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Posts Tagged ‘Jewish Week’

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: Obama’s Doublespeak On Russian Missile Defense and Israel

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

President Obama’s recent open mic comments to President Medvedev of Russia are troubling, which explains why Obama and the White House have decided to make light of them. It seems that every time a microphone captures the President in unscripted remarks, he’s saying something that contradicts his own public pronouncements.

There was the famous incident in November, 2011, when French President Nicolas Sarkozy, not knowing his microphone was hot, expressed his contempt for Prime Minister Netanyahu, calling him a liar, with President Obama jumping in to commiserate, lamenting the fact that he has to deal with Netanyahu even more than the French.

And now comes Obama’s comments about a missile defense treaty with Russia where the President tells Medvedev that he and Putin have to give him “space” until his reelection when he’ll have far greater “flexibility,” presumably because he no longer has to answer to the American people.

A great debate has been waged this year as to whether President Obama is reliably pro-Israel and deserves the support of the pro-Israel community. The president made his case to AIPAC by listing a long record of promoting military and intelligence cooperation with the Jewish State, arguing that “I have Israel’s back.” While I have personally praised the President for that cooperation and other support shown Israel, there is more to the story, and he knows it.

For the first three years of his presidency, Obama basically declared Israel’s settlements to be illegitimate, put near-unilateral pressure on Israel to make peace without any expectations from the Palestinian side, declared at a speech that was supposed to be about the Arab Spring that Israel should return to its indefensible 1967 borders–albeit with land swaps, treated Prime Minister Netanyahu shamefully at a March 2010 meeting where he refused even a photo op with the elected leader of the Middle East’s only democracy, and had Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dress down the Prime Minister before that meeting, leaking the harsh tone of the conversation to the media.

Ever since his self-confessed ‘shellacking’ during the mid-term elections, part of which was due to his perceived unfriendliness to the Jewish state, the President decided to make nice with Bibi and treat him with the same respect he accords other world leaders, albeit without the warmth of the two-armed embrace he reserved for Hugo Chavez or the bow he accorded the King of Saudi Arabia.

At the UN in September, 2011 the President strongly supported Israel against a Palestinian attempt at unilateral statehood. The President deserves credit for the effort. Then, he talked tough on Iran and imposed even greater sanctions, although he has yet to define any red lines that would invoke a military strike. The President has gotten much better in his posture vis-à-vis Israel and he is winning back Jewish support as a result.

But here is the all-important question. Why? Why has he suddenly changed in showing Israel unalloyed support?

I am not one who believes in ascribing insincere motivation to others. I judge people on their actions. But based on his actions, rather than his rhetoric, I believe the answer to the President’s new posture towards Israel lies in his words to President Medvedev. He has no ‘flexibility’ before an election in which Jewish votes and financial support are critical to what will be a very close race. And therefore, after the election, he cannot be trusted to refrain from exerting undue pressure on Israel to consummate a peace deal that will likely not lead to peace but will simply compromise Israel’s security.

And herein lies my mystification at the bizarre story of fifteen presidents of orthodox Synagogues in Passaic encouraging their congregants to switch registration to Democrat in order to vote for Steve Rothman over Bill Pascrell in the upcoming Democratic primary in New Jersey’s ninth district.  This is because Pascrell is perceived to be less friendly to Israel since, among other considerations, he was one of 54 Congressman who signed the J-Street letter criticizing Israel’s blockade of Gaza. Now leaving aside the questionable ethics of the advice, are they seriously suggesting that any Democratic supporter of President Obama is going to be as sound on Israel as, say, Republican Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor who both invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress?

The Daily Beast quoted me last week as saying that President Obama is a strong friend of the Jewish people and that anyone who speaks of him as anti-Semitic is guilty of character assassination. I stand by that quote. President Obama has elevated committed Jews like Dan Shapiro to be our Ambassador to Israel, and orthodox Jews like Jack Lew to be his Chief of Staff.  But being a great friend of the Jewish people does not automatically make you a great friend of Israel. After all, President Obama has yet to even visit Israel as President. And yet, the principal problem with President Obama is his belief that Israeli intransigence, rather than, say, Islamist terror or Palestinian rejection of Israel as a Jewish state, is the principal obstacle to peace in the Middle East. In this sense President Obama follows in the footsteps of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton – Israeli toughness, rather than Palestinian rejection of Israel’s right to exist, is the principal cause for the continuation of the conflict.

Letters To The Editor

Friday, February 20th, 2004

Case Study

Memo to reader Joan Borenstein, whose anti-Bush rant was an amazing case study in liberal denial (‘Jail to the Chief?’ Letters, Jan. 16):

The governments of Germany, Russia, France, England, Israel and China were in agreement with the U.S. that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. The Clinton administration was convinced Iraq not only had WMD, but would use them sooner or later.

Most of the Democratic presidential nominees, along with nearly all of their party’s leaders, believed Saddam was stockpiling WMD. I’m referring to Dick Gephardt, Wesley Clark, Joe Lieberman, John Kerry, Tom Daschle, and even Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton.

It may turn out that the intelligence information of so many nations was inaccurate, but with all the evidence seemingly pointing to a ruthless, expansionist tyrant with an ever-increasing arsenal, it was necessary to remove that tyrant from power once and for all. And if by so doing we sent a message to the other despots, warlords and terror masters in the region, all the better.

I worked very hard to help defeat President George H.W. Bush in 1992. I plan to work just as hard to help ensure his son’s reelection later this year.

Elliott Mintz
(Via E-Mail)


Enemies ‘R’ Us

I was dumbfounded at the concerns raised by Joan Borenstein in her letter to the editor. She’s concerned about what she alleges is harsh treatment accorded to Muslims in the U.S. after Sept. 11, 2001. She is further infuriated by President Bush’s refusal to actively push Israelis to make concessions, ala the Geneva Accord or some other monstrosity paraded around the world by non-elected representatives of Israel. And she is most aggrieved that this president had the gall to alienate the Arab world by his ‘disrespectful treatment of the elected leader of the Palestinian people, Mr. Arafat.’

I don’t know what to do first - laugh or cry. Is she serious? Does she really think that moral, thinking people should worry whether proper respect is being accorded the godfather of modern terrorism, whose aim is the annihilation of all Jews (be they left, right or center; secular or religious)?

Instead of concentrating all her energies on fighting the Islamofascists, she is concerned about their fair treatment! I have come to the sad conclusion that many of our fellow Jews are indeed
our worst enemies. Their self-hatred, and their driving need to castigate themselves for just being alive, will doom us all.

Adina Kutnicki
Elmwood Park, NJ


Disagrees On Powell

Re your Jan. 16 editorial ‘The Secretary’s Message’:

I certainly do not agree that Secretary of State Powell’s defense of Prime Minster Sharon’s policy regarding the security fence is a message to the Palestinians that time is running out for them.

The fact that Powell unequivocally placed the blame for the lack of progress toward negotiations at the doorstep of the Palestinian Authority was, of course, most welcome. If the past is any guide, however, we will soon be getting a dose of equivocation from Mr. Powell, and that is what the Palestinians expect.

Shifra Silver
(Via E-Mail)


Liberty Controversy

It is inconceivable to me that documents that prove that Israel did not intentionally target the USS Liberty would have been locked up in a safe somewhere for almost 40 years (news story and editorial, Jan. 16). More than likely they have been doctored – or perhaps even created – in order to make a political point now.

Nor do I understand those who think that Israel should have been condemned and penalized for attacking an American ship even if the attack was intentional. The Liberty, a spy ship, was in a war zone and I recall speculation at the time about Israeli fears that the Liberty could have been funneling secret information to the Arabs in order to limit the extent of an Israeli victory for foreign policy reasons.

I doubt if we will ever know the whole truth.

Sol LeBow
Miami, FL



Torah Diplomacy

The author of the opinion piece “Orthodox Hellenism 5764″ (Jewish Press, Dec.26) is a one-issue man.

The organizations taken to task by the author are involved in a myriad number of issues involving the Jewish community. The question now becomes one of priorities and when does one voice his displeasure with politicians and agendas that we do not support. Unquestionably most of the gedolim of yesteryear did not agree that the author’s one issue was the most critical one facing our community, and to say otherwise is false.

Quoting Rav Shach, zt”l, and Rav Moshe, zt”l, is intellectually dishonest, because some if not all of the organizations named had direct contact with these gedolim and the morality question was also relevant at the time, yet they did not make this issue a priority. Yes, they believed we have to fight for our interest on morality issues – but not to assail people who have been our friends on a host of other issues.

The mayor of Yerushalayim has the backing of and accessibility to the posek hador, who understands the media and political realities of the State of Israel. To speak out publicly at this time could cause more harm than good. We all know that even something said in Boro Park can be relayed to the Israeli press in a matter of minutes. To attack the mayor 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.

On public issues that confront all people, the vehicle most relied on by the gedolim of yesteryear was one of quite diplomacy - while publicly expressing thank you and hakaros hatov to our friends. It is also the path used by their talmidim, our Torah leaders today. Every attack on a politician or stand made publicly can eventually be detrimental to our community and must be approved by daas Torah. All movements which veered away from the true Torah path started by attacking our rabbonim, which the author has done in his article.

As for what to answer to non-Jews sympathetic to the author’s cause who ask what ”your fellow rabbis are doing,” maybe he shouldn’t be associating with them but rather listening to what our gedolim say – even if they do not agree with his agenda or tactics.

Leib Stone
Brooklyn, NY



Indifference To Eretz Yisrael

The Jewish Press did an outstanding job by first placing Bezalel Fixler’s article “Who is a True Zionist?” on the front page of the Jan. 2 issue and then continuing the discussion very prominently in the Letters section of the Jan. 9 and Jan. 16 issues.

The theme of Eretz Yisrael as an eternal inheritance to the seed of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov is repeated so often in the Torah because it is so fundamental. The secular Zionist Jews may not have learned Torah or observed kashrut or Shabbat. However, they loved
Eretz Yisrael and made it their inheritance. Many of their children and grandchildren have become great talmidei chachamim and shomrei Torah umitzvot and part of the great baalei teshuvah movement existing in Eretz Yisrael today. Many are actively settled or settling Eretz Yisrael, loving the land and actively doing mitzvot teluyot baaretz. Unfortunately, a number of their children and grandchildren may have lost their vision, left Israel, assimilating into various cultures of the world, not understanding the kedusha of the Land of Israel and their heritage.

As for the religious Jews of Europe, many of them perished in the Holocaust because they did not go to Eretz Yisrael. Others survived and remained religious, settling all over the world while holding desperately to their heritage, opening yeshivot and batei knessiot. Many of their children and grandchildren have become great talmidei chachamim and shomrei Torah umitzvot and many are part of the great baalei teshuvah movement today and many have made
aliyah as well. Unfortunately, a number of their children and grandchildren may have lost their vision, assimilating into the various cultures of the world not quite understanding the purpose
and kedusha of the mitzvot in the Torah.

My question is as follows: For the past few years there has been talk of Oslo, and most recently the proposal of having two states, Israel and Palestine, coexisting side by side. But if Eretz Yisrael is the inheritance of the Nation of Israel, how can it be negotiated away?

Our indifference in our desire to perform the mitzvot relevant to the Land and our inaction in voicing our knowledge about who is truly in charge of the Land will seal our fate. This is a crucial time. Great opportunities are opening to us, but if we fail to respond to them the loss could be of tragic proportions

Robin Ticker
(Via E-Mail)


Advertising Works

As co-chairpersons of the Ninth Night of Chanukah Committee, we would like to thank The Jewish Press on behalf of the committee and the entire Kingsway Jewish Center family.

The ad for our children’s party celebrating the “Ninth Night of Chanukah” was an astounding success. The door sales were overwhelming, keeping three ticket sellers busy all night. The people who came were more than satisfied that their response to an ad could be so beneficial to their children.

Again, let us thank you. More than simply a financial success for the shul, it was a wonderful time for the children and their parents who watched the glow of excitement on the little faces.

Stacy Zeitz
Dianne Glickman
Brooklyn, NY


Like Them Or Not, Our Editorials Always Get Read

Sign Of Insecurity?

While I recognize that newspapers should not be exempt from criticism, I wonder at the wisdom of the Jewish Press’s recent penchant for attacking other publications in its editorials. In the past few weeks the Forward, the Jewish Week and the Daily News have been sharply criticized. I write these words in an attempt at constructive criticism, as I have come to appreciate your typically well-reasoned editorials week after week.

To my mind, a focus on other publications tends to suggest a competitiveness that can only
cheapen what you have to say. The Jewish Press should accept the reality that its advocacy of rightwing religious and political Judaism sets it apart from the Forward and the Jewish Week and that no amount of editorializing on your part is going to change those publications.

Continually harping on those differences only makes it seem that The Jewish Press is so insecure in its positions that it has to constantly prove itself.

Harold Elgarten
(Via E-Mail)


Knee-Jerk

It would be nice to sometimes read in The Jewish Press an acknowledgment that stories that
reflect unfavorably on the haredi community might actually have merit. A knee-jerk defense of
everything haredi is predictable and does not help you in the credibility department.

Specifically, I think you could have found a way to say something negative about Rabbi
Grama’s unfortunate book while still criticizing the Forward’s sensationalized coverage of it.

Michelle Wein
Brooklyn, NY


Crying Anti-Semitism

I too was struck by the gross tone of the Daily News editorial critical of Assembly Speaker
Sheldon Silver’s opposition to Mayor Bloomberg’s tax cut proposal. However, to impute to it - as you did in an editorial last week - a possible antiSemitic undertone is a long stretch.

Yes, the Lower East Side is known for its Jewish ethnicity, but it is also well known for
having been a hotbed of labor union activity and liberalism. So the Daily News’s characterization of Silver “as a Democrat out of the Lower East Side” could easily have been referring to the latter and not the former. The Jewish Press should be careful about crying anti-Semitism whenever a Jew is criticized.

David Warren
(Via E-Mail)


At Last, A Kind Word

It may interest you to know that The Jewish Press is the subject of much Internet chatter. Your editorials seem to be of particular interest, and you should be proud that they are regularly cited as counterpoints to challenges to traditional Orthodoxy. I find that The Jewish Press stands alone in that role.

Brett Lyons
New York, NY

Editor’s Response: Reader Harold Elgarten reminds us of the ziburah v’akhraba dilemma recorded in the Gemara (Hagigah 5a) about one who is bitten by both a wasp and a scorpion. The remedy for a wasp’s bite is hot water, while for the bite of a scorpion cold water is indicated.

As a newspaper, we certainly believe in the broadest possible latitude for the
expression of opinion, and we respect opinions that differ from ours. But this does
not mean that everything that is said must go unchallenged.

In our view, what the Forward, Jewish Week and Daily News had to say on the
occasions mentioned above required a response on behalf of our community. Not to
have said anything would have amounted to acquiescence in views that, to our way of
thinking, are way off base. It is unfortunately the case that while Orthodox Jewry has
developed an expensive and expansive organizational system, its leading lights are
strangely mute when the community is demeaned, particularly by the Forward or
the Jewish Week.

We can assure our readers that competitiveness or insecurity plays no role in our editorials. Self-respect and a sense of responsibility where others fear to tread,
however, play very big ones.

Reader Michelle Wein is just plain wrong. If she read our editorial on the subject two weeks ago, she would know that we did indeed lament the fact that the author of the book in question did not take the special care required when exploring very complicated and potentially incendiary issues. The bottom line, though, is that we
felt the problem lay more in the Forward’s sensationalizing of material taken out of
context and seeking to portray the haredi community as the book writ large.

As for Reader David Warren, we just read more significance than he does into the
Daily News’s choice of the words “out of the Lower East Side” and “congenital.”

(We should note that an op-ed in this past Tuesday’s Daily News focused on concerns similar to those raised by Assembly Speaker Silver and which triggered the News’s intemperate – “gross,” as reader Warren himself puts it – attack.)



Self-Centered For Good Reason

I agree with reader Doug Fischler that your Jan. 2 editorial was wrong in suggesting that Libya
may have announced its intention to disarm in order to pressure Israel (Letters, Jan. 9). Libya
would not disarm solely for this reason because it would be giving up too much without adequate assurance of achieving the desired effect.

Nonetheless, while agreeing with Mr. Fischler that the editorial’s assertion was wrong, I
completely disagree with him that it was an unreasonable one. He seems to have ignored the
fact that, predictably, all the Arab countries, in unison, are demanding that Israel disarm. I think it is quite understandable that someone might consider that to be the motive – especially given that the international community has quite a record for taking up the Arab cause.

Therefore I think it is unwarranted for Mr. Fischler to psychoanalyze the writer of the editorial and accuse him of writing from feelings of Jewish “self-centeredness.” On the other hand, the
fact that Mr. Fischler unleashes such an accusation certainly might be worth a little
psychoanalyzing.

Regarding Mr. Fischler’s accusation that “many Jews believe that the world revolves around
them”: I actually am one of those “self-centered” ones and I’m proud to admit it. In fact, for me
personally, it is the principal rational reason I have for believing in the authenticity of Judaism.

When I look at G-d’s promise in the Torah, over 3,000 years ago, that the Jews will be
scattered across the world, persecuted but never destroyed; and then follow the course of history as so many superpowers attempt to destroy the Jews and fail (superpowers which are no more), I feel “self-centered.”

When I see that this same Torah has been adopted (albeit altered) by many other faiths including two of the world’s largest religions, and when I consider the massive impact Jews have had on civilization (despite their numerical insignificance), yes, I feel “self-centered.”

When the State of Israel, in its infant years, is attacked repeatedly, mercilessly and
simultaneously by several countries and miraculously survives, yes, I feel “self-centered.”

When I see that the annihilation of the Jews was such a central theme of World War Two and
that the Israeli-Palestinian problem is constantly cited as the cause of terrorism – the present world war in which we are engaged - yes, I feel “self-centered.”

When a poll suggests that a majority of Europeans believe that Israel is the number one
threat to world peace (when in actuality it is probably Europe’s perception of Jews and Israel
that is a large part of the threat to world peace), yes, I feel “self-centered.”

When I see the most civilized countries in the world become completely irrational in their
application of double standards to Israel as a result of their blind hatred, yes, I feel “self-centered.”

When the United Nations condemns Israel in every resolution, this after the whole world turned a blind eye while six million Jews were murdered, yes, I feel “self-centered.”

Mr. Fischler would do well to read Paul Johnson’s A History of the Jews. Mr. Johnson is a
well-respected, non-Jewish historian who thinks it would be very reasonable for a person to conclude that the world revolves around the Jews.

Maybe Mr. Fischler shouldn’t look with such disdain at those of us who subscribe to such a view.

Jonny Black
Pomona, NY

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