October 3: Who they are

Indeed, one is hard put to find a third-generation member of any progressive synagogue anywhere in the world.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Who they are
Sir, – You recently reported the results of a poll that was highly favorable to Israel vis-a-vis its public standing in the United States (“70% of Americans strongly support Israel, poll finds,” September 30).
This survey was released by an organization calling itself the Foreign Policy Initiative.
One would think some identification and/or qualification is appropriate. The organization has but four board members – William Kristol, Robert Kagan, Dan Senor and Eric Edelman – each a leading Jewish neoconservative and ardent advocate of Israel.
There is obviously nothing whatsoever improper about such individuals running an organization with the benign, neutral name of the Foreign Policy Initiative. But I have to believe that if an organization with but four impassioned Muslim or Arab board members released the results of a poll that was unfavorable to Israel, you would have ignored the results entirely or, at the very least, qualified them by identifying and describing the board members.
Say ‘Fox’ in Hebrew
Sir, – I enjoyed “Mess media” (My Word, September 30) immensely. It is a subject my wife and I discuss frequently.
The truth of the matter, in our opinion, is that the Hebrew dailies Ma’ariv and Haaretz are in trouble because they insist on trying to sell the pubic a product that is also available from the Hebrew daily Yediot Aharonot, and for which there is a shrinking market: left-wing negativism. The only difference between the three papers is the degree, nothing else.
Yediot is doing better, probably because of the fact that its owners own a huge chunk of Channel 2. In that vein, we would dearly love to see an Israeli version of the Fox News Network.
Call it death
Sir, – The Jerusalem Post reported in “14 donor organs save 11 lives over Yom Kippur period” (September 28) that organs had been removed from three people who “suffered lower-brain death.”
Did the paper mean to imply that the people’s upper-brains were still alive? I think not. The people were dead.
This lack of clarity can contribute to misunderstandings and concerns among the general public when it comes to making decisions on organ donations.
The writer is founder and director of the Halachic Organ Donor Society An occasional truth
Sir, – Israel’s chief rabbis are political hacks who can show Zionist bona fides even as they take their marching orders from the éminences grise of the haredi world.
Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar is no exception. Nevertheless, Hirsh Goodman deliberately distorts the facts when he says that “Amar... heaps invective on progressive Jews” (“Thoughts on atonement” PostScript, September 28).
Nothing could be farther from the truth. What Amar rejects is progressive Judaism, not progressive Jews. And here he has the weight of history on his side. Progressive Jews are not so much progressive as they are Jewishly illiterate and, for the most part, spiritually indifferent. The movements that pander to this disenfranchised flock are what enrage rabbis like Amar – movements that lead by following and legitimize lifestyles that result in the emptying of their pews and the evaporation of their flocks.
Indeed, one is hard put to find a third-generation member of any progressive synagogue anywhere in the world.
There is plenty about which to criticize Israel’s chief rabbis.
But there are occasions when they speak the truth.
Sir, – I was saddened to read Hirsh Goodman’s diatribe against the Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar. Knowing Rabbi Amar personally as a quiet-spoken, extremely modest man, I feel that Goodman should check his facts a little more closely.
At a time of great turmoil in our region the last thing we need is even more division among ourselves, but that is precisely what this column promotes.
Goodman is guilty of precisely what he accuses Amar of – being “bent on spiritual fratricide and alienation.”
In Amar’s Morocco there are no Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist or other liberal streams of Judaism. There is only one Torah, and the synagogues are open to all. No one is judged by his level of observance.
This has been the way Moroccan Jews, who began to settle in that country in 586 BCE and later received new arrivals fleeing the Spanish Inquisition. They have kept the Torah intact and escaped the road to assimilation.
Benidorm, Spain
Freedom in theory
Sir, – On September 23, The Jerusalem Post featured an opinion piece by Irwin Cotler (“Ahmadinejad: Criminal nongrata,” Comment), who urged American lawmakers, as well as other influential people, to put pressure on the State Department to not grant a visa to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran to address the United Nations General Assembly.
On September 25, reader Sherwin Pomerantz (“Nail in the coffin,” Letters) wrote that he not only agreed 100 percent with Cotler, but that he had just returned from two weeks in the United States, where he encouraged legislators to put pressure on the State Department to prevent Ahmadinejad from going about the area and speaking to universities and foreign policy groups.
The US granted a visa to Ahmadinejad and his delegation as a representative body of Iran to attend the opening of the 67th annual UN General Assembly in New York, and not just for a visit to the United States. If free speech is a universal right, Ahmadinejad – with whom I disagree on many issues – has the right to freedom of speech at the UN.
Supporters of Israel believe in free speech in theory, but not in practice. How interesting, how revealing, and how disgusting!
The writer is editor of usiranaffairs.com, a website that reprints English language news and commentary on US-Iranian relations
Sir, – The more I learn about Iran’s nuclear program and how various countries feel about its ambitions, the more troubled I am by the tactics currently being used to push Iran into a corner, possibly with catastrophic results.
Telling Iran what it can or cannot do is no different than telling another person “you can’t do that” and then expecting them to happily comply. It won’t happen. It is human nature to be defiant, so being told what to do “or else” will not work.
Iran wants to compete with the “big guys” and will find a way to do so. Trying to prevent it from having a nuclear weapon is like telling a kid to leave the candy alone.
What a radical (and pleasant) surprise it would be to Iran if countries like Israel, the US, Canada and their allies suddenly announced that after careful consideration, instead of drawing a red line and doing whatever it takes to stop Iran in its tracks, they took a leap of faith and gave Iran the green light to do what it wanted as long as it respected its neighbors, both near and far, in not using this technology for terrorism or expansionism.
I understand Israel’s concerns because I share them. But if Iran complies and sees that its so-called enemies aren’t so bad after all, this might go a long way to calm people down and perhaps open up new lines of peaceful communication and solutions. At that point, Iran would no longer see itself as being “bullied” and might surprise everyone and simply back off.
Yorkton, Canada