Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.
Supports Bush, But Criticism OK
I agree with Assemblyman Dov Hikind that George W. Bush seems the best choice for the Jewish community (“No Choice But Bush, op-ed, Jan. 23). I do think, however, that Hikind presents a rather simplistic critique of the Democratic candidates’ campaign statements. After all, while it’s true that we are at war, it’s equally true that we are in the midst of an election campaign, and I don’t think it’s appropriate for a public official to act as if all criticism of an incumbent is off limits.
New York, NY
Hakaras Hatov And The President
President Bush and leading members of the Republican party have publicly demonstrated their support for our beleaguered brethren in Eretz Yisrael in numerous ways. When leaders from
around the world were criticizing the Israelis for attempting to defend themselves against the terrorist bombings, President Bush stated unequivocally that the Israelis have the right to do so. While the leaders of Europe were embracing Yasir Arafat and his evil minions, President Bush was shunning them and having Ariel Sharon as an honored guest in the White House on several occasions.
President Bush led the war in Iraq which has removed not only a major funding source for the suicide attacks in Israel but has also eliminated one of the major strategic threats to the existence of Jews in Eretz Yisrael. All of this in the face of unrelenting, hateful rhetoric from world leaders, the Left, and many in the Democratic party.
We Jews owe it to President Bush to demonstrate our hakaras hatov and appreciation for his having the guts to fight for what is right, despite the continuous condemnation and criticism from the likes of George Soros. Might I suggest that each of us individually contribute some money to the Bush/Cheney reelection campaign and to the Republican National Committee? Perhaps if enough of us do, it will show that despite recent polls to the contrary, many Jews support our president and appreciate what he has done.
Hypocrisy, Thy Name Is Democrat
The Democrats continue their attempts to paint President Bush as a liar because he told the nation Iraq was amassing weapons of mass destruction. The leading Democratic candidates
were saying the same thing, though, as a perceptive reader pointed out in last week’s Letters section. Here are some quotes I’ve dug up:
John Kerry, Oct. 2002: “Why is Saddam Hussein attempting to develop nuclear weapons when most nations don’t even try?… According to intelligence, Iraq has chemical and biological weapons… Iraq is developing unmanned aerial vehicles capable of delivering chemical and biological warfare agents…”
Wesley Clark, April, 2002: “He [Hussein] does have weapons of mass destruction… I think they will be found. There’s so much intelligence on this.”
Howard Dean, March 2003: “[We] have never been in doubt about the evil of Saddam Hussein or the necessity of removing his weapons of mass destruction.”
Joseph Lieberman, Aug., 2002: “Every day Saddam remains in power with chemical weapons, biological weapons, and the development of nuclear weapons is a day of danger for the United States.”
John Edwards, Oct., 2002: “We know that he [Hussein] has chemical and biological weapons.”
Thumbs Down On Sharon
Ariel Sharon has turned Israel into a tragi-comedy. He has surrendered Israel’s national sovereignty and does not make a move without getting the approval of the State Department and the White House. More Jews have been murdered under Sharon’s rule than under any previous prime minister. His ”security” fence is reducing Israel to a nine-mile wide coastal ghetto and will protect Israel as well as the Maginot Line protected France in 1940.
Instead of ordering his armed forces to defeat the far weaker PLO and the other terror gangs, Sharon releases terrorists and asks the PLO to resume ”negotiations” [i.e. Israel gives away its
land in exchange for more worthless promises]. Ten years after Oslo, with a record of 100 percent non-compliance by the PLO and thousands of murdered and permanently disabled Jews, Sharon, unbelievably, tells the Palestinians that if they do not resume negotiations he will unilaterally move back Israel’s borders and create a PLO state in the Jewish historic heartland of Judea and Samaria. He threatens also to forcibly evacuate the Jews living there or abandon them to be driven out or killed by terrorists.
Like all of the post-Oslo prime ministers, Sharon demonstrates callous disdain for the lives of his people and the land of his nation that is not his to give away. The damage that Sharon’s
appeasement policies have caused to the economy and to Israel’s civilian and military morale cannot be sustained and could prove fatal to the nation if continued much longer.
George E. Rubin
There is a long, long trail of concessions that stretches from Madrid to Oslo and from Oslo to Geneva. In 1991, as you may recall, the PLO came to the Madrid Peace Conference as an
adjunct to the Jordanian delegation. Today, 13 or so years later, they stand on the threshold of statehood. During those 13 years, the Palestinians have managed to turn every Israeli concession into an abject confessional. Of this we can be certain: as long as the concessions keep coming, as long as the Arab reading of history is left unexamined, all of our expectations about peace and reconciliation are destined to become the source of our sorrows and the vessel of our discontent.
For the Palestinians, some issues have become more equal than others. Checkpoints and refugees have, for example, become derivative issues. Their more sanctimonious sophistries have been reserved for the ”occupation.” It is the occupation that justifies the murderous excesses of the intifada. And it is their constant weeping and wailing about the occupation that has muzzled every hint of an Israeli past. This denial of our past, of our identity, prefigures a far graver denial: our very right to exist.
With a little understanding, the Arab world could easily turn this all around. They could begin with a rather modest gesture. For example, accepting the authenticity of our history could be
such a beginning. In deference to that history they might even want to consider an extraterritorial arrangement for some of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. That would not be such an extraordinary development. There are precedents. After the Six Day War, the Palestinians were given de facto control of the Temple Mount. And in Hebron, they continue to have equal access to the Machpela.
But there is an even more compelling reason to expect a little give-and-take from our Arab adversaries. Judea and Samaria were supposed to be our inheritance until the last wrinkle of time. The Arab world can therefore take some comfort in the fact that the retention of what is ours hardly constitutes the acquisition of what is theirs.
There is a rather conspicuous statistic that goes to the heart of this question. Israelis actually reside on a relatively small fraction of Judea and Samaria – less than two percent. The
Palestinians will in all likelihood reject any arrangement that would leave the Israelis with even a snippet of their biblical heartland. If it turns out that two percent is too much for them, then 98 percent should be too much for us
Silver Spring, MD
The Insurers’ Perspective
Re: Redlining Travel To Israel (news story, Jan. 23):
While I recognize that travel to Israel by Americans may be restrained by insurance companies using such travel as a reason to deny insurance, why should insurers be forced to insure travel
to dangerous areas? Doesn’t that increase premiums for all insured?
The Public’s Perspective
I too was turned down for insurance because I traveled to Israel. What was most infuriating was that I could not get anyone to talk to me about it. They were not even interested in whether I planned to go to Israel again. Even if the entire Middle East is considered a high risk area, I wonder if past travel to other countries is an automatic disqualifier.
New York, NY
Only In Israel
I just returned from a memorable month’s visit to Israel. The following incident should encourage those who have not already done so to go see for themselves why Israel is so special.
My grandson, who is studying this year at a yeshiva in Israel, joined us for a wonderful Shabbos at a hotel in Jerusalem. After Shabbos was over, he took the bus back to his school in Gush Etzion. Shortly after leaving the bus, he realized that he had left his cell phone on his seat. He dialed his phone, and, finally, the bus driver answered. The driver asked my grandson where he was, and then told him that since he, the driver, was still in the Gush Etzion area and had completed his route, if my grandson would just wait where he was, he would bring him his phone – which he did.
Perhaps a bus driver in another country would do the same, but somehow I doubt it.
I enjoyed reading Chanaya Weissman’s Jan. 16 op-ed on the dos and don’ts of setting singles up (“So You Want To Be A Shadchan?”) I think his assessment of the current shidduch
situation is right on target. Unfortunately, many of those who are not acquainted with the shidduch system assume that because there is so much discussion on the “singles crises” and so many shidduch clubs and shadchanim trying to help, anyone who is still single must be so by his or her own doing.
What they do not realize is that a few haphazard attempts at lumping people together based on the a scant profile written on an index card is only a tiny step – and one that might actually
cause more harm than good. No matter how intuitive the so-called shadchan is, the best she can do under these circumstances is to take wild guesses.
The bottom line is that any shidduch that is actually made under these circumstances is probably nothing less than a miracle from above. Luckily, G-d makes miracles, and many actually do find their mate in this system.
Readers Leap To Rabbi Levin’s Defense
Perception And Reality
Mr. Leib Stone argues in his letter to the editor (Jewish Press, Jan. 23) that the morality
issues that Rabbi Yehuda Levin focused on in his ”Orthodox Hellenism 5764” op-ed piece of Dec. 26 were not of ”top” priority for our gedolim of yesteryear.
Has it ever occurred to Mr. Stone, and those of like mind, that the phenomenal success of the
militant gay rights movement just might have been significantly enabled by the perceived ”low
priority” that leaders in our frum community have attached to issues of morality?
Shlomo D. Winter
Dismayed By Attack On Rabbi Levin
Very few letters to The Jewish Press have been more dismaying than the one last week by
Leib Stone entitled ”Torah Diplomacy” wherein he castigated Rabbi Yehuda Levin for being
”intellectually dishonest” and a ”one issue man.”
Mr. Stone may be analogized to some of the roshei yeshiva in pre-war Europe who, despite
warnings by some Jewish leaders such as Ze’ev Jabotinsky, chose to ignore the storm clouds
gathering on the horizon. If anything is intellectually dishonest, it is the characterization by Mr. Stone of Rabbi Levin as a man with only one issue on his agenda. Even if this were so, Rabbi
Levin’s one issue, which is morality in accordance with the Torah, may well be the most important issue the world is currently facing.
Are Jews, according to Mr. Stone, supposed to remain complacent when they hear of a planned upcoming world meeting of homosexuals in Jerusalem just because the mayor of Jerusalem happens to be in touch with the posek hador? For all we know, they could be discussing plans to build a new central mikva somewhere in the Old City or some other important topic.
Mr. Stone conveniently ignores the most salient aspect of Rabbi Levin’s piece – that Rabbi
Levin, himself an Orthodox rabbi and a long time emissary of gedolim such as Rabbi Avigdor Miller and the Skulener Rebbe, was expressing righteous outrage for the holiest of purposes - the preservation of the sanctity of G-d’s holy city. Rabbi Miller, as I recall, did not hesitate to criticize Orthodox rabbis for their complacency regarding much less important issues, and I cannot imagine any gadol disagreeing with Rabbi Levin regarding the wake-up call he issued.
Finally, even if Mr. Stone’s generalization that ”all movements which veered away from the
true Torah path started by attacking our rabbanim” may indeed contain some truth, the fact
is that at a time when all of the kaytzim have already passed, our rabbis have still failed to lead
us back into the land of our forefathers as one united people. For this reason, it may even be dangerous for us to regard them as being above criticism.
Gedolim And Rabbi Levin
In Mr. Leib Stone’s response to Rabbi Yehuda Levin’s article, Stone disparagingly refers to Rabbi Levin as a “one issue man.”
I’m sure Rabbi Levin would cheerfully plead guilty to the charge. He has, in fact, spent a
quarter century on this single issue: The Torah response to the terrible decline in moral standards all around us. In this endeavor, he has been informed and guided by many of this generation’s acknowledged gedolei Yisrael. He has developed extensive contacts with like-minded religious gentiles, politicians and media all over America. Rabbi Levin has earned a doctorate in this “one issue”.
The whole tone of Mr. Stone’s letter (“the author has … attacked our rabbonim…) is
intellectually dishonest and demands a factual response.
Please allow me to relate some interesting facts about one of Rabbi Levin’s main mentors, the
much-revered Rav Avigdor Miller, zt”l: In the 1930′s, when Rav Miller was studying in Lita, he
helped arrange visas to America for the Svei family, whose son, Rav Elya, later became one of
the roshei yeshiva Mr. Stone refers to in his letter.
In 1983 Rav Miller wrote a glowing testimonial and approbation regarding Rabbi Levin to Rav Svei, in which he declared that: “everything that he (Levin) speaks is (based) on what I have
discussed with him over a long period of time and there is much good contained in his advice.”
The late Debriciner Rav, zt”l, undoubtedly one of the foremost poskim of the last generation, wrote a two-page halachic responsum regarding Rabbi Levin’s fight for Torah morality, where he stated: “Halevai my portion (in the world to come) should be with him (Levin) and those who aid and support him”. Rav Stern, zt”l, explicitly mandated publicly opposing pro-homosexual agenda office holders.
The esteemed Rav of Kashau, shlita, a rosh yeshiva, rav, posek and author of works that are
studied in yeshivas worldwide, is one of today’s most revered gedolim. In a joint letter with the
Skulener Rebbe, shlita, written five years ago, he refers to Rabbi Levin’s 20 years of work as follows: “He is fighting Hashem’s fight against this evil movement.” He further declares that Rabbi Levin is a “Shlucha D’rabonon B’chol Asar V’asar” (an emissary of the sages where ever he appears”).
Rabbi Levin also has a responsum written for him by the late Rav S. Z. Braun, well-known posek and author of Shearim Metzuyanim B’halacha, mandating active and public opposition to politicians who support the deviancy agenda (even if they provide funds to our community).
During the hearings on the original “Gay Rights” law in New York City at the beginning of
the Koch Administration, Moreinu Horav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, issued a clear and unequivocal
written psak directing “all those who heed our words to fill the chambers of New York City Hall all the days of the hearing regarding homosexual legislation … to publicly demonstrate that
Hashem’s People loath abomination.” Rav Moshe’s declaration was a response to a letter sent to him jointly by Rav Miller and Rav Stern, zt”l.
Rav Moshe, zt”l, personally gave us a bracha, as he handed this letter-psak to us, and urged us to be strong in this struggle. Thus, we consider this a mandate from the posek hador. This is a remarkably strong and direct statement which neither Mr. Stone nor the bureaucracies he defends has yet been able to explain away. Rav Moshe indicated that he wasn’t satisfied with belated press releases or articles in Coalition Magazine. He wasn’t even happy with merely having a representative of Agudah or the Young Israel testify at the City Hall hearings. He wanted a multitude to fill the chambers.
Why didn’t Agudah send a few busloads of people to City Hall to heed the mandate of Rav
Moshe? Was it because Rav Moshe’s statement was not clear enough? Or was it because Rav Moshe wrote this particular psak on Agudas Harabanim stationery, and this was, somehow, construed to mean that he only meant this for members of that organization and not for followers of Agudah?
These quotations from acknowledged gedolim v’poskim of yesteryear are clearly the basis for
Rabbi Levin’s “agenda and tactics.” They indicate clearly that authentic Da’as Torah mandates that, when dealing with immorality, the opposition needs to be very public – we must make a Kiddush Hashem.
In view of these facts, how is it possible, Mr. Stone, that you should still be able to write that
“they (the gedolim) did not make this issue a priority?” For shame, Mr. Stone, and whoever you represent.
Since 1979 Rabbi Levin has been a spokesman on the moral issues for the Agudas
Harabanim and the Igud Harabanim, with a combined membership of over 1,200 rabbonim and including roshei yeshiva.
Among the ziknei Yisrael and distinguished rabbonim who either supported, blessed, or
encouraged Rabbi Levin’s activities were: Rav Yaakov Kamenecki, zt”l, the late Voideslover Rav, zt”l, Rav Moishe Bick, zt”l (who procured an absentee ballot to vote for Levin in the 1984 New York City mayoral election), Rav Shmelke Taubenfeld, zt”l, rav of Chareidim in Monsey, Rav Motel Weinberg, zt”l, rosh yeshiva of Montreal, and the late Rav Teitz, zt”l, of Elizabeth, New Jersey.
To disparage Rabbi Levin as a “one issue man” demonstrates that either the writer is woefully ignorant of the basic facts about Rabbi Levin or that he is willfully ignoring them.
Mr. Stone’s personal invective disparages major rabbinic groups and the thousands of
followers of Rav Moshe, Rav Miller, the Debreciner, and the many other gedolim who have publicly supported Rabbi Levin.
Many Bnai Torah are puzzled by the relative silence and total non-prioritization of this issue by
Agudah, O.U. and Young Israel.
Rabbi William Handler
Jews for Morality
What Did The Posek Hador Say?
I am amazed at Leib Stone’s naivete. He says “the mayor of Yerushalayim has the backing of and accessibility to the posek hador,” so “to attack the mayor [on the homosexual rights issue] without knowing the directive he has been given may be an attack on the posek hador and not something the author is qualified to do.”
Has anyone actually heard from the posek hador on the issue of anti-homosexual rights
activism? Do we know what the posek hador has directed? Obviously, even Stone is not sure when he fails to tell us what it is and speculates that an attack on the mayor may be an attack on the posek hador.
Rational criticism for not following our gedolim can only be based upon a clear and direct
statement from them about what they want. I for one will not accept the word of those who have n’gius, whether they are individuals or organizations.
As a Torah Jew, I can understand why homosexual conduct should be deplored and
discouraged. However, I cannot understand why homosexuals are not entitled to the full protections of civil law. After all, homosexuality is not a criminal offense and homosexuals are not exempt from paying taxes. How then can they logically be denied such things as access to housing and jobs?
Would anyone think that the police or fire departments should be able to refuse to respond to
calls for help from known homosexuals? Or that hospitals should not permit their admission? Or that insurance companies should be allowed to deny them insurance?
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