Where was the anger of the world when innocent civilians were killed and hurt in Israel’s northern towns? Where was the world’s anger when Gush Katif, Sderot and Netivot had missiles and Katyushas raining down on them – in a so-called time of peace?
Where was the world’s anger when Israeli citizens were blown to pieces by suicide bombers? Where was Tony Blair? Why did he not appear on TV and shout, Stop! Enough! There was a deafening quiet as Jews were being blown to pieces.
I remember the U.S. using napalm against villages in Vietnam, killing innocent civilians. The French fought in Algeria and thousands of Muslim civilians lost their lives in French bombing raids and vigilante reprisals. And the chutzpah of Tony Blair! We Jews remember Britain’s occupation of our country, keeping Auschwitz survivors from entering what was then called Palestine, turning their backs and closing their eyes as the Arabs slaughtered Jews.
Please, God, let the world be angry with us. It means we are winning, and how great it is to be a winner. Please God, help us and let this be.
Maale Adumim, Israel
Re the July 28 Media Monitor column (“That Old-Time Clintonian Engagement”):
It never ceases to amaze me that there remains among some diehard Clintonistas a compulsion to exercise selective amnesia regarding former president Clinton’s “engagement” and “moral authority” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The overriding reason Clinton pushed for Camp David II was his desperate need to neutralize the Monica Lewinsky impeachment stain on his presidential legacy. He forced Israel to offer suicidal concessions and it was all for naught because Arafat rejected even these generous inducements and initiated an intifada that killed and injured thousands of innocent Israeli civilians.
President Bush’s unwavering support of Israel stands in stark contrast to Clinton’s deceptive actions and irresponsible pressure on Israel.
There is not the slightest doubt that George W. Bush is the best friend Israel’s ever had in the White House.
The Real War
Regrettably, most European and Asian governments do not yet realize that Israel is fighting an existential war for its very survival. This is more than a war with Hizbullah. It is the opening salvo of a vicious war launched by an inhuman enemy – Iran – determined to eradicate the Jewish state, God forbid. The genocidal pronouncements of the barbaric leader of Iran are all too clear.
I pity those gullible and historically ignorant Europeans, Asians and others who are swallowing the propaganda fed them by controlled media. Leading this pack are the left-leaning (pseudo) intellectuals who are guilty of selective inattention to the murderous intent of Islamic terrorism. The Europeans, especially, have forfeited their right to pressure Israel to compromise once again.
What is at stake is Israel’s survival. One-third of our country is effectively paralyzed. More than half the population of the northern third of our tiny country has been forced to live with perfect strangers in central and southern Israel who have opened their homes to them and their families.
There is a wonderful spirit of unity, rarely seen in Israel. It permeates the very air we breathe. It dominates all conversations and is punctuated with a determination to put an end to the aggression against our homeland. We are all in this fight together. The sooner the civilized world realizes this is the opening barrage of a clash between two widely differing philosophies of life, the sooner action can be taken to control this growing menace.
Beit Shemesh, Israel
Re reader Mendel Rubin’s question of whether it is “so far-fetched for religious Jews to consider the concept that missiles raining down on Israel just might be a warning from God that He does not want a gay parade in Jerusalem” (Letters, Aug. 4):
I think the answer has to be yes, it is so far-fetched. In fact, it is beyond far-fetched. The idea that God would express his displeasure at some silly parade by murdering dozens of innocent men, women, and children assumes that God possesses a sense of justice that is even more warped than that of the lunatics shooting the Katyushas.
TheGemarain Bava Metzia (58b) indicates that when we see a person suffering, it constitutes a “verbal wronging” on our part to suggest to him that his suffering is due to his own sins. It seems equally inappropriate to suggest to a person that her suffering is due to the sins of her neighbor.
In point of fact, there is no great mystery as to who is to blame for the present suffering in Israel: it is the Islamic terrorists and their sponsors. If God has had some role in these tragic events, it is in any case beyond our capacity to know, and not something worth speculating about.
Highland Park, NJ
Rabbi Saul Berman’s comments in his response to his critics (Letters, July 28) were not based on any authoritative sources. Actually, as one reader pointed out, there are significant areas of halacha which are enforced leh-chumrah.
The example cited by reader Chaim Silver is a perfect illustration of this principle as set forth in Berachos 20b. I would also add the Gemara in Berachos 53b where explicit preference is granted to the chumrah position. In reference to the latter, the chumrah outcome actually is favored even though it reflects Bais Shammai’s position. In fact, Bais Hillel’s psak le-kooleh is rejected, since it is inappropriately applied in that situation.
Thus, contrary to Rabbi Berman’s conclusions, Chazal encourage scrupulous and meticulous application of halacha in order to enhancemitzvah performance. In fact, Chazal encourage us to go beyond the letter of the law to ensure that its spirit is observed properly. (See Bava Metziah 30b.)
With regard to the Gemara in Berachos 20b, I would add one more point: Not only is Hashem pleased when His people perform mitzvahs with sincere devotion, the Gemara states that Hashem favors His people when they are conscientious in their duty.
At this particular time in our history, as we beg Hashem for mercy while Israel faces implacable enemies, we should bear this important principle in mind.
Rabbi Joseph Bernstein
Disagrees With Endorsement
There are two candidates for the Democratic nomination for the State Senate in the 21st District. The incumbent, Kevin Parker, favors gay marriage, opposes school vouchers, has been arrested for assaulting a traffic officer, and has been accused of harassing a female employee. Not surprisingly, he is losing popularity in his own home community of East Flatbush and its environs.
Perhaps most telling to the Jewish community, in a speech on the Senate floor, Parker complained that when “our Zionist tendencies take over . . . we start looking at everybody . . . as somebody that is other.” A disturbing and revealing reference indeed. As the UN’s “Zionism is Racism” debate showed, Zionist is often a code word for Jew.
The challenger in the 21st District is Noach Dear, who served our community energetically and effectively for over twenty years as city councilman and district manager. Were it not for term limits, Dear would probably still be serving as a senior committee chairman. (Too bad that term limits will be forcing us to choose a successor to the exemplary Simcha Felder.)
Although the 21st District is 58 percent Caribbean, Dear lost to Parker by only 200 votes in 2004. Obviously Dear’s appeal crosses racial lines, especially in the East Flatbush community, which has strong family and moral values.
Which candidate should The Jewish Press support in the September 12 primary? It would seem to be a no-brainer.
Yet, inexplicably, The Jewish Press (editorial, July 28) is supporting Kevin Parker over Noach Dear! Are you trying to overcome what Parker might call your “Zionist tendencies” by supporting a candidate who opposes our needs and values?
The Jewish Press has richly earned a reputation for courage and integrity. Your support for Parker is a mistake, and there is still time for your editorial board to reflect, reverse itself, and throw its support to the candidate best qualified to serve all the communities of the 21st District – Noach Dear.
Rabbi Nosson Scherman
Tale Of Two Cultures
The contrast between the two events could not be more striking.
The Shabbos of July 28-29 brought our Parsippany, New Jersey congregation (Shaya Ahavat Torah) twenty yeshiva students from a summer program at the Rabbinical College of America in Morristown as well as chassidic guests from Boro Park, Williamsburg and Monsey. At the Friday night service their voices were tuneful and spirited. Our shul was a m?lange of shtreimels, black hats, large yarmulkes and knitted kippahs.
Diversity, yes – but all were united by the Yiddishkeit and ruach pervading the sanctuary. It was a Shabbos to remember.
On Sunday, July 30, I read in the paper about the funeral of a young woman who had been murdered early Wednesday morning after a night of club-hopping in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. Her body had been found in a dumpster in West New York, New Jersey. She’d been captain of her high school soccer team and was set to begin college in the fall. She and her friends apparently enjoyed the nightlife in Chelsea and would hit the clubs a couple of times a week, drinking and searching for ways to be “cool.” If this is how she and her friends looked for excitement and happiness, it had to be the emptiest search imaginable. Is this what popular culture holds up as “cool”?
Contrast the Chelsea scene with Shabbos in Parsippany. The twenty yeshiva students who spent Shabbos with us were 10th and 11th graders, ranging in age probably from 16-18. They split up into two groups for sleeping accommodations, ten of them staying with our rabbi and ten with us. They came with their own food, towels, and blankets, taking all their meals at our rabbi’s home.
These young men were incredibly polite and quiet – and displayed the best middos. When they davened, you could see it coming from their souls. They knew the joy of Shabbos and knew how to make it infectious. They sang, they clapped, they danced. Their “cool” came from inside and so they had no need to search for thrills. They generated excitement.
The “cool” sought by young people in the clubs of Manhattan is elusive, imaginary and empty. But the emes is that the real deal can be found every Shabbos in our homes.