Are we blind to what’s happening? Are we so preoccupied that we don’t realize the seriousness of how Iran’s quest for a nuclear bomb is progressing? As a young man I could never understand why the Western powers did not stop Hitler when he was weaker in the 1930’s. Now I feel like I am reliving it with the pathetic world response to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
As Santayana said, “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
UN Aid For Lebanon
A number of aid projects to help rebuild Lebanon’s shattered infrastructure and economy are being set up due to the devastation caused by the war. Lebanon and Hizbullah are very lucky to have so many friends among the oil-rich Arab nations; however, Canada, the U.S. and the EU are pledging hundreds of millions more to Lebanon then their Arab brethren.
The recent fighting started July 12 when Hizbullah guerrillas crossed the Lebanon-Israel border at Aita al-Shaab, killed three Israeli soldiers and kidnapped two others. It was not Israel that began the war. Israel was not the belligerent. Its civilian centers in the north were hit by thousands of rockets emanating from Lebanon, causing massive damage. Yet Israel is not being offered one penny in aid by the UN humanitarian bodies or the EU.
Why this state of affairs? Is it because the oil-rich nations must be appeased?
Disagrees On Wallace
While I am by no means a fan of Mike Wallace of “60 Minutes” fame, I disagree with the thrust of the Sept. 1 Media Monitor column (“Mike Wallace Loves Arab Dictators”). I did not see Wallace as being soft or lenient in his interview with the president of Iran, may his name be erased with all the rashas of history. If anything, Wallace kept pressuring him to stop being so evasive and answer the questions directly.
I think this was the first time Wallace took no shtick from a monster like this man. He asked the right questions and forced answers out of the evasive Iranian. I know very well Wallace’s history of biased reporting on the Middle East, but there was no evidence of that bias in this interview.
Wallace’s Yom Kippur Ham
Mike Wallace is every bit as loathsome as portrayed in last week’s Media Monitor column. But Wallace’s bias goes beyond his weird crush on Islamic bad boys. Not only has he long demonstrated a severe anti-Israel bias (he was bashing the so-called Israel Lobby years before it became a popular sport among both left-wing and right-wing extremists), his sense of his own Jewishness is ambivalent at best.
Several years ago the gossip columnist Lloyd Grove, then with the Washington Post, reported that Wallace was spotted at a Washington eatery ordering a ham sandwich on Yom Kippur. When Grove asked him about it, Wallace confirmed the story.
“I had a cheddar and ham sandwich,” Wallace told Grove. “I am a Reform Jew. The best thing I can do is serve my master.”
The man is truly despicable.
New York, NY
Jews Who Hate The Jewish State
Norman To Norman
There is a justifiable need and purpose for Paul Bogdanor’s careful recording and compilation of self-hating Jews who are compelled to publicly spew their poison (“Jews Who Hate the Jewish State,” front-page essay, Sept. 1).
Frankly, I was not aware how widespread the problem is. I also do not know to what extent, if any, these people identify with their Jewishness. If they are indeed Jewish al pi halacha,I cannot and will not accept them as my “Jewish brothers” and I resent and reject their views as “Jewish” opinion. The greater tragedy is all the seemingly mindless renegades who give them an audience and a following. Pity all those Jewish neshamas going lost.
Mr. Bogdanor cites this quotation from Norman Finkelstein: “I say this without fear; for those who believe in freedom and dignity, we are all Hizbullah now.”
My reply to Mr. Finkelstein, from one Norman to another: Count yourself fortunate thatyou did not pronounce that boast inmy presence. At any rate, I can guarantee with certainty that the day will come when you will learn the full meaning of fear beyond your imagination. The day when you are called before the Heavenly Court to answer in truth you will learn and you will know what you have done – and you will realize in horror that it is too late to hope for redemption.
You also have a serious problem with the English language, Mr. Finkelstein. Perhaps someone can help you correctly define the words “freedom” and “dignity.”
What About Neturei Karta?
It is not news to anyone that Norman Finkelstein, Tony Judt and Noam Chomsky hate Israel. What shocks me is the longstanding indifference and failure to confront anti-Zionists who wear black hats and kippot, most notably the Neturei Karta. These heretics meet with Iranian and Palestinian terrorist leaders and demonstrate alongside leftists and Islamic fundamentalists.
Worst of all, Neturei Karta dress in Orthodox garb, giving the false impression that the Torah is against Zionism, as their posters declare. When are Orthodox Jews going to wake up and confront the enemy within?
Forest Hills, NY
Orthodoxy And The Medina
I hope this letter won’t be too controversial for you to publish. I absolutely loved Paul Bogdanor’s wonderfully informed and marvelously written article on our enemies from within. The sickness of the soul that afflicts so many secular Jews is a phenomenon that has no parallel among other peoples and nations.
But as a non-Orthodox reader of The Jewish Press, I have to tell you that while I’m offended and angered by secular left-wing academics who hate Israel and identify with its enemies, I’m even more offended by Orthodox leaders and organizations who are either anti-Zionist or neutrally non-Zionist. While the former get some headlines in the secular media, as when Neturei Karta march with their Arab brothers, the latter, which would include most chassidic and right-wing yeshiva groups, are far larger in numbers and far more insidious in the negative influence they exert on our people.
After all, the aforementioned Orthodox anti-Zionists (and non-Zionists) supposedly represent the Torah, the very belief system that forms the foundation of Jewish existence. If rabbis and Torah scholars deny Israel’s legitimacy, or if they assert that the Diaspora is somehow on the same level as the State of Israel, the message to the world is that the Jewish claim to Israel is a fraudulent one, because if it were legitimate, wouldn’t these paragons of Jewish learning and piety be in the forefront of declaring it so?
As I mentioned earlier, I myself am not Orthodox. But I have family members who are, and I grew up in an Orthodox home. I am therefore more than familiar with the inner workings of the Orthodox community, the differences in belief and ideology and so on. I know that for much of the Orthodox world, Israel is problematic in that the yeshivas and the chassidim historically were opposed – sometimes violently – to the creation of a Zionist medina, and that after the medina was declared most of them insisted on viewing Israel as a secular abomination on the holy soil of Eretz Yisrael.
It’s true that the passage of time dampened some of the hostility, as did the slowly dawning realization that Israel has become the international capital of Torah learning, with more yeshivas and talmidim than ever existed in the golden age of Mitteleuropa.
But love for Israel? Gratitude to Hashem for restoring us after the long night of Exile, just as He promised? Recognition that the creation and survival of a Jewish state against such long odds is nothing short of a most spectacular miracle? I’m afraid you’ll find little if any of that in the non-Modern Orthodox Torah velt.
More On Slifkin And Evolution
Heresy And Consequences
The casual observer of the Slifkin controversy (“The Slifkin Torah-Science Controversy,” front-page essay, Aug. 18) might logically ask,” Since Judaism is a religion of laws, and if Rabbi Slifkin and others of like mind are faithful to the commandments, why should it matter if they subscribe to the theory of evolution?”
The problem is that Judaism is as much about thought as it is action. Any doubt as to the veracity of the Torah will ultimately lead the doubter astray.
Our Sages have divided the history of man into three 2,000-year epochs. The first ranges from Adam Harishon until Avraham Avinu and is essentially a period of darkness, as the world’s inhabitants lived without Torah. The second span includes the birth of the Jewish nation and the many centuries spent in the Holy Land. Finally we have our present condition; the 2,000 year exile whose conclusion will usher in the Age of Moshiach.
To reject this model because some archaeologist finds a shard of pottery and declares it at least 7,000 years old is sheer foolishness. It’s relatively easy to explain away the difficulties science supposedly presents to the Torah, but for some inexplicable reason many observant Jews contort the Torah to conform with the atheists who populate American universities.
The reader should not be deluded. While the Slifkins and Students of the world claim the backing of respected rabbis, their true loyalties lie with the pedagogues in our so-called institutions of higher learning.
As an American, I can understand how some might be uncomfortable with the concept of banning a book. But heretical ideas have dangerous consequences. Need we be reminded of Shabtai Tzvi?
Dr. Yaakov Stern
Off By A Few Billion?
In his subjective discussion of evolution, Rabbi Slifkin concedes that evolutionists may have erroneously estimated the age of the earth. He writes: “This only means that the scientific estimate for the age of the universe, at about fourteen billion years, might be wrong by a few billion years.“
Is he serious? Are we to accept the claims of evolution, which might be wrong by only a few billion years? In my opinion, a miscalculation of a few billion years constitutes an enormous blunder. (I’m glad Rabbi Slifkin is not my accountant. By the way, I’m quoting from the author’s book, TheChallenge Of Creation, pages 148-149.)
In addition, attempts are made to rehash the silly arguments about the fossil records. The fossil records show no evidence of a transition from one species to another. The missing link is really missing. (Proponents of evolution are aware of that fact.) In order to rationalize their ridiculous claims, they made up a theory that such transitions occurred rapidly. That’s why we cannot find them.
Furthermore, I take exception to Rabbi Slifkin‘s distortion of Ramban’s commentary on Genesis 1:27. He misunderstands Ramban’s Hebrew. Slifkin writes that man descended from an ape-like creature based on Ramban’s commentary. Ramban explains that Hashem gave man a soul that sets a human being apart from the animals. (This has nothing to do with descending from apes.)
Instead of reading Slifkin’s book, it would be better for people to read Darwin On Trial by Dr. Phillip Johnson.