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September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
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Letters To The Editor

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Trusting A Savage

Small wonder that so many of us cannot bring ourselves to believe Bashar Assad’s stated intention to turn over all of Syria’s chemical weapons (“Skepticism Abounds in Israel Over U.S.-Russia Deal on Syria,” front-page news story, Sept. 20).

It cannot be lost on anyone with a brain that a man who would deliberately bomb non-combatants and innocent women and children in order to terrify rebel soldiers cannot be considered a reliable partner in any deal over the disposal of those weapons. He is a savage and a butcher who cannot be trusted. He has demonstrated that he will do anything to come out on top. Sandbagging well-meaning Americans is certainly on his to-do list.

Esther Mintz
Jerusalem

EU’s One-sidedness

Re “Those New Over-the-Green-Line EU Rules” (editorial, September 20):

I can’t understand why no one from the EU crowd makes a peep about Palestinian construction of a new city near Ramallah. Or that Palestinians insist on continued Muslim control over the Temple Mount area.

Why is it that Israelis can’t build because final boundaries have yet to be negotiated but the Arabs can?

Joseph Davis
(Via E-Mail)

War Fatigue

I disagree with reader Reuven Solomon, who apparently blames George W. Bush for the antiwar sentiment that is now so widespread in the country (Letters, Sept. 20).

It is certainly true that since the war in Iraq Americans have soured on military interventions not calculated to defend against direct foreign invasions. However, it is also true that our problems in this regard started with the Korean War, in which our military power, though unmatched, could not truly vanquish our enemies. The same held true in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. We do not do so well when we mix into someone else’s civil war.

Gary Schoenfeld
(Via E-Mail)

Selective Memory?

Abraham Foxman’s op-ed article (“The Legacy of the Leo Frank Travesty,” Sept. 20) accurately recalls the Leo Frank trial. However, Foxman claims that “America has come a long way in the past 100 years. A Leo Frank incident is unthinkable today.”

Did Foxman forget the 1991 Crown Heights riots? Or the travesty of the trial of the accused murderer, Lemrick Nelson? Or is Foxman’s omission deliberate because the perpetrators of the Crown Heights riots were not white?

I would like to know what Foxman did during those riots. After all, he has no problem denouncing what he sees as bigotry against African-Americans and Muslims. But what did he do or say during the riots? Was a representative of the ADL even present at the rally to support the Jews of Crown Heights after the riots?

On November 1, 2007, Foxman issued a joint statement on hate crimes – together with the Rev. Al Sharpton. Sharpton, for those who don’t recall, was an instigator during the Crown Heights riots.

Ben Feigenbaum
East Brunswick, NJ

Palestinian Apartheid

The more the Palestinians speak out about the type of “independent state” they envisage, the more it becomes clear exactly what they have in mind for the Jews of the region.

The supposedly moderate Mahmoud Abbas has declared time and again that no Israeli will be permitted to reside in a Palestinian state. Would the United Nations tolerate any state or putative state whose leader said that no Christian or Muslim could live in it? Would the United States?

Thelma Susswein
Jerusalem

Superior Souls?

Due to a very busy pre-Yom Tov schedule, I just got around to reading Alan Krinsky’s marvelous op-ed piece, “Impurity, Heresy, and Immorality” in your Aug. 23 issue.

I was particularly taken with his observation that there has been an increasing focus in the Orthodox community on “genetic purity and impurity,” specifically the belief that there exists “some genetic or otherwise essential aspect of our souls that makes us different from (and, in some unclear sense, ‘better’ than) non-Jews.”

This is something that has been bothering me for some time, and as someone who has worked in kiruv I know more than a few ba’alei teshuvah who have become severely disillusioned upon coming across this notion of a “superior neshamah.”

As Rabbi Menachem Kellner, a prolific author and scholar specializing in medieval Jewish philosophy, has written, it is largely due to the influence of the 12th century philosopher Judah Halevi and some cryptic and by no means widely accepted kabbalistic texts that this idea came to be thought of by some Jews as somehow normative to Torah Judaism.

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