YENTEL JACOBS Netanya
Do it rightSir, – Regarding “Cabinet approves memorial for Jewish WWII soldiers” (July 18), a committee of top-notch scholars and lay enthusiasts from all over the world is absolutely required so that this memorial is not just about one country’s Jewish soldiers.As an American Jew, I am aware of what has been done by the Jewish War Veterans Museum in Washington, DC, the Wisconsin Jewish Historical Society and the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York’s Battery Park to begin the documentation of the role of the 550,000 US Jewish soldiers, men and women, who participated in WWII. These are just a few examples to follow, and I know that the former Soviet Union and all the other countries whose armies helped defeat the Nazis, Japanese and other Axis countries would want their efforts properly documented. It is important that the role of over a million Jews in winning the war receives the recognition it should.DAVID GEFFEN JerusalemSir, – A significant omission in your article is the fact that out of a total population of South African Jewry at the time numbering 100,000, fully 10 percent volunteered and served in World War II. Six hundred were women.This was purely a volunteer force, as South Africa did not have conscription. Three hundred and fifty-seven gave their lives on active service.RALPH LANESMAN Ra’ananaAnti-Republican-ismSir, – David Rubin (“Why do US Jews still vote for Obama?,” Comment & Features, July 18) does the Jewish-American community a disservice by accusing it of “knee-jerk” pro-Obama-ism.Most of my friends and relatives are not happy with Obama’s Israel policy and are not moved by any “talking heads” to think otherwise. The problem is that American Jews are repelled by the Republican Party’s gang of benighted, ignorant, immoral, bigoted, hypocritical and incompetent (I’ve run out of adjectives) presidential wannabes – no matter how pro-Israel – and cannot see their way to bolting from the Democrats. In the long run, what is good for the US is good for Israel, and the extreme financial and political damage perpetrated by recent Republican administrations, supported by looney-tune fringe groups, is beyond the tolerance of most Jews.Israel survived Jimmy Carter, and irrespective of Rubin’s fears there is far too much popular and political support for Israel in the US for Obama or anyone else to pull a Chamberlain.TREVOR DAVIS AsseretJust listen Sir, – Jeff Barak (“Thank God for the summer break,” Reality Check, July 18) maintains that “[t]he way to safeguard our future is first and foremost to seek an agreement with our Palestinian neighbors that will enable the two peoples to live side-by-side in two states....”Coming to any agreement involves paying attention to the other party. Why don’t we listen to what our Palestinian neighbors themselves say?A recent poll found that a majority of them reject the idea of two states living side-by-side (“Six in 10 Palestinians reject two-state solution, survey finds,” July 15). Although some two-thirds wouldn’t mind starting from this point, they see it only as a stage on the way to the ultimate (or maybe even “final”) solution – the establishment of one Palestinian state to include all the territory that is now Israel.When the Palestinian leadership is still educating its children to believe that the whole of Israel is “Palestine”; while the Palestine Embassy in London provides an interactive map where information on “Palestinian” cities such as Haifa, Nazareth, Jaffa and Tiberias is available; and when the Hamas Charter tells us clearly that Jews aren’t wanted in this area, we should take Palestinian opinion seriously.RONA HART Haifa
Neither wing Sir, – Larry Derfner falsely claims that I am the leader of “American Jewry[‘s]...Republican wing” (“Bring it on, National Camp,” Rattling the Cage, July 17). Not so.ZOA is fervently pro-Israel, not pro-Republican or pro-Democrat.We support and have good relationships with members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats, who are supporters of Israel.At ZOA’s annual missions to Washington, those attending and speaking at our Congressional luncheons are evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. ZOA has also criticized both President Bush and President Obama.In addition, Derfner may not have been aware of the clarification on our position regarding Israel’s anti-boycott law, incorrectly claiming we opposed it. We initially stated we needed time to “examine this law,” but now after careful examination, the ZOA publicly stated it’s sympathetic to its passage, which helps protect Israel’s security and economic interests.MORTON A. KLEIN New YorkThe writer is national president of the Zionist Organization of America Larry Derfner responds: Morton Klein now supports the anti-boycott law, but when I wrote my column he opposed it. JTA quoted him as saying: “Nobody was more appalled by the boycott of Ariel theater than me, but to make it illegal? I don’t think so.” And when I called him the leader of American Jewry’s “hawkish, Republican wing,” I was referring to his followers, who are overwhelmingly hawkish Republicans, not to the guests at ZOA functions.
Superfluous publicationSir, – Regarding “Do not desecrate the image of God” (Comment & Opinion, July 13), it is a pity that the rabbinic authors of the controversial Torat Hamelech compilation and those who recommended it did not take into consideration the chapter on the rights of minorities in a Jewish state in the classic Constitution and Law in a Jewish State according to the Halacha, prepared by then-chief rabbi Isaac Herzog after the 1947 UN vote made the emergence of a Jewish state likely.There Herzog writes: “I hardly imagine that any right-minded rabbi in Israel would suggest that we ought to apply Talmudic restrictions on gentiles in the Holy Land in a Jewish state in our day. First, it will be created by grace of the UN and the world powers, and not the messianic one envisaged in the Torah laws as interpreted by the Talmudic sages. Second, even specific Torah laws are to be overruled on account of the animosity (ayvah) they will engender. Finally, the desecration of God’s name that such discrimination would involve is an even more serious offense that overrules all other considerations.”In light of the above, Torat Hamelech is a thoroughly superfluous and halachically irresponsible publication.ARYEH NEWMAN Jerusalem