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January 31, 2015 / 11 Shevat, 5775
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Letters To The Editor

Insensitive Tabloid
   Kudos for calling out the New York Post on its habit of topping stories involving Jews with headlines that are at best insensitive and at worst borderline anti-Semitic (editorial, Dec. 15). But you left out one of the worst examples – the “NYPD JEW” headline the paper splashed across its front page last July.

   Yes, I have a sense of humor and yes, I realize it was a play on “NYPD Blue,” but it was jarring nonetheless – and the accompanying story made no mention of the long and colorful history of Jews in the New York Police Department, giving the average reader the impression that a Jewish cop is rarer than a snowstorm in August.

David Millstein

New York, NY


Superb Manifesto
   Phyllis Chesler’s superb “Manifesto For Survival” (op-ed, Dec. 15) is both timely and well crafted. She is able at once to pinpoint the forces that have loomed large in the nullification of Israel’s case in the court of public opinion while proposing much needed solutions for combating Israel’s setbacks in that vital arena.
   The Arab oil weapon undoubtedly motivates many in the media and the international community in their false portrayal of Israel as aggressor and the Arab world as victim. It is impossible to credit the inaccuracies in the media’s reporting to mere ignorance, or the positions taken by leading politicians to sheer bias. True, there are anti-Semites among them, but they surely constitute a minority among the huge numbers of those who would deny the Jewish people their birthright while rewarding the Arabs for their vile acts of terrorism.
   Ms. Chesler’s article deserves widespread publication as her fears are far from exaggerated.

Alex Rose

Bet Shemesh, Israel


Bush’s Deceptions
   Rabbi Shmuley Boteach says all the right things about Iraqis (and all other oppressed people) deserving a life free of tyranny (“The Iraq Tragedy and the Death of Idealism,” op-ed, Dec. 22), but it’s time he admit that President Bush lied in his reasons for waging this war.
   While global intelligence – and leading Democrats – all agreed that Iraq was a problem, no one but those in the upper echelons of the Bush administration said it was an imminent threat and connected to 9/11. The CIA discredited the Nigeria nuclear material story before the war, yet it was one of Bush’s main justifications.
   To invade Iraq while the war in Afghanistan was far from resolved, while bin Laden was on the run but still free, while Iran’s nuclear program was being whispered about and the Iranians, along with Syria and Saudi Arabia, were known as the real sponsors of terrorism, was beyond foolish.
   While Bush has some admirable personal convictions in line with traditional Judaism, we shouldn’t be blind to the fact that his going to war based on deception is directly related to the war’s colossal failure.
Jack Rosman

Montreal, Canada


Beyond Debate
   Though I agree wholeheartedly with reader Henry Adler’s condemnation of Neturei Karta (Letters, Dec. 22), what concerns me greatly is his writing that “Denying the legitimacy of the government of Israel is one thing” – which seems to imply that such an opinion is acceptable.
   Neturei Karta may not be affiliated with Satmar, but the noxious opinions of Neturei Karta stem from a theology and philosophy that indeed rejects the legitimacy of the State of Israel. Are there not numerous anti-Semites who couch their hatred of the Jewish people in the cloak of “legitimate” discussion and debate as to the legitimacy of the State of Israel? These people of course are not anti-Semites, they are “merely” anti-Zionists [sic].
   There are certain things that are beyond debate – such as the reality of the Holocaust and the earth’s revolution around the sun. People of good faith can argue over the quality of Israel’s leadership, but the legitimacy of the state is beyond debate.
   Half the Jewish nation now lives in Eretz Yisrael and is led by a Jewish government. The official language of the state is Hebrew, the army defending the state and its people is Jewish and the essential operations of the government are affected and influenced by Jewish tradition.
   What government on the planet is more legitimate than one elected by a people who, having maintained their religion and culture for millennia, returned home to their land and resuscitated their ancient language? If we expect the nations of the world to accept the legitimacy of the Jewish state, then we must expunge from our own ranks this so-called debate over the legitimacy of Israel.
   While I do not believe for a moment that Mr. Adler meant to deligitimize the State of Israel, words do matter and once someone believes it is acceptable to “debate” the legitimacy of Israel, I fear it is a slippery slope and a natural progression leading to the positions expounded by Neturei Karta.
   One can only hope and pray – in the face of Ahmadinejad’s threats, his Holocaust denial conference, the anti-Israel positions of the radical left and Neturei Karta, and the stated desire of millions of Muslims to destroy Israel and the Jewish people – that any “debate” about the legitimacy of the State of Israel, at least among Jews, will cease once and for all.

Daniel A. Lindenfeld, Esq.

Woodmere, NY

Read, Then Discuss
   Reader Chaim Weissman engages in the game of guilt by association (Letters, Dec. 15). Rather than discuss the content of my book (A Threat from Within: A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism, Zed Books, 2006), which explains the phenomenon that has attracted so much attention in the wake of the recent visit by Jewish anti-Zionists to Iran, Mr. Weissman attempts to besmirch its author and even more so the veteran Israeli philosopher Joseph Agassi who praises my book.
   Indeed, I believe in promoting dialogue, and this is why my writings can be found in a broad range of religious and secular publications. Incidentally, the article in Tikkun that Mr. Weissman cites as “incriminating evidence” has an instructive history. I had written it in Hebrew at the invitation of Aqdamoth, a Jerusalem-based national-religious journal, which printed it in a special issue devoted to the 50th anniversary of the State of Israel. It was only a few years later that I rewrote it in English for Tikkun.
   Mr. Weissman, apparently an immigrant to Israel, may learn a thing or two about freedom of debate in his adopted country from the Israeli-born Professor Agassi. The English version of my book is now available in Israel. Mr. Weissman can buy it, read it and only then discuss it. By resorting to guilt by association and insinuation, Mr. Weissman exposes the vacuity of his accusations.

Yakov M Rabkin

Professor of History

University of Montreal





Browbeaten By Tzedakah Telemarketers


      It was a phone call I get over and over again on an almost nightly basis. Here’s how it went:
      “Hi there, Mr. Gross, my name is Leah -. I am calling on behalf of -, an organization that helps poor families in Israel. I would like to thank you for your past support. In the past you helped us with $36; can we count on you again this year for the same amount?”
      “I don’t pledge amounts over the phone, but please send me an envelope and I will see what I can do,” I responded.
      I hardly got the words out of my mouth when she continued, “Can we at least count on you for $18 – these poor families are really relying on your help.”
      Again I responded, “I told you, I would love to help, but I cannot pledge an amount over the phone. Please send me an envelope.”
      She persisted, “If you don’t give us an amount we can’t help these families until your check comes in. If you pledge at least $10, then we can help these families now based on your pledge. Can we at least write you down for $10?”
      At this point I was losing my patience – not at her specifically but at the dozens of other telemarketers who over the past few weeks had subjected me to the same shpiel, refusing to accept the fact that I won’t pledge over the phone.
      I told her firmly but respectfully, “I do not pledge over the phone, even $1. If you will be so kind as send me an envelope, I will, b’li neder, add it to the ever growing pile of envelopes on my desk and, b’li neder, respond when I get a chance.”
      At this point, I heard a loud click. Not “Thank you, Mr. Gross, I will send you an envelope,” but a click! She had hung up on me (as do most other tzedakah telemarketers when they realize they won’t be getting a pledge amount out of me.)
      Is it so hard to respect someone’s wishes and not try to wrench a pledge out of him? Is it so difficult to simply send an envelope?
      I feel as if these people care less about helping “these poor families” and more about making their commissions. I wonder how much of the money they do convince people to donate even ends up going to “these poor families.”
      I ask my fellow readers: Am I right to feel this way? Or am I wrong in not pledging over the phone? How do others handle this situation? What is the right thing to do?

Leibel Gross

Lakewood, NJ


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