web analytics
January 17, 2017 / 19 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘divestment’

To the Chagrin of Some Jews, Presbyterians Denounce Divestment – #BDSFail

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Surprising everyone, but mostly its own rank and file, the largest Presbyterian group in the United States on Thursday rejected by only a razor-thin margin a proposal to divest from three companies that do business with Israel. (IUpdate: As we go into Shabbat in Israel, there are rumors about a motion to reconsider).

The official announcement of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church reads:

“After two hours of debate and presentations Thursday night (July 5), the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) said no to divestment as part of its position on peace in the Middle East.”

After the second vote on Monday, in which Resolution 15-10 to divest from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions had easily passed , anti-Israel advocates were certain that the divestment (BDS) proposal, Resolution 15-10, was going to easily pass in the third and final vote, and took a major hit when the proposal failed in a 333-331 vote with 2 abstentions.

On Thursday, one Caterpillar employee “choked up”during the debates as he defended his company from the calls to divest from it.

Electronic Initifada , an anti-Israeli advocacy site had previously announced:

[Divestment by the Presbyterian Church] would be a historic and valuable victory for the growing global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

But the crown jewel of the BDS drive organizers, the Israel Palestine Mission Network, is their proud list of bone fida Jewish organizations and individuals who have made the economic strangling of Israel their highest goal.

Rebecca Vilkomerson, writing for Jewish Voice for Peace, celebrated the “biggest U.S. victory yet for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement,” as “over the objection of Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), pension giant TIAA-CREF’s Social Choice Funds have divested from Caterpillar.”

Except that their claim of BDS success at TIAA-CREF is a false boast. IAA-CREF decision was based on a downgraded rating given by MSCI ESG Research.

MSCI ESG Research stated:

“[They have] assessed this [Israel-Palestinian] human rights controversy since 2004. This controversy has been incorporated in the rating since then and, as such, did not trigger the ratings downgrade in February 2012.”

Meanwhile, so-called Rabbis Margaret Holub, Brant Rosen, Alissa Wise, Julie Greenberg, Michael Feinberg, Michael Davis, Rachel Barenblatt, Lynn Gottleib, Laurie Zimmerman, Rebecca Alpert, Joseph Berman, David Mivasair, Borukh Goldberg, Meryl Crean, Howard A Cohen, Mordechai Liebling, Elizabeth Bolton, Everett Gendler, Michael Lerner, and Leonard Beerman, sent an “Open Letter to the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church (USA)”:

We are aware that the Jewish Council on Public Affairs (JCPA) has unleashed a powerful campaign to dissuade you, and consequently dissuade the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church (USA) from moving forward with their well-considered divestment campaign…

As Jewish leaders, we believe the JCPA’s stance against church divestment does not represent the broader consensus of the American Jewish community. There is in fact a growing desire within the North American Jewish community to end our silence over Israel’s oppressive occupation of Palestine…

…However, even if the American Jewish community were unanimously opposed to such phased selective divestment by your Church – which is not at all the case – we believe it is still important that you move forward with the thoughtful multi-year process which your Church has begun.

And Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, also from the Jewish Voice for Peace, wrote in June that the reason for supporting the boycott on companies doing business in Israel is because:

Most Jews and Christians are not willing to go to Palestine to personally resist Israeli policies of land confiscation, home demolition, destruction of trees and property, military invasion, denial of freedom of movement, administrative detention or the arrest of children through nonviolent protest. Most Jews and Christians do not travel to Israel to work for an end to the blockade of Gaza and are not shot when they try to harvest their wheat or fish in the sea.

The list of Jews willing to distort history, reality, facts, and context, in service of the enemies of Israel is astonishingly long, and, not surprisingly, there is no discernible difference in style or approach between the anti-Israeli statements made by Arabs and by these Jews.

Except that, once again, like in the divestment battle in the United Methodist Church and the Episcopal Church, the BDS movement did not have a victory to claim.

But the battle is not over in the Presbyterian’s Middle East committee:

“The Assembly’s work continues on Middle East issues on Friday. The committee’s recommendations to boycott all products that are made in occupied Palestinian territory and sold by Israeli companies and to not use the word “apartheid” to describe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are two of the items that will be considered.”

In the meantime, a more bland and unbiased proposal replaced the BDS proposal, and it easily passed by 369-290 with 8 abstentions, recognizing “the tragedy of the situation in Israel and calls for engagement at all levels of society for a solution (to the Israel-Palestine conflict).”

Incidentally,  the Assembly voted 572-127 to approve a recommendation on the “peaceful engagement of Iran regarding the potential of nuclear weapons.”

We assume they’ll send them flowers.

Finally, these young Jews, at least one of them baptized Christian, advocate the BDS message with a cheerfulness and self assurance (as many of them read from a script to the side of the camera) that must keep their grandparents in excellent physical shape as they roll over in their graves…

Stephen Leavitt

Methodists Won’t Support Divestment from Israel

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

The general conference of the United Methodist Church voted not to divest from three companies that trade with Israel.

Two-thirds of the approximately 1,000 delegates to the conference voted Wednesday in Tampa, Fla., against a motion to divest from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard.

Divestment advocates claim that products manufactured by these companies are used to repress Palestinians.

The conference passed motions opposing Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, recommending the boycott of products manufactured in settlements, and supporting investment in the Palestinian economy.

Language that would have affirmed the Kairos Document prepared by Palestinian Christians endorsing divestment and boycotts and upholding armed resistance was removed from resolutions before they reached the floor.

A number of groups, including one called United Methodist Kairos Response, had lobbied for the divestment language.

Alex Joyner,  the spokesman United Methodists for Constructive Peacemaking in Israel and Palestine, said in a statement that his group “had been actively opposing divestment and encouraging the more productive approach of negotiations and positive investments.”


Methodist Conference Could Vote on Israel Divestment Motion

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Close to 1,000 delegates from around the world, representing 11-million members, are gathered at the 2012 United Methodist General Conference being held in the Tampa, Florida.

Throughout the 11-day session, delegates will debate the future of the Methodist church, which has experienced a significant participation decline in the United States. Over the last 40 years, US membership has dropped to 8 million, according to church officials.

Four years ago, the conference rejected a divestment motion. But the issue is being pushed again by anti-Israel members, objecting to “illegal settlements, segregated roads, checkpoints, a separation wall, home demolitions and other realities of occupation.”

Jewish Press News Briefs

Methodist Church Unanimously Rejects Divestment Resolution

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

The United Methodist General Board of Pension and Health Benefits (GBPHB) voted unanimously against divestment from three companies which do business in Judea, Samaria, and the Golan Heights, according to a report by the Israel Action Network, a project of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett-Packard came under attack by several bodies within the United Methodist Church, which recommended the religious organization sell all their shares in the companies.

GBPHB commended the companies for their human rights policies and codes of conduct.  The Caterpillar Company was acknowledged for providing equipment which “improves the lives of the Palestinian people,” according to the Israel Action Network report.  It was also noted that Caterpillar does not sell construction equipment to Israel, but rather to the US Foreign Military Sales Program.  Hewlett-Packard was complimented on its record of environmental friendliness, and Motorola Solutions was praised for its work in conflict areas such as Eastern Congo.

The Methodist vote took an opposite approach from that of the Presbyterian Church, which voted in 2004 to divest from Israeli companies.  In June of that year, the Presbyterian Church General Assembly issued one resolution stating that “the occupation… has proven to be at the root of evil acts”, and another calling on the US government to prevent Israel from building a separation barrier.  The assembly also adopted policies rejecting Christian Zionism.  In 2006, the Presbyterian Church backtracked, stating that it would only invest in companies involved in peaceful work in Israel and Arab occupied territories.

The World Council of Churches and United Church of Christ have also adopted divestment policies.  The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America rejected a pro-divestment resolution in 2005.

Malkah Fleisher

The Disingenuousness Of Divestment

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

The recent call by NYU’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) for TIAA-CREF to divest holdings in targeted companies doing business in Israel is part of a troubling trend that exposes dangerous radicalism on campuses disguised as efforts at achieving social justice.

In 2010, for instance, student-led groups at both UC San Diego and UC Berkeley introduced initiatives to demonize Israel once again in the court of world opinion. One effort, disingenuously named “UCSD Divest for Peace,” was aimed at divesting university funds from U.S. companies which benefit Israel and which take a “non-neutral financial stance in the occupation of Palestinian territories.”

The Berkeley initiative, endorsed by 41 students groups in March 2010 and cynically named “A Bill in Support of UC Divestment From [Israeli] War Crimes” was promoted by an anti-Israel effort named the “U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.”

The latest NYU effort, an “Open Letter to TIAA-CREF CEO and President Roger W. Ferguson from NYU Faculty and Staff,” signed by over 70 members of the NYU community, has as its purpose “to pressure TIAA-CREF into divesting its holdings in 5 key companies which profit from the illegal Israeli occupation and oppression of the Palestinians.”

It has at its core the same baseless accusations and libels against Israel, namely, that a company like Caterpillar “sells the bulldozers used by the IDF to destroy Palestinian homes, infrastructure, and fruit and olive trees;” Elbit Systems provides “drones used to kill Palestinian and Lebanese civilians;” Northrop Grumman builds weaponry that “Israel needs to defend itself from crowds of children throwing stones;” Veolia “operates a light-rail system linking Israel’s illegal settlements to Jerusalem;” and Motorola “manufactures surveillance equipment for Israeli checkpoints” [emphasis added]. Advertisement

These companies, it is asserted by SJP, are not only complicit in the slaughter and oppression of the completely innocent Palestinians, but the firms profit, in an immoral and rapacious way, from the suffering caused by their occupation and dispossession.

Clearly, there is no historical context to these outrageous claims, no moral balance, no acknowledgement of Israel’s existential threats from Hamas, Hezbollah, and other of its genocidal neighbors – only condemnation for being an oppressive, racist, murderous colonial settler state, illegal, in the view of activists, under international law.

This core sentiment has come to define the Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the notion that the repeated defamation of Israel will result in its eventual expulsion from the supposed civilized community of nations. But the call for divestment is merely a tactic through which Israel will be marginalized, and eventually extirpated, as a pariah state with no moral justification for existing.

Thus, Students for Justice in Palestine, which gives public expression to notions of “social justice” for everyone in the Middle East but actually means justice for the Palestinians alone, admits, when pushed, that the sole underlying purpose of its calls for divestment is not, as is frequently though falsely described as creating a Palestinian state that will exist “side by side with Israel in peace,” but actually as a new entity that will either economically, militarily, or demographically subsume Israel.

The moral benefit to casting the Palestinians as the perennial victims, of course, is that it makes it easy for SJP and other apologists for terror to justify homicidal aggression against Jewish targets as a legitimate means of “resistance” to occupation – a legitimacy they claim as a right under the intellectually contorted precepts of international law, which has given NGOs, stateless actors, and radical movements the same rights as democracies engaging in self-defense.

SJP and others repeatedly use this intellectual ploy to promiscuously demonize Israel, not to mention to justify terrorism as an acceptable tool in the Palestinian struggle for self-determination. “Resistance is justified when people are occupied!” screamed SJP demonstrators at an NYU rally held last April.

“Divestment campaigns and requests for institutional divestment,” a University of Wisconsin guide for BDS radicals reveals, “provide debate material that places Palestine solidarity groups in the most favorable position to present their case. No other form of activism has generated as much debate and attention towards the plight of the Palestinians as does divestment. No other approach has presented the Palestinian struggle in a more positive light than does divestment.”

Richard L. Cravatts

Letters To The Editor

Friday, September 5th, 2003

High On Zion

Sidney Zion’s front-page essay (‘The Palestine Problem: It’s All In A Name,’ Jewish Press, Aug. 1) was one of the most thought-provoking articles I’ve read in a long, long time. Like I’m sure many other Jewish Press readers, I always argued that there’s no such thing as a Palestinian people while at the same time I insisted that Jordan is Palestine.

But as Mr. Zion so brilliantly demonstrated, it’s a self-defeating argument. Jordan is the artificial entity that sits on four-fifths of the land mass known as Palestine. If we – Israelis and American Jews – had only publicized this concept starting thirty and forty years ago, the Middle East might look a whole lot different now.

Harold Nanes
Bellmore, NY

Their Own Words

Hooray for Sidney Zion and his wonderfully enlightening article. In doing some research a while back, I came across two quotes which reinforce Mr. Zion’s argument and demonstrate that there was a time when the Jordanians themselves were openly saying the same thing:

“We here in Jordan, led by our great king, are the government of Palestine, the army of Palestine, and we are the refugees.” – Jordanian Prime Minister Hazza El-Majali, 1959

“Those organizations which seek to differentiate between Palestinians and Jordanians are traitors who help Zionism in its aim of splitting the Arab camp.” – King Hussein, 1965

Betsy Rasmussen
San Diego, CA

Apt Location

I find it interesting that the San Francisco book store selling the vile anti-Israel, anti-Semitic material, as reported by Benjamin Pitt in your Aug. 1 issue, is located on a street named for the late ‘Beat’ writer Jack Kerouac – an anti-Semite whose Jew-baiting statements would make Nixon and Truman blush. It’s true that Kerouac was a friend of the late poet Alan Ginsberg, but the latter was a Jewish apostate and kapo who worshiped at the feet of the
American traitor and Nazi sympathizer Ezra Pound.

Joe Adams
Hillsdale, NJ

Early Marriage

I see plenty of people discussing problems regarding youth in the frum community. Perhaps we should consider that the problems we are facing arise largely from the fact that in the Jewish
community we are marrying as late as we are. Chazal say in many places that a father who is yirat Hashem will see to marrying his daughters off at an early age. Similarly the Gemara discusses quite clearly at what age a bachur should marry. I can’t quite figure out why we have come to the place where we are now, and why no is looking at this as a very clear reason for the problems we have.

Pinhas Hatch

Proud Parents Of Olim

Our younger daughter, her husband and their six children made aliyah with the Nefesh b’Nefesh group last month. Many of our friends have asked us how we feel about it. Of course we will miss them, but we fully support their decision.

They will now be so very far away. Our faces reveal the strain of worrying each day about the safety and security of our children and grandchildren. We have but two daughters – and our older one made aliyah almost fourteen years ago.

Our younger daughter and our son-in-law, together with their six beautiful children, firmly believe that the time is ripe for realizing the biblical dream of living in Israel. Their youthful vigor and unflagging faith in Hashem inspired them to follow their hearts. They left behind not only material comforts, but family, friends and the cumulative experience of many years living in the U.S.

They are undeterred by the staggering problems facing veteran Israelis, let alone new olim. They believe that the destiny of the Jewish people is waiting to be fulfilled in Israel right now. Their decision to make aliyah is a validation of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

As political activists on behalf of Israel, we spend countless hours keeping up with the day-by-day, if not hour-by-hour, events as they unfold in Israel. The continued violence fueled by Arab hatred of Jews imperils every innocent Israeli and has so battered Israel’s economy that one-third of its population lives below the poverty line. Why then are North American Jews like our daughter and her family making aliyah at this point in time?

The answer lies in the dynamic pull of Zionism buttressed by emunah – faith in Hashem. These young Jews are going home. For Eileen, Eric and the Polly children, the dream of fulfilling the
ancient call of b’shana ha-ba’a b’Yerushalayim is about to become a reality.

May Hashem watch over them and over all Israel in these troubled times.

Israel Rubin
Manalapan, NJ

Bike Helmets A Must

Re Lessons in Emunah, July 25:

”The Right Place at the Right Time” needs a very important sub-headline – ”Not All Of Us Are So Lucky.” My brother, a”h, was not. He was killed while riding a bike without a helmet. The author concludes, ”Unfortunately, these situations aren’t entirely avoidable.” True – but we have to do our hishtadlus – wearing a bike helmet is an absolute must.

Everyone who rides a bike, young and old, should wear a helmet – even in the bungalow colony or when riding on a path off the road. Please do it in my brother’s memory (l’zecher nishmas Tzvi Aryeh, z”l, ben Aharon Dov Rosenbaum); his 32nd yahrzeit is 12 Menachem Av.

Chana Senter
Teaneck, NJ

Still Talking About ‘Troubles In The Hood’

The Real Sinat Chinam

I just finished reading all the letters to the editor regarding people in Boro Park not saying
‘Good Shabbos’ (Jewish Press, July 25). Most of the letters stated that this is “sinat chinam,” and that as we are in the Three Weeks, we must do something about it.

I’m puzzled. To whose sinat chinam are we referring? To that of the people of Boro Park?
Maybe they’re not polite, maybe they’re rude, but sinat chinam?!

No, the sinat chinam comes from individuals who smear a whole neighborhood and a whole way of life. Is it true that nobody in Boro Park says “Good Shabbos”? Nobody? Not even one person? Or is it sinat chinam that causes the writers to say so?

Do the writers think that people in Tel Aviv (a city that’s neither chassidish nor ultra-Orthodox) all greet each other and say ‘Hello’ or ‘Good Shabbos’? Maybe it’s because it’s a big city and everybody becomes anonymous, but I can’t imagine any of the letter-writers complaining about how terrible the people in Tel Aviv are! So why Boro Park? Isn’t that sinat chinam?

Did any of these writers even stop to think of how much ahavat chinam there is in these communities? Have any of them, G-d forbid, found themselves in a hospital and been serviced by the volunteer Bikur Cholim societies?

All a patient has to do is call Satmar Bikur Cholim, and in no time a chassidic lady delivers a
home-cooked meal, even on erev Pesach. They don’t ask if you?re Modern Orthodox, yeshivish, or ultra-Orthodox. All they ask is “What else can I do for you?” And all this is done voluntarily, with no pay-ment expected.

In the same issue of The Jewish Press, readers wrote in about the financial hardship caused by the prohibitive cost of infertility treatments. Well, there exists in Boro Park a terrific organization, run by chassidic women, that helps such people pay their bills. And do they ask
“Who are you? Are you modern? Are you chassidic?” No – you are a Jew in need and they
are there to help you.

I think that ultimately the geulah will come in the merit of all the good people in every community who devote their time to helping their fellow Jews.

Pearl Silberfarb
(Via E-Mail)

To Each His (Her) Own

The “Troubles in the Hood” series in the Letters to the Editor section has addressed two issues that – although they could relate to one another – are separate ones. It all started with a “Cold Neighbors” letter in the July 4 issue, written by a disillusioned neighborhood newcomer, Rochel Frankel.

Aside from her personal grievance, let’s tell it like it is – neighbors are as varied as the styles of
homes they choose to live in. Some neighbors need other neighbors like some require a cup of coffee to get through their mornings. Others prefer to carry on in a private manner without the input or interference of any neighbor. It may just be the differing natures among people, or simply a reflection of their varying lifestyles. Whereas one may be living the easy and social life, with plenty of free time on hand, another could be struggling to get through demanding days, and the last thing he or she has the time or stamina for is the intrusive “friendly neighbor.”

Having said a mouthful, I must admit that a warm smile to a new next-door neighbor should
have been forthcoming and could not possibly have been a burden to the bearer. Yet, one might consider the fact that shyness is often mistaken for snobbiness, and that people whose language and/or culture differs from their general environment may actually be displaying a timidity that can be misread as a rebuff.

Rochel Frankel writes in her letter, “I’d like to address these people directly for a moment.” Perhaps she should have done so – face-to-face. It may have served to bring down the imagined barriers and to break the ice.

Pertaining to the “Silent Streets” controversy, Rabbi Yaakov Silver was kind enough to come to the defense of those taken to task in absentia for their ‘silent treatment.’ I, in turn, would like to give him his due. As a suburbanite, I’ve been consistently subjected to personal greetings on
Shabbosim and Yomim-Tovim. While I respond in kind, I can readily accept not being so greeted on the busy streets of Brooklyn. Like Rabbi Silver explains, it could be cumbersome to greet literally dozens of passersby. And should I be strolling in the company of family members or a friend, we would hardly be getting a word in edgewise to one another. I’d sooner disregard the persons with whom I have no correlation, than to neglect sharing and bonding with loved ones.

(In days of yore, families were fewer, cities were smaller, and one’s grandmother was everyone’s grandmother. Hence, it was accepted practice and proper etiquette to greet one another. Possibly, the small enclaves outside New York City are influenced by a parallel supposition.)

As for when I walk by myself – yes, more often than not, it is a time for contemplation, for
introspection, and for reverie. Truth be told, I’ve frequently been startled by a familiar voice rousing me from my abstraction. Whereas I wouldn’t go so far as to categorize myself as being in a lofty state of mind, my male counterpart has often lamented the intrusion he is subjected to – especially from female origin – on his Shabbosdik spiritual ‘state of awe’ trek home from shul.

Interestingly, not one letter thus far has addressed the halachic issue of women greeting men and vice-versa. Many are unaware that it is totally improper for a woman or man to greet a
male/female stranger (or to initiate chitchat). ‘Ein shoalim b’shalom isha klal… afilu al yedei shliach v’afilu baala issur l’shalom lah divrei shlomim…’; ‘One is not to convey greeting to a woman whatsoever… even through a messenger and even through her husband it is forbidden to send words of greeting…’ – Shulchan Aruch, Eben Haezer, Siman 21; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 152; Gemara Kiddushin, Daf 70.

As for the younger and more vulnerable (single) generation, the Internet chat rooms and other inappropriate meeting places are creating enough havoc and harm in our society today. Is it
necessary to additionally impart to them the message that it is ethically permissible to make
overtures to strangers in the guise of being friendly?

A personal observation on the ‘neighbor’ topic, if I may; Though I found some of my neighbors in my previous Brooklyn neighborhood to be overtly nosy and irksome, those where I currently reside are graciously there when you need them, yet considerately respectful of one’s
privacy – which is one’s right.

So, in conclusion, as with so many other things in life, moderation may be the key and common sense the order of the day. No rhyme or reason for coldness (female to female/male to male), and no need to overdo the friendly bit. For while it may be your cup of tea, it may not be your neighbor’s.

Rachel Weiss
(Via E-Mail)

Derech Eretz And Torah

At first I thought I might take offense at the boorish letter of Rabbi Yaakov Silver regarding the issue of saying ‘Good Shabbos’ to fellow Jews. However, I then realized that this lack of social etiquette is to be expected from someone like him. After all, one learns proper social behavior through exposure to, and interaction, with the larger society within which one lives.

Given that elements of the right-wing yeshiva world are almost literally walling themselves off
from society, where would they have the opportunity to learn appropriate social graces? The
behaviors that are stressed are almost exclusively ‘external’ – wearing an oversized, wide brimmed black hat, a white on white shirt, no shoes with laces on Shabbos, etc.

As for Rabbi Silver’s claim to be in such awe – please, sir, don’t compound your boorishness
with an outright fabrication. Remember, if there is no derech eretz there is no Torah.

Robert Solomon
Brooklyn, NY

Letters Making Impact

I have been following the exchange of letters in The Jewish Press about kindness and civility in
our community with great interest. I would first like to report that since this exchange started not too long ago, my friends and I have been detecting changes as far as people being friendlier to one another and saying ‘Good Shabbos.’

In addition, I chanced upon a website devoted to this issue which I thought might be of interest to other readers. The site, Operation Refuah (www.operationrefuah.org), was founded as a practical effort to spread Ahavas Yisrael in response to the tragedies and illnesses hitting Jewish communities.

Shira Glazer
Brooklyn, NY

On Holding Back Criticism

After perusing the July 25 issue of The Jewish Press, I experienced an epiphany, for I was the
stereotypical ultra-fervent, bigoted, black-hatted, Brooklyn Jew who, as your readers astutely noted, would never exchange Shabbos greetings with those of a lesser pedigree.

Not saying “Gut Shabbos” was the least egregious of my iniquities. If I saw someone not properly attired, or, even worse, wearing a kippah serugah, I would mutter imprecations, and if I found myself within an eiruv deemed kosher by my rebbe, the heiliger Shpielkuntzener, I was not above hurling stones with malicious intent. And the saddest part: I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong, because all my friends were similarly inclined, products of an intolerant yeshiva system, brainwashed by our parents to look askance at any Jew cut from a different mold.

But after reading the letters, I recognized how shameful my actions were. I realized that I was
hurting fellow Jews and this divisiveness was largely responsible for detaining Moshiach. I made immediate and drastic changes.

Abandoning my shtiebel I went to a Young Israel last Shabbos and – can you believe it? –
was called to read the prayer for the State of Israel, in English no less! I’m a new man and it’s
all… a complete put-on.

The depiction of a Brooklyn yeshiva world that produces dogmatic automatons seems to be
gaining momentum, and it must be categorically refuted. Undeniably, there are Jews who fit this description, but they are dwarfed in their numbers by those who practice innumerable and
immeasurable acts of chesed with no regard for one’s religious affiliation. These facts go
unmentioned, because those who impugn have an agenda: they disdain the Torah world and this latest charge is simply a pretext to release their venom.

If the criticism was meant to be constructive, it should have been couched as follows: “My
dearest brothers, we have the utmost respect and admiration for your mesiras nefesh in learning and performing mitzvos, but there is an area which could be improved – Ahavas Yisroel. You’re likely unaware that our feelings have been ruffled, but a friendly smile breaks down walls of mistrust.”

Of late a number of horrific tragedies have befallen our community. Rather than publicizing
flaws and creating Heavenly accusers, we must look for ways to judge our fellow Jews favorably. The Gemara relates an occasion where Rabbi Akiva’s prayers were accepted over his colleagues’ and explains that the tanna was maavir es midosov – he overlooked insults.

No one should justify boorish behavior, but those who rise above the fray are viewed most
favorably On High. When you get right down to it, isn’t that what life for a Jew is all about?

(Dr.) Yaakov Stern
Brooklyn, NY

Something’s Not Kosher About Survivors’ Gathering

In an age where the absurd and illogical are commonplace, there are events and experiences
that shout out at you and make you stop. Several weeks ago I had such an experience.

It started out innocently enough. I receive a newspaper called Together, printed by the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors. On the back was an announcement of an event scheduled to take place at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., this November. The ad read, ”Under the auspices of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on the occasion of the opening of the Museum and remembering the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943. The reunion of a special family.”

Since my mother, Hadasa Lesman, was in the ghetto, my husband and I were interested in
attending. I called the American Gathering and spoke to Mr. Ben Meed. We had several
conversations from January until May about what the itinerary for the memorial would be. My last conversation with Mr. Meed left me upset and disturbed.

Mr. Meed said there was a dinner planned as part of the event. When I asked if it would be
kosher, I was given an emphatic ‘NO.’ Mr. Meed went on to tell me that it was too expensive. He said there would be dairy food and vegetables. If I wanted a kosher dinner, he informed me, I could order one in advance, like an airline dinner.

I could hardly believe my ears. I questioned him further, and he was adamant about it being
‘too expensive.’ ‘

Mr. Meed informed me his parents were religious and that he knows about kosher food. He
then asked me if I were Lubavitch or had something to sell. The conversation went on a
while longer, but with no resolution.

I believe it’s a serious problem when an organization claiming to represent a ”Jewish” cause knowingly and without shame has a function that goes against Jewish law.

Holocaust survivors have always been a beacon of strength and pride in our community. Many of them came from observant homes. They raised good, upstanding children, many of whom
have become communal leaders. However, there is something wrong about these same leaders and survivors disregarding Jewish law – and not even on moral or theological grounds, but because ”it’s too much money.”

I believe the leadership of the Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors has to do some deep
soul-searching about what they are all about. It’s not enough to preserve the ”memory” of the event while forgetting that the goal of the Nazis was the destruction of our people and our way of life.

In order for this gathering to feel like it is a ”reunion for a special family,” we all need to be
able to come the table and feel welcome.

Malkah Kaplan
(Via E-Mail)

So You Want Divestment, Do You?

This is addressed to all those who are advocating a divestment of ties with Israel and a boycott of Israeli products. Most Israeli exports are in the high-tech and agricultural fields. Boycotting sardines, wine, and oranges is easy and may have an impact on the Israeli small businessman and farmer. It’s not so easy, however, to identify the technologies exported. But if divestment proponents are really serious, it’s important to look at those major exports.

Israel has the largest concentration of high technology firms in the world outside of Silicon
Valley. Tremendous research and product development is generated. As a start to the divestment campaign, I believe it necessary for you advocates to begin at home by changing your lifestyle. Divest yourselves of the technological exports from Israel. Only then can you develop the credibility to call on others to join this boycott.

First, discard your cell phones; he technology was developed by Motorola Israel. Make sure you don’t use Pentium MMX or Windows NT technology. You will need to disable your Internet chat capability, which originated with AOL Instant Messenger, developed in Israel. This shouldn’t be too much of a burden on you because you can go back to old-fashioned phone calls and letters. Unfortunately, you will also have to disable your computerized telephone messaging capability, another technology developed in Israel. You can, however, go back to using cassette tape recorders.

Your personal divestment campaign becomes more complicated if you have to go to the hospital. What will you do about all the medical technology developed in Israel? Make sure you tell the staff not to use the capsule-encased video camera for internal probes. You’ll have to go back to the old way of uncomfortable and undignified probes. And make sure your doctors don’t use the computerized system for the administration of medications or non-radiation diagnosis techniques for breast cancer. You will also have to work closely with your
doctors to avoid many of the heart disease treatments that were developed in Israel.

Prepare to be inconvenienced and deprived in other areas as well, such as buying produce. I’m not talking of produce from Israel but fruits, vegetables and flowers produced with Israeli-
developed technology such as drip irrigation and the raising of crops under plastic as a means of conserving water. If your divestment campaign takes hold in this area, your water bills will
skyrocket – but, hey, it’s only money. The real difficulty will arise when you try to trace which
foods in your local supermarket were grown with this water-conserving Israeli technology.

Solar-powered hot water is also an Israeli technology, but you can always still heat your
water with electricity produced by coal or oil.

Bear in mind that the above is only a partial inventory; it does not include Israeli technologies
used in other areas such as the military, airport security and satellite imaging.

I’m simply asking that you divestment types start changing your individual lifestyles
accordingly if you want credibility in enforcing such a boycott. Of course, you can always try to find similar technologies developed in Arab nations. Unfortunately, you’ll find such a quest
quite difficult.

William Barker
Arlington, VA

Letters to the Editor

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/letters-to-the-editor/letters-to-the-editor-25/2003/09/05/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: