May 16: Goldstone’s motives

What concerns so many Israelis is not what Goldstone did, but rather his motivation for accepting either position.

Goldstone’s motives
Sir, – Larry Derfner levels severe criticism on Israelis, and especially on Yediot Aharonot for likening Richard Goldstone’s history as a judge in Apartheid South Africa to his report on Operation Cast Lead (“Desperately smearing Goldstone,” May 13).
However, what concerns so many Israelis, whom he describes as brainwashed, is not what Goldstone did in either of these two activities, but what was his motivation for accepting either position. Goldstone’s comment that he felt he could do more to lessen the evils of apartheid from within makes no sense when he admits that as a judge he had to enforce the existing laws. He could undoubtedly have achieved more by passionate defense of cruelly charged opponents of apartheid.
Similarly, his acceptance of the position as head of the commission investigating infringements of human rights in the war in Gaza, knowing that on his committee there were those with a proven bias against Israel and that Israel’s refusal to participate could not conceivably result in an unbiased report, create suspicion as to his true motives.
    MONTY M. ZION     Tel Mond
Learning to love Zion...
Sir, – As US President Barack Obama’s support among Jewish voters plunges (“Foxman joins list of leading US Jews speaking out against Obama’s policies on Israel,” April 26), people like Sarah Palin and other right-minded Republicans and Independents are talking straight and strongly on supporting Israel and a united Jerusalem. They are worthy of strong Jewish and Zionist support, in my opinion.
It seems a bit odd, but one can only hope that these superlative Americans are going to train US Jews to love Zion. They are doing the work for those of us Jews who ought to be speaking out forcefully on love and support of Israel and Judaism. Kol hakavod to these politicians.
    MARK FEFFER    Jerusalem
...and admitting it?
Sir, – What’s so upsetting about Brandeis University is that its defense of Michael Oren as commencement speaker is so pareve (“The truth about Brandeis,” May 13).
Here we have a Jewish-sponsored university that invites the Israeli ambassador to the US – not because he represents the realization of the ancient Jewish hope for redeemed Zion, not because we Jews who support Brandeis are pro-Zionist, but because in inviting him, Brandeis students, in the words of its president, Jehuda Reinharz, “can see somebody whose job it is to represent an important country in the Middle East and who also is a great historian... speak about an issue that is constantly in the press, constantly part of American/Israel relations.”
Is this why he is invited, because he’s a great historian? There are lots of great historians around. He’s invited because he represents an important country in the Middle East? Why not invite President Bashar Assad of Syria or Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal?
Down deep he’s invited, I suspect, because at some level, Brandeis supports Israel. That’s precisely what sticks in the craw of some of its self-hating Jewish students. But its commitment is so tepid.
Oh, for the day when Brandeis finally calls a spade a spade, and its president says openly, “Yes, we love Israel. We’re proud of its accomplishments, and we’ll work to support it through thick and thin. That’s why we invite its ambassador to speak on our campus.”
    JOEL RUTMAN, MD    Zichron Ya’acov
Valuing academic freedom
Sir, – Prof. David Newman, Ben-Gurion University’s new dean of humanities and social sciences, derides alleged “right-wing” efforts to trample “the basic values of academic freedom” (“How to make the next Buber,” May 11). Among other assaults against such a venerated value, he cites attempts to “silence” BGU lecturer Neve Gordon, who has agitated for boycotts of Israel (which, to his credit, Newman opposes) and (a point Newman omits) has characterized the country as an apartheid state.
As a respected scholar, Newman is undoubtedly aware that a hallmark of academic freedom is, in the universally accepted formulation of the American Association of University Professors, the “free search for truth and its free exposition.” Such objective inquiry is not advanced by the writings and activities of a determined minority in Israel’s academic community, who exploit their tenured positions to propound unsubstantiated and frequently false arguments that defame Israel and even call into question its right to exist.
Prof. Newman might wish to consider BGU President Rivka Carmi’s response last year to Dr. Gordon’s rant in The Los Angeles Times calling for boycott and describing Israel as an apartheid regime. Such views, she wrote, are “demagoguery cloaked in academic theory.” And, if one may extrapolate from her specific reference to Gordon, she observes that such proposed actions and labels “would destroy the very fabric of the society he [read: they] claims to want to protect.”
    JACK E. FRIEDMAN     Professor emeritus,     City University of New York    Jerusalem
More memories of Lady J
Sir, – Future generations will wonder whether Lady J ever actually lived; they will find it hard to believe that such a lively, loving personality really existed (“Lady Jakobovits dies at 81,” May 9).
The success of the Lord and Lady J team was that they were a partnership. It would not have worked without her; she would not have succeeded without him. Not for them the view of some contemporary rabbis’ wives that “the rabbinate is my husband’s job; don’t expect me to be part of it.”
    RABBI RAYMOND APPLE    Jerusalem
Sir, – Lady Amelie Jakobovits was a founding member and patron of the Shalshelet Centre for Enhancing Interpersonal Communication, which focuses on engaged and newlyweds – and now singles. We published her “Ten Commandments of Marriage,” especially popular with couples.
At her funeral last Sunday in Jerusalem, a few stories were told, some humorous, to which I’d like to add.
Addressing one of our parlor meetings shortly after Rabbi Jakobovits had been made lord, she told of her mother’s response to her engagement to the young Rabbi Jakobovits. As she had been quite a tomboy, her mother pointed out, “You might make a good rebbetzin, but you’ll never be a lady.”
However, she was in every way. When my father in his 90th year was hospitalized in London, he was one of the many recipients on early Friday morning of her warm, freshly baked little halla bulkes and equally warm, uplifting Shabbat greeting.
Indeed, Lady J was a legend in her own time. She will be missed, but her heritage of authentic caring lives on.
    Founder, Shalshelet
    Interpersonal Relationship Enhancement Centre