Letters week of Jan. 1, 2009

The Argument's Clearly Well-Meaning, but Flawed

Judea Pearl's belief that apologies by Israelis and Palestinians to each other will create peace is well-meaning, but faulty (Opinion: "Proper Words Must Be Found to Reignite Peace Process," Dec. 4).

The root cause of the Arab war on Israel is an Arab-Muslim determination to destroy the Jewish state. Palestinian refugees and loss of territory are the direct results of the wars waged, and so are consequences — not causes — of the conflict. The so-called "injustices" suffered by Palestinians stem from their own aggression.

Trying to appease Arab parties symbolically — or by territorial and other concessions — is futile, as nothing will change until the culture of Palestinian society is de-Nazified.

As long as Palestinian media, mosques, schools and youth camps incite hatred and murder of Jews — and sports teams, schools and streets are named in honor of suicide bombers — clever formulas will not resolve the situation.

Michael Goldblatt


Board of Directors

Greater Philadelphia District Zionist Organization of America

Article Constructed Solely on a Utopian Dream

I'm just astounded at the naivété expressed in Judea Pearl's opinion piece "Proper Words Must Be Found to Reignite Peace Process," in the Dec. 4 Jewish Exponent.

In his last paragraph, he expresses the only rational thought in the article, when he admits that the speech that President Mahmoud Abbas must make to secure peace is utopian. Unfortunately, his entire article is utopian.

Professors, as a whole, live in a world of fantasy. Thus, Pearl sees the beginning of the peace process as an Israeli apology for creating the refugee problem. If those Jews just hadn't fought back when the Arab League attacked in 1948, there would be no problem, and we all would be living side by side in harmony.

Of course, since the purpose of Arab aggression was to destroy the Jewish state along with its population, the "we" above would only include Palestinians.

Any such Israeli apology would certainly have an effect on the peace process. It would convince the Palestinians that their constant attacks have weakened Israeli resolve — and further attacks will rid them of the Jewish presence in their midst.

Pearl believes that the right set of words will promote peace. Unfortunately, the words that will produce peace as interpreted through the professor's lens will be interpreted by the Palestinians only through their own lens.

Steve Heitner
Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.

'Keeping the Flame Alive' May Mean Rejecting Ads

Your editorial in the Dec. 18 issue of the Jewish Exponent ("Chanukah's Challenge") correctly mentioned that the ideal of Chanukah is "a refusal to bow down to the idols of popular culture of the day" in an "atmosphere … in which assimilation is rampant."

Yet the Exponent, supported and housed by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, has accepted advertisements from restaurants selling crab and shrimp specials.

And your Life Cycles section happily notes the engagement of "assimilated couples."

In fairness and full disclosure, I am not frum, but many of your readers are. I certainly understand why they would be upset reading the paper — and then not supporting your otherwise good works.

In the last paragraph of the editorial, you say that keeping the flame of Jewish identity takes sacrifices. Would it not be just a small sacrifice to change some Exponent policies "in order to keep the flame alive"?

Michael P. Marinoff

How Can Jews Treat Other Jews So Cruelly?

I have watched videos of the expulsion of citizens from Beit Hashalom, "the Peace House," in Hebron, and read many news articles (Cover story: "Showdown in Hebron, as Settlers Evicted," Dec. 11) — and I am ashamed that Jews can treat other Jews with such cruelty.

Israel can no longer claim to be a democratic nation. Those who objected to the expulsion had a right to protest.

To call the youths who demonstrated the forcible ouster as "out of control" and "criminals" may have been an attempt to degrade their aims — the same tactic that's been used to smear settlers as the enemies of peace (in reality, the settlers have always been the advance guard fighting Arab terrorists).

The history of the Jews repeatedly shows that our leaders, in an attempt to gain acceptance from other nations, will be willing to sacrifice their fellow Jews.

Julius Romanoff

Can the Orthodox Be Called Just 'Orthodox'?

Can an Orthodox Jew just be Orthodox, without being "fervently Orthodox," as the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reporter wrote six times in the news article "Secular Candidates' Victory in Jerusalem Greeted with Relief" that appeared in the Nov. 20 issue of the Jewish Exponent?

Is this labeling really necessary? Why can't we all just be Jews? Heaven knows there are enough ignorant people who label us. Do we have to do this to one another?

A little tolerance would not be out of place.

Marilyn Halpern


Watch Your Yiddish, 'Cause Someone Else Is!

Robert Leiter's review of Benjamin Harshav's book, The Moscow Yiddish Theater (Speaking Volumes: "Stage Left," Dec. 4), contains an error: "Moskver Idisher Melukhisher Teatr" does not mean "Moscow Yiddish Royal Theater," as he wrote.

The Yiddish word for "royal" is Kiniglikh, which does not appear in the Yiddish name of the theater.

Melukhisher means "state."

Shaurain Farber
Bronx, N.Y.

Robert Leiter responds: Unfortunately, you're shooting the messenger. That "translation," per se, appeared in a direct quote from the author. I relied on his expertise, you suggest faultily. But that was Professor Harshav's rendering of the Yiddish, not mine.


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