June 12: The fate of Diaspora Jews

Unfortunately, for the past 63 years, Israel has tied its fortunes to Diaspora Jewry through the UJA, Israel Bonds and other connections.

letters (photo credit: JP)
(photo credit: JP)
Hurry it along
Sir, – Isi Leibler should not moan over “The erosion of European Jewry” (Candidly Speaking, June 9), but pray for its acceleration.
If, as he writes, European Jews are blaming Israel for the anti- Semitism in their countries and feel that there must be a distinction between hatred of Jews and hatred of Israel, then the faster such brethren disappear the better it will be for Israel and a Judaism that will not erode. It is an old argument, going by the name of sh'lilat hagola, the negation of the Diaspora, promoted by one of the classic leaders of Zionism, Jacob Klatzkin.
Unfortunately, for the past 63 years, Israel has tied its fortunes to Diaspora Jewry through the UJA, Israel Bonds and other connections.
Such cooperation even reaches the absurdity at times of Israel sending emissaries and funds to prop up Diaspora communities so that they in turn will provide financial and political support for Israel.
If this is the true nature of the process, we are doomed to failure, for instead of the Diaspora emptying out its population and resources and coming here to improve our demographic and economic strength, we shall be moving people and funds in the other direction.
Yehuda Halevi, in his Kuzari, bemoans the fact that Babylonian Jewry did not take advantage of the friendly offer of the Emperor Cyrus to build the Second Temple. Today we have to bemoan the fact that even when our souls are in Jerusalem, our bodies are in New York and Paris.
Making their day
Sir, – Surely, many subscribers are pleased as punch by the good news of Judy Montagu becoming Mrs. Fossaner (“No age limit on love,” Grapevine, June 9). The beautiful wedding photo warms our hearts, which are grateful for Judy’s articles, her skill as a longtime letters editor, and her excellent parlor meeting presentations.
May the newlyweds have the best of health and happiness to 120! They have made our day.
What drivel!
Sir, – After several more than disturbing and even vicious quotes about his take on encouraging national service for Israeli Arabs (“Zahalka sees National Service as ‘colonialist’ plot to weaken Arabs,” June 7), MK Jamal Zahalka concedes that “It’s a good thing to help a child in school or volunteer in a hospital, but the problem is with the framework...,” which, of course, means that it’s an Israeli government initiative. Then he has the nerve to mention a “fact” to support his position – that many countries exempt minorities, including Jews, from national obligations.
What drivel! First of all, where are those countries and what is the context? I can think of one, called the State of Israel, which had the foresight – and humane consideration – to exempt the Arab minority from mandatory military duty because of the potential of having to fight against their own people and even families in times of war. And even now, the national service framework set up for Israeli Arabs is not obligatory, so why is Zahalka so hysterically hateful toward both the service and those who volunteer? Volunteering is usually a winwin situation. The public body benefits from the volunteers, who sometimes provide crucial manpower to financially strapped NGOs, and the volunteers almost inevitably feel that they receive more than they give. With National Service, the volunteer ultimately receives privileges and benefits that are often on par with those who complete military service.
I would have expected Zahalka, as a so-called representative of his constituents, to be the first to demand that such a framework be created. But an obviously seething resentment and, yes, hatred for the very state he supposedly serves has so overtaken his psyche (and, unfortunately, those of too many of his colleagues) that even a clearly beneficial and successful program is considered a government plot to “weaken” Arabs.
GERSHON HARRIS Hatzor Haglilit
Wrong end of stick
Sir, – In “A good wife” (Comment & Features, June 7), Pamela Peled confesses she is not an expert on Jewish law, but nonetheless champions changing the halachic conversion laws as a solution to protect potential converts from the trial and tribulations she described.
Peled has grabbed the wrong end of the stick. Jewish law is forged in iron and cannot be altered on a whim. A better solution would be to champion changing the rabbis who implement these laws.
Late once more
Sir, – The response by government officials to allegations on Syrian TV of “20 killed, 225 wounded in border clashes” suggests that Israel does not yet appreciate the critical importance of public diplomacy (“IDF holds Syrian border against hundreds of ‘Naksa’ rioters seeking to infiltrate,” June 6).
Defense Minister Ehud Barak answered dryly that “responsibility for the incidents and the casualties falls on those carrying out these provocations.” Another official said only that Israel could not confirm the Syrian casualty figures, and that “Damascus has a track record of not being precise with its data.”
The one lesson that Israel should have learned from the Second Lebanon War, Operation Cast Lead, and the Mavi Marmara is that a delay of even a few hours in presenting its case to the world can be devastating.
Silence is taken as an admission of guilt. Every moment that Syrian allegations go unanswered reinforces the misleading impression that the IDF fired indiscriminately into crowds of unarmed protesters.
It may well be that Israel has no idea how many Syrians actually were shot by IDF troops.
Why not? Even worse, Israel may have precise casualty numbers but is unwilling to release the information. That would be inexcusable.
Assuming that far fewer people were shot than Syria claims, Israel should be shouting from the rooftops, through every available world media outlet and especially at the UN: “We categorically reject the inflated and unsubstantiated figures offered by Syria for its own propaganda purposes. Here are the real numbers.
Unlike the Syrian government, Israel does not shoot innocent people. Instead, we take every precaution to limit casualties, often putting our own troops at greater risk in the process.”
EFRAIM A. COHEN Zichron Ya’acov
Sir, – In “IDF holds Syrian border against hundreds of ‘Naksa’ rioters seeking to infiltrate,” I was most disappointed to read: “Sunday was the anniversary of the first day of the 1967 war, in which Israel expanded its territory to include east Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and Sinai.”
There is certainly no doubt in my mind that the purpose of the IDF firing the first shots of the Six Day War was to ensure that the Arab armies (Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian), which on that day were massing on their borders with Israel, didn’t get the upper hand by attacking first, which would no doubt have ensured a horrific massacre of our people.
To word the article in a way that implies the war was to enable Israel to expand its territory gives fuel to the world media, which set a close watch on every word printed in the Israeli press.
Jews living in the UK have enough problems with the reporting methods of the BBC.
Sir, – The writers don’t mention who started the Six Day War. Was it a war of defense by Israel or one of aggression? This makes a crucial difference regarding international law and related consequences concerning the respective territories.
RUTH BLOCK Jerusalem