April 24: Already politicized

Why is pressure on Red Cross so minimal? Why are we giving money, water, electricity and supplies to Gaza while Schalit is still being held?

Already politicized
Sir, – Your April 21 front-page headline “Schalits ready to politicize campaign for Gilad’s release” is not news. The campaign has been heavily politicized by the leftwing “at any price” camp calling for the release of murderers. The “price” for this approach will be the inevitable murder of scores of additional Israelis.
Why is the law reducing the extravagant privileges of Hamas prisoners not yet passed? Why is pressure on the Red Cross so minimal? Why are we giving money, water, electricity and truckloads of supplies to Gaza while Schalit is still being held? All these approaches are being ignored due to the pressure of leftist organizations (and, probably, some European countries) who support (politically and financially) “at any price” as the only alternative.
Blood is blood
Sir, – I saw red when reading “Bill to ban child-killers from prisoner exchanges” (April 20).
Why should we exchange any prisoners with blood on their hands? These Palestinians have killed Jews and will kill again. I think we should having capital punishment like we did with Eichmann, and stop showing our enemies there is no reason they should not continue to kill us.
They sit in our jails enjoying privileges not given to Gilad Schalit and just wait for us to exchange thousands like them for one poor soldier. There is something wrong with this scenario.
Let’s wake up and pass a bill that bans the exchange of all prisoners with blood on their hands, and not just the blood of children.
Peace before all
Sir, – In his analysis “Unilateralism may backfire for Palestinians, experts say” (April 20), David E.
Miller, like so many others, fails to even mention that the whole point of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations is to achieve a peace settlement, of which statehood for the Palestinians is just one part.
Indeed, the Palestinians are apparently using the pursuit of statehood as a way of avoiding the issue of peace and recognition of Israel’s legitimacy, sovereignty, Jewish character and territorial integrity as a way of maintaining the state of conflict indefinitely. It is also seems the Palestinians’ wish to overrun Israel with faux Palestinian refugees is alive as well.
At least US President Barack Obama has made it plain that for America, at least, Palestinian statehood is a non-starter for the time being. Israel should now ask Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to publicly clarify to the Palestinians that statehood will be one of the results of peace with Israel, and will not precede it.
Kiryat Arba
So why come?
Sir, – As I read Gil Troy’s innovative and intelligent take on the growing trend of anti-Zionist rabbinic students and how we here in Israel can and should deal with them (“Treat anti-Zionist rabbinic students like the Four Sons,” Center Field, April 20), I kept asking myself what exactly is the motivation for sending them here in the first place? The answer: All movements, streams, sectors and organizations across the Jewish rainbow (with some super-extreme exceptions) agree on one central point: Judaism without Israel is incomplete, period.
Troy points out three “facts” the students should recognize: Israel’s Jewish population is the largest in the world, there is a vicious and ever-increasing assault on Israel, and communal leaders are paid to uphold communal consensus points. I would add a fourth: The very existence of a sovereign State of Israel within the confines of the historic, holy and original Land of Israel is a basic foundation and fundamental prerequisite of Judaism and Jewish life on any and all levels.
Troy blames some of the modern and disturbing trend of anti-Zionist rabbinic students on “the previous generation, who failed to convey a compelling and complex Zionist narrative.” But it is also the previous generation that understood how critical living and experiencing Israel first-hand would be for any person who wants to not only live a Jewish life, but serve as a spiritual leader.
None of this need contradict legitimate criticism of modern Israel or social action on behalf of Palestinians. But such actions or attitudes must complement a basic axiomatic truth regarding Israel’s place in Jewish life and lore, and that without it we are lost.
Hatzor Haglilit
Sir, – I wonder why there has been no mention of the Israeli seminaries in which these rabbinic students study. Have we forgotten the power of education in providing information and forming attitudes? Why are these students required to complete their studies in Israel if their teachers fail to create leaders who will testify to the beauty of this nation and its past, as well as present efforts to be a light unto the nations and to the Jewish people?
Sir, – It would appear that Gil Troy and others are standing too close to the problem. They fail to recognize that the phenomenon of agenda-driven student clergy has long been endemic within liberal Christian seminaries and, increasingly, in Jewish ones.
As religious praxis evaporates among the mainline Christian and liberal Jewish constituencies, and ghost congregations become the norm, there is a dearth of seminarians seriously committed to normative pastoral work, allowing radical, agenda-driven activists to step in to fill the void.
While their church and temple pews may be empty, these radical clerics know they will be well paid while enjoying a hijacked legitimacy for their activities, and a bully pulpit from which to issue activist pronunciamentos that may or may not be legitimate, but have little to do with core Christianity or Judaism.
Absentee and indifferent congregations are willing to pay the salary of a minister or rabbi who makes no religious demands yet is on hand when needed for a life-cycle event that is, often as not, an intermarriage. Hence, the rabbinic students being referred to are hardly naïve innocents who become enamored of anti- Zionism during their mandatory year in Israel – they arrive in Jerusalem already fired-up with anti-Israel zeal.
Indeed, it is often the very reason they choose to become rabbis in the first place.
Magic of rationality
Sir, – Seth Frantzman claims that “The revolution will be televised – and it won’t be democratic” (Terra Incognita, April 20), referring to the Mideast turmoil.
Yet too much emphasis has been placed on the question of democracy. A better way to judge progress is the move from “magical” to rational thinking.
China, in the 1950s, was trapped in a maze of magical thinking. It pursued disastrous economic and social policies by dogmatically following Maoist ideology with religious fervor. It persecuted thousands of innocent people as capitalists or reactionaries in a gigantic witch hunt. But it learned from its mistakes, eased repression, and has turned toward more pragmatic policies.
As a result, China is advancing.
The countries of the Middle East have similar challenges. They can use their vast human and natural resources rationally to build infrastructure, advance education, compete for manufacturing and forge peaceful alliances.
Or, they can mimic China in the 1950s and fall for the seductive magic of ideology, hunt for heretics and demonize Israel.
The big question is not so much whether people can vote, but whether they can think.
Jericho, Vermont