Letters the Week of Sept. 26, 2013


Why peace in the Middle East has been elusive plus praise for a story about Birthright trips.

The Reasons Why Peace Has Been Elusive

Jonathan Tobin, in his Sept. 19 opinion piece, “Oslo 20 Years Later: Have the Lessons Been Learned?”, puts his finger on why there have been several decades of failure to achieve peace in the Middle East.

In any negotiations, Israel’s purpose has been to produce two states, one Jewish and one Palestinian, living side by side in peace. The PLO’s purpose was to gain an advantage to produce one Palestinian state, with no Jews permitted within its borders.That is why they’ve rejected having their own state alongside Israel three times, refused to permit any Jews in the territories they control, and why their leadership openly states that if a Palestinian entity is formed, no Jewish presence will be permitted.

In order for peace talks to succeed, both parties must be prepared to compromise and create an atmosphere of trust. Israel, by giving up Gaza, uprooting settlers and by accepting a Palestinian state with half of Jerusalem as its capital, has done just that.

The Palestinians, by refusing to cease terror attacks on innocent civilians, fomenting hatred in their media and schools, and refusing to abide by the terms of previous agreements, have not.

The Western media and governments have completely ignored these failures. At the same time, they’ve continually attacked the Jewish state when the talks inevitably broke down. The problem is and always has been Palestinian intransigence, not Israel’s refusal to make concessions. The West’s inability to grasp these facts explains why peace has been elusive.

Steve Heitner | Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.

Birthright Story Hits Home for Reader

Bryan Schwartzman’s recent article “Back From Birthright — Now What?” (which first appeared in Inside magazine and ran online Sept. 4) really struck home. Taglit was, for me, an experience that changed my life.

Since I had graduated college early, I decided to return to Israel a month after my Taglit trip for a Masa internship program, followed by a New York University Extension Masters Program in Israel. I ended up meeting the person who is now my husband, an Israeli, while I was there, and by so doing, gained a family of more than 200. My connection to Israel is also a very special one, as I miss it dearly.

Samantha Pearlman-Mazuz | Margate, N.J.

Stiffel Article Omits Some Details

I would like to comment on Bryan Schwartzman’s Sept. 12 article on the Stiffel building in South Philadelphia, “Stiffel Building Gets Historic Designation,” as it does not give enough detail.

In 1929, the Jewish Federation built two buildings in South Philadelphia. One building was erected at 508 Moore St. and was known as Jewish Education Center No. 1 (JEC #1). The second center at Marshall and Porter streets was called Jewish Education Center No. 2 (JEC #2).

Basically, they were used to teach “Talmud Torah” to the large population of children. I attended adult evening school there. But as years went by, the Jewish population moved out of South Philadelphia and the building on Moore Street was closed.

Albert Romm | Philadelphia


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