Failed the test
The article by Barbara Goldman and David Streeter (“Medals are not given for being inconsistent,” WJW, April 4) fails the test of honesty and objectivity. It was written to further President Obama’s domestic political agenda rather than contribute to resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian stalemate. It highlights Obama’s receipt of a special Israeli Medal of Distinction as if this medal has any real significance. One is reminded of the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Obama in 2009 and his recent inconsistency in retracting his 2009 statement in Cairo in which he parroted the Muslim line that Israel was the result of the Holocaust.
They cite examples of Obama’s “sincere efforts of support for Israel,” failing to distinguish between weak rhetoric and persuasive action. Yes, Obama voiced concern over the Palestinian U.N. effort to achieve statehood and the Goldstone Report. However, he took no action to cut off U.N. funding over the vote, (as previous presidents have threatened to do), nor to pressure members of the U.N. to reject the Goldstone Report.
The writers deceptively credit Obama with “taking the lead on securing $275 million for the Iron Dome defense system.” In fact, Congress, initially encouraged by President Bush in 2007, initiated legislation to fund Iron Dome and have done so every year since. Obama is only the conduit. To credit Obama for funding of Iron Dome is specious and self-serving.
Most egregiously, the writers, and Obama, failed the test of objectivity and balance by not identifying steps the Palestinians need to take to end the conflict. These include: 1) Acknowledge and accept Israel as a Jewish state; 2) Cease incitement to violence in their schools, news outlets and mosques; 3) Stop glorifying terrorists by naming squares, streets and boulevards after suicide bombers; 4) Cease support for the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) efforts to delegitimize Israel; and 5) Change the charters of both the P.A. and HAMAS that call for elimination of Israel.
WARREN A. MANISON
The blame game
In his column (“Nakba’s hidden meaning,” WJW, April 11), Aaron Leibel claims to express compassion for Palestinians, whose history is rife with suffering. But that is not the focus of Mr. Leibel’s piece. Instead, he poses the question, “Why did they suffer?”
This rhetoric of blame that is so characteristic of parts of the American Jewish establishment is extremely counterproductive. When dealing with such a complex conflict, anyone can play the blame game. Indeed, by selectively choosing facts from the past 70 years, one can create a compelling argument for the validity of both the traditional Israeli and Palestinian narratives. Regrettably, many in the Jewish community play this “politics of blame” to justify inaction today.
To be sure, as Mr. Leibel points out, changes are necessary among the Palestinians and the entire Arab World. Yet, we have been witnessing that change – from the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, to the vital security efforts of the Palestinian Authority, to the Arab World’s unanimous support of the notion of two states for two peoples at the United Nations in November. Let’s have the humility to recognize that we have no monopoly on truth or on peace-seeking, nor are we guiltless.
What some in the American Jewish community fail to ask is, “How can I help bring the sides together to achieve peace?” Let’s put aside the childish and destructive blame game and take responsibility for ending the suffering of Israelis and Palestinians. If you aren’t at least trying to do that, how “pro-Israel” are you, really?
ASHER MAYERSON, Co-Chair of J Street U Dartmouth
Remembering his uncle
I very much enjoyed Arno Rosenfeld’s article on the Canadian internees during World War II (“Exhibit recalls Jewish refugees and Nazi prisoners held together in Canadian prisons,” WJW, April 4). My uncle, Joel J. Gehler, was one of them. He had escaped from Vienna when the Gestapo came to take him to a forced labor camp in 1939. Fortunately he was not at home and immediately made his way to London where he stayed with relatives.
He was arrested as an enemy alien and sent to Quebec on a British ship in 1940. While onboard, he became friends with a fellow detainee named Fritz von Lingen. When the ship arrived in Quebec, there was a welcoming party including the governor-general, the Earl of Athlone, an occurrence which seemed very odd to the passengers. It turned out “Fritz” was actually Prince Friedrich von Preussen and a descendant of Queen Victoria. Their stay in Canada was made more bearable thanks to the food parcels Fritz regularly received – and shared with Joel.
They were returned to England to help with the war effort when it was determined that they were not the enemy and therefore no threat to the Allied cause. Joe worked for the Oxfordshire War Agricultural Executive Committee where he drove German POWs to and from farms where they were assigned to work.
Joel married a co-worker, became a British subject and ran a construction supply business until his death in 1986. After the war, “Fritz” married Lady Bridget Guinness, an heiress to the brewing fortune. He built luxury hotels throughout Europe until his death in 1966.
FRANCES D. MENDELSOHN
Thanks for J Street story
As an American Jew and strong supporter of Israel I was pleased to see your extensive coverage of J Street (“J Street’s growing pains,” WJW, April 11). I was delighted when J Street first appeared on the scene. Its “Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace” agenda meshed perfectly with my own ideas of what is necessary to achieve peace, security and justice for all those living in the region.
All vibrant communities have differences of opinion. What is important is that all sides treat each other with respect and listen to what the other has to say. No reasonable solutions can be found in an atmosphere of “My way or the Highway” confrontation. I strongly believe that J Street has the right approach and am saddened when fellow Jews attack these views without even giving them an opportunity to be heard. The statistics you cited regarding J Street’s amazingly rapid growth in only five years attest to the fact that thousands of American Jews have found a home in an organization that truly represents their position on the critical issues facing Israel in the next few years.
BARBARA VAN VOORST
Only the most extreme, confrontational and provocative person would even consider an attempt to show up at a church, mosque or even a state dinner in a bathing suit. Anyone with a grain of maturity would remove a hat or shoes or wear attire respectful and appropriate for the venue. Only the whimsical influence of secularism could inspire one to challenge the principals of Torah at the Kotel (an Orthodox synagogue) in such a ridiculous way. Maturity is the balance between courage and consideration.
Judaism has been reformed, reconstructed and reinvented in multiple iterations since its establishment in the liberation of a people from human bondage for a divine purpose and service not just to wander aimlessly in some hedonistic and existential void. The story is retold in detail every year at Passover in more than 130 consecutive generations since the event.
“You can play cricket with a tennis racket and you may have an enjoyable time doing so or have even invented a wonderful new game, but there is one thing it is not. It’s not cricket!”
If they move it to another part of the wall with a privacy screen, they can do it topless, wearing tefillin and carrying a tennis racket for all I care. Follow your bliss, just call it something else and do it somewhere else. Let’s all respect religious freedom.
“The freedom to swing your arms ends where the other fellow’s nose begins,” B. Franklin.