It was nice, in an ironic way, to read Arlene Peck’s op-ed column “Not One More Dime For Federation,” Aug. 20).
Just three days before I received the issue of The Jewish Press containing Ms. Peck’s article, I got a call from the New Mexico Federation asking for a donation. I told the woman who called that I was not going to give any more money until Federation started acting more
respectful to observant Jews and stopped printing anti-Israel articles in the local Federation newspaper, the New Mexico Jewish Link. (The editor of the newspaper is not even Jewish!)
The woman who called was taken aback and asked if I would talk to the Federation president. I said I would, but he still hasn’t called.
Who’s A ‘Fanatic’? (I)
Professor Steven Plaut referred to the late Baruch Goldstein as a “fanatic” in his Aug. 27 front page essay “Gush Katif Memories.” Baruch Goldstein was no more fanatical than the great Irgun hero David Raziel, who broke the yishuv’s policy of self-restraint by bombing Arab
buses in retaliation for the slaughter of Jews.
If Prof. Plaut knew the nuances of halachic warfare, he would know that the laws of milchemet mitzvah are exceedingly cruel. Presumably he would have referred to Yehoshua as a fanatic also. I would hope that in the future Prof. Plaut would avoid Rechov Raziel, lest he
inadvertently pay tribute to a fanatic soldier of Israel.
Far Rockaway, NY
Who’s A ‘Fanatic’? (II)
Baruch Goldstein “a fanatic”? How could you, Mr. Plaut? I always look forward to reading your columns in The Jewish Press and agree with almost everything you write. Therefore I never thought the day would come when I’d feel as betrayed as I did upon seeing the epithet you used in reference to a man who was an ish gibor – a mighty man of Israel.
Dr. Goldstein was privy to murderous plots being hatched by the so-called peaceful worshipers in that mosque, and he acted upon the rabbinic dictum “If one comes to kill you, arise and slay him first.”
To make amends to the blessed memory of Dr. Goldstein, Mr. Plaut needs to issue a public apology to the family of Baruch Goldstein (may Hashem avenge His servant’s blood).
Steven Plaut Responds: I am taken to task for describing Baruch Goldstein as a “fanatic.” In Genesis 25:9, Isaac and Ishmael bury Abraham together in the Hebron cave, Ishmael letting Isaac go first in noteworthy politeness. Isaac did not pull out an assault rifle and gun down
Ishmael while he was praying there. A Jew who guns down unarmed praying descendants of Ishmael in the same spot may be deserving of adjectives other than “fanatic,” but I
doubt The Jewish Press would print them.
Kerry’s Got Him Sold
What Mayor Koch left out of his analysis of the presidential campaign (“President Bush Deserves Our Votes,” front page essay, Aug. 20) is that Israel, more than anything else, needs secure internationally recognized boundaries.
The boundaries between Egypt and Israel and Lebanon and Israel are internationally recognized and are virtually terror-free. Everywhere else, Israel exits under cease-fire lines, some dating from 1949. Bush has done nothing to encourage the firming of Israel’s borders because he has not facilitated real diplomacy. A Kerry presidency will encourage diplomacy – it’s one of Mr. Kerry’s stated goals.
Bill Clinton, whom Mr. Koch admires, came very close to achieving an internationally recognized border between Israel and the Palestinians. Had he been successful, it would have completely undermined the Palestinians? claim to be living under “occupation” and the world would no longer treat them as freedom fighters.
Kerry would be better for Israel than Bush. Kerry would try hard to complete the Clinton initiatives.
I’m sure the one-and-a-half million Jewish children slaughtered by Hitler are comforted with the knowledge that they died because their parents and grandparents “talked and socialized” in shul.
Armed with his exclusive direct line to Heaven, reader Yoseph Gross (Letters, Aug. 20) seems challenged by the notion of humility. There always will be some who maintain that the Holocaust was a result of Jews transgressing the laws of the Torah – Divine Retribution
based on several Torah warnings (Leviticus 26; Deut. 28) that the response to widespread violation of God’s laws will be Divine curses. But Rabbi Yeshaya Karelitz (the Chazon
Ish), a Holocaust survivor with more credibility than Mr. Gross, challenges, in an extraordinary statement (Yoreh Deah, Hilchot Shechitah 2:16) this gloomy conclusion:
“(Such laws) only applied at times when the Divine Presence was clearly revealed such as in the days when there were open miracles, and a Heavenly Voice was heard and when the righteous would operate under direct Divine intervention which could be observed by anybody. Then the heretics were of a special deviousness, bending their evil inclination towards immoral desires and licentiousness.
“In such days there was (the need) to remove this kind of wickedness from the world, since everybody knew that it would bring Divine retribution to the world (including) drought, pestilence and famine. But at the time of “Divine hiding,” in which faith has become weak in people, there is no purpose in taking such action (harsh measurements against heretics and violators), in fact it has the reverse effect and will only increase their lawlessness and be
viewed as the coercion and violence (of religious fanatics.)”
This statement is very important, and ties in with an observation of Rashi’s that the expression “His work is perfect” must be understood to mean that God would never “overreact,” that His judgments would be tempered and balanced, stirred with compassion and sweetened with
The Chazon Ish differentiates between that ancient generation – one of miracles and faith, when not to believe was deliberate rebellion and vicious heresy, and therefore worthy of Divine punishment – and his generation – one of secularism, doubt, confusion, little faith and less knowledge, breaking the Covenant not from deliberate malice but in ignorance and, therefore, despite Mr. Gross’s offensive hypothesis, totally undeserving of any Heavenly wrath.