April 8: Aliya really isn't for everyone- or is it?

To suggest that Israel is not a place for practicing Jews to live in is absurd - there is no place like it on earth.

letters 88 (photo credit: )
letters 88
(photo credit: )
Sir, - Abe Krieger (Letters, April 7) may well be right that there is a lot wrong in Israel and its body politic. But to suggest that Israel is not a place for practicing Jews to live in is absurd - there is no place like it on earth. And to say nobody wants to make aliya from North America because they do not want to back a loser is a cop-out. Come to Israel, Mr. Krieger, and make your voice count in changing Israeli society for the better. I did so nearly two years ago, and do not regret the move for one moment. PETER SIMPSON Jerusalem Sir, - Of course there are endless problems here, so many things that need fixing. There aren't enough people of like mind here - yet - to do all that needs to be done. And yet Mr. Krieger, and all those others in his community who refuse to sacrifice their high salaries, fancy homes, American lifestyles, family and all other perks of staying where they are dictate to us that we're not doing enough. Those of us who have willingly given up the money, the better lifestyle and the family connections so we can be part of Jewish destiny in the place where it is happening, Eretz Yisrael - we are not the losers! If more like-minded people came on aliya, we could finally overcome the leftist elite that still controls this country. Mr. Krieger: If you choose to stay in New Jersey, good for you; but don't think you then have the right to pretend it's because we haven't fixed up the place sufficiently for you yet. DEBORAH BUCKMAN Beit Shemesh Sir, - Abe Krieger continues an ancient tradition of rationalizing not moving to Israel. We have spent 2,000 years waiting for this opportunity, and the fact that the current government displeases Mr. Krieger is a terribly weak reed to justify remaining in the US. Just as our forebears remembered the melons and fish in Egypt (Numbers 11:5) and feared the harsh conditions in this land, he sits comfortably in Highland Park, waiting for just the right government, when he and his fellow congregants will presumably rush to the airport and move here immediately. In life, if we wait for "just the right moment," it will probably have long passed by the time we fully understand our parochial views. Those of us, modern Orthodox or not, who have taken the big step have found that participating in this society and trying to change what we do not like (and promote what we do like) is inestimably more rewarding than sitting in the Diaspora and saying "Next Year in Jerusalem." By the way, the melons and fish are marvelous! STEPHEN J. KOHN Ra'anana Sir, - Over the years, I've heard some really peculiar excuses from Jews who do not want to make aliya. For example, thousands of people who don't live here claim they are concerned about Israel's Jewish demographic future (i.e., that not enough Jews are coming to live here). Others prefer to pay their income tax in other countries because they are worried about Israel's economy (which is actually doing quite well). But Abe Krieger's justification that he doesn't want to live in Israel because he identifies with the plight of the settlers and disagrees with the policy of the current government toward them is a serious contender for first prize. I wonder about our New Jersey settler's logic. Does he advocate eating pork to identify with people who feel kashrut supervision is not strict enough? Mr. Krieger: The slogan "not one inch" doesn't mean refusing to live anywhere in Israel. YONATAN SILVER Jerusalem Sir, - I don't happen to believe that aliya is necessarily for all Jews. Changing your lifestyle is a terribly difficult undertaking. You have to be of a certain mind-set and a certain disposition. I wouldn't really want the Abe Kriegers of NJ to join me in my aliya if all they'd do was bitch about the problems in Israel. Don't we know better than anyone all the troubles we have? Yet we decided to live here and perhaps even try and induce some positive changes in the system, and in society at large. My best wishes to Abe and his family as they celebrate Pessah in the Diaspora. Remember to keep those donations coming! STUART PILICHOWSKI Mevaseret Zion 3,000 + 60 Sir, - For the last 23 years I have mounted the Israeli flag in front of my apartment on the 14th day of Nissan. Friends and neighbors ask why I do not wait for Israeli Independence Day, which falls of the 3rd of Iyar. My explanation has always been that the latter date comes from the UN - what David Ben-Gurion called "Oom, Shmum" - and has as much standing as the word of most of the politicians who make up that questionable body. The true date establishing the Jewish people as a nation with its own homeland is Pessah, established by an Authority whose word can never be questioned. As Rabbi Shmuley Boteach so eloquently explains, this year should be counted as 3,000+60 years of Israel's independence ("A 'birthright' for non-Jews?" April 7). DAVID STAR Ma'aleh Adumim Glass houses Sir, - Re "Yemen's Islamic rebels destroy empty Jewish homes, after families forced to flee" (April 7): It seems to me that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Sixty years ago, when the Arab residents of Safed fled the city, a very large number of their houses were looted and blown up so that should they return "victorious," they would have nothing left to return to. Most of the Arab cemeteries in Safed have since been uprooted, destroyed and built upon. Few of the town's residents know where these cemeteries were located, and most don't want to know. One of the two remaining ones that was turned into a park is now scheduled to become a parking lot. But Heaven help anyone in the world who harms a Jewish gravesite or cemetery. We should learn to stop shouting when our enemies defile what is ours. We are no better. After 60 years, we should stop and take a good look at ourselves, and then perhaps the next 60 years will be better. ELI MINOFF Safed Proportionally Sir, - "If you want peace, be prepared for war." We often hear that the Israelis are the most powerful militarily in the Middle East. But are they prepared mentally? They are damned for their "disproportionate reaction" to the rockets from Gaza. They should react proportionally: by firing swiftly and ferociously at the rocket-launching sites. They would not be criticized any more than they are already - and perhaps the civilian dupes of Hamas would react "proportionally" against Hamas to relocate the launch sites to the homes of the Hamas leaders ("Framing the debate," Ruthie Blum interview with Richard Landes, March 27). MILTON MITZNER Great Neck, New York 'Hey, remember me?' Sir, - Since becoming physically handicapped four months ago, I have been subject to a strange phenomenon. When I go out in the wheelchair to visit a doctor, clerk or store, the person does not speak to me. He or she speaks to my caregiver or my wife, whoever is with me. The questions they ask are about me. "What is wrong with him?" "How much money does he want?" etc. Please! Everybody reading this, remember that most of us who are physically handicapped are not mentally handicapped. We would appreciate it if you would address us directly. MURRAY SAFRAN Jerusalem