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July 29, 2015 / 13 Av, 5775
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Letters To The Editor

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Almost all of the hate directed against Pope Pius XII in connection with the Holocaust is the result of the play “The Deputy” by Rolf Hochhuth, who as a young man was a member of a subdivision of the Hitler Youth and who has been a longtime friend of the notorious Holocaust denier David Irving.

Reuven Solomon
(Via E-Mail)

New Landscape

I read with interest your columnists’ views on the recently inaugurated 19th Knesset. Following a campaign of harsh vitriol by haredi politicians against Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett, the haredi parties left out of the coalition would be well served if they engaged in cheshbon hanefesh.

After unsuccessfully running on an uncompromising platform against national service, United Torah Judaism and Shas should ask themselves a few questions – chiefly, what does Zionism mean to them? Ambiguity is no longer an option. Neither is demonizing those who do not share their views.

The political landscape in Israel wasn’t this volatile if you go back a generation. There was once a time when secular and traditional Sephardim voted for Shas, seeing the party as their advocate for civil rights. United Torah Judaism was once praised for defending the country’s Jewish identity, but its view of a very narrowly defined Judaism created a backlash from the general public, and the Satmar Rebbe’s pre-election rally discouraging Israeli haredim from voting also cut into the party’s base.

Contrast the losing parties to the victors. Bayit HaYehudi, once viewed as a tiny vestige party of settler interests, recruited the non-settler entrepreneur Naftali Bennett as its leader, along with colleagues who span the secular-religious spectrum. Likewise, Yesh Atid has a membership that ranges from a Baltimore-raised rabbi to a wheelchair-bound disabled rights advocate. It also spans the geographic and ethnic gaps, including the nation’s first female Ethiopian-born Knesset member.

As a matter of fact, every party in the ruling coalition features religious, geographic and ethnic diversity. Each of these parties can accurately claim to represent the Israeli majority.

Perhaps this was the political earthquake Israel needed, and parties based on common values rather than identity politics will become the new norm.

Sergey Kadinsky
Flushing, NY

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