Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.
May I add briefly to a story well told by Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum in his always fascinating My Machberes column? A lifetime of experience has taught me how hard it is to bring about change in yeshivas and day schools. This is all the more reason why I am full of admiration for Albert Kahn, who with total devotion and without let-up has advocated the implementation of term life insurance for yeshiva rebbes. In the space of several years he has accomplished an enormous amount of good.
Ulpanat AMIT Noga
We would like to correct some misperceptions in Samuel M. Ehrenhalt’s June 16 op-ed piece, “Reflections on a Flight Back from Israel,” regarding the situation at Ulpanat AMIT Noga in Ramat Bet Shemesh.
There are not demonstrations at the school every day. The demonstrations only take place on Fridays when, in fact, the students of Ulpanat AMIT Noga are not at school. They are on a five-day-a-week schedule and do not have classes on Friday. The girls who are exposed to these demonstrations are students at the Ulpanat Gila, which is not an AMIT school. This still concerns us deeply, however, and we are working with the municipality to protect all the students to the greatest extent possible.
And while it is true that AMIT Noga was moved to a haredi neighborhood, this is only temporary. Come September 1, the school will be relocated to the modern, religious Zionist neighborhood of Nahal Refaim.
With the critical situation in the city of Sderot, where AMIT enrolls hundreds of students whom we are trying to keep safe from daily Kassam rocket attacks, we did not want our continuing efforts on behalf of the children of Israel to be marred by inaccurate information.
Director of Communications
Under the circumstances, AMIT’s effort to move the school to a more tolerant venue will no doubt be welcomed by the children and their parents. That it was necessitated by baseless animosity is one of the grotesque realities of Israeli life today.
I have received an overwhelmingly positive response to my article “Why I Boycotted the Israel Day Parade” (op-ed, June 9), with many people telling me I voiced their own sentiments. The authors of the few letters to the editor on the subject that appeared in last week’s Jewish Press apparently did not read my article carefully, because they totally misconstrued its meaning and were, at best, confused about its intent.
Of course “numbers count,” as reader Amy Wall stated in her letter, but an article in The Jewish Press is a far more effective protest than appearing at the parade in an orange shirt. Ms. Wall, in writing that the “existence of the State of Israel is a miracle,” seems to have lifted those words verbatim out of the article I wrote. It’s precisely because of this miracle that I deem it of the utmost significance to speak out on Israel’s behalf rather than merely praise it. At a time when Israel is in a state of crisis, beset by enemies around it and, worse, from within, it is incumbent on all of us to do our utmost to safeguard that gift that Hashem miraculously bestowed upon us.
As to Serge Kadinsky’s comment that “Orthodox American Jews who abandon their Zionism … are essentially handing the fate of the Holy Land to secularists,” he obviously did not read to the end or even the middle of my article. The conclusion I reached was precisely the opposite. Indeed, after I went through a catharsis of sorts following last year’s disengagement from Gaza, my support of Israel, as the article detailed, became even stronger.
Furthermore, my activism on behalf of Israel has taken many forms over the past few years, including visiting the residents of Gush Katif before their eviction and raising awareness and support for them ever since. So much for my supposed abandonment of Israel. It is precisely because of the abandonment by Jews here and in Israel of their brethren in YESHA and their reluctance to protest the Israeli government’s suicidal policies that we find ourselves in the situation we are in.
Leslie Brand asserts in her letter that the relatively small number of Jews in Gaza made the disengagement necessary. Though she writes that she made aliyah, I deduce from her position that she did not settle in Sderot or Ashkelon. Did she send letters to the editor to protest the forced evacuation of her Jewish brothers from their homes and then write on their behalf when they became homeless refugees?
Regarding Ms. Brands’s claim that had there been “even a quarter of a million [Jews in Gaza] there would have been no disengagement,” are 50,000-100,000 Jews, roughly the number slated to be evacuated under Olmert’s new convergence plan, enough?
Not everyone is privileged to live in the Holy Land, but support of Israel is better served by those who are truly loyal and devoted yet reside outside its borders than by the perfidious who reside within.
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