Former Mayor Lauds Bush

In President George W. Bush Israel has a friend and supporter who has exhibited more concern for the Jewish state than any other president, Republican or Democrat. President Reagan was a firm supporter of Israel, but George W. Bush is far and away more willing to stand up for the Jewish state and support its right to a secure existence.

The American Jewish community appreciated the support President Reagan gave to the Jewish state. I believe that next time around, the American Jewish community will express its appreciation to President Bush by voting for him in even greater numbers than was the case with President Reagan.

Edward I. Koch
New York, NY

Thanks Bush For Pipes

I would like to publicly thank President Bush for standing firm against Teddy Kennedy and his cabal of spineless liberal Democrats who tried to torpedo the president’s nomination of Daniel Pipes to the board of the United States Peace Institute. I know that some of Bush’s formerly strong support among Orthodox Jews has waned in recent months because of the road map peace process, but I still think he’s one of the best presidents for Israel we’ve ever had.

What other president – and which of the current crop of Democrats running for president – would have nominated someone like Pipes and then stood up to the lies, slander and political pressure exerted by Arab-American pressure groups and Democrats in Congress?

Yitzchok Steinberg
Brooklyn, NY

Listen To G-d

Re last week’s Jerusalem bus bombing:

Where is our Jewish soul? Where is our human soul? Enough of this insane liberalism and rampant secularism, this lack of faith in G-d and Torah among too many Jews in Israel and the U.S.

G-d gave all the Land of Israel to the Jewish people. Peace can never come to Israel as long as any foreigners (read ‘Palestinian’ Arabs) squatting on a single inch of Jewish land. Any Arabs (or other non-Jews) wishing to live in Israel are lovingly and respectfully welcome with open arms as law-abiding guests; otherwise they must leave immediately. It’s the only practical, realistic, moral and effective solution – plus it’s what we find in the Torah. Nothing else has worked or will work.

All of Rabbi Meir Kahane’s prophetic warnings have unfortunately come true. Thousands have already died (Arabs as well as Jews) and more surely will unless we listen to the G-d of Israel for a change.

Enough spilled Jewish blood. Enough political correctness. Enough worrying about ‘what the world will say.’ They’ll say it anyway.

Aaron Seruya
San Francisco, CA

Free World’s Holy War

The scenes have become all too familiar. I have seen them so many times that I have almost developed immunity to the usual sadness that accompanies images like these. My sadness has evolved into an anger which seems to increase every time I see another suicide attack in the news.

I am angry that the world does not see what is as clear as day to me and has been for quite a while. Given the continuing slaughter of innocent lives by Islamic radicals who are, at the core, implacable, I believe more than ever that the world is in the midst of a holy war, a jihad. The trouble is that the leaders of the free world do not see that yet.

One can debate the differences between peace-loving Muslims and Islamic fundamentalists. One can even concede that the vast majority of Muslims are peace loving. But that doesn’t matter because radical Muslims have hijacked Islam and are now calling all the shots.

The free world is in a state of denial, continuing to believe it can reason with unreasonable people. Radical Islam has declared war on the free world and attacked time and time again, killing thousands of innocent men, women and children.

We are dealing with a primitive mentality and it is time to be single-minded about victory over radical Islam and to deal with the terrorists the way they deal with us.

Harry Maryles
Chicago, IL

View From The Left

As a Jewish human rights activist recently returned from participating in non-violent political organizing in the Palestinian occupied territories, it is extremely frustrating and revolting to read about the recent suicide bombing in Jerusalem.

Unquestionably, Abbas needs to crack down on organizations which continue to target civilians. Palestinian society stumbles under its own weight in not speaking for the majority of Palestinians – the women, the wise old men, the farmers, and the brave people who resist with non-violent protest and those who protest non-violently just by living their lives under the duress of a 35-year foreign military occupation.

Israel’s retaliatory assassination of Hamas co-founder Ismail Abu Shanab reeks of Israel’s desire to continue its work with Palestinian extremists. Abu Shanab, considered a moderate, was the main proponent of the cease-fire inside Hamas. Instead of displaying a desire for a peaceful two-state solution, Israel utterly refuses to define or respect borders and instead chooses to exploit extremists to continue expanding Israeli settlements in the territories.

While the onus is on Abbas to fulfill the meaning of a Palestinian state by policing his own people, Israel needs to take steps toward peace by defining and respecting borders that it envisions for that Palestinian state.

Eric Monse
(Via E-Mail)

Stronger Measures Against Rutgers Confab

Alan J. Steinberg’s op-ed article (“Rutgers Controversy Is No Civil Liberties Issue,” Jewish Press, Aug. 22) was well written but a little short on a viable countermeasure to the National Student Movement for Solidarity with Palestine’s conference supporting suicide murder against Israel, planned for this October at Rutgers University.

To suggest that “showings throughout the state of the movie Relentless: The Struggle for Peace in Israel? can in any way hamper the efforts or potency of such organized hatred is simply not being realistic. It’s hard to imagine anyone refraining from attending the conference because they’re afraid that “the Jews might start showing movies.”

What’s worse, such an innocuous countermeasure minimizes the sinister
undertones of the conference. Showing movies would be a good response if they were
planning to ban Jews from buying popcorn. A conference that calls for the killing
of civilians is an affront to humanity, not just to the Jewish nation, and needs a lot
stronger antidote than a movie.

If “incitement to riot” is not enough of a legal basis for labeling this conference an ‘incitement to murder’ – which, as a logical extension, should be worse – perhaps we have to try fighting this in the civil arena. Perhaps we need a few Jewish lawyers (oh G-d, where are we going to find Jewish lawyers?) to step up to bat and put this group on notice that if any of their attendees ultimately winds up committing a crime even remotely similar to the ones they will be supporting, the organizers and speakers will be held accountable for at least civil damages. (If you can sue McDonald’s for spilling a hot cup of coffee on your lap, such a lawsuit is not
all that far fetched.

We simply must do something a little more forceful than watch movies, or we might as well just be eating popcorn while they have their conference.

Josh Greenberger
Brooklyn, NY

Church Never Repudiated Deicide Slander

Re ‘Where’s The Pope’? (Jewish Press editorial, Aug. 22):

Josef Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister, said: “If you repeat a lie often enough, it will come to be perceived as truth.” And so, unfortunately, the public is under the illusion that the Declaration on the Jews (Nostra Aetate) issued in 1965 by Vatican Council II officially repudiated the Christ-killer doctrine. (Note: Repudiation had been the intent of the righteous Pope John XXIII, but after his death on June 3, 1963, Cardinal Bea acted against his wishes.)

During the past thirty-eight years, clergy of the interfaith persuasion have met with representatives of the Catholic Church, extolling the virtues of Nostra Aetate, which purportedly exonerated the Jews of deicide. This specious document, actually a hoax, has lulled Jews into a false sense of security under the guise of ‘an expression and a contribution toward mutual respect between Catholics and Jews.’

For more than nineteen centuries, Christians (including Mel Gibson, in his film “The Passion”) have accused Jews of shedding the blood of their lord Jesus. They claim that almost two thousand years ago the Great Sanhedrin, the highest tribunal in the land of Judea, unjustly convicted Jesus of the capital offense of blasphemy, and delivered him to the Roman procurator to be crucified.

In fact, Jesus could not have been tried and convicted of the capital crime of blasphemy. The offense of claiming to be the “son of G-d” was a novel one, created by the writers of the gospels, and had until then been unknown to the Jewish jurists. There had been no law defining such an offense and providing for the punishment of it, as it had never occurred to any Jewish jurist that an individual would or could make such a claim.

The claim of the Nazarene could be interpreted by Jews only as sheer paganism and idolatry. Neverthe-less, no matter how idolatrous such a claim might have appeared to Jewish jurists and theologians, it would not have constituted in law – Mosaic or talmudic – the capital offense of blasphemy for which a court of law could mete out the punishment of death.

If Mr. Gibson had read “The Gospel Libel: The Cause of 2,000 Years of Holocaust,” he would never have made the film. Excerpts can be viewed at

Arthur Weston
Brooklyn, NY

Rachel Weiss Stirs Up A Storm

Learning From Pirkei Avos

I have read with interest the letters to the editor dealing with greeting our fellow Jews and would like to offer additional insights in general and comments on the Rachel Weiss-Devora Leogrande dialogue in particular (Letters, Aug. 15 and 22).

I cannot imagine that Ms. Weiss, as a religious Jew, would dispute the words of Pirkei Avos. Chapter 1:15, for example, focuses on the importance of receiving our fellow Jew cheerfully. While it is not my intent to judge any of the letter-writers negatively, we can aspire to higher spiritual levels by gazing at the gedolim. On page 251 of the book Reb Yaakov, for example, we learn that Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky distinguished himself among his neighbors by giving them a friendly greeting and a warm smile.

I am likewise certain that reader Devora Leogrande is not at odds with Pirke Avos. Chapter 2:5 teaches us to not judge our fellow Jews until we have been in their place. I do not live in Brooklyn and have wondered from my own experience about the friendliness of Jews in certain neighborhoods. I realize, though, that greeting everyone with a friendly countenance is a more demanding task in areas with larger concentrations of Jews. (Even so, it certainly does not excuse Yidden from disregarding the words of our Sages.) Not that I wish to judge Ms. Leogrande, for I myself have been negatively affected by what I perceived – correctly or incorrectly – to be unfriendly behavior.

A major concern of mine is the need for Jews to heed the teachings of Pirke Avos 1:12 of loving and pursuing peace. Let all disputes in the Letters to the Editor section of The Jewish Press be l’shem shamayim. Such an objective is of paramount importance given the dire situation of our fellow Yidden in Eretz Yisrael. We Jews are responsible for each other and need to conduct ourselves accordingly.

Nison Korb
(Via E-Mail)

Where’s The Beauty?

There she goes again! I don’t know Rachel Weiss, and she may well be the sweetest, most loving person in the world to her family and the small circle of friends and acquaintances she allows into her little walled-off world, but from the tone of the several letters she’s had published in The Jewish Press she comes off as the personification of the smug and holier-than-thou Orthodox Jew from whom other people instinctively flee.

A respected rav who in private is much more critical of the frum olam than he can let on in public, once asked me a very provocative question. ‘Why do you think it is,’ he said, ‘that we don’t see a real mass movement of secular Jews becoming Torah observant? Or that more non-Jews don’t speak in glowing terms of the wonderful qualities of Orthodox Jews? These days, non-religious Jews and non-Jews come into regular and often close contact with frum Jews, so why hasn’t the word gone forth about all the tremendous qualities a Torah Jew is
supposed to exhibit – how honest we are with others, how G-d-fearing and patient and generous and kind’?

Before I could even attempt a response, the rav answered his own question. ”I’ll tell you why,” he said. ”Because the outside world doesn’t see any of those things. The bikur cholim societies and other such praiseworthy groups operate within and for the Jewish community – and in many if not most cases strictly within the Orthodox Jewish community. So what the outside world sees are the bad things – the financial scandals that plague our community; the lack of
derech eretz and mentshlichkeit one regularly encounters on our streets; the reckless driving; the increasing incidents of domestic abuse and drug use.”

The rav summed up: ”As a result of all this, the collective image that Orthodox Jews present to the outside world – to both Jews and non-Jews – is, for the most part, something we should not be proud of. Most of the good we do we keep hidden from others – almost defiantly so – while the negatives are there for everyone to see. How many non-frum Jews and non-Jews ever get to see the beautiful side of frumkeit? If more of them did, Torah Jews would be
viewed with a combination of respect, affection and envy. Do you think that’s how we’re viewed today?”

I’m sorry, but whenever I encounter a Rachel Weiss – and I have encountered more than my share – I can’t help but think of what that rav said. Its not just the substance of her arguments but the tone as well. The beautiful side of frumkeit the rav spoke of? Can’t find it in your letters, Ms. Weiss.

Reuven Bleiberg
New York, NY

Prove It, Ms. Weiss

When I wrote a letter to the editor two weeks ago trying to promote shalom among Jews, which I illustrated with a true story about Harav Hagaon Moshe Feinstein, the last thing I expected in response was a personal attack upon myself.

Of all things, I was accused by reader Rachel Weiss of comparing myself to Rav Moshe – something no living Jew in his right mind would ever have the audacity to do. I hereby challenge Ms. Weiss to show me exactly where in my letter such a comparison was made, or even hinted at. I am prepared to write out a check for $1,000 to her favorite tzedaka if she can successfully show me where I committed such an aveirah.

On the other hand, if she cannot meet my challenge, I would like her to write out her check for $1,000 to my favorite tzedaka. She claims that Rav Moshe spoke to my mother only because he was performing the mitzvah of bikur cholim. The fact is, Rav Moshe did not know I was sick until after he spoke with her. He could have sent his wife over to inquire about me. The fact that he chose to do it himself, in a public place, clearly demonstrates what his p’sak halacha would have been.

I cannot understand the baal gaiva mentality of those who think they are so pure and holy, hat a mere Gut Shabbos greeting to another Jew will soil their neshama. This is a moral disease that permeates our society today. The cure as prescribed by the Chofetz Chayim and others is a massive dose of humility.

Sol Zeller
Monsey, NY

Israel’s Leaders Are To Blame

As a former paratrooper in the Israel Defense Forces, it breaks my heart to say Shame on our leaders who have brought us to the destruction of our Jewish people. I accuse the leaders of Israel of selling our people into the depth of death and misery just as the Judenrat sold our people to the Nazis.

Where are our old leaders who knew that being a Jew in Israel meant sacrifice with honor? Religious and non-religious together knew what it meant to be a Jew in Israel.

Now our leaders are weak and corrupt. They sit in their villas thinking of ways to satisfy and appease the anti-Semitic world. At the same time, Jewish mothers, fathers, children and babies are being blown up and maimed for life. How many screams of Shema Yisrael do we have to hear? Our grandparents had to dig their own graves only to be shot in them. Where our ancestors died in gas chambers, our generation is being killed in buses and cafes.

If this were to occur in any other civilized country, the citizens would have risen up and annihilated this terrible enemy to end the terror.

“We Jews are better,” you say. “We’re on a higher level.” Tell that to the family members of people who were blown to bits or left maimed. We must rise up and defend ourselves against the murderers. We must speak up against an Israeli government that time and again appeases the leaders of other nations. Sharon is a coward and has become, for all intents and purposes, a leftist.

I don’t want concessions or appeasements. It’s time to give our enemies what they deserve.

America dropped the atom bomb on Japan because President Truman thought it would save American lives, and we bombed Germany for the same reason. Now our people are being slaughtered on their own streets – shouldn’t we be responding?

The road map is dead. To save it, Israel must make a list of terrorists who committed murder and extradite them to Israel. Just like the U.S. did in Afghanistan. Or better yet, we must declare war on the Palestinians and show no mercy.

If the Left complains, a law should be passed that all Knesset members and their families must take public transportation to show their constituents that they are standing shoulder to shoulder with them and are taking the same risks.

We don’t need excuses to stay alive. President Bush invaded a country he claimed had weapons of mass destruction. He hunted down their leaders like animals even though not one American was harmed by them. Yet President Bush tells Israel to show restraint when our civilians are being butchered by the hundreds. This is a pure double standard.

Sharon will not go down in history as a great leader who brought peace to Israel. He has brought shame to Israel – and destruction. Meanwhile, the Palestinians are training their young children to be martyrs and commit acts of murder. They do not deserve a state. They are unfit to live with any neighbors.

Hear O Israel – defend yourselves. Open your eyes. The world never cared about us. We may have to stand alone, but we will live and be proud.

Moish Koenig
Brooklyn, NY

Proud And Heartbroken

Editor’s Note: Maida Averbach, an American woman whose son made aliyah and suffered terrible injuries at the hands of a Palestinian homicide bomber, wrote of his – and the family’s – ordeal in a front-page essay in our June 27 issue. The following is an update.

We had not seen Steve since our visit with him in July in the intensive care unit at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem. When we left he was still in critical condition, trying to overcome his spinal cord injury and the effects of the blast on his lungs. Our fears were that we might never see him alive again. It was an extremely painful, difficult, and emotional departure.

Now we arrive at Tel Hashomer (SHEBA) rehabilitation facility in Tel Aviv. It is a large building which is part of a huge campus complex composed of all facets of medicine. We fight to keep our emotions in control as we pass an abundance of patients with varying degrees of disabilities, many who are victims of the horrors that seem to continually plague Israel. The young ones pierce our hearts. Each one with their loved ones caring for them and, like us,
probably praying for a miracle.

Steve is in the respiratory wing of the rehab, working desperately to develop his breathing muscles, hoping to reach a point where he can breath and have his tracheotomy removed. This monumental achievement will allow him to breath, speak and eat in as normal a way as possible.

Although we encourage each other to “hold it together” as we approach his room, the sight of Steve speaking with the aid of a speech valve placed over his trach is emotionally overpowering and we are all crying.

It occurs to me, as we watch Steve being attended to, that all of us who have not experienced this horror go about our daily lives taking for granted the ability to function without impediment. We get up, get dressed, get the children off to school, go to work, go to the movies, play tennis and golf. We take care of our bodily functions and personal hygiene without giving them a second thought.

Do we ever stop to think what terror survivors and their families have to endure? When we go shopping, do we ever stop to think about how easy it is not to buy a pair of pants or shoes that does not suit our fashion taste? Survivors have to settle for whatever fits.

Steve still cannot move his arms and legs. He has to depend on others to feed him, bathe and shave him, scratch an annoying itch on his face, help blow his nose, massage the pain in his neck and take care of his bodily functions over which he has no control.

Although he undergoes physical therapy to keep his joints and muscles as viable as possible, the muscles of this once-muscular, strong son of ours are wasting. His arms have become thin and his chest narrow. Watching him cry like a baby at a particularly trying moment tears my heart out.

We spend the day sitting or standing by his bedside waiting for his request for something that he cannot do himself. This could be giving him a drink, scratching a particular area of his face, brushing his teeth, massaging his shoulders and neck because of pain, or moving his leg because of a phantom pain that he is experiencing.

A clearer picture emerges from witnesses of the May 18 bus bombing. It seems that Steve is a genuine hero. Commuter buses drive in tandem throughout Israel. On the fateful morning, Steve chose to sit at the end of the first tandem. When the terrorist boarded and proceeded to the end of the first tandem, Steve was immediately suspicious. He rose and drew his gun, causing the bomber to detonate his belt of murder earlier than planned. We are told that the homicide killer had planned to wait for two more bus stops. At that time the #6 bus would have been packed with commuters. Steve’s action probably saved many lives. We are proud – and heartbroken.

Perseverance and prayer seem to be our only options at this time. And so we continue to hope and pray that this nightmare ends and we are delivered from despair.

Maida Averbach
(Via E-Mail)