August 11: Aghast at Beilin

There is no reason to believe that making concessions to Palestinian Arabs leads us closer to peace. In fact, the reverse is true.

Aghast at Beilin
Sir, – Yossi Beilin’s piece (“The new ghetto,” August 9) left me aghast.
In 1993 and for some years after, someone might have credibly believed Israel would secure peace in exchange for land. But now? In the face of all the evidence that our ostensible negotiating partner seeks to destroy us? Where has Beilin been, and why does he cling to a totally failed vision? There is no reason to believe that making concessions to Palestinian Arabs leads us closer to peace. In fact, the reverse is true.
But his piece is offensive for reasons that transcend a failed vision. Beilin is suggesting – obscenely – that the world’s attitude toward us is our own fault.
He refers to a “ghetto” into which we, presumably, have locked ourselves because of errors of intransigence. He has it totally wrong: The term “ghetto” is most appropriately applied to his mentality.
Sir, – Yossi Beilin’s euphoric reminiscence of the 1990s stunned me – he has conveniently blocked from his memory the horrific wave of unprecedented terrorist attacks on innocent Israelis following the Oslo Accords.
It is tiring to hear the position that peace is unachievable as long as Israel behaves this way or that.
More on ‘Tolerance’
Sir, – Had Marilyn Henry (“New York City votes for tolerance,” Metro views, August 8) devoted half the time she expended on moral self-congratulation to a bit of research on Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, she’d have discovered that far from being a religious conciliator, he is quoted as declaring “I do not believe in religious dialogue” in a May 2010 article by Arab journalist Sa’ada Abdul Mahsoud.
Rauf’s views on 9/11 raise even larger questions about the objectives of his 13-story “Cordoba House” imposition on Ground Zero. He is on record as characterizing the most horrendous crime ever committed on American soil as part of a larger [Islamic] “reaction against the United States Government, politically,” adding, “I would say that US policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.”
Henry’s redefinition of “tolerance” doesn't pass the smell test.
Sir, – At this point in its history, America doesn’t have to prove that it values religious tolerance.
Generations of immigrants bear witness to this fact.
However, what is the Muslim record on religious tolerance in countries where Islam dominates? Is it one of the core values that Muslims share with Americans? And now, why do those who represent the same culture from which the terrorists of 9/11 sprang wish to build a huge mosque right next to the site of the destruction? Is it to commemorate a victory? Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to have a national memorial park like Gettysburg as a remembrance of the tragedy that occurred there? Marilyn Henry steams at the thought of branding billions of Muslims for the terrorist acts of a few. While it is praiseworthy to give the benefit of the doubt to moderates, it is also possible at the same time to protect one’s self.
Who are the moderate voices to whom Henry refers? She quotes Zev Chafets, a former spokesman for Menachem Begin, as saying, “I think Sufi Islam, from what I know of it and I am not an expert, is a moderate and sensible and reasonable... form of Islam....”
What impact does Sufi Islam have on Islam as it is practiced by the majority of Muslims, and how does this majority treat practitioners of Sufi? In addition to the previous questions, perhaps Mayor Bloomberg, his city council and Henry would consider the following: how to prevent radical, subversive elements from using the mosque as a cover for their nefarious activities.
Wedding elicits differing thoughts
Sir, – In your August 8 edition, you had two articles about the Clinton-Mezvinsky wedding.
One, in the Elsewhere section and taken from the Forward, was by Allison Kaplan Sommer and headlined “The rabbi who married Chelsea Clinton.” The other was a Washington Post article, “Memories from Chelsea’s media-restricted wedding.”
Both were positive articles, and Sommer ended by writing: “So mazel tov, Chelsea.”
This is in contrast to an article written by Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis in Hineni. In it, she quotes how upset her late husband was in performing a burial for an elderly woman who had been the last member of her Jewish family. He said: “Is this not cause to weep?” The rebbetzin says that at the end of the wedding, she heard people say mazel tov with excitement and elation. But instead, she writes, this is a tragedy, the painful reality of yet another Jewish family silently disappearing.
How right she is! This is no cause for mazel tovs, but a cause for weeping.
Sir, – I am sickened to the depths of wherever my soul resides by the warm and unctuously anaesthetic sentiments dribbled over readers’ sensibilities by Allison Kaplan Sommer as she enthusiastically acclaimed the actions of Rabbi James (“Call me Jim”) Ponet, who assisted at the wedding of Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky and removed another stone from the foundations of Jewish life and continuity.
This popular rabbinic figure exemplifies for me the man in the crowded lifeboat who, when challenged by the captain as to why he is boring a hole in the boat, replies “I’m only boring it under my seat.”
Sir, – The lovely picture from the Clinton-Mezvinsky wedding (“Three generations”) brought back memories of the period in the 1990s when I was rabbi at Temple Israel in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
The Rodhams, Hillary Clinton’s parents, are a Scranton family, and the late Hugh Rodham had a very close friend in my synagogue, Manny Gelb z”l.
Manny was a noted amateur boxer and an outstanding public servant. He was also a wonderful dancer. When Hugh and Dorothy came to the Rodham summer home, there would be dancing galore. Manny was always invited because Hugh was not a dancer. Dorothy and Manny made a wonderful couple on the floor, and Hillary, growing up, watched the talent of her parents’ friend.
I began my rabbinate in Scranton the month of Bill Clinton’s first inauguration. Manny and his wife sat in the box for personal guests of the president and his wife. The senior Rodhams and the Gelbs celebrated at various balls late into the night. I was never sure, but perhaps Dorothy and Manny swirled around the floor on this most wonderful of nights, when a son-in-law became president of the United States.
Another side of Romania
“Wreckage and rescue in Romania” (July 30) says that country has maintained uninterrupted relations with the State of Israel. However, I wish to mention certain things that preceded these relations.
During the Second World War, Romania was Nazi Germany’s best ally. Unlike Bulgaria, which protected its Jewish population from Nazi persecution, local Romanian Nazi groups called “Legionari,” and also the Romanian army, deported or killed the majority of the Jews in Moldova (then part of Romania) and Transylvania. These atrocities were never officially acknowledged by any of the succeeding Romanian governments.
Moreover, during the harsh Communist regime, Romania’s Jews were dispossessed and impoverished through the confiscation of their property, as happened to my family. To this day, Romania has provided no compensation.
Thus, let us be less enthusiastic about our new friends.