January 31: Acting on Amalek

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke well at Auschwitz, saying that “a new Amalek is appearing and once again threatening to annihilate the Jews."

Acting on Amalek
Sir, – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke well at Auschwitz, saying that “a new Amalek is appearing and once again threatening to annihilate the Jews... We will not allow it... We will never forget and always stand guard”(“‘A new Amalek is appearing,’ Netanyahu warns at Auschwitz, January 28).
I would say to Netanyahu, the best way to make sure we don’t allow it is to forget about two states – only a recipe for what he vows will not happen – build and not destroy settlements, and remember that Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas, with whom he is so desperate to negotiate away our land, is of the same ilk as Ahmadinejad, Hizbullah and Hamas. Time to put your words into action, Mr. Prime Minister, and set a goal to destroy those who threaten us once and for all so the Amaleks of this world will never again harm the Jewish people.
Goldstone’s double standard
Sir, – Alan Dershowitz draws attention to Judge Richard Goldstone’s systematic use of a double standard for assessing and reviewing testimony concerning actions by Israel and Hamas prior to and during Operation Cast Lead (“Alan Dershowitz releases scathing critique of Goldstone Report,” January 28). As Dershowitz notes, these biases were directly related to Goldstone’s attempt to make a case for Israel’s intention to harm civilians, and to downsize the case for Hamas’s intention to harm civilians. There was hard evidence of Hamas’s intentions, including incitement and hate speech in its mosques, schools and TV programs. There is no need to speculate, guess or hypothesize about the authenticity of such evidence. It is not something inside heads, but out on the airwaves and in the texts.
Goldstone failed to connect the dot of Hamas terror with a second dot, Iran’s support for such terror. Goldstone’s loud silence on Hamas’s and Iran’s incitement to genocide bears explaining, given the precedent of the Rwandan Tribunal – set up by Goldstone – in which Hutu journalists were convicted for such incitement against the Tutsis.
Bar sans mitzva
Sir, – I take exception to those secular Jews who purportedly celebrate bar-mitzvas totally devoid of anything religious (“Bar mitzvas without a divine reference,” January 26). This is a basic contradiction in terms, as “bar mitzva” itself means “son of the commandment,” which is certainly a religious concept. What they do may more accurately be termed a confirmation, or whatever else they wish to call it, since they are inventing the entire concept anyway.
One person apparently said that the aspects of Judaism that were important to him are history, culture and holidays. However, “holiday” means “holy day.” I would think that qualifies as a religious concept. What these people are missing is the basic understanding that if there were no God, Torah or any religious basis to Judaism, there would be no Jewish history, culture, holidays or even Jews to deny their religion.
What they really want is privilege without responsibility – not an admirable character trait. What we get out of something depends on what we put into it. The person who audits a course usually doesn’t know as much as the one who studies and does the homework.
Most of the problems with defining our “Jewish” State of Israel derive from the basic difficulty of separating Judaism into its separate parts. We are not only a people or a culture or a religion. We are all of those, indivisibly. We need our brains and our hearts, and everything that goes to nourish them, in order to survive. If you remove any one of those, the entire organism ceases to function. The whole is more than the sum of its parts.
Building freeze...
Sir, – We are being constantly hounded by the US to perform confidence-building measures in order to build up the confidence of the Palestinians in the “peace process” (“PA won’t resume negotiations before settlement freeze, close associate of Abbas reiterates,” January 27). Since such measures would have to be performed in the West Bank, how can we possibly perform them if there is a building freeze in place? 
... and building bridges
Sir, – I read with great surprise and sadness the comments attributed to retired Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek of Poland concerning the Holocaust (“Polish bishop: Jews exploit Holocaust as propaganda tool,” January 26). That they come on the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the death camp at Auschwitz makes them all the more difficult to hear.
Bishop Pieronek concedes that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians does not compare to the “shame of the concentration camps” or what he apparently called the “aberrations of Nazism” – dismissing the fact that this was not an aberration of Nazism but its dark heart.
Sacred Heart University’s Center for Christian-Jewish Understanding (CCJU) has long been engaged in the work of dialogue and bridge-building between Christians and Jews. We supported and welcomed the 1998 document from the Vatican’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, “We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah,” as an important development of theology and teaching begun with Vatican II’s 1965 document, “Nostra Aetate.” “We Remember” is a profound statement of solidarity between Catholics and Jews and an ethical pledge to promote and act with an authentic moral memory that the Holocaust is a terrible historical fact and yet-to-be-healed wound of the 20th century. The CCJU has conducted study tours to the camps at Auschwitz and elsewhere, engaging bishops and rabbis in a conversation that clearly must be continued and extended.
The Jerusalem Post notes that Bishop Pieronek was a friend of pope John Paul II, who so warmly endorsed our mission. I am certain he would be at pains to distance himself from this regrettable attempt to rewrite history.
The occasion of the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz reminds all people of good will that such places should never be built again and that the monstrous ideas that gave rise to them must never be revived.
DAVID L. COPPOLAExecutive director, Center for Christian-Jewish Understanding, Sacred Heart UniversityFairfield, Connecticut
Cooperation goes a long way
Sir, – I just read “Editor’s Notes: Israel to the rescue” (January 22) on the Israeli response and actions in Haiti. It helped me to sit up and feel prouder of my love for the Jewish State. Kol hakavod to you.
The only true barometer to be used in this situation is how many lives were saved and how many lives were improved by virtue of Israel’s charity efforts. This was a truly righteous response to those in need, and Israel remains a light unto the nations.
The message for the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world is howtheir lives would be improved by cooperation with and respect forIsrael. Imagine if the resources that go into to armaments were used tobuild schools and hospitals, to pay teachers and nurses what theydeserve, to feed and clothe those in need; to buy books instead ofbombs. I compare the life expectancy in Gaza and the West Bank to whatit was pre-1967; likewise, health care and treatment of women comparedto the rest of the Arab world, along with literacy rates, infantmortality, etc.
Imagine the potential if there were peace. I just hope I see it in my lifetime.
Keep up the good work.
Executive director, Maccabi USA/Sports for Israel
Philadelphia, PA