December 21 UpFront: On Jews and Mormons

Jews and Mormons have both suffered persecution, abuse and have had everything virtually robbed from them.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
On Jews and Mormons Sir, - The article on Mitt Romney running as president got me thinking ("Mormon with a mission," December 14). Jews and Mormons do have a lot of similarities. They have both suffered severe persecution and abuse and have had everything virtually robbed from them. Both Mormons and Jews have also risen greatly above this and have become influential in business and politics. The Mormons even have a BYU in Jerusalem and appear to be Jewish apologists. They have much sympathy for the plight of the Jewish people. Mitt Romney mentioned Jewish beliefs in his speech on faith, while condemning Muslims. Tom Lantos, the only Jewish Holocaust survivor to serve in the House in American government, is married to a Mormon lady and his children are also Mormon. His wife is a Jewish Holocaust survivor who converted to Mormonism. She is first cousins with the Gabor sisters and Kofi Annan's mother-in-law is one of her best friends. This helped the Lantoses influence Annan with condemning Holocaust denial in the UN. It is interesting how the information all fits together. J.D. ELDER Honolulu, Hawaii Oil stains Sir, - A week after the UpFront article on Zion Oil and Gas ("The making of a miracle," December 7), the Letters page detailed five response letters. These contained some inaccuracies. In response to the article, Zion Oil issued a press release on December 10 noting that it has never publicly announced any estimates of the size of any discovery it may make. However, it is interesting to note that a former chief geologist of Exxon wrote a report for the Israeli government in 1962 stating that the "potential ultimate oil resources of Israel... 500 million to 2,000 million barrels of primary recovery... The figures do not include natural petroleum gas... which may equal 50% and upwards of the oil." In 1979, in another report for the Israeli government, a former chief geologist of Shell Oil concluded that, excluding the Dead Sea region, Israel had potential hydrocarbon reserves on-shore of between 330 million and 2,000 million barrels. The response-letter comment that "40 wells have been drilled in Israel since 1947 and not one has borne fruit' is completely wrong. Of the 470 wells, approximately 90 wells were drilled in order to develop four oil and gas fields, the largest being the Heletz oil field in the northern Negev. To date, the four fields have produced over 18 million barrels of oil and about 32 billion cubic feet of gas. With regard to the wells drilled that did not prove commercial, yesterday's endings are seeds for today's beginnings. RICHARD RINBERG CEO, Zion Oil and Gas Inc. Ra'anana More nerve In response to Haim M. Lerner's letter "Real nerve" (December 14), I have a few choice words to offer him and those living in Israel who have accepted the ruinous, depraved leadership's contemplating capitulating to those whose very charter calls for the absolute destruction of the State of Israel. As a Jew living in this world, I have the right to voice my view about the heritage of my people. The Temple Mount, Jerusalem and the abhorrent living conditions both in terms of security and poverty of thousands of Israeli citizens - Jews and Arabs - is unacceptable in a democracy. Of course, the security of Israel should be foremost in the minds of every Israeli, but those who live in the Diaspora who really care about and love Israel should have a say when the very foundations of the country are at stake. I am not putting my life on the line, nor am I putting the lives of my two daughters on the line; yet the future of the State of Israel is not only about putting lives on the line. It is also about the very source of Jewish well-being today. It carries the wellsprings of Jewish consciousness and conscience in the 21st century. It will be the most dominant Jewish presence in the entire world in a very few short years. So as a Jew, someone who loves Israel, even though I am not able to live there for many personal familial reasons having nothing to do with desire or interest or financial concerns, I respectfully find Lerner's opinion uncharacteristic of a Jew living anywhere. I believe that Jews are responsible for one another wherever they live. YOEL NITZARIM Skokie, Illinois Sir, - In your December 14 issue, Haim Lerner opines that it exhibits real nerve for Jews living outside Israel to actively campaign for their view that Israel should hold on to all parts of Jerusalem. This opinion is similar to that of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who asked of American Jewry "which of you is prepared to dictate to the State of Israel." Of course, if one asks the wrong question, the wrong answer necessarily follows. In my opinion the correct question was originally posed by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, in a circumstance similar to today's. His question (paraphrased) was "which of you was given power of attorney to give away parts of the land of Israel" - the land which is the heritage of the Jewish people - all the Jewish people, not merely those who happen to live there today. PROF. B. J. MATKOWSKY John Evans Chair in Applied Mathematics Northwestern University (currently visiting the Technion) Sir, - Calev Ben-David ("Did I forget thee, O Jerusalem," December 7) says that if Diaspora Jews want to have input with respect to the future of Jerusalem, they would best be advised to come here and not "defend Jerusalem from 6,000 miles away." And if they do come here, somebody had better tell them that their opinion won't make any impression at all. When is the last time that Israeli "democracy" considered the will of demonstrators? They may even be told, "Go back to Brooklyn" or "You're only a propeller." Furthermore, I for one enlist the aid of Diaspora Jews on behalf of Jerusalem. I appoint them my proxy. We need their help since it is quite obvious that there is certainly American pressure on Israel to make painful concessions on Jerusalem. The voice of that Jewry may send a significant message to the candidates waiting in the wings to replace Bush and Rice. Of course, if large numbers of Jewish lovers of Jerusalem would make aliya, they could indeed make a significant impact. Unfortunately, we can't wait that long. So for the time being Diaspora Jews "do not remain silent for the sake of Jerusalem." RABBI SHOLOM GOLD Jerusalem Sir, - Calev Ben-David's column is aptly titled. A snap judgment is one that's made without proper care and forethought. In echoing Ehud Olmert's arrogant and offensive statement that Diaspora Jews have no say in the future of Jerusalem, he makes it even less likely that the living Jews he exhorts to come to Jerusalem will ever outnumber those he derides for just wanting to be buried there. He then lends his column to quoting a prominent Jewish figure‚ as saying: "I'd die for Israel - but I'd rather die than live in Israel." What a disgraceful statement that is! If Jews are to be so grossly alienated by the government of Israel and its media, why would they ever bother to come on aliya?" Perhaps Ben-David's only worthy quotation is Psalm 137: "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem..." Perhaps that cuts both ways: Jerusalem - and the government that sits there - should also not forget the Jews. ZALMI UNSDORFER Chairman, Likud-Herut UK London Further facts Sir, - Alfred Inselberg's letter ("A matter of facts," December 14) countering Munib al-Masri's claims was excellent. Nevertheless, one small correction needs be made. The Arab League meeting in Khartoum, Sudan, that declared the famous "three noes" to negotiations, recognition and peace with Israel" took place in September 1967 and not as published. YISRAEL MEDAD Shiloh More donations needed Sir, - Hopefully, Dr. Batya Ludman's article "Until death do us part" (December 14) will result in more after-death organ donations. Having suffered from renal failure for several years until I received a donor kidney two years ago, I know firsthand how essential it is that more Israelis not only sign the ADI organ donor card, but also make their wishes clear to their family and friends. Misinformation, ignorance and prejudice have doomed too many Israelis to a life of suffering and/or death. Organ donation is not against Jewish law; in fact, Jewish law states that we are commanded to save a life. JUDITH NUSBAUM Rishon Lezion Shades of black Sir, - Haredi columnist Jonathan Rosenblum accuses Israelis of having lost the will to give up their lives for their ideals and country ("A test of wills," December 14). Rosenblum laments the materialism and lack of idealism of Israeli society and a government that has lost its national will, while neglecting to mention that a large proportion of his community considers it a virtue to not study for a profession and, instead, receives welfare checks from the materialistic Zionists, or the fact that the government is propped up by haredi MKs in exchange for money. Rosenblum concludes with the ultimate chutzpah: This representative of a community for whom in many cases defense of our country does not even extend to saying in their synagogues the prayer for the welfare of our soldiers, implies that we should learn from the Maccabees who battled evildoers while learning Torah. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. YONATAN SILVER Jerusalem In Kook's interest Re: Samuel Freedman in UpFront, November 30, 2007. On his visit to Jerusalem in 1928-29, Louis Ginzberg, one of the greatest scholars of the 20th century, was asked by Rav Kook to write an opinion as a western man on the subject of Sabbath, when Dr. Magnes and his friends were playing tennis. Ginzberg asked Rav Kook if he had been correctly informed that the interest rate in Palestine was 20 percent and more. When Rav Kook admitted this, Louis Ginzberg reminded Rav Kook that it was a direct violation of biblical law. He suggested a deal. As soon as Kook wrote against the prevailing usury, he would write about the impropriety of playing tennis on the Sabbath! (Source: Keeper of the Law, a personal memoir by Eli Ginzberg, L. Ginzberg's son.) AMOS FUCHS Givat Shmuel But for the grace of God Sir, - I found Carmelita Lee's "Sophisticated beggars of Tel Aviv" (November 23) rather distasteful. She began by describing the virtues of giving to others less fortunate, and how she and her husband have educated their children to do so. But the rest of her writing conveyed a judgmental attitude - even her use of the word "bum" was insensitive. She ended her essay with her daughter's response to a beggar: "Get a job." Neither Ms. Lee nor her daughters know the circumstances that led these individuals to their current predicament, and what is keeping them mired in it. Whether it is out of choice or not is not for them to conclude. One should never forget that "There but for the grace of God, go I." MICHAEL HEYMANN Netanya Slip of the mother tongue Being a faithful reader of The Jerusalem Post for many years, I should have gotten used to the occasional mangled English. The reader smiles, understands what was meant, and reads on. However, when what was written is the opposite of what was meant, things should be corrected. For example, Jack Riemer's mother, as quoted in his review of Edward Kaplan's book on Abraham Joshua Heschel (Balance or Bias, Books, November 23), told him in Yiddish, that "a lie you are NOT allowed to say," and not as was written. One hopes that readers do not think that Jewish mothers taught their children to lie whenever it would be useful. RHEA ISRAEL Rehovot