New Year Greeting
   I am a Muslim living in the Detroit area who faithfully visits your Jewish Press website. I enjoy the political commentary, even when I don’t agree with it, and I appreciate the opportunity to learn about Jewish history and tradition.
   I would like to wish the people at The Jewish Press and all your readers a most happy and fulfilling new year. The vast majority of Muslims are not bloodthirsty terrorists, and there have been many eras in history in which Jews and Muslims enjoyed amicable relations. May such an era soon come again.

Amin Afredi

(Via E-Mail)


Of Jews And Wreaths
   The photo on your front page last week of the Polish president visiting Yad Vashem made me want to throw up. Instead of being the constant recipients of apologies and regretful speeches as European governments make buckets of tourist money through their museums and abandoned concentration camps, why don’t we Jews do something to ensure that 50 years from now Iran’s president isn’t laying a wreath somewhere in memory of the Jews of Israel his country destroyed?

Mark Gottlieb

(Via E-Mail)


Bigger Doesn’t Mean Better
   The tragic incident of a frum butcher in Monsey apparently selling treif meat and poultry to an unsuspecting community is worrisome to everyone involved with kashrus. But as a mashgiach in a smaller kashrus organization founded by my father, Rabbi Jack Goldman, in the 1950’s, I must take exception to your editorial conclusion (“Virtual Versus Real Hashgacha,” Sept. 15) that this problem stems, in any way, from the size of the supervising agency.
   When a merchant is a shomer Torah umitzvos and has done nothing to injure his chezkas kashrus, he is ne’eman. If not for this principle, no one could eat his own wife’s cooking. The industry standard follows the halacha and requires that he needs nothing more than yotzey ve’nichnas hasgacha.
   Do you think a larger kashrus organization would have demanded that this butcher hire a mashgiach temidi? Or that an organization with, say, 1,000 mashgichim on staff would have sent 100 of them to supervise this store? Exactly how could a larger organization have prevented this?
   I am not about to pass judgment on another Jew on Erev Yom Kippur, but to the extent that this problem could or should have been discovered by a mashgiach, the size of the organization he represented is absolutely without significance.
   Best wishes for a kesiva vechasima tova.

Ezra N. Goldman

Metropolitan Kashruth Council of Michigan


Torah’s Non-P.C. Standard
    Before approving homosexual rabbis and gay marriage (“Out of the Closet,” editorial, Sept. 15), Conservative Judaism should take into account some important historical, sociological and medical facts.
    Homosexual behavior was accepted throughout the ancient world, with Greek and Roman kings and emperors engaging in it. We Jews were the first to ban homosexuality. This prohibition, which Christianity continued, represented an immense moral and legal change that greatly strengthened family life.
    Promiscuity is one striking aspect of homosexuality today. Gays also show much higher rates of sexually transmitted disease, substance abuse, and mental illness. Political correctness should not obscure homosexuality’s real dangers.

Nathaniel S. Lehrman, M.D.

Roslyn, NY


   Your editorial of September 15 finds fault with the Conservative movement “being more taken with human concerns that with the mandates of the Torah” as it relates to homosexuality.
   Do you honestly believe we should follow the Torah on homosexuality? Well, Leviticus 20 dictates “if a man lie with mankind as with womankind both of them have committed abomination: they shall surely be put to death.” How do you intend to enforce this?
   Oh, and by the way, the same chapter has the same penalty for adultery.

Gerald Deutsch

Glen Head, NY




Debating The War In Lebanon




      Was Uri Kaufman’s article (“Israel Won, Get Over It,” front-page essay, Sept. 8) written in jest, like a Purimshpiel, or as a paid propaganda piece for the Olmert government?

      The stated objective of the war was the safe return of the kidnapped Israeli solders and the total disarming of Hizbullah. Neither was achieved, yet in the course of “winning” the war more than a million Israelis became refugees, material damages amounted to several billion shekels, Israel sustained over 150 military and civilian casualties, and Israeli security was delegated to the UN. Some victory.

Paul Schnek

Jackson Heights, NY


Cold Heart
      Uri Kaufman seems to have written his article with a cold-hearted, cavalier attitude that is hard to understand. Kaufman dismisses the “only 39 civilians” who were killed as though they barely count. There is no compassion for the destroyed lives and families who will never be the same.
      He dismisses the traumatized 20 percent of the Israeli population that spent the sweltering summer in ill-equipped bomb shelters, racing from their normal activities to escape the murderous Katyushas. The closing down of Haifa, Israel’s third largest city, appears insignificant to Kaufman. The exodus of thousands of refugees from the north, streaming out of the country, or to the “safe” homes of compassionate Jews who stretched their own resources to make a place for the homeless, is overlooked.
      The Israeli soldiers who were killed or wounded seem to be acceptable to him as the expected cost of fighting a war, as are the “tactical mistakes made,” which created “confusion in the closing hours of the war.” And he dismisses the economic damage, using facts from the Finance Ministry, but neglects to describe the suffering of small shop owners in Safed and hotel owners in Tiberias.
      But his most egregious error is in applauding the “international solution” and the “positive role” being played by the UN. Mr. Kaufman (along with anyone else who believes that Kofi Annan, the UN, and “international forces” will keep Israel safe) is totally deluding himself.
      Israel lost the war in Lebanon.

Helen Freedman

New York, NY


Lost War, Lost Peace
      Israel did not achieve its war aims. It’s as simple as that. Furthermore, the international peacekeeping force will be a major handicap to Israel. Can anyone see this force preventing Hizbullah from launching new Katyusha attacks against Kiryat Shmonah, Safed and other towns of the Galil?
      When the inevitable Hizbullah attacks occur, how is Israel supposed to retaliate? If so much as a hair on the head of a French “peacekeeper” is scratched, you won’t have to wait long for the world outcry. And does anyone think Iran will not re-supply Hizbullah with long-range missiles?
      Israel lost the war and lost the peace. Israel is going to face serious threats to its existence as it cannot survive without the Galil. I do not have any easy answers, but to say that Israel won is to blind oneself to the coming crisis.

Rabbi David A. Willig

Bayside Jewish Center

Bayside, NY


Sober And Realistic
      Bravo to Uri Kaufman for writing a sober, realistic analysis of the recent IDF-Hizbullah war, and a big Thank You to The Jewish Press for having the courage to publish an article sure to anger readers who think it’s still 1967 and every war can be won in six days.
      Mr. Kaufman is not alone in making the case for an Israeli victory – a growing number of analysts and commentators share the view that despite the bumbling of the Olmert government, the IDF did its job and then some.
      The distinguished military historian Edward Luttwak makes a strong case for Israel having won. So does Dan Gordon, who served with the IDF in Lebanon as a captain in the reserves and who wrote: “By any legitimate measure Hizbullah was handed a resounding military defeat by the IDF in the recent fighting, and while the cancer that is Hizbullah was not cured by Israel’s soldiers, it was put into remission.”
      Gordon also points out that “Israel suffered one hundred and seventeen soldiers killed in four weeks of combat. As painful as those individual losses werethose numbers in fact represent the fewest casualties suffered by Israel in any of its major conflicts. In 1948, Israel suffered six thousand killed. In 1967, in what was regarded as its most decisive victory, Israel lost almost seven hundred killed in six days. In 1973, Israel lost two thousand seven hundred killed, and in the first week of the first war in Lebanon, Israel suffered one hundred seventy-six soldiers killed.”

Douglas Fleischer

(Via E-Mail)


Armchair Generals
      I don’t care much for the Olmert government, and, yes, mistakes were made on the political and military fronts, but some of us armchair generals are letting our anti-Olmert animus drive our perception of what happened in Lebanon. Throw the bum out of office, for all I care, but stop making it seem like the IDF had its collective head handed to it.
      Thank God for voices of reason like Mr. Kaufman’s.

Irwin Drazen

(Via E-Mail)
   Uri Kaufman Responds: In my piece, I wrote that when you lower the bar of expectation, anything becomes a victory. The flipside of that is also true: if you raise the bar to unrealistic heights, the generals will let you down every time.
      Israel didn’t go to war to free Ron Arad or Elchanan Tenenbaum, and it didn’t go to war to free the two kidnapped soldiers either. The reason for this is very simple. It is impossible to free one or two soldiers militarily. Just ask the parents of Nachshon Wachsman.
      The real objective of the war – stated by politicians and soldiers alike – was to restore Israel’s capacity of deterrence.
      Deterrence was restored in spades. Remember how Nasrallah declared that “resistance” would continue so long as a single Israeli soldier remained on Lebanese soil? Israeli soldiers are still there. Hizbullah terrorists are still being killed, despite the cease-fire. And where’s Nasrallah? Running around Lebanon apologizing for starting the war. Hizbullah guns are silent. And that’s no Purimshpiel, Mr. Schnek.
      Even a victory in six days apparently wouldn’t satisfy Helen Freedman. Eight-hundred soldiers were killed in 1967, and some of us actually think it was a victory. But there I am being cold-hearted and cavalier again. After all, all we got for our trouble was the Kotel.
      Let’s start from alef bais. Some places have earthquakes. Some places have hurricanes. Israel has wars. It didn’t choose this predicament. And given a choice, I’m sure it would trade Palestinians for Canadians. The trouble is that history doesn’t let you choose your neighbors. It’s no sin to fight back when you’re attacked by a bunch of thugs. And it’s no sin to recognize a victory for what it is, however painful the cost.
      The basic outline of what happened in Lebanon is beginning to take shape. The air war was a spectacular success early on, but then the ground campaign bogged down. What went wrong? According to General Udi Adam, the plans kept changing out of fear of “three or five dead soldiers in the field.” Wounded men died because pilots weren’t allowed to risk enemy fire and fly them out. Logistics failed because, in the words of Effie Eitam, “to bring water, food and ammunition, you have to risk lives and be willing to kill and be killed.”
      I’m not saying that this is indeed what happened – we won’t know that until the investigation is completed. The point is that the Yiddishe Mama approach to war carries a price as well.
      Rabbi Willig makes the most prescient point (no surprise there). If past experience is any guide, the UN will indeed become a hindrance. Still, there’s reason for optimism. There was no outcry when Israel accidentally killed four UN observers – no special sessions of the Security Council, no threats of sanctions – despite some undeniable incompetence. Only time will tell. One thing, however, is clear: they weren’t sent to protect Hizbullah.

      I would like to thank Douglas Fleischer, Irwin Drazen and many others for their kind words.