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 [email protected] 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

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