November 7: What's in a name

If Israel decides to take wider action against the Gaza Strip to stop attacks on soldiers and civilians, I appeal for a name less bombastic and arrogant than Operation Cast Lead.

What’s in a name
Sir, – Regarding “IDF hits Gaza terrorist cell, killing two” (November 4), if Israel decides to take wider action against the Gaza Strip to stop attacks on soldiers and civilians, may I appeal for a name less bombastic and arrogant than that given the last action – Operation Cast Lead.
The pity of it is that this name has been mentioned thousands of times in the world media and gives no idea at all of what Israel did and why. I would hope that the name for a future action more accurately expresses the reason for it and thus helps the world understand why Israel is forced to take such action.
HERZL MELMED Englewood, Colorado
There’s good news
Sir, – Caroline B. Glick’s “Delegitimizing the delegitimizers” (Column One, November 4) is excellent and contains very important information about UNESCO and the Obama administration. However, I would like to suggest that there is more than “only one way” to deal with the delegitimizers.
In Europe, most people have been exposed to indoctrination against Israel for over a decade, and many have developed strong emotional bonds to the Palestinian cause. They are unlikely to be moved by arguments concerning Israel’s historic rights and the justice of our cause.
A new, radical approach is desperately needed in order to stop them from thinking solely about the conflict and associated issues where we have already lost the narrative.
People need to be presented with irrefutable details of the work that Israel is carrying out on everyone’s behalf and how it benefits the daily lives of millions. Promoting all the great things our country is achieving to make the world a better place will make people say wow! This powerful emotion will counterbalance their engrained sympathies for the Palestinian cause.
So let’s not focus only on counter-attacking; let’s promote Israel in a new light.
Netanya The writer produces a weekly newsletter at and is a regular blogger on
Define ‘Conservative’
Sir, – In commenting on Dr. Steven Cohen’s research into attitudes of rabbinical students toward Israel, Elliot Jager (“Are young rabbis turning on Israel?,” Jewish Ideas Daily, October 31) deduces that Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) students today have reconciled their Zionism with “universalist ideals and, in extreme cases, Left-liberal dogma that is anti-Zionist.”
Reading the same report, I accepted Cohen’s conclusion that rabbinical students are “no less connected” and committed to Israel than previous students, although more critical of the current government. The reason for the difference between my interpretation and that of Jager may well be that for him, liberalism is to be frowned upon while for me, liberalism is a positive value that defends human rights, freedom of speech and conscience, and other democratic values.
In his concern that if its future rabbis hold liberal political positions the Conservative Movement will no longer be able to “occupy the center” position in religious Judaism, Jager confuses our centrist theological position with a conservative political position.
Conservative Judaism is not a political movement and has never been characterized by conservative political positions. Its most outstanding theologian, Abraham Joshua Heschel, was not only a leader of Zionist activities and the movement to free Soviet Jews, but was heavily involved in the American Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam War protests.
If rabbinical students are critical of some of Israel’s policies today, that only places them together with Israeli citizens who make up the opposition to the current government. Does this make all the parties to the left of the Likud, beginning with Kadima, liberal and anti-Zionist as well?
There is no basis for stating that “Seminaries and professors have been unable or unwilling to provide their students with the moral compass needed....” Certainly, professors such as the current chancellor of JTS, Arnold Eisen, cannot be accused of neglecting morals and Jewish- Zionist values in their teachings and writings.
Conservative Judaism has always stood for an attempt to preserve the Jewish tradition and Jewish law – hence the term “conservative” – while at the same time adapting Judaism to new times and new knowledge. That is where it stands today, and Zionism still forms a central part of its ideology, as it has since the days of its founders, Zecharia Frankel and Solomon Schechter.
REUVEN HAMMER Jerusalem The writer is a former president of the Conservative Movement’s International Rabbinical Assembly and a columnist in The Jerusalem Post Magazine
Nothing academic
Sir, – I was shocked by Prof. Julio Pino’s malicious outburst at Kent State (“Kent State president lambasts Israel-bashing professor,” October 30). Shouting “death to Israel” in an academic forum is utterly unacceptable and comes dangerously close to endorsing a hate crime.
Political slogans constitute freedom of speech, but “death to Israel” does not constitute a political slogan. “Death” implies violence against one or more persons and is not used in American politics when discussing institutions and states. More importantly, “Israel” is not merely a state: It is a concept intimately tied to Jewish history. “Israel” is also a people, an ethno-cultural community – not just a place on the map.
If Pino rejects Israeli statehood, he should say so, using precise terminology rather than invoking the violent language of jihad. As a professional historian, he should understand this. If he does not, I question his academic credentials.
Shouting “death to Israel” may be interpreted as an endorsement of genocide. Neither the First Amendment of the US Constitution nor academic tenure constitutes a license to propagate hate mongering.
JARROD TANNY Wilmington, North Carolina The writer is an assistant professor of Jewish history at the University of North Carolina/Wilmington
The few, the proud
Sir, – This past Shabbat’s Torah portion, “Lech Lecha,” fits in well with the 236th anniversary of the US Marine Corps, which will be marked on November 10.
We read that Abraham, with 318 men he had trained, made a night raid and routed the forces of three kings who had overrun the kingdoms of the Dead Sea valley and taken all the chattel, as well as Lot, Abraham’s nephew.
Abraham returned victorious and returned the captives and the loot to the King of Sodom, who offered him all the possessions he had captured. Abraham’s reply was: “Nothing for me, but food and reward for the men who went with me.”
The Torah portion’s relation to the Marine Corps is that, like Abraham, Marine officers, from platoon leaders on up, are bound by the Corps tradition that officers go first and eat last.
America is justly proud of its Marine Corps and those who serve are justly proud to wear the globe with the anchor and eagle.
RAPHAEL BEN YOSEF Ramat Gan The writer is an ex-US Marine.
Here’s the proof
Sir, – Regarding my letter to the editor of November 1 (“Where’s the proof?”), it has been brought to my attention that Gershon Baskin is in possession of a letter of thanks from our prime minister.
While I have not seen it and it has not appeared anywhere, such a letter would merit my apology for presuming a lack of corroborating evidence for Baskin’s claiming a key role in the release of soldier Gilad Schalit.
J.J. GROSS Jerusalem