U.S. Jews’ Priorities

Hillel Halkin’s May 13 op-ed (“The Bush Conundrum”) was the best defense of President Bush I’ve read anywhere. The only problem is that Mr. Halkin assumes that your typical liberal American Jew has Israel at the center of his or her priorities, and nothing could be less true.
Ask a sampling of Jewish women living in Manhattan or Boston or Berkeley if the survival of Israel is more important to them than the availability of quick, easy and legal abortion. Ask a random selection of Jewish students on any university campus if a strong and secure Israel is dearer to them than the absolutist secular agenda pursued the ACLU/People for the American Way/Democratic Party axis.

The majority of American Jews long ago threw out any semblance of meaningful Judaism and took as their religion the doctrines of hyper-liberalism. That’s why when I hear someone joking that Jews are such ardent Democrats that most would vote for a Jesse Jackson or an Al Sharpton for president against a conservative Republican (especially a religious conservative Republican), I don’t laugh. Because I know they really would.

Steven Bachman
New York, NY

Mr. Bachman,
Meet Mr. Been

I don’t believe Mr. Halkin understands the dynamic of the American Jewish populace. Yes, it is true that Mr. Bush has backed Israel like no other president has. And yes, Israelis may not understand why American Jews are revolted by the man. But they must understand that American Jews are American and Jewish. Not all American, and not all Jewish; but a combination of the two.

If all things in America, politics, and economics were on an even keel, and the general populace was not bombarded daily by bad news, then Israel might become a larger topic. But politically, the far right is trying to change the fundamental rights found in America, and economically, people are struggling to keep what they have earned and saved.

There is an assault on the basic values of American life. I believe that this takes more precedent currently than liking Bush because of what he does for Israel.

Therefore, it is not a conundrum. It is a basic misunderstanding of the current state of America by Mr. Halkin.

Michael Been
(Via E-Mail)

Legal Case Against Sharon

Very desperate times cry out for very desperate measures. Therefore, parallel with massive civil disobedience (reminiscent of Martin Luther King’s protests) high profile and powerful opponents to Sharon’s “disengagement” expulsion plan must now utilize the legal justifications set forth by Jewish Press columnist Louis Beres and constitutional law expert Howard Grief to thwart this plan.

Professor Beres is an expert in international law. He is also the impetus behind Project Daniel (the policy paper given to Sharon and Bush detailing the legal and necessary underpinnings for preemption against enemy nuclear targets). He has also written “Confronting ‘Disengagement’: Israel, Civil Disobedience and the Higher Law” which can be found at NATIV Online (www.acpr.org.il/ENGLISH-NATIV). This outstanding policy paper lends the absolute legal and moral weight needed to bring charges against the Sharon government for executing the patently illegal “disengagement” expulsion plan.

Howard Grief’s policy paper (also at NATIV), “The Transfer of Jews,” demonstrates beyond a shadow of a legal doubt through Articles 6 and 11 of the Mandate for Palestine, and through the Law of Return, that “if the unilateral disengagement plan is implemented, all the members of the government, including Prime Minister Sharon, could be charged with the crime of treason. Such a charge would actually be officially made if Israel had an Attorney General who truly applied the provisions on treason found in the Penal Code and warned the members in advance of what they were about to do.” Included in this policy paper are many other legal justifications for charges to be brought against the Sharon government.

The above quoted words are a stunning basis for lawsuits that are urgently needed against the Sharon government. While much of the focus so far has been on the immoral aspect of the disengagement expulsion plan, the legal case against it is overwhelming, and is codified both in Israel’s national law and in international law.

Adina Kutnicki
Elmwood Park, NJ

Jewish State Expelling Jews

The Warsaw Ghetto revolt was launched by a relatively small band of poorly armed and poorly trained Jews. Nevertheless, they were able to battle the vaunted Wehrmacht to a standstill. The German commander General Stroop had to ask Berlin for reinforcements. Only with that aid and a fiery scorched earth policy were the Nazis finally able to subdue the courageous Jews after 33 bloody days and nights.

Israel, thank God, has well-trained armed forces equipped with the latest sophisticated hi-tech weapons. Yet, strangely, the IDF has been unable to defeat a few thousand Arab terrorists for the past four and a half years – the result of the prime minister’s decision to constrain the military in favor of political expediency.

Today, Israeli security forces are being trained and mobilized at great financial cost not to defeat the brutal enemy but to expel 8,500 fellow Jews from their homes, factories, schools, synagogues, and even their graves – an incredible and horrible turn of events.

Consequently, concerned Americans must clearly and unequivocally explain to Mr. Sharon on his forthcoming visit to the United States that his disengagement policy is immoral, suicidal, and certainly not kosher. Rather, it is an abomination that sixty years after the Holocaust, the only country in the world engaged in expulsion of Jews is the Jewish state.

Chaim ben Zvi
(Via E-Mail)

Turning Excess Into A Mitzvah

I just returned from a fabulous Pesach vacation. It was amazing to me how much food was thrown out after every meal. I would like to suggest that the hosts and caterers of the various programs sponsor a poor family. This would be a very nice way to perform the mitzvah of maos chitim. Local rabbonim would determine eligibility for sponsorship, and the only cost to the host and caterer would be that of the room.

Heshy Gottlieb
Edison, NJ

Congressional Obstructionism

The proposal Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist sent to his Democrat colleagues last week could not have been a more fair compromise to end Democratic obstruction of President Bush’s highly qualified judicial nominees. Leader Frist’s proposal would guarantee President Bush’s nominees a fair up or down vote on the Senate floor while allowing all Senators an opportunity to have their say through a guaranteed 100 hours of debate.

This is a reasonable resolution to the Democrats’ unprecedented use of the filibuster against President Bush’s nominees, and would ensure that the filibuster remains intact for use against legislation. Democrats are obstructing President Bush’s nominees because they know that these nominees will strictly interpret the law, not legislate from the bench. Democrats have even gone so far as to say they will “shut down” the Senate if they do not get their way on judicial nominations.

One of President Bush’s nominees, Janice Rogers Brown, grew up as the daughter of Alabama sharecroppers and became the first African American woman to serve on the California Supreme Court. In 1998, Californians reelected her with 76 percent of the vote. The majority of senators support her nomination for a federal judgeship, but Democrats are standing in the way of her receiving an up or down vote on the Senate floor.

Chayim Leib Weiss
(Via E-Mail)

My Moment With Sharansky

In 1987, Natan Sharansky was a guest speaker at a university in Birmingham, Alabama. News of the event was reported in a local newspaper in Memphis. Tennessee. I was bedridden at the time, recovering from a near fatal automobile accident. Coincidently, I had been reading Sharansky’s book Fear No Evil a short time before I saw the announcement of his speaking engagement.

Fear No Evil was so powerful and inspiring for me that I made a determined decision to leave my bed and drive down to Birmingham to hear him speak. My doctor and my wife reluctantly gave their permission – provided I find a companion to accompany me. Carl Diamond, a”h, a Holocaust survivor, cousin, and close friend, agreed to drive down with me.

We arrived on campus early and entered a large auditorium before anyone else came in. We took seats all the way up front, in the first row behind a roped-off section reserved for faculty and dignitaries. The students poured in and filled the auditorium beyond capacity.

The first thing Carl and I noticed was that we were the only ones wearing yarmulkes. A door at the back of the stage opened and Sharansky entered accompanied by the Dean and two other gentlemen. Carl and I were the only ones to stand up at their entrance. Sharansky’s eyes met ours, and he smiled.

At the conclusion of the program, the Dean announced that those interested in a question and answer session could assemble next door in the adjoining building. As the large room quickly filled to sardine-can capacity, Carl and I were pushed all the way to the back of the room. The Dean was a tall man, and I could see him. Sharansky, much shorter, was barely visible. The Dean asked those who wanted to ask a question to raise their hands. Many hands went up. After several questions were answered, I decided to try my luck.

I raised my hand, and the Dean immediately pointed to me. Instead of asking my question from the back of the room, I – together with Carl – pushed my way up front and came face to face with Sharansky. I introduced myself: “I am Norman Shine from Memphis, Tennessee, and this is Carl Diamond, also from Memphis, formerly from Auschwitz.”

The Dean let out an audible gasp. I told Sharansky that we had driven down from Memphis to hear him speak, and I said I’d read his book. Then I said, “Mr. Sharansky, I do not have a question, I have a thousand questions. Since I cannot ask you a thousand questions, I just want to say that I love you, and I respect you.”

With that, his eyes moistened. He grabbed me in a bear hug and lifted me off the floor. An unforgettable moment.

That was 1987. Sharansky was brilliant in Birmingham and heroic before that as a prisoner of conscience under the Soviets. May 6, 2005, eighteen years later, The Jewish Press featured a front page story with the headline “Sharansky Resigns – Will Fight Gaza Pullout.”

I agree with Sharansky’s position and urge full support for him and for it, along with his promotion to the highest office. My suggestion to any Jew skeptical of my recommendation: go read Fear No Evil.

Norman Shine
Brooklyn, NY

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