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August 30, 2014 / 4 Elul, 5774
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Letters To The Editor

Imus’s Bosses Equally At Fault
 
   What Don Imus said is well beyond the bounds of what is acceptable (“The Mindless Mr. Imus,” editorial, April 13). However, unless somebody has been in the shoes of a radio talk host, it is impossible to know the pressure that is placed on the host by management. There is a constant demand to be more shocking than yesterday to push the envelope to get those ratings.
 
   I know that if you, as a talk-show host, ask management where the line is, the answer is pretty much “You’ll know where the line is when you cross it; because we’ll fire you.” Executives at CBS and MSNBC are as much to blame as Imus. They allowed it, they heard it in the past, and they even encouraged it. Imus – whom I happen not to be a fan of – was the fall guy. In the military, when the troops make mistakes their commanders take responsibility. So should the management of CBS and MSNBC.
 
   I know, because I have hosted talk shows all over the world for nearly 40 years.
 

John Leslie

President/CEO

World Radio Inc.

Lady Lake, Florida
 

 

JNF  ‘True To Mandate’

 
   We appreciate The Jewish Press’s concern about giving away land to Arabs; in fact we share it (“Palestinians Illegally Building on Jewish Owned Lands,” front-page news story, April 6). Rest assured JNF does not give away land to Arabs. In fact, today JNF owns about 17% of the land of Israel, far more than was actually purchased by the organization before the founding of the state.
 
   Israel is a democratic nation; its leaders are elected by its citizens and governed by its laws. JNF is a Zionistic organization, albeit an apolitical one, and works alongside and with respect for this government and its laws.
 
   Security fences are built to ensure the safety of the country’s citizens, surely of paramount importance to all Zionists. These fences are built by democratically elected governments. Please tell me whom I should debate on the security of the citizens of Israel.
 
   JNF’s focus is not on political issues but in transforming the land and bettering the lives of the people who live in it. We have stayed true to this mandate. In 105 years we have cared for the land, planted forests, built parks and playgrounds, safeguarded historical sites, built water reservoirs, constructed security roads, educated Diaspora Jewry about Israel and her environment, built communities, and brought a sense of hope and renewal to those devastated by war.
 
   JNF partners with other organizations interested in bringing economic opportunities to the Negev, and JNF cleans up rivers, preserves open spaces, and is working to push back the desert in an ecologically sound and safe way.
 
   JNF has provided the infrastructure for three new communities for the evacuees from Gaza, built seven new communities thus far for young families who have chosen to stay and develop the desert with a pioneering spirit, and at the bleakest time in modern history, as 6 million of our brethren were being killed, we created life in our land.
 
   Not all that we do is beyond reproach – we have been attacked for our work by, among others, the Palestinian Solidarity Fund and the Movement Against Israel, Apartheid and Palestine, on the Internet, in the media and even at the UN, where we are an NGO. We don’t spend time defending ourselves to them; we keep focused on our good work for there is much to be done. Ours is not an organization of words but of action.
 
   Since 1901, JNF has been leading the way into the future of the Jewish people – for you, for your children, and for Jews all over the world. Join us.
 

Russell F. Robinson

Chief Executive Officer

Jewish National Fund
 
 
   Aaron Klein Responds: Two weeks ago I correctly reported that hundreds of acres of land at two sites in Jerusalem, owned by the Jewish National Fund and purchased using Jewish donor funds for the stated purpose of Jewish settlement, have been used for the illegal construction of dozens of Arab apartment buildings and a United Nations school for Arabs.
 
   JNF has seemingly done little to boot the UN and Arab squatters from its land, while the Israeli government, which manages the areas, did not halt the illegal Arab construction. The Jewish-owned lands recently were blocked off from Jewish sections of Jerusalem and isolated to Arab neighborhoods by Israel’s security fence.
 
   Mr. Robinson says we can “rest assured” JNF doesn’t give away land to Arabs. Certainly JNF hasn’t legally forfeited its right to the lands, so it is accurate, albeit misleading, to state it didn’t technically give the land away. In practice, though, JNF has done just that. JNF’s inaction during years of illegal construction on its properties has ensured that the Jerusalem areas in question will likely remain Arab. There are now entire developed Arab communities and UN facilities for Arabs built on JNF-owned lands in Jerusalem purchased by Jews, for Jews.
 
   Mr. Robinson discusses the security fence as if Israel arbitrarily blockaded the JNF lands to Arab sections of Jerusalem. The fence was built in 2003 and 2004. I documented that the illegal Arab construction occurred over the past twenty years, long before the security fence was even a proposed idea. (Some of the Arab building occurred during the past five years, with at least one project still under construction.)
 
   It was because the Arabs were not stopped from establishing de facto towns on JNF-owned land that the security fence route blocked off the Jewish-owned lands to Arab sections. I doubt the Israeli government’s fence would have isolated the land had JNF used the properties for its intended purpose – Jewish settlement.
 
   Mr. Robinson states that JNF is apolitical. But allowing Arabs to illegally construct communities on lands in Israel’s eternal capital – land purchased with donor funds for the stated purpose of Jewish settlement – is about the most political statement an organization could possibly make. The trend is not limited to Jerusalem. Arabs are reportedly building without permits on JNF-owned property in the Galilee and in areas outside Bethlehem.
 

   Mr. Robinson outlines all the good JNF has done over the years. And it certainly has done plenty of good. But I challenge him to actually address the issue at hand: Why have Arabs been allowed to illegally construct on JNF-owned property purchased with Jewish donors funds – and what is JNF doing about it?

 


 

Taking Issue With Tuition-Assistance Editorial

 

‘One-Time Lapse’?

 

      I have been a faithful reader of the Jewish Press from its earliest days. The newspaper has been a major voice in advocating for government support for yeshivas and day schools and this advocacy has given encouragement to those of us who have fought this difficult battle.
 
      In view of this history, it was astonishing to read the lead editorial (“Curious Advocacy for Tuition Tax Deductions”) in the April 6 issue criticizing those who supported in Albany measures that would have provided additional assistance to our schools. While this new support would have been modest, that is scarcely a reason for criticizing its advocates. It is noteworthy that when the New York Federation terminated its basic grants to yeshivas and day schools, it justified the action by saying that the grants were “modest.”
 
      I hope the unfortunate editorial is no more than a one-time lapse from the high standard maintained by The Jewish Press for more than forty years.
 

Marvin Schick

(Via E-Mail)
 

 

‘Unfair, Misleading, Disingenuous’

 

      I am writing in disappointed response to your editorial on tuition tax deductions.
 
      I am a proud participant in the education and advocacy campaign conducted in support of Governor Spitzer’s historic tuition tax deduction proposal. Our grassroots coalition of religious leaders, business leaders and philanthropists generated widespread support for the governor’s plan.
 
      We were successful in highlighting the virtues of this proposal and earned the enthusiastic backing of Republican Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno and Democratic Senators like Kevin Parker and Carl Kruger. We were also supported by many members of the Assembly including Brooklyn’s Democratic Leader Assemblyman Vito J. Lopez, other important political leaders and editorial boards and columnists from major newspapers throughout the state.
 
      Your description of our efforts in support of Gov. Spitzer’s plan was unfair, misleading and disingenuous.
 
      Your reference to “unofficial rules of engagement,” which you say were developed while “in the forefront of efforts to secure equity for non-public school education,” reveals a strikingly naive view of politics. New York is a very big state with countless constituencies. It is not the fiefdom of any one personality or interest.
 
      Contrary to your assertions, coddling decision-makers does not constitute effective advocacy. Did the health care union and hospital owners – who aggressively lobbied the governor and successfully restored $350,000,000 to this year’s health care budget – violate your advocacy code? Did the building trade unions violate your cannons of advocacy when they expressed an opinion on the West Side Stadium? Do mental-health advocates offend your sensibilities when they call for expanded medical insurance coverage?
 
      Advocacy is not about making friends – it’s about generating support for your cause, making allies and getting results.
 
      Your attack on the signers of the letter to the governor urging him to stand by his own proposal was both unprofessional and unwarranted. The rabbis who signed the letter did so of their own volition, in order to generate support for an important issue that affects their respective communities. They are rabbinic leaders who deserve a certain degree of respect and derech eretz. The institutions they lead are a vibrant part of our shared civic life.
 
      We are disappointed that Gov. Spitzer’s historic income tax deduction for tuition was not included in the state budget. However, we take the governor at his word when he publicly assures us that he will work to get this done by the end of this year’s legislative session in June. To that end, we look forward to continuing our work with him and our many allies in government to make this dream a reality.
 
      When enacted, the principle and historic framework of the tuition tax deduction will be a major step forward in the effort to alleviate the financial burden that we all agree tuition-paying parents face.
 

Elliot Gibber

President

TEACH-NYS
 

      Editor’s Note: Please see related editorial, page 5.

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