Remembering Gidone

When people read of my late son Gidone Busch, they have this image of an emotionally disturbed man with a hammer (which was small and weighed approximately eight ounces).

Gidone was no threat either before or when he was surrounded and shot by several police officers on that terrible evening in August 1999. He had been pepper-sprayed directly in his eyes moments before as he stood in the stairwell of his basement apartment. He found his way up the steps and away from the officers above him. Witnesses say he was followed, surrounded, and shot by officers standing quite a distance away. He didn’t even have his glasses on. He weighed 159 pounds. He was hit by twelve bullets.

Gidone has been referred to as a ba’al teshuvah in some recent letters to The Jewish Press, and some people may wonder what made him become more Orthodox.

My father, Gidone’s maternal grandfather, who came from Russia as a young man with his family, walked to shul and davened at least twice every day. Our home was strictly kosher. On holidays the members of the shul came back to our house where they were treated to special cakes, some food and wine. They would come back after Yom Kippur to break the fast. For Pesach we had long seders, and my father would read in Hebrew and then explain to the children in English.

So Gidone’s interest in Orthodoxy did not just come out of the blue. When he took a leave of absence from medical school in January of 1992, he went to Israel to study for more than two years in yeshivas because he wanted to return to his religious roots. He studied here as well. He had rabbis and families whom he went to for Shabbos in Israel, Monsey, Lakewood, Brooklyn, Queens, East Northport and Dix Hills. To them, and to all of us who knew him,
Gidone was a very special human being.

I want to thank The Jewish Press for not letting this be forgotten, and I want to thank all those who have taken it upon themselves to seek justice and accountability for Gidone.

Doris Busch Boskey
Dix Hills, NY

Shabbos Greetings And Unity

A hearty yasher koach to Chaya Chava Shulman for her recent letter to the editor ‘Concrete Measures Needed,’ July 18). Ms. Shulman’s sentiments echo my own concerning the Lower East Side community, where I happen to reside.

While members of this community engage in many acts of kindness and chesed, we still lack the spontaneous “Good Shabbos” and “Good Yom Tov” greetings that are an integral part of fellowship in a close-knit community.

It would be wonderful if we could raise awareness of how such simple greetings make such a difference. Perhaps our rabbis, teachers, and community leaders could speak about this vital topic in their shiurim, based on the teachings of Pirkei Avot among others. The simple gestures of smiling and saying “Good Shabbos” are more than mere formalities. They attest to our caring, and open up channels of communication that make all feel connected.

I hope that Ms. Shulman’s “Concrete Measures” can be replicated on the streets of the Lower East Side, and in Jewish communities throughout the nation. Saying “Good Shabbos” and “Good Yom Tov” must become a basic tenet in Jewish communities everywhere. Surely this goes hand in hand with unity (achdus) in these troubled times for the Jewish people.

Moshe Ackerman
New York, NY

Confronting Infertility

I would like to thank you for publishing E.M. Lawman’s article on infertility in the Jewish community. I live in London, England, and one of the reasons I love buying your paper is the fact that it addresses real issues that face the Jewish community.

Unfortunately, we are not totally immune to the influences of the outside world, and need help in dealing with our problems with a Torah outlook. Sweeping problems under the carpet doesn’t cause them to go away; it only serves to make people feel alone and ‘different.’

Infertility is a private subject, due to the sensitive nature of what it entails. It is also, however, a widespread problem within the Jewish community affecting one in six couples.

Imagine the humiliation, pain and expense some people have to go through to achieve a pregnancy. Someone who has not been through it simply cannot understand what it involves.

Talking about it in an open forum, such as the columns of The Jewish Press, has a two-fold advantage: First, it educates the public; second, people going through infertility and reading the paper get a tremendous amount of chizuk.

Although there are wonderful organizations that help infertile couples, it is not enough – the public needs to know what goes on. It’s time for other frum newspapers to follow the example of The Jewish Press and make their readers aware of the situation.

Tami Cohen
London, UK

Countering That Rutgers Conference

I have been following the Rutgers situation for a number of months now. The response of the Jewish community in the tri-state area must be well planned and level-headed. We are unlikely to convince Governor McGreevey and Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick to cancel the scheduled pro-Palestinian conference, both because of an atmosphere of political correctness which prevails on most college campuses and because there have been past efforts, particularly during the Vietnam War, to abridge the First Amendment rights of non-violent student organizations opposed to that war.

Let me state categorically that I do not believe New Jersey Solidarity, the pro-terror organization hosting the conference in October, fits this description, but for the above reasons the decision to hold the Palestinian Solidarity Movement conference is unlikely to be quashed.

I believe, however, that there are better, more effective responses than calls for censorship, however tempting. When Tom Paulin – the virulently anti-Israel Oxford professor visiting at Harvard this year who said Israeli settlers were Nazis who should be shot dead – was invited to speak at a prominent event hosted by Harvard’s English department, Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor, opposed rescinding Paulin’s invitation and called for those opposed
to Paulin’s message to protest and make their voices heard.

This is exactly how we must react as a community to the conference at Rutgers; it is the strongest method of action because it is the embodiment of the tradition of free speech that is unique to the United States. Our tradition of free speech has a way of teasing abhorrent ideas out into the public square so that good people can condemn and cancel them with better ideas.

In Europe, where parliaments often try to stamp out abhorrent ideas by criminalizing them, the ideas become like viruses, returning in mutated, resistant form. The recent explosion of anti-Semitism is an example of this phenomenon.

In the next three months, we must organize massive, non-violent rallies at Rutgers, bringing in people from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, as well as Rutgers faculty opposed to the violent message of New Jersey Solidarity. If they have hundreds, we must have thousands.

Every anti-Israel divestment petition circulated on a college campus has been met with a petition many times its size against divestment. We must translate what is an obvious mismatch in our favor into a dignified and peaceful physical presence and seize the momentum and initiative from so-called far-left progressives who hide hate behind lofty talk of high ideals. And in the process, we must educate well-meaning students at Rutgers and elsewhere on what the Palestinian Solidarity Movement really is and on why peace and justice is anathema to it.

Michael Brenner
New York, NY

Hate On The Left

Recently my son was studying about Hitler. He kept coming back to this question: Was Hitler a socialist? I told him that, yes, Hitler headed the National Socialist Party.

I explained that there are two kinds of leftists – national socialists (fascists) and global communists. Since my son had been studying about Germany’s Left, I took the opportunity to draw a parallel with how the Left is acting now on college campuses in America and Europe, directing its hatred against the Jews. No one can say that these professors are on the Right – they are leftists (communists or socialists) who have gravitated to their natural level.

Jo Thompson
(Via E-Mail)

‘U-Turn’ On Terror

I recently sent a letter to President Bush in which I condemned what I called his ‘U-turn’ regarding terror in Israel.

“You insist upon searching for Bin Laden,” I wrote. “You want him dead or alive. You declared that Iraq could not be free unless Saddam was killed, or at the very least removed from the scene.”

But at the same time, I pointed out, Mr. Bush ignores or overlooks the fact that Arafat remains in Israel firmly in control of his terrorists. “You recognize and invite Abu Mazen to the White House,” I continued. “Abu Mazen is a Holocaust denier, and a terrorist in his own right. He was appointed by Arafat, and takes his orders from him.”

Concerning the road map, I asked the president why he would ‘reward the Muslim terrorists in Israel with a state of their own. This Judenrein, Christian-free state will be carved out of Jewish biblical land. The red lines that Sharon has requested for the road map are ignored. The demands of the terrorists, which are not in your road map, are recognized. The release of
prisoners with blood on their hands, and the halt of all building of Israeli homes in Israeli towns, are added to your demands.’

I concluded with the suggestion that ‘by buckling down to and rewarding the terrorists in Israel, you are undermining your courageous fight against terror,’ and voiced the hope that Mr. Bush ‘will again be the president with high resolve for whom we voted.’

Ettie Krumbein
Brooklyn, NY

Where’s The Democracy?

Israel prides itself on being a symbol of democracy in a despotic Middle East. Many Americans reading the news, however, may be wondering just what Israel’s definition of democracy is.

In the U.S., it is the fundamental right of every citizen arrested or held by police to be appointed a lawyer and to be allowed to confer with him. In “democratic” Israel, two Jews currently held by the Shabak are reportedly being tortured and denied legal counsel. This is not a letter for or against these two detainees. It is about legal process in a so-called democracy.

The courts this week complied with a request by the state, extending an order barring Yitzchak Pass and Mati Shabo from meeting with their attorney until next week, making it two week of detention without legal counsel. (Yitzchak Pass’s daughter Shalhevet, was murdered in his arms by an Arab terrorist.)

The two, residents of the Hebron region, were arrested for alleged security crimes. A gag order prohibits publication of details. Since their arrests, they have not been permitted to meet with their lawyer. They reportedly are being held under extremely harsh conditions, including sleep deprivation, isolation, and other forms of torture.

This is the paragon of democracy? It reminds one more of the KGB methods of punishing and extorting confessions, real or contrived, of political prisoners.

I would like to ask anyone disturbed by this version of Israeli justice to help by contacting the following officials and expressing your views. (Your fax will make a difference. Israeli leaders do care what American Jews think, and are sensitive to how they are viewed by the world.)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon: 011-972-2-566- 4838 or 670-5475

Minister of Police Tzachi Hanegbi: 011-972-2- 581-1832

Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein: 011-972-627-4481

Minister of Justice Yossi Lapid: 011-972-2-628-5438

Samuel Joshua Oppenheim
Brooklyn, NY

Who Killed Yaakov Dehaan?

I was troubled by Rabbi Menachem Porush’s July 11 column, “Temporary Cease-Fire: Looking Back.” If Porush is correct, then a major story has been buried for more than three-quarters of a century. However, if his assertions are not true, then I believe you should not have published his attack on the early Zionist leadership in the Yishuv and his accusation that they murdered an Orthodox Jew in a power struggle.

Rabbi Porush asserts that on July 1, 1924, Yaakov Dehaan, a professor affiliated with the
Eidah Chareidis, was assassinated by the Haganah. Porush asserts that “Professor Dehaan… had established extensive contacts with the Transjordan leadership. He suggested a partition… between Israel and Transjordan [whereby] Israel, with its borders similar to what they became after the Six-Day War, should become the Jewish state.”

According to Porush’s article, the secular Zionist leadership was unhappy with Dehaan for
three reasons: a) because the Zionist leadership “demanded a Jewish state on both sides of the
Jordan River”; b) because Mr. Dehaan “and his delegation of anti-Zionist Orthodox leaders, headed by Rabbi Sonnenfeld, made this suggestion to King Abdullah, independent of the plans of the Zionist leadership”; and c) because “the secular Zionists did not want Orthodox Jewry to have the authority to represent the Jews in dealing with national policy.” As a result, Rabbi Porush writes, the secular Zionists convened a beit din and had Mr. Dehaan murdered.

To me, at least, this story does not ring true. Never before have I read anything to suggest that
the Zionist leadership in 1924 (or at any other time) would have rejected creation of a Jewish
state in the entire area of Mandatory Palestine west of the Jordan River, or that the Arabs were prepared to accept such a partition (as Porush further suggests).

Moreover, it is difficult to believe that Mr. Dehaan could have suggested such a partition plan
under the aegis of Rabbi Sonnenfeld, since advocacy of this plan would have required the
anti-Zionist rabbi to endorse creation of a Jewish state.

Finally, if Mr. DeHaan had negotiated for creation of a Jewish state, he would not now be a
hero to Neturei Karta, which has posted material about him on its websites. On those websites, Neturei Karta ascribes a different purpose to Mr. DeHaan’s meeting with King Abdullah – namely, that Mr. DeHaan hoped to remind the king that there were many anti-Zionist Jews in Palestine and that their interests should be taken into account.

Neturei Karta, like Rabbi Porush, accuses the secular Zionists of murdering Mr. DeHaan.
However, other websites assert that Mr. DeHaan may have been killed by a non-Jew as a result of a personal dispute that involved neither Judaism nor Zionism.

I believe The Jewish Press has earned and maintained its high credibility over many years because you do not report unsupportable rumors as fact, even as you courageously advocate your opinions. In my opinion, you owe it to yourselves and to your readers either to correct Rabbi Porush’s assertions, or else to verify them and provide more evidence to support them than you have published so far.

Merrill Weber
Chicago, IL

Rabbi Porush Responds: There is a great deal of evidence to substantiate that Professor
Dehaan was killed by the order of the Haganah.

In a 29-page article (“Dehaan Affair – Political Murder or a Cold-blooded Execution Decreed by the Authorities?”) in the May 1985 issue of a periodical published by the Information
Department of the World Zionist Organization, historian Prof. Shimon Rubenstein of the Yad Ben Zvi Institute makes it clear why Prof. Dehaan was murdered. The author refers to a conversation he had with Prof. Ben Shushan, who told him that he had seen two documents in the archives of the Haganah. One was a death sentence which was decreed by the Court of the Haganah under the leadership of Saadia Shoshani. The second document was the report that this death sentence had been carried out.

In a symposium held on May 28, 1985 in Beit Hasofer in the Old City, one of the speakers was the famous journalist Shlomo Nakdimon. Nakidmon had recently co-authored a book in
which he recounted having gone to far-away Hong Kong where he interviewed Avraham Thomi, who admitted his full responsibility for the murder of Prof. Dehaan. As Thomi said, he “did what the Haganah decided had to be done, and nothing was done by the Haganah without the order of Yitzchak Ben-Zvi” (who later became the second president of the State of Israel).

At the symposium, Nakdimon revealed the following: When Joseph Hecht, then the coordinator of the Haganah, received the order to implement the Haganah’s decision to commit the murder, he demanded that the order be given to him in writing. Hecht said that he then received a document signed by Ben-Zvi ordering the murder. Joseph Hecht then went into action and made arrangements for the murder to be executed. Years later, when Ben-Zvi asked for the document to be returned to him, Hecht transferred it to a safe somewhere in America.

Also at the symposium, Prof. Shimon Rubenstein revealed that in the process of his
investigation, which included examining various protocols and documents, he came to the conclusion that what really kindled the anger of the secular Zionist leadership against Prof. Dehaan was this:

The secular Zionists were excited about the Balfour Declaration and wanted to have a Jewish
state on both sides of the Jordan River. They sent a secret delegation to Transjordan to find out the possibilities of buying Jordanian land from the Arabs. They made great plans of developing these lands after the Jews would purchase them from Transjordan. They then discovered that Prof. Dehaan had met King Abdullah and had been able to convince the king to accept his plan that the Arabs have a state in Transjordan and the Jews in Eretz Yisrael west of the Jordan. It was Colonel Kish, chairman of the organization which preceded the Jewish Agency, who found out about the powerful influence of Prof. Dehaan. Prof. Rubenstein said that when this influence of Prof. Dehaan on the king was discovered by the secular
Zionists, they decided that they had to get rid of Dehaan.

In February 1924, the delegation of Agudath Israel and the Eida Hacharedis, headed by Hagaon Horav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld and which included Prof. Dehaan, had gone to Transjordan and presented Abdullah with a proclamation stating that the Zionist Organization did not represent Orthodox Jewry and had no right to speak in its name. The mission of the delegation infuriated the Zionists, for they saw it as undermining their fundamental goals. The Zionists maintained that they were the sole representatives of the Jewish people. Only they could negotiate the future status of Eretz Yisrael with other nations and governments. The Zionist Organization did not want to allow Agudath Israel to be represented in the organization which later became the Jewish Agency, and they were angry that Agudath Israel had tried to represent itself.

Who’s Right On Belzec?

Shmuel Ben Eliezer’s recent article about the Belzec trench lawsuit, while well intentioned, is
problematic on numerous fronts.

First, Ben Eliezer writes that the Polish government decided to build a memorial at Belzec, when in fact it was a joint project with the United States Holocaust Museum and its Chairman Miles Lerman. Furthermore, while Rabbi Schudrich was understandably “appalled” that thousands of holes were drilled through the layers of corpses in an effort to identify the locations of mass graves, the Museum actually approved of such methods.

A recent book on the archaeological work done at Belzec, written by Polish architect Andrej Kola, explicitly features the imprimatur of the Museum. In the book’s introduction, Mr. Lerman applauds the work of Kola’s team, saying they “earned the gratitude of all those who cherish the memory of the Holocaust victims.”

Following Amcha’s protests over these desecrations, incoming Museum Chairman Fred Zeidman transferred responsibility for the project to the American Jewish Committee, although Mr. Lerman still maintains a leadership role. Meanwhile, desecrations at Belzec have continued to occur.

Importantly, Ben Eliezer quotes Rabbi Schudrich’s explanation that Norman Salsitz dropped the lawsuit because he now believed the project would not disturb Holocaust victim remains. This explanation, however, is incorrect. Mr. Salsitz advised us that he believes the Belzec
trench involves desecrations of the site.

Finally, it is indeed puzzling why first the Holocaust Museum, and now the AJC, is fixated on
this notion of a trench. Even Rabbi Schudrich concedes “there might be remains found along the route of the path.” Alternate memorial designs are possible, designs that would not disturb the remains. And once this notion of removing remains is allowed to pass, where will it end? We have been in touch with leading rabbis who have dedicated their lives to preserving the remains of the dead, such as Rabbi Meylakh Sheykhat of the Ukraine, who tell us that this trench sets a terrible precedent.

There will be nothing to stop the Polish government from moving Holocaust victim remains for purposes they believe bring honor to the dead – creating low income housing, for example.
Amcha fears that the price of this trench will be the further desecration of the remains of Holocaust victims.

Joshua Chadajo
Executive Director
Amcha-The Coalition for Jewish Concerns

Rabbi Schudrich Responds: For decades, the death camp of Belzec was forgotten and the
remains of our kedoshim desecrated again and again. Thanks to the initiative of Miles Lerman
through the United States Holocaust Museum, together with the Polish government, a plan was developed to finally properly bury all the uncovered remains in an esthetic and meaningful way.

We owe a great debt of thanks to Miles Lerman and the others for fulfilling our communal
responsibility. It is outrageous and certainly not derech haTorah to be hurtful to such a man as Mr. Lerman.

I am also very grateful to the leading halachic authorities who have paskened the shailos
concerning this project. Harov Elyakim Schlessinger, together with Harov Z. Feldman and
Harov E. Schechter of the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe,
issued an Ishur for this project.

The former chief Ashkenzic rabbi of Israel (when still chief rabbi), Harav Yisrael Lau, also
endorsed this project in a letter written to me on January 12, 2003 by his assistant, Rabbi Rafael Frank. After speaking to Harov H. Glick of the Committee for Preservation, Meylech Sheychet is no longer opposing the project.

The Jewish way if someone does not agree with these gedolim would be for that person to ask
the rabbonim involved why they paskened the way they did. It is clearly not the Jewish way to resolve halachic issues by writing open letters in secular newspapers or, chas v’shalom, by suing in the secular courts and creating a very dangerous precedent.

The project at Belzec is under strict rabbinic supervision. The new post-communist Polish
government now understands completely that it cannot do anything involving Jewish cemeteries or mass graves without rabbinic approval and supervision. In Belzec, we have the right to stop the work at any moment with no reason given. This is the precedent being set.