July 17: Claims, counter-claims

I am proud to serve as a member of the Claims Conference Board of Directors.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Claims, counter-claims
Sir, – I am proud to serve as a member of the Claims Conference Board of Directors.
In a series of unrelenting attacks on the Claims Conference – its leadership, management and board – you have disregarded journalistic standards resulting in a gravely negative impact on survivors of the Shoah.
Rather than checking with the Claims Conference the stories and “facts” that were fed to you, you chose to print them and repeatedly reiterate them.
Worse still, you published incorrect and unsubstantiated narratives of events that transpired at a closed meeting.
You manufactured the possibility of scandal undefined, then left it as an open issue.
No one disputes the facts of the fraud perpetrated against the Claims Conference, some of it by Claims Conference employees.
No one feels more keenly the responsibility of serving the survivors than the Claims Conference.
No one disputes that justice was served in the 100 percent conviction rate of the guilty.
No survivor suffered any diminution of services. The German government made whole the stolen money. None of this was headlined in the ongoing drumbeat against the Claims Conference leadership. That is irresponsible.
Finally, there is the damage to survivors. Will you explain that the Claims Conference, which has delivered billions to them for over 60 years, continues to obtain increased aid from Germany to provide improved care to survivors in 40 countries? Will you reassure them that in no way was the work of the Claims Conference compromised by the fraud? The leadership slate unanimously accepted by the board should be seen as it was intended – the affirmation of jobs well done and a vote of total confidence.
In this season of Tisha Be’av, let us act on what unites us as Jews rather than allow divisiveness to overtake us. The Claims Conference board voted to move on to further its mission.
Let us hope that all concerned can adopt this positive position.WILLIAM D. HESS New Orleans
The writer is immediate past president of the American Zionist Movement, a founding member of the Claims Conference
Meet the Amalekites
Sir, – I was hoping to catch up casually on the news. So far, so good. Then I read the rantings of a “leader” of Shas’s Council of Torah Sages (“‘These people are Jews?’” asks Shas rabbi about national-religious camp,” July 15).
In his view, and possibly that of others on the council, not only are the wearers of knitted yarmulkes, like myself, not Jewish, they are actually Amalekites.
Anyone who has read Exodus 17:16 will know that the Amalekites are the eternal enemy of our nation.
How on Earth can a leader of a group, ultra-Orthodox or otherwise, make such a statement on the eve of Tisha Be’av? It is no less than a repetition of the enmity that destroyed the Second Temple.
I cannot think of anything further to say.
Sir, – What an exquisitely-timed demonstration of the tragic origin and continued persistence of Tisha Be’av as a day of universal Jewish mourning! The underlining cause of the destruction of the Second Temple traditionally has been ascribed to sinat hinam, baseless hatred, among Jews. Yet Rabbi Shalom Cohen, a prominent member of the Shas Council of Torah Sages, has now had the unbelievable audacity, while twisting Torah text, to call national-religious Jews “Amalekites” and question their status as Jews.
Whatever qualifications he might have for his high position, Cohen seems seriously deficient in ahavat yisrael (love of Israel).
RICHARD D. WILKINS Syracuse, New York
Relevant day
Sir, – For those wondering why Tisha Be’av remains so relevant today, one might consider the following.
This year on Tisha Be’av, some Jews and most Muslims fasted while most Jews and some Muslims ate. On a particularly significant day for the Jews, they were banned from their most holy place,while on a not particularly significant day for Muslims they were allowed to enter the Jews’ most holy place.
Muslims freely entered shopping malls in Jewish-controlled areas, whereas Jews did not even consider entering shopping malls in Muslim-controlled areas.
Haredim were free to roam wherever they pleased, while in haredi areas observant Jewish soldiers were harangued at best and physically attacked at worst.
Surely such a plethora of conundra deserves a fast day!
Sir, – After the IDF conquered Jerusalem in 1967, the famous words of Col. Motta Gur – “Har habayit beyadeinu” (the Temple Mount is in our hands) was heard worldwide.
This year, on the day before Tisha Be’av, when I wanted to go up to the Temple Mount, I and others were delayed by over an hour, and then, when finally allowed to go up, we were met by Israeli policemen who summarily told us to leave because they were afraid of the Arab reaction.
The Arabs have learned very well that all they have to do is yell a little and the police will buckle and not allow Jews to enter the area.
I submit that if Jews are not allowed in the area, Arabs should not be allowed either. If Jews are not allowed to pray on the Temple Mount, Arabs should be restricted from praying there, too.
Our government bends over backward not to do anything that will upset the Arabs without ever getting mutual respect from the Palestinians, let alone from their leaders. Their idea of give and take is we give, they take and then ask for more.
The time for this nonsense to stop is now, and the place to begin is the Temple Mount. It is time for us to say “Har habayit beyadeinu,” and to really mean it.
BILL WEBER Jerusalem
Forget frustration
Sir, – Yuval Diskin contends (“Israel near point of no return on two-state solution,” Commentary, July 14) that anyone who doesn’t agree with him as to the supposedly vital need to establish a Palestinian state believes mistakenly that one can “freeze [Palestinian] frustration.”
The conflict abides not because of “Palestinian” frustration, but because Palestinians (and most of the wider Arab world) do not accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state and, unable to destroy it in a general war, work for its eventual elimination.
Accordingly, under existing conditions of Palestinian non-acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state and support for terrorism against Jews, creating a Palestinian state offers no solution.
The fantasy of creating a Palestinian state in existing circumstances does not mean that Israel is doomed to become a binational state. Not only do demographic studies show a rise in Jewish fertility and decline in Arab fertility that project a Jewish majority well into the future, but Israel no longer occupies the Arabs of Gaza or most of those of Judea and Samaria.
Palestinians may well be frustrated that they cannot destroy Israel today, but that is no reason for Israel to make concessions to them under prevailing conditions. To the contrary, Israel can make concessions only to a Palestinian society that accepts its legitimacy as a Jewish state, and ceases to teach its children that they have a religious and national obligation to kill Jews in pursuit of destroying Israel.
Like others insisting on the necessity of a Palestinian state today, Diskin is essentially arguing that Israel yield territory, assets and security, regardless of what the Palestinians actually think, say and do.
The writer is national president of the Zionist Organization of America