragedy here.
Indeed, her affiliated Jewish family is exactly what we have all been hoping would populate American Jewry. But are we any better here in Israel, where members of far-Left parties mirroring her views hold Knesset seats? My bet is that she is better educated Jewishly than they are.
Let’s be careful, too, when calling out Jews for not meeting our definition of “Jewish,” unless we are willing to be pigeonholed in the same way by the Israeli Right. Do you want to validate such craziness with this kind of Jew-baiting? I don’t.
So while Simone is an embarrassment, she is most certainly an educated Jewish embarrassment.
What was Simone Zimmerman’s area of university study? What classes did she take in that first year at Berkeley? If there were any classroom discussions of a political nature, were they balanced, or were students bludgeoned by activist professors and fellow students? What happened on campus when there were Jewish or Israeli activities? Did they go off as planned, or were they disrupted by hostile student groups? If they were disrupted, did the administration actively try to help those Jewish or Israeli students who were threatened, or did it find some multi-cultural mantra to keep from getting involved? Were Israelis allowed to speak at open forums, or were they heckled and the events effectively shut down? Many freshmen come to college prepared and eager to fix the world’s problems. My generation felt this way, too. The problem with these expectations is that students have no understanding of the complexities involved. They think the solutions should be obvious, but nothing is obvious, and they are too naïve to even ask the right questions. So in essence, they come to protest.
It makes them feel virtuous, but in so many cases, they are simply being manipulated.
Because many college students are so naïve and poorly protected from anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli intimidation, I think many of them simply fall victim to the Stockholm Syndrome.
If you can’t beat them, join them. And why should we be so surprised? This situation has been growing for over 30 years, yet we act as if there is nothing we can do.
One immediate and effective answer would be to list American campuses in order of the degree to which they are sensitive to the needs of Jewish students, and protect them as they would students from any other minority group. Jews should send their children only to those schools where they can get an education, but also feel completely comfortable.
A better place?
I read with interest Yosef I. Abramowitz’s “When Passover and Earth Day meet” (Observations, April 22).
We were among those idealistic few who purchased the Better Place electric car almost as soon as it came on the market.
Although we will never regret our decision to contribute to a better Earth by driving an electric car, we are now stuck with a vehicle that can’t get us even from Beit Shemesh to Jerusalem and home again.
The battery, of course, has not been replaced for years, and its power diminishes by the day. No company or entity wishes to take responsibility for the car or its parts. Only one entity has taken on the task of replacing and repairing the charger we have installed in front of our home.
We and all purchasers have lost thousands of shekels in prepaid service charges, for which we have no expectation of ever being remunerated. All attempts at legal action have so far come up empty. Now we have been told that a new battery will cost NIS 30,000! This is a shameful reminder of how little our country and society value environmentally friendly activity – despite giving a nod to an annual Earth Day commemoration and inefficiently offering recycling services.
The few of us who actually took the plunge and bought an electric car now feel completely abandoned.
Which perspective?
It is unclear whether Eric S.
Goldstein wrote “An Israel for all of the Jewish people” (Comment & Features, April 10) as CEO of UJA-Federation of New York or as an Orthodox Jew.
If it was as an Orthodox Jew, he needs to take time for honest self-reflection and assessment, because many of his stated positions are clearly not from an Orthodox perspective. In Jewish terms, his support for Jews getting married in a manner that suits them, and then still wanting them to be recognized as properly married, is at best preposterous.
But if it was as CEO of a United Jewish Appeal affiliate, why would anyone be surprised? These organizations have for the most part lost all credibility, at least in my eyes, to be the torchbearer for Jewish values and issues. They are typical “go along to get along” organizations that no longer stand for anything.
M. LEVENTHAL Jerusalem
Days of the weekend
With regard to “Getting in sync” (Editorial, April 3) and the two MKs introducing legislation to create a longer weekend in Israel, I agree with the points about improved quality of life and family life, and lower stress levels.
However, if Israel is proud of being the most egalitarian state in the Middle East and providing equality to all religions among its citizens, and if it is trying to calm (or at least not inflame) the emotions among its Muslim citizens, which I believe to be the state’s intent, it seems to me that it should consider the Muslim Sabbath of Friday as the other weekend day, and not Sunday.
EVE HALWANI San Mateo, California