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August 27, 2014 / 1 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Neturei Karta’

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, January 10th, 2007

Uncomfortable Truth

   The Palestinians under Yasir Arafat supported Iraq in the first Gulf War. Recently declassified documents record that they were complicit in the killing of American diplomats. They publicly rejoiced in the 9/11 atrocities. They worked hand in glove with the murderer Saddam Hussein against American interests in the Middle East. Indeed, the Palestinians saw Saddam as their champion.
 
   And today the Palestinian government, such as it is, refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of Israel and does nothing to stanch the constant rocket attacks on Israeli towns and cities.
 
   Yet there are those in the administration and Congress who seek to pressure Israel into negotiating with these Palestinians they dub “peace partners.” At first blush, it all seems so strange. But then one remembers that Israel is a Jewish state and it all starts making sense.
 

   (By the way, I discovered The Jewish Press two years ago and devour every issue. You do such an enormous service in telling the uncomfortable truth. The Jewish weeklies here in California are so bland and politically correct – and from what I’ve seen when visiting friends and relatives, the same can be said for Jewish papers all over the country. Keep fighting the good fight.)

Harris Gollub

(Via E-Mail)
 
 

 

Dicker’s Confessional
 
   It seems very clear to me, after reading last week’s editorial “A Political Reporter’s Confessional,” that we simply cannot trust what political reporters tell us about how we are governed.
 
   As a longtime reader of Fred Dicker’s columns in the New York Post, I invariably came away – as I suspect others did – with the feeling that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver spent his days trying to block all the wonderful proposals and policy initiatives put forth by that tireless public servant, George Elmer Pataki.
 
   Now, after misleading his readers for years as to the real cause of Albany’s dysfunctional government, Dicker is saying, in effect: Hey, I was just kidding; for 12 years Pataki was really an empty suit and certainly not somebody anyone could work with.
 
   Dicker should be ashamed. And the Post ought to be condemned for its routine use of snide references – direct and inferential – to Silver’s Orthodoxy.
 

   Dicker and the Post owe us all an apology.

Binyamin Raskin

(Via E-Mail)
 
 

 

Clever Move?
 
   As an Orthodox Jew who happens to be pro-Israel, I see no problem with representatives of Neturei Karta visiting Iran and holding talks with President Ahmadinejad. I seem to recall that Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan stopped attacking Judaism after he met with some Neturei Karta members.
 
   As far as I’m concerned, the meeting with Ahmadinejad was a clever move. What better way to secure the safety of Iranian Jews and of Israel? By not burning our bridges to the government of Iran, we leave open a door to negotiations in future times of crisis. 

Esther Fish

Brooklyn, NY

 

Broken Promise

   Former Gaza farmers are not the only ones to be shortchanged by the forced evacuation of Gaza (“Gaza Farmers Want More Compensation,” news story, Jan. 5). The Israeli government not only victimized most of the Jews of Gaza by evicting them – in the name of some incomprehensible geopolitical calculation – from the homes they were encouraged to establish by previous governments, but now the present Olmert government has scandalously reneged on its commitment to compensate the evacuees at least for their financial loss.
 
   If Mr. Olmert were to do this to Palestinians, he would be accused of war crimes. 

Karen Diamond

New York, NY

 

Role Model

   Re “Rachel Factor’s ‘Not Even Normal” (Jewish Press Magazine, Dec. 22, 2006):

   When I saw Rachel Factor’s first show two years ago, I felt she was the perfect role model for my own daughter who was struggling with the desire to dance and perform while remaining true to the tenets of Orthodox Judaism.
 
   I am glad to say they have become very close, as my now 15-year-old daughter Lexi attended Rachel’s first summer teen program. She also has done volunteer work at Machol Shel Bnos Miriam and continues to take classes there. 

Laura Ben-David

Gush Etzion, Israel
 

 

Informative Articles

   I found both the front-page essay (“Orthodoxy and Practical Pluralism in American Judaism”) and Media Monitor column (“Presidential What-Ifs”) in the Jan. 5 issue particularly informative and insightful. I learned many new things I was able to use in the current-events groups I lead in senior centers.  

Gisele Strauch

Brooklyn, NY

 

 

Our Own Worst Enemies

      Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me. At least that’s what I tell my more trusting friends when they scoff at my habit of checking websites that might be considered hostile to Jews.
 
      So it was with the usual tightness in the stomach that I surfed on over to JewWatch.com the other day to see what variety of slander and out-of-context quotations the anti-Semites were dishing out. Ho-hum, the Jews own the media, Hollywood, the universities (which if true would be quite an accomplishment for a people that make up less than one-half of one percent of the world’s population).
 
      Wait, what’s this? A headline from Haaretz? A woman on Jerusalem’s Number 2 bus (the one that goes from Har Nof to the Kotel by way of Mea She’arim) was severely beaten because she refused to move from her seat in the front of the bus to the rear section where women are supposed to sit! Unbelievable. I clicked the link.
 
      There it was, Haaretz Online, December 26 edition. I quote from the second paragraph:
 
      Miriam Shear says she was traveling to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City early on November 24 when a group of ultra-Orthodox men attacked her for refusing to move to the back of the Egged No. 2 bus. She is now in touch with several legal advocacy and women’s organizations, and at the same time, waiting for the police to apprehend her attackers.”
 
      The article goes on to detail how she was pulled from her seat, thrown to the floor, beaten and kicked. Eyewitnesses are interviewed, corroborating her story. In the service of completeness I will add that the victim was not exactly polite, nor did she follow the unwritten custom that relegates women to the back of the bus on certain routes. But the violence resulting from her perceived transgressions defies justification.
 
      We know that sinas chinam, senseless hatred, has been the cause of many disasters in Jewish history. Do we not have enough enemies propagating lies, libel and Holocaust denial – in addition to their terrorism and so many other anti-Semitic horrors – without our providing them true instances of crimes of Jew against Jew? The last thing we need is to fuel the machine of anti-Semitic hatred with factual accounts of our own misbehavior.
 
      What we do need to do is address our middos and guard our behavior when the inevitable challenge to our comfort zone appears. Are we going to rise to the challenge and meet it with grace and dignity, or will we allow our animal instincts rule the day and give the victory to our enemies, who wait like hyenas for us to make a mistake?
 
      We pray every morning, “And allow us to elicit, today and every day, grace, kindness, and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all who see us.”
 
      If we bring ourselves to apply these simple instructions to ourselves and to our people, not only will we bring a higher peace to Am Yisrael, we will spare ourselves the chillul Hashem of giving our enemies truth, God forbid, in addition to lies to gloat over. 

Laura P. Schulman, MD

Seattle, WA

 

 

 

 

Empathy For A Hurting Mother

 

      Yasher Koach to Rebbetzin Jungreis for publishing the letter from “A Single Mother Who Is Hurting” (Jan. 5). Such women and their children often are invisible in a community, so I applaud the Rebbetzin for making this family more visible.
 
      Twenty years ago I was in virtually the same position as this unfortunate mother, which is why I feel her pain so keenly. It can be difficult for a parent to be assertive with teachers, particularly if that parent is a single mother – and if her children are receiving tuition assistance, she may not want to rock the boat.
 
      Nevertheless, if I were that mother I would speak up and tell my children’s teachers exactly what she has described in her letter. Their consciousness needs to be raised so that single mothers and their children do not stay invisible. The Torah commands us not to oppress a widow or an orphan; by extension, this includes anyone in a similarly vulnerable position. Teachers with the proper hashkafa will welcome the opportunity to fulfill this mitzvah more consciously and conscientiously.
 
      There is an organization that did not exist when I was a single mother – MARCH (Mothers Alone Raising Children). MARCH can be contacted by e-mail at MothersAlone@aol.com or by conventional mail at 1214 Broadway, Room 406, New York, NY 10001, or by phone at 1-866-769-2311. The organization specializes in various types of emotional and financial support for single mothers.
 

      I hope the lady who wrote the Rebbetzin will contact MARCH. I have been thinking of her and mentioning her in my davening every day. Of course, she too can pour out her heart to Hashem.

 

      Maybe she will be heartened to hear that my own children have grown into resilient, resourceful adults, and that Hashem gave them wonderful, loving spouses. Four of my children live in Israel, which itself attests to their courage and faith in Hashem.
 
      Sometimes adversity – though no one would wish it on themselves and certainly not on their children – fortifies a person and helps him or her weather the storms of life with greater facility than those who have grown up with ease and advantages. 

Phyllis M. LaVietes

Dallas, TX

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

Truman’s Anti-Israel Policies

 
   Jason Maoz is correct that Harry Truman was a most “ambiguous” friend, and not just because of his anti-Semitic diatribes (“Harry Truman Without Fanfare,” front-page essay, Dec. 29).
 
   Just before the ’48 war ended, the Israelis went on the offensive and captured a large chunk of the Sinai Peninsula. The Truman administration joined the British in pressuring Israel to withdraw immediately, without demanding that Egypt sign a peace treaty in return.
 
   At the time, Egypt was ruled by King Farouk, an obese playboy whose family roots were in Albania. Farouk was no Arab nationalist; with the right amount of pressure, a land-for-peace deal could have been concluded – and the whole Arab-Israeli conflict might have been nipped in the bud. The Palestinians weren’t the only ones who missed opportunities.
 
   Worse still, after the Israelis left the Sinai, the U.S. refused to support Israel’s demand that Syrian forces withdraw from three small pieces of Israeli land. In other words, the Truman administration only supported the withdrawal of Israeli forces, not Arab forces (despite the fact that the Arabs started the war). The battle for these three pieces of Israeli territory continued until the 1967 war.
 

Uri Kaufman

(Via E-Mail)
 

 

Dewey And Dulles
 
   In his article about Harry Truman, Jason Maoz writes that Thomas E. Dewey was a friend of the Jews and campaigned as a supporter of Israel. But we should not forget that Dewey’s foreign policy advisor in his 1948 campaign was John Foster Dulles. Based on this, it’s safe to assume that if Dewey had been elected in 1948, Dulles would have been appointed secretary of state.
 
   Dulles, of course, did eventually become secretary of state under President Eisenhower and he maintained (and possibly aggravated) the anti-Israel policy of the State Department that existed in the Truman years. During his seven years as Eisenhower’s foreign policy architect, Dulles made several visits to Arab states but one token visit to Israel. Furthermore, it was Dulles who in 1956 threatened Israel with sanctions if it did not immediately pull back from the Sinai.
 
   Truman’s relationship with Israel was far from perfect. But there is no guarantee things would have been any better with Dewey as president.
 

Joseph A. Levy

Rego Park, NY

 

 

Kudos To Bush
 
   Saddam Hussein killed hundreds of thousands of people, bombed Israel, paid suicide bombers $25,000 to murder Jewish children, and polluted the earth when he blew up oil wells.
 
   The United States stopped him. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and company stopped this Hitler-type tyrannical, maniacal dictator. They put him on the run, captured him, and turned him over to his own people, who did the normal thing: they tried and executed him. How good it would have been had Hitler been stopped before he could do what he did.
 
   President Bush deserves praise and thanks for doing pretty much what the U.S. did in World War II, only sooner.
 

Robert Harris

Chicago, IL

 

Ineffective Sanctions

   Last week’s page 3 news story “Iran Hit With Sanctions – Sort Of” makes clear the fallacy of sanctions as an effective tool in dealing with the profound threat posed by the Iranian regime.
 

   Not only is it clear that stiff sanctions will never be adopted by the world community, but it should be more apparent than ever that there is no effective alternative to military action. The differing agendas of the various world powers guarantee both watered-down sanctions and ineffective implementation.

Thelma Gordon

Los Angeles, CA

 

Palestinian Prisoners

   My stomach turned when I read last week that Olmert’s Cabinet backs the release of Palestinian prisoners. It is not for me, a private citizen of the United States, to decide the cost of securing the release of Gilad Shalit. Nor is it my place to criticize the Israeli government’s decision. It’s a heartbreaking situation all around.

 
   However, if the Palestinian prisoners in question merited incarceration, the reality doesn’t change simply because an Israeli soldier was kidnapped. And I fear that freeing Palestinian prisoners en masse will just tell terrorists they have little to fear in the long run, because even if they’re apprehended, they’ll likely be freed in some future prisoner release.
 

Irving Snow

(Via E-Mail)
 

 

Rude Telemarketers

 

   Reader Leibel Gross accurately depicted the frustration and even anger felt by so many of us at the “browbeating” we are subjected to by telemarketers for tzedakah (Letters, Dec. 29).
 
   It is ineffably sad that this ordeal is experienced by too many hapless people ready to give tzedakah but completely turned off by the crude and boorish tactics of some charity telemarketers.
 
   We must all stand firm and hang up on them if they persist in this manner and hopefully they will be summarily dismissed if their results are deemed inadequate.
 

Fay Dicker

Lakewood, NJ

 

 

Belated Outrage

 

   Why the sudden outrage, the talk of cherem, the upcoming demonstration against Neturei Karta? This group has for decades brazenly broadcasted its vitriolic message of hatred for Israel. Joining together with an archenemy of the Jewish people is normal behavior for Neturei Karta members, who on several occasions were photographed embracing and kissing Yasir Arafat and who attended Arafat’s funeral.
 
   This fall at a rally in Manhattan in support of Israel and against the prime minister of Iran (who’d been invited to speak at the UN), a large contingent of Neturei Karta demonstrated on behalf of the Iranian leader and against Israel. Years ago they marched with Israel’s enemies in Washington on Shabbos Kodesh, promulgating their well-known anti-Zionist message through the news media.
 
   Why has the entire Torah world only now erupted in such outrage and disgust? Even those who agree with Neturei Karta’s anti-Zionism are sickened and angered that the group publicly trampled and desecrated the memory of our six million kedoshim.
 
   Maybe we all waited too long to stand up and shout: Enough.
 

Caren V. May

(Via E-Mail)
 

 

Enlightening Article
 
   With the hectic Chanukah season finally over, I can sit down to write. I wanted to let you know that Rachel Weiss’s Chanukah front-page essay “From Light to Shining Light” (Dec. 15) was truly an inspiring and heartwarming article.
 
   In this busy world it is nice to know there are still people such as Mr. and Mrs. Weiss, who devoted a substantial portion of their lives to caring for their parents. And to write about it with such compassion takes a tremendous amount of character and is further testament to Mrs. Weiss’s middos.
 
   Once again, kudos to Mrs. Weiss. I look forward to seeing more of her inspiring Yom Tov-related front-page essays gracing The Jewish Press.
 

Rose Bernath

(Via E-Mail)

 


 

 

Unjustified Portrayal Of Day Schools

 

      Re Chananya Weissman’s December 22 front-page essay “Rethinking Standards in Jewish Education”:
 
      I cannot understand why the author wrote so negatively about the day school system. We should be very proud of what has been accomplished in just fifty years and work together to guarantee the continued growth of our school programs.
 

      To write in such denigrating terms about the quality of the teachers in our yeshivas is unacceptable. While there may be a very small percentage of faculty members not suited for the job, the great majority are men and women dedicated to the education of their students.

      Of course these teachers deserve higher salaries, and everything possible should be done to accomplish that goal. However, many are the factors that prevent these dedicated individuals from earning the salaries available in other fields. And while money is certainly appreciated, recognition in other forms should – and often is – extended.
 
      I myself, as someone with many years of experience in the field of Jewish education, both in the classroom and as an administrator, have written at length about the high cost of day schools. I have offered some solutions but to date they have not been acknowledged by the community at large. I believe we should consider our day schools to be at least as important as the public school system, which is free to students and underwritten by taxpayers. I feel we should, and could, provide similar free tuition but apparently there are many other pressing needs on the community’s agenda.
 
      But all that does not give us the right to assume there is anything even approaching serious mismanagement of funds in our yeshiva and day school systems. Yes, we must continue to demand the highest standards of educational achievement in these schools and must strive for constant improvement. But we also must appreciate the fact that the challenge to make significant Jewish education a top priority has been met here in the U.S.
 
      It is not a perfect system, but it isn’t nearly as bad as Rabbi Weissman seems to imply.
 

Rabbi Simcha A. Green

Santa Barbara, CA

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

Insensitive Tabloid
 
   Kudos for calling out the New York Post on its habit of topping stories involving Jews with headlines that are at best insensitive and at worst borderline anti-Semitic (editorial, Dec. 15). But you left out one of the worst examples – the “NYPD JEW” headline the paper splashed across its front page last July.
 

   Yes, I have a sense of humor and yes, I realize it was a play on “NYPD Blue,” but it was jarring nonetheless – and the accompanying story made no mention of the long and colorful history of Jews in the New York Police Department, giving the average reader the impression that a Jewish cop is rarer than a snowstorm in August.

 
David Millstein

New York, NY

 

Superb Manifesto
   Phyllis Chesler’s superb “Manifesto For Survival” (op-ed, Dec. 15) is both timely and well crafted. She is able at once to pinpoint the forces that have loomed large in the nullification of Israel’s case in the court of public opinion while proposing much needed solutions for combating Israel’s setbacks in that vital arena.
 
   The Arab oil weapon undoubtedly motivates many in the media and the international community in their false portrayal of Israel as aggressor and the Arab world as victim. It is impossible to credit the inaccuracies in the media’s reporting to mere ignorance, or the positions taken by leading politicians to sheer bias. True, there are anti-Semites among them, but they surely constitute a minority among the huge numbers of those who would deny the Jewish people their birthright while rewarding the Arabs for their vile acts of terrorism.
 
   Ms. Chesler’s article deserves widespread publication as her fears are far from exaggerated.
 

Alex Rose

Bet Shemesh, Israel

 

Bush’s Deceptions
   Rabbi Shmuley Boteach says all the right things about Iraqis (and all other oppressed people) deserving a life free of tyranny (“The Iraq Tragedy and the Death of Idealism,” op-ed, Dec. 22), but it’s time he admit that President Bush lied in his reasons for waging this war.
 
   While global intelligence – and leading Democrats – all agreed that Iraq was a problem, no one but those in the upper echelons of the Bush administration said it was an imminent threat and connected to 9/11. The CIA discredited the Nigeria nuclear material story before the war, yet it was one of Bush’s main justifications.
 
   To invade Iraq while the war in Afghanistan was far from resolved, while bin Laden was on the run but still free, while Iran’s nuclear program was being whispered about and the Iranians, along with Syria and Saudi Arabia, were known as the real sponsors of terrorism, was beyond foolish.
 
   While Bush has some admirable personal convictions in line with traditional Judaism, we shouldn’t be blind to the fact that his going to war based on deception is directly related to the war’s colossal failure.
 
Jack Rosman

Montreal, Canada

 

Beyond Debate
   Though I agree wholeheartedly with reader Henry Adler’s condemnation of Neturei Karta (Letters, Dec. 22), what concerns me greatly is his writing that “Denying the legitimacy of the government of Israel is one thing” – which seems to imply that such an opinion is acceptable.
 
   Neturei Karta may not be affiliated with Satmar, but the noxious opinions of Neturei Karta stem from a theology and philosophy that indeed rejects the legitimacy of the State of Israel. Are there not numerous anti-Semites who couch their hatred of the Jewish people in the cloak of “legitimate” discussion and debate as to the legitimacy of the State of Israel? These people of course are not anti-Semites, they are “merely” anti-Zionists [sic].
 
   There are certain things that are beyond debate – such as the reality of the Holocaust and the earth’s revolution around the sun. People of good faith can argue over the quality of Israel’s leadership, but the legitimacy of the state is beyond debate.
 
   Half the Jewish nation now lives in Eretz Yisrael and is led by a Jewish government. The official language of the state is Hebrew, the army defending the state and its people is Jewish and the essential operations of the government are affected and influenced by Jewish tradition.
 
   What government on the planet is more legitimate than one elected by a people who, having maintained their religion and culture for millennia, returned home to their land and resuscitated their ancient language? If we expect the nations of the world to accept the legitimacy of the Jewish state, then we must expunge from our own ranks this so-called debate over the legitimacy of Israel.
 
   While I do not believe for a moment that Mr. Adler meant to deligitimize the State of Israel, words do matter and once someone believes it is acceptable to “debate” the legitimacy of Israel, I fear it is a slippery slope and a natural progression leading to the positions expounded by Neturei Karta.
 
   One can only hope and pray – in the face of Ahmadinejad’s threats, his Holocaust denial conference, the anti-Israel positions of the radical left and Neturei Karta, and the stated desire of millions of Muslims to destroy Israel and the Jewish people – that any “debate” about the legitimacy of the State of Israel, at least among Jews, will cease once and for all.
 

Daniel A. Lindenfeld, Esq.

Woodmere, NY

 
 
Read, Then Discuss
 
   Reader Chaim Weissman engages in the game of guilt by association (Letters, Dec. 15). Rather than discuss the content of my book (A Threat from Within: A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism, Zed Books, 2006), which explains the phenomenon that has attracted so much attention in the wake of the recent visit by Jewish anti-Zionists to Iran, Mr. Weissman attempts to besmirch its author and even more so the veteran Israeli philosopher Joseph Agassi who praises my book.
 
   Indeed, I believe in promoting dialogue, and this is why my writings can be found in a broad range of religious and secular publications. Incidentally, the article in Tikkun that Mr. Weissman cites as “incriminating evidence” has an instructive history. I had written it in Hebrew at the invitation of Aqdamoth, a Jerusalem-based national-religious journal, which printed it in a special issue devoted to the 50th anniversary of the State of Israel. It was only a few years later that I rewrote it in English for Tikkun.
 
   Mr. Weissman, apparently an immigrant to Israel, may learn a thing or two about freedom of debate in his adopted country from the Israeli-born Professor Agassi. The English version of my book is now available in Israel. Mr. Weissman can buy it, read it and only then discuss it. By resorting to guilt by association and insinuation, Mr. Weissman exposes the vacuity of his accusations.
 

Yakov M Rabkin

Professor of History

University of Montreal

 

 


 

 

Browbeaten By Tzedakah Telemarketers

 

      It was a phone call I get over and over again on an almost nightly basis. Here’s how it went:
 
      “Hi there, Mr. Gross, my name is Leah -. I am calling on behalf of -, an organization that helps poor families in Israel. I would like to thank you for your past support. In the past you helped us with $36; can we count on you again this year for the same amount?”
 
      “I don’t pledge amounts over the phone, but please send me an envelope and I will see what I can do,” I responded.
 
      I hardly got the words out of my mouth when she continued, “Can we at least count on you for $18 – these poor families are really relying on your help.”
 
      Again I responded, “I told you, I would love to help, but I cannot pledge an amount over the phone. Please send me an envelope.”
 
      She persisted, “If you don’t give us an amount we can’t help these families until your check comes in. If you pledge at least $10, then we can help these families now based on your pledge. Can we at least write you down for $10?”
 
      At this point I was losing my patience – not at her specifically but at the dozens of other telemarketers who over the past few weeks had subjected me to the same shpiel, refusing to accept the fact that I won’t pledge over the phone.
 
      I told her firmly but respectfully, “I do not pledge over the phone, even $1. If you will be so kind as send me an envelope, I will, b’li neder, add it to the ever growing pile of envelopes on my desk and, b’li neder, respond when I get a chance.”
 
      At this point, I heard a loud click. Not “Thank you, Mr. Gross, I will send you an envelope,” but a click! She had hung up on me (as do most other tzedakah telemarketers when they realize they won’t be getting a pledge amount out of me.)
 
      Is it so hard to respect someone’s wishes and not try to wrench a pledge out of him? Is it so difficult to simply send an envelope?
 
      I feel as if these people care less about helping “these poor families” and more about making their commissions. I wonder how much of the money they do convince people to donate even ends up going to “these poor families.”
 
      I ask my fellow readers: Am I right to feel this way? Or am I wrong in not pledging over the phone? How do others handle this situation? What is the right thing to do?
 

Leibel Gross

Lakewood, NJ

 

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Ben-Gurion No Model
 
   Assemblyman Dov Hikind’s column on Ehud Olmert in last week’s Jewish Press quoted David Ben-Gurion saying “We chose a Jewish state without the entire land of Israel.” What was the Jewish character of the state chosen by Ben-Gurion? Ben-Gurion’s “Jewish” state took Yemenite children from their parents, cut off their payos, and raised them as secular Jews. Ben-Gurion’s “Jewish” state was state without Torah.
 
   Also, how was Ben-Gurion any better than Olmert with regard to dealing with the Arabs? In 1956, after Israel conquered the Sinai peninsula, Ben-Gurion caved in to American pressure and returned the entire Sinai, thus setting the stage for later confrontations. In 1967, Ben-Gurion, retired but still influential, opposed the preemptive strike that enabled Israel to win such an overwhelming victory in the Six-Day War.
 
   Mr. Hikind ought to know better than to hold up Ben-Gurion as a model for true Jewish behavior.
 

Jay Grossman

Spring Valley, NY
 

 

Time For Action

 

   Dr. Phyllis Chesler’s “Manifesto for Survival” (op-ed, Dec. 15) needs to be understood and acted on pronto. A first course of action would be for each of us to contact every political official and demand that our government issue a non-negotiable ultimatum to the Arab states that are identified beyond any doubt as a declared and dedicated enemy seeking our destruction.
 
   The ultimatum would clearly state that we take their threats seriously and that those threats constitute an act of war. The only civilized, moral consideration we will extend these governments as an opportunity to protect their civilian populations will be this one-time offer to cease and desist further aggressive threats, publicly sign a non-aggression pact and cease the development and production of nuclear and chemical weapons. Failure to respond to this offer will render those governments responsible for all the terrible consequences we will bring upon them.
 
   In the name of sanity, we must do it.
 

Norman Shine

Brooklyn, NY
 

 

Trivializing Observance?
 
   Rabbi Mordechai Weiss (“Diversity: The Uniqueness of Our People,” op-ed, Dec. 15) correctly points out that it is unwise to judge people based on external criteria. Each person has something to contribute to society. However, I disagree with what I view as his attempted trivialization of the guidelines and principles essential for authentic Torah observance.
 
   In support of permissiveness, he cites the talmudic maxim koach d’heterah adif, which actually pertains to talmudic discussions; in particular, in the event one disputant has a mesora from his rebbe (a tradition from his mentor that a particular approach has its origins in the revelation at Sinai.) In that case, such an authority can argue by virtue of such knowledge in favor of a more liberal position. (This option is for the tannaim, the rabbis of the Mishna.)
 
   One classic case involves Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel in Masechta Beitza 2. This might surprise Rabbi Weiss: The liberal position does not prevail. (Also see Chullin 58)
 
   It is ironic that many of the most popular practices in Judaism stem from chumras. Without getting too technical, I’ll cite one timely example: Kindling the lights of the Chanukah menorah. The universal practice involves a mehadrin min hamehadrin ceremony, which is a super-orthodox lighting extravaganza. Every night an extra candle is lit to commemorate the triumph of freedom to believe in God and to proclaim that the Word of the Lord is from Zion and Jerusalem, and that this Torah will never be exchanged for any new man-made doctrine.
 

Chaim Silver

(Via E-Mail)
 

 

We Stand Corrected
 
   The tagline for writer Irwin Cohen (“The World Series That Wasn’t: Post-Season Musings of a Veteran Baseball Scribe,” op-ed, Dec. 1) describes Mr. Cohen as the only Orthodox Jew to have earned a World Series ring from a front office position. In fact, Joel Mael, an Orthodox Jew from Lawrence, Long Island, is the vice-chairman of the Florida Marlins. He held his current position in 2003 when the Marlins beat the Yankees in the World Series and he received a World Series ring at that time. Kindly correct this oversight.
 

Rhonda Younger

Brooklyn, NY

 


 

 

 

Neturei Karta Breaks Bread
With Holocaust Deniers
 

In Their Element

 

      I commend The Jewish Press for publishing the front-page photograph of Neturei Karta members being greeted by the president of Iran at that conference in Tehran. I hope those letter-writers who recently defended Neturei Karta now realize that the group’s agenda has gone way beyond anti-Zionism and has become plain old-fashioned anti-Semitism.
 
      By actively participating in a conference that questioned whether or not the Holocaust took place, Neturei Karta members hung their hats together with the likes of Iran’s Ahmadinejad and the former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. Those gentlemen are not just anti-Zionist, they are anti-Semitic.
 
      As a firm believer in the concept of midah k’neged midah - a person is punished in a manner similar to the sin he committed – I can only imagine what Hashem has in store for Neturei Karta members who associate with those who wish to wipe the Jews off the face of the earth.
 

Barry J. Koppel

Kew Gardens Hills, NY
 

 

Enough Is Enough

 

      Although initially outraged and disgusted by the picture of Neturei Karta representatives being greeted by the Iranian president at the Holocaust deniers meeting, I applaud The Jewish Press for putting it on the front page. We constantly prod moderate Muslim groups to speak out against their extremists, yet we allow these evil people dressed up as chassidic Jews to repeatedly disgrace our religion without vociferous protest from the rabbinic and lay leaders of our community.
 
      The vicious anti-Israel behavior we have witnessed in the past from this group has been swept under the rug as political – i.e., anti-government or anti-Zionist – but enough is enough. They’ve now become Holocaust deniers. If they can’t listen to reason here, there are six million souls waiting to set the record straight for them.
 

Dr. Marvin Brody

(Via E-Mail)

 

No Shame

 

      How low can they go? Have they lost all sense of shame? Those photos of Neturei Karta operatives openly consorting with notorious Holocaust deniers and arch anti-Semites in Tehran were absolutely sickening. They were “honored” with front row seats by their new associates, led by the proto-Hitler, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who denies past genocide against the Jews while eagerly anticipating a future one.
 
      While Neturei Karta is entitled to its odious opinions concerning the legitimacy of the State of Israel, such a gross display of chillul Hashem crossed all remaining red lines. What these so-called rabbis lack in ahavas Yisrael is more than made up for by their sinas chinam.
 

Richard D. Wilkins

(Via E-Mail)

 

No Laughing Matter

 

      Just look at those costumes! You have three clowns dressed up like Orthodox Jews shaking hands with a beast masquerading as a human being, while two other similarly costumed beasts approvingly look on.
 
      I’m being facetious, but the reality is that this is no laughing matter. This goes deeper than Neturei Karta’s mere rejection of the State of Israel, as wrong-headed as that may be. (And how difficult is it to understand that Israel exists to this day only because God wishes it to exist and has foiled all efforts to destroy it over the past 58 years? To reject His great miracle is to deny His very existence). These lunatics are actively legitimizing haters of Jews by their presence at this so-called “scholarly conference” and by their claims to represent religious Jewry.
 
      Does Neturei Karta “Rabbi” Yisroel Duvid Weiss actually think that fellow conference-attendee David Duke would not gladly toss him into a fiery oven if he could? Believing that a Nazi or a Muslim jihadi would spare him because he is not a Zionist Jew is as foolishly naive as the belief of liberal “Jews of the Mosaic persuasion” in Holocaust-era Germany that the Nazis would spare them because they were not like those odd-looking religious Jews.
 
      We should keep the so-called rabbis of Neturei Karta in mind when we recite the verse in the Amidah calling on God to punish informers, heretics and other such arrogant sonnei Hashem and sonnei Yisrael.
 

Paul Deckelman

Far Rockaway, NY
 

 

See No Evil

 

      I must express my dismay over the front-page photo in last week’s Jewish Press. Publishing that picture gives publicity to an insignificant group that represents nobody but themselves and that has been condemned by all segments of Jewry. I feel your paper owes an apology to its readers. Please don’t even mention these traitors to our people any more – they are not worthy of it.
 

Shlomo Philipson

Monsey, NY
 

 

New Depths

 

      I thought Neturei Karta could not reach new levels of chillul Hashem, but they’ve raised (or rather lowered) the bar again. Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial gathering in Tehran drew some of world’s leading Holocaust deniers – and right there, present in the front row, were members of Neturei Karta.
 
      Apparently, this conference, which had been denounced by such friends of the Jews as Germany, England, France, the EU and the Vatican, is just fine for Neturei Karta.
 

Zachary Gorden

Brooklyn, NY
 

 

Al Tehi Tikvah

 

      Concerning those Neturei Karta representatives who met with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the Holocaust deniers conference I can only say: Caesar had his Brutus, America had its Benedict Arnold, and we Jews have our traitors, too.
 
      Denying the legitimacy of the government of Israel is one thing. Expressing that view by legitimizing the potential murderer of millions of Jews and by tacitly denying the Holocaust is quite another. Let me suggest that while waiting for Mashiach to come and redeem us, Neturei Karta settle in Iran where I’m sure they’ll be warmly hosted by their friend Ahmadinejad.
 
      “And to slanderers let there be no hope.”
 

Henry Adler

(Via E-Mail)

Philistines With Yarmulkes

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

         If Neturei Karta (NK) did not exist, anti-Semites, Islamist terrorists, and neo-Nazis would have to invent it. In fact, in many ways NK is little more than an invention of such people (or at least the bulk of NK funding seems to come from such groups).
 
         The latest fundraising junket by its pseudo-rabbis was to the Holocaust denial conference in Tehran last week – an action that in effect granted pseudo-rabbinic approval by the NK cult to the worst Jew-haters since the 1940′s.
 
         Many in the Jewish community have been comparing NK cult members to the kapos who collaborated with the concentration camp officers and other Nazis during World War II. That comparison is improper and insulting to those who were forced to make unimaginable moral choices by the horrific conditions of the Shoah.
 
         Neturei Karta members are not collaborating with terrorists and neo-Nazis out of duress but rather out of an intense sense of self-indulgence, delight, and amusement. These are quite simply Philistines with peyos, well-paid underlings of Amalek.
 
         And I am hardly the only one who thinks so. In recent days Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger called for members of the Neturei Karta sect to be excommunicated. He was joined not only by the national-religious rabbinic organization Save the Nation and Land and by a group calling itself the Front for National Judaism, but even by members of the Eida Hachareidit, Israel’s council for ultra-Orthodox groups.
 
         Former Israeli chief rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, himself a Holocaust survivor, said of Neturei Karta: “It is something completely insane… Is it conceivable that any Jew, for whatever reason, would support a Holocaust denier in a generation when people with numbers tattooed on their arms are still among us? It is an insanity that has no justification and no explanation.”
 
         I have long argued that members of Neturei Karta should not be called to the Torah in any real synagogue, and now it appears that even the Satmars have come to share the revulsion felt by most other Torah Jews toward the NK cult.
 
         Breathes there a normal Jew who can feel anything but revulsion upon reading the words of one Ahron Cohen, a leader of the NK cult in Britain, who was quoted this week by the London Sunday Times as saying the Six Million got what they deserve?
 
         “There is no question that there was a Holocaust and gas chambers,” Cohen said. “There are too many eyewitnesses. However, our approach is that when one suffers, the one who perpetrates the suffering is obviously guilty but he will never succeed if the victim did not deserve it in one way or another.”
 
         Cohen also described Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who has vowed to destroy Israel and denied the historical reality of the Holocaust, as “not a man of war. He is a man of peace.”
 
         Neturei Karta’s collaboration with the worst enemies of the Jews did not begin with its pilgrimage to Tehran. NK has collaborated with Palestinian terrorist for decades and would not hesitate for a moment to join an anti-Israel coalition led by Osama bin Laden. The Neturei Karta prescription for the Middle East is for Israel to be destroyed.
 
         The NK cultists oppose all acts of Jewish self-defense (proving once again how little they know of Torah and Judaism). A Neturei Karta bumper sticker shows a Jewish boy waving a Palestinian flag with the slogan “Surrender Is the Torah Solution!”
 
         In 1999 NK members held solidarity meetings with the Afro-fascist anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan. NK members attend the pro-terror, anti-Israel (and anti-America) rallies of the neo-Stalinist group ANSWER. And Neturei Karta has been active in promoting the tales invented by neo-Nazis and anti-Semites about a Jewish neoconservative-Zionist cabal that controls American foreign policy.
 
         It should be emphasized that the only thing “Jewish” about NK is the clothing and sidecurls favored by its members, who strike me as inverted Marranos. The anosim or Marranos in Portugal and Spain passed themselves off as Christians while secretly living as Jews; NK members dress like Jews but behave like Philistines. No wonder, then, that in London many synagogues do not allow NK members entry, or that in 2002 an American umbrella group comprised of Satmar, Bobov, Belz, Vizhnitz, Munkacz, Kiryas Joel, Monroe, and others issued a statement sharply condemning those who openly collaborate with the PLO.
 
         Neturei Karta cult members have always reminded me of Christian missionaries who know very little about the Bible but make up for their ignorance with their obsessive aggressiveness. The NK cultists recite a small number of sentences from the Bible and Talmud, and spin these to any anti-Semite willing to listen to them to serve as justification for their treasonous activities. Every anti-Semitic barbarian on earth then proclaims NK the exemplar of “true Judaism.”
 
         Among the NK cultists’ favorite pocket phrases is one from Song of Songs, which they interpret as prohibiting settling in the Land of Israel until the Messiah comes. They also like to cite a phrase from the Talmud (Tractate Ketubot, 111a) which they take out of context and which they think means Jews should never use armed force to establish political sovereignty within Eretz Yisrael.
 
         Let us be very blunt about this (and Chanukah could not be a better time for clarifying the point): The Torah affirms the right of the Jewish people to control all of the Land of Israel. The only legitimate reasons not to exercise such sovereignty immediately would be the temporary weakness of the Jews or considerations of realpolitik and statecraft.
 
         The Maccabees used force to reestablish Jewish sovereignty over Jewish land. They decidely did not wait for the Messiah, because there is no such religious obligation to do so. Had the Neturei Karta minim been around at the time, they would have been making pilgrimages to Antiochus and accepting cash handouts from the Seleucids. Their banner? “No force must be used to remove pigs and idols from the Temple until the Messiah comes!”
 
         While later generations of sages and rabbis regarded some of the kings who descended from the Hasmoneans as evil, none regarded the political sovereignty established and maintained by such kings to be illegitimate. Indeed, even when an Edomite usurper, King Herod, seized the throne as a Roman satrap, the legitimacy of remaining political autonomy in Judea was never challenged by the sages.
 
         Even after the destruction of the Second Temple, there were a series of attempts to reestablish Jewish sovereignty over the Land of Israel or parts thereof without waiting for any Messiah. Rabbi Akiva himself led one such movement, and he not only knew perfectly well the sentence in Song of Songs used by the NK to argue against use of arms, he himself made the ruling to include Song of Songs in the Jewish Bible.
 
         We are used to thinking of our contemporary Hellenists as assimilationists, leftists and secular anti-Zionists. But modern paganism comes in many a disguise – even the disguise of an Orthodox Jew.
 

         Steven Plaut, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

No Citizenship For Ruth?
 
    Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar seems to advocate throwing out the baby with the bath water. Jews are seriously praying for Mashiach ben David, yet Rabbi Amar (front page news story, Nov. 24) would reject giving ancestor Ruth the Convert rights of automatic citizenship.
 

Ira Friedman

Brooklyn, NY

 

 

Sderot Double Standard
    On Nov 22, Israeli government officials said that while Kassam rocket fire was extremely painful, it did not pose a strategic threat to the country. Therefore, there would be no dramatic change in IDF operations.
 
    I was always under the assumption the government protected the lives of all its citizens. Is Sderot part of Israel? I believe it is. Does the government’s statement mean the lives of citizens of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are worth more than the lives of citizens of Sderot?
 
    If there is no strategic threat to the country, and the buildings and schoolhouses in Sderot are not fortified against Kassams, why did the Knesset allocate five million NIS to fortify the Knesset building? Are the people in the Knesset worth more than the citizens of Sderot?
 

Barbara Ginsberg

Maale Adumim, Israel

 

 

Where’s The Arrogance?
    Reader Amy Wall (Letters, Nov. 24) writes that she was “offended by the arrogant tone” of Rabbi Yehuda Levin’s Nov. 17 op-ed piece dealing with the opposition to the gay parade in Jerusalem.
 
    I’m amazed at Ms. Wall’s bias. The title of the op-ed said “WE” stopped the parade. Rabbi Levin referred to his activities in just two paragraphs in what was a 13-paragraph article. In one of those he mentioned Jerusalem councilwoman Mina Fenton’s activities as well. Ms. Fenton would be the first to inform Ms. Wall of her respect for Rabbi Levin, an American who made nine trips to Israel in three years to help jump-start opposition to the parade.
 
    Perhaps Ms. Wall didn’t get to the third paragraph, which Rabbi Levin began with the following words: “But the people who really made the parade not happen were a few hundred teenagers disenchanted with the continuing spiritual rape of Jerusalem.”
 
    Arrogant tone, Ms. Wall?
 

Shlomo D. Winter

Brooklyn, NY

 

 

Credit Due
    With all the squabbling over to who should get the credit for the cancellation of Jerusalem’s gay parade, we’re missing one important factor. Although everyone who helped in any way had a hand, The Jewish Press deserves a lot of credit for publishing a number of op-eds, editorials and letters protesting the scheduled event.
 
    My hat is off to The Jewish Press.
 

Mark Elbaum

Brooklyn, NY

 

 

 

Positive Blogs
    I agree wholeheartedly with Rabbi Harry Maryles’s defense of blogs (“Time for Agudah to Widen the Tent,” op-ed, Nov. 17).
 
    While the blogosphere has many malicious individuals who are determined to spread lashon hara, divide the community and break our faith, there are also plenty of observant bloggers who spread Torah, defend Israel, and uphold the honor of our people. Rabbinic condemnations of blogs will not make them go away – many bloggers are either anonymous or refuse to accept rabbinic authority.
 
    Agudath Israel should step up to the gossipers by fighting fire with fire. I hope that in the near future Orthodox organizations will promote blogging as a tool of self-defense by using blogs to highlight the positive deeds, ideas, and image of the Torah-observant community.
 

Sergey Kadinsky

Forest Hills, NY

 

 

Sympathy For Neturei Karta? (I)
 

    Unfortunately, Reader Chana Ravinsky (Letters, Nov. 17) is na?ve and gullible to fall for Neturei Karta. Neither Rabbi Michoel Ber Weissmandl, zt”l, nor the Satmar Rebbe, zt”l, would have agreed to the massive chillel Hashem of embracing and marching with our Arab enemies. It’s one thing to be anti-Zionist, quite another to be pro-Arab.

    I’ve heard a tape of the Satmar Rebbe crying bitter tears for the Israeli soldiers who died in the Six-Day War. He sobbed, “Oy vey – der Yiddesher neshomas.”
 
    Chazal say about Jews like those who join Neturei Karta: “Oser l’rachem al mi sh’ein bo deah” – It’s prohibited to have pity or mercy on those who lack basic common sense and knowledge to know what’s right or wrong.
 

Rabbi Moshe Shochet

Brooklyn, NY

 

 

Sympathy For Neturei Karta? (II)
 
    Ms. Rovinsky’s whitewash of Neturei Karta’s association “to some extent with Muslims” is either na?ve or malicious, but either way disgusting. Neturei Karta fraternizes with leaders of Hamas, Hizbullah, the Palestinian Authority, and the government of Iran, all of whom seek to kill Jews or, at the very least, oppress us. So when Ms. Rovinsky claims to support that movement, she’s jumping in with a bunch of misguided fools who support the murder of their fellow Jews.
 
    I am closely related to many chassidim who qualify as anti-Zionist. Despite my “modern” ways and IDF veteran status, I am warmly embraced by this side of my family and have spent many a Shabbos and Yom Tov with them. These chassidim also recoil at the thought of associating with the murderers of Jews. And during the darkest days of the “disengagement” last year, many of my relatives, while being ideologically opposed to the Jewish state, expressed the deepest sympathy with the Jews of Gush Katif.
 
    Ms. Rovinsky was undoubtedly hypnotized by Neturei Karta’s propaganda, which self-servingly twists the Torah in ways that would do Noam Chomsky proud. I have a hard time believing that the seforim and gedolim Neturei Karta likes to quote would advocate holding love-fests with terrorists and murderers of Jews. She should take the time to read the sefer Eim Habanim Smeichah by R’ Yissachar Shlomo Teichtal (Hy”d) and step back from sympathizing with those who give aid, comfort, and material support to the enemies of the Jewish people.
 

Heshy Rosenwasser

Asbury Park, NJ

 

 

 

*     *     *

 

Defending FDR: Robert Rosen

Responds To Readers, Round II

 

         I am bemused by Dr. Rafael Medoff’s accusing me (Letters, Nov. 24) of a “severe distortion” of the record on the issue of the bombing of Auschwitz, as I find myself in good company. Dr. Medoff’s own Wyman Institute claims that another Roosevelt biographer, Conrad Black, “severely distorts FDR record on the Holocaust”; that the “Roosevelt Museum distorts FDR’s record on the Holocaust”; and the “History Channel Documentary Distorted FDR’s Response to the Holocaust.”
 

         Evidently, if one disagrees with Dr. Medoff and the Wyman Institute, one isipso facto guilty of distortion. As the Talmud teaches, one is judged by the company one keeps.

         I do not agree with Dr. Medoff’s and the Wyman Institute’s portrayal of FDR’s record and the record of the Greatest Jewish Generation who fought the Nazis with guns, not words, and defeated them.
 
         Dr. Medoff wants readers to believe the unbelievable – namely, that a major organization, the World Jewish Congress (WJC), was actually in favor of the bombing of Auschwitz when the organization’s chief spokesman on the issue, and the head of its Rescue Department, Leon Kubowitski, wrote numerous letters to the government decision-makers opposing the bombing and no letter from the WJC exists to those same officials (John Pehle, director of the War Refugee Board and John McCloy, assistant secretary of war) in favor of the bombing.
 
         The WJC, like any organization, had a governing body and an executive committee. Obviously Kubowitski wrote Pehle and McCloy representing the organization’s position. He was the point man for the WJC on the rescue of European Jewry. When, on November 26, 1944, he spoke at the War Emergency Conference of the WJC, he made no mention of bombing Auschwitz. Committee minutes, resolutions, letters, publication, reports – none reflect a WJC policy in favor of bombing Auschwitz.
 
         Dr. Medoff keeps repeating that Nahum Goldmann wrote a letter on July 3, 1944 to Jan Masaryk telling him that “we have discussed” the bombing of the death camps. This letter does exist. But it proves nothing. Kubowitski wrote John McCloy on August 30 that “we [meaning the WJC] did not ask for the destruction of the death installations by bombing from the air.” Ernest Frischer wrote the WJC on September 15, 1944 complaining about the organization’s well-known policy against the bombing. Try as he may, Dr. Medoff cannot force a square peg into a round hole.
 
         But set the WJC aside for a minute. I said in my last letter (Nov. 10) regarding Dr. Medoff’s and Dr. David Wyman’s contention that American Jews favored the bombing, that a meeting was held on August 16, 1944 with the staff of the War Refugee Board and the American Jewish Committee, Vaad Ha-Hazalah, the Jewish Labor Committee, the WJC (represented by Kubowitski) and the American Jewish Conference (representing B’nai B’rith, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Hadassah, the Jewish War Veterans, the National Council of Jewish Women, sisterhoods, brotherhoods, the Zionist Organization, Orthodox, Reform councils and unions among many others).
 
         Dr. Medoff ignored this meeting because he cannot explain it away. The minutes state “that [according to Pehle] a proposal to bomb the facilities had been objected to by Jewish organizations because it would result in the extermination of large numbers of Jews there.” No document from this meeting reflects any disagreement whatsoever with this position as there was none.
 
         American Jewry almost unanimously thought bombing Auschwitz was a bad idea. Had the Jewish Agency Executive in Palestine disagreed and changed its position against the bombing of Auschwitz, as argued by Dr. Medoff, (the vote in June 1944 was 11 to 1 against the bombing) the JAE certainly would have lobbied American Jewish organizations to speak up at the August 16 meeting. It did not do so.
 
         Now, in retrospect, the bombing appears to some people to be a good idea. It certainly allows us to vent our anger. Rabbi Robert Shechter says he thinks the bombing was “obligatory.” That is easy to say sixty years later, when no human lives depend on his opinion. But rabbis who were alive, and who would have had the blood of innocent Jews on their hands, when Allied victory appeared near, overwhelmingly disagreed with that view.
 
         Harry Eisenberg claims that FDR “gave strict orders” not to bomb Auschwitz and he was asked what his policy was “time and again.” No evidence for this statement exists. I doubt that FDR was ever asked about bombing Auschwitz, because no American Jewish leader or organization of any consequence thought it should be done and none came to him with the idea.
 
         But we are making progress. Mr. Eisenberg agrees that the passengers on the S.S. St. Louis did not return to Germany. Next he may take pleasure in contemplating that it was the Roosevelt administration and the leaders of American Jewry who saved those Jewish passengers in June 1939 from returning to Nazi Germany.
 
         The Roosevelt critics remind me of an old rural South Carolina judge who used to say, “Don’t confuse me with the facts. My mind is made up.”
 

Robert Rosen

Charleston, SC

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

Florida Voters

   Re “Jews Key In South Florida Vote” (news story, Nov. 3):

   As a longtime resident of Boca Raton, a converted Jewish umbilical-cord Democrat, and chair of Jewish Outreach for the Boca Raton Republican Club, I constantly challenge the political intelligence of my fellow Jews here in South Florida.

   I can tell you that many South Florida Jews do not wish their neighbors to know of their political feelings, nor do they register as Republicans because local political leaders peruse voting records. They actually fear that information getting out. The saying down here is, “If they find out I’m a Republican, I’ll be thrown out of the card game and into the pool.” They are scared.
 

Alan Bergstein

Boca Raton, FL

 

W. Hempstead’s Yeshiva Gedolah

   The Oct. 27 two-page spread on West Hempstead highlighted many of the community’s fine resources and featured wonderful pictures of important community figures. I was disappointed, however, that there was no mention of the Yeshiva Gedolah of West Hempstead.
 
   The yeshiva, which is strongly supported by all of West Hempstead’s rabbonim and has been warmly welcomed by the community at large, is housed in the Anshei Shalom Beis Medrash (472 Hempstead Ave). Under the leadership of Rav Zev Cinamon, the yeshiva offers numerous learning opportunitiesto the community at large – including a Thursday night mishmar program, women’s shiurim and a beginner’s Talmud program.
 
   On a personal note, I consider myself most fortunate to have among the yeshiva’s rebbeim individuals who are deeply connected to our community. Rabbis Yossi Azose, Darrell Ginsberg and Akiva Sacknovitz are all residents of West Hempstead and Rabbi Sam Rudansky is a rebbe at HANC.
 

Elliot Koenigsberg

West Hempstead, NY

 

Canceled Conference

 

   Re the cancellation of the scheduled agunah conference in Jerusalem (news story, Nov. 10):
 
   My graduate-school age niece does not understand it: if a woman – one who acts within the legal norms of a halachic community – is a victim of get refusal and cannot protect herself under halacha, doesn’t the halachic community (especially its decisors) have the responsibility to protect her from suffering?
 
   For a couple of years now, I have co-chaired the JOFA Agunah Task Force. At first I shied away from involvement with individual agunot, preferring to put my energies into seeking global solutions.
 
   But I have not been able to stay insulated from individual women in transition who call me all the time, most of them confused as to what to do, seeking money for lawyers, unsure how the bet din works, afraid of losing their children, afraid of becoming pariahs in their communities, afraid their children will not find shidduchim, having husbands who have stolen their yerushahs or having husbands who are influential in the community (or wealthy).
 
   Why have these women, who entered marriage with kiddushin in such good faith, now become so disillusioned with the halachic system? I think the answer is the failed expectation of the justice my niece assumed. Surely that cannot be the last word.
 
   We must intensify our efforts to correct the scourge on Jewish law that puts women at the mercy of exploiting, vengeful husbands in failed marriages. Failure on the part of our community to act can only further the disillusionment of young people. If the notion of communal responsibility does not apply to the plight of agunot, what does? And if the rabbis are not acting now, why not?
 
Batya Levin, Chair
JOFA Agunah Task Force

 

Sympathy For Neturei Karta

   The Oct. 27 Inquiring Photographer column concerned the reaction of Jews to Neturei Karta. I am in my late 40′s and had been a fervent Zionist since my teen years. But last year, after much soul-searching and investigation, I had to end my support of the Zionist state, while at the same time never ceasing to love and defend Eretz Yisrael – which God will eventually permanently give to Am Yisrael.

 
   The two – Zionist state and Eretz Yisrael – are not the same.
 
   Like some of the respondents in the column, I too used to hold Neturei Karta in very low esteem, and wrote them off as self-hating and crazy. But after learning of the collaboration of many secular Zionists with the Nazis during World War Two, I decided to read some of Neturei Karta’s material. I also had occasion to read Rabbi Michoel ber Weissmandl’sMin Hameitzar.
 
   The reason Neturei Karta associates to some extent with Muslims is not understood by those who simply see these meetings on the news. Neturei Karta does this to show Muslims that not all Jews want to harm them – that not all Jews harbor hatred for them. They do this because, in their own way, they feel it is a matter of pikuach nefesh. And they may be right.
 
   Many of your respondents are rather young and do not remember that prior to and during World War II, almost all religious Jews were against the idea of the creation of a Zionist state. The Jews who established the state were almost to a man secular and even anti-religious.
 
   Since becoming a baal teshuvah a number of years ago, I have had occasion to associate with many chassidic Jews, and I find that those who are the most anti-Zionist tend, with few exceptions, to also be the most deeply spiritual and humble in their day-to-day associations. I puzzled for a long time as to why this might be before I realized it’s because they avoid the politics of Zionism and the necessary associations with non-religious Jews that being a Zionist eventually entails. They also have a greater faith that Hashem – and He alone – will deliver our people.
 
   Is it really so wrong to believe that the true Messianic Kingdom cannot be established until Moshiach comes? Is there anyone who trulythinks the secular Zionist state is representative of Torah Judaism? Was the founding of that state simply a man-made desperate act of wanting to force the Redemption without waiting for Hashem and His time?
 
   Worst of all, was the state’s founding simply an attempt by anti-religious Jews to find a way to “be Jewish” without having to be “burdened” with the keeping of the myriad laws of the Torah? For many of those Jews, is the secular state not simply a modern-day golden calf?
 
Chana Rovinsky

Philadelphia, PA

 


 

 

Kahane Was Too Honest

 

      Although Rabbi Meir Kahane was a lover and leader of the Jewish people worldwide and a paragon of truth – the Ultimate Truth – the Jewish Establishment saw the need to silence his words.
 
      We Jews, said the Establishment, are not into that kind of thing. We are better. We are peaceful. We are quiet. We are virtuous.
 
      The Establishment was and is terribly wrong. Reb Meir possessed a certain gravitas, a special skill that enabled him to marshal the support of the people, to galvanize and unify like few others. If only, instead of ostracizing him, we’d given him the opportunity to lead; if only we’d allowed ourselves to be led by a man whose greatness was eclipsed only by his prophetic vision.
 
      He was a genius, a Torah scholar, and an extremely eloquent speaker. All agree he possessed those characteristics. I think the Right – at least the Orthodox Jewish Right – largely acknowledges Rabbi Kahane’s prescience, his uncanny ability to have predicted the events we’ve seen unfold over the sixteen years since his passing. It’s time the rest of the world, however grudgingly, acknowledges it as well.
 
      Is it not time to give Kahaneism a try? We can shelve it if it doesn’t work. Shelve it like we’ve shelved every other preposterous plan that not only has not borne any fruit, but has shed blood and created orphans, widows and widowers; has shattered hearts in the thousands; has broken hopes and dreams in the millions; and has left in its wake sorrow and pain, anguish and surrender.
 
      The blame for all these woes belongs squarely on our shoulders – the shoulders of the Jewish Establishment, the Israeli government, leftists, pacifists, even Orthodox Jews.
 
      At the risk of being labeled a racist and a fascist, I echo Kahane in that as much as I detest seeing the pictures on the evening news of a poor innocent Lebanese child, barely three years old, badly burned, bloodied and severely injured as a result of shrapnel from an Israeli tank shell, I much more deplore visualizing Gilad Shalit or Udi Wasserman or Eldad Regev (and let’s not forget Ron Arad), the poor kidnapped soldiers, in the conditions they must be enduring – and I only cringe when imagining, God forbid, what fate awaits them if we don’t get to them soon.
 
      Call me a racist or a bigot. If my not wishing to see any more Jewish blood spilled; if my crying out for my people, my brothers and sisters; if my defending my country and my countrymen; if my wishing to see an end to the two-thousand-year-old chants of “Soi Juif (Dirty Jew)!” and the inevitable physical manifestations of those chants – if any of these things paints me as a racist or a bigot, I’m prepared and proud to live with such titles.
 
      If Rabbi Kahane had had a louder voice – if the Jewish people, especially the Orthodox, had enabled him to have a louder voice – and if world Jewry had not ostracized him, Israel would today be a bastion of morality, of tranquility, of economic and financial prowess, of total bliss, of light to the world in every way.
 
      Unfortunately, Rabbi Kahane made one fatal mistake and, ironically enough, that fatal mistake only proves and further bolsters his gadlus. He was too honest. He should have lied and cheated and used any and all tactics available to him in order to get votes and avoid assassination. He should have resorted to the very same antics his colleagues in the Knesset do as a matter of routine.
 
      Had I been Rabbi Kahane’s Karl Rove, I would have advised him to sing a liberal tune, and then once in office do a 180, just like they all do. But Reb Meir possessed qualities such as honesty, integrity, loyalty, courage, fealty, menshlichkeit – the very qualities that Shimon Peres, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Barak, Yossi Beilin, Yossi Sarid, Tzipi Livni, Bibi Natanyahu, Ehud Olmert, Amir Peretz, and Israel’s other feckless, spineless politicians have either never had or lost somewhere along the way.
 
      Reb Meir Dovid ben Reb Yechezkel Shraga Ha’Kohen zichrono tzadik V’Kadosh l’bracha l’chayei haolam haba – may God avenge your blood.
 

Rabbi Stephen Polter, Esq.

Elmont Jewish Center

Elmont, NY

 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/letters-to-the-editor/letters-to-the-editor-163/2006/11/15/

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