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Letters Week of Oct. 1, 2009
Report on the Gaza War Rightly Outrages Israelis
Israelis are rightly outraged at the content of the recently issued Goldstone Commission Report on Israel's war in Gaza (Cover story: "Report on Israel's War in Gaza Sparks Debate and Much Protest," Sept. 24).
A few days after the report was published, Richard Goldstone's daughter wrote in The Jerusalem Post that her father is a Zionist and loves Israel.
I would beg to differ. Either he does not love Israel, or he is not very bright. If he were smarter, he would truly understand the world in which Israel lives -- the dangerous world in which all of us live.
If that had been done, the report would have included the following:
· Israel evacuated Israelis from the Gaza Strip so that Palestinians/Gazans could be responsible for their lives as much as possible without Israeli interference. In return, Israel expected that the southern part of the country would be able to live in peace and quiet.
Instead, the leaders of Gaza allowed, and often encouraged, thousands of Kassam rockets to be fired into southern Israel during seven years prior to the war criticized in the report.
It is the belief of this commission, therefore, that had Israel not been subject to indiscriminate and persistent missile attacks from the Gaza Strip, the Jewish state would not have had to send military forces there to defend its civilian population. Therefore, the major responsibility for this war lies with the Palestinian leadership, and specifically, with Hamas. (The report, of course, said no such thing.).
· We acknowledge that the Israeli military forces went to significant lengths to avoid innocent loss of life. This included phone calls to warn civilians to evacuate buildings targeted for military strikes. Informational leaflets were also dropped from aircraft. Needless to say, there was nothing similar done by Hamas with their indiscriminate missile-firing on Israeli civilians.
· Given the above context, it was the responsibility of the commission to investigate the war activities of both sides to determine whether there may have been illegal or immoral use of military force that can be considered war crimes.
Also, the timing of the release of this report -- one week before Rosh Hashanah -- was quite unfortunate.
Together with the incredibly tragic recent death of Assaf Ramon, this U.N. report has certainly added to the festive atmosphere of the holidays.
Richard Edman, M.D.
Conservative Movement's Pitching Wrong Message
In your story "Sweeping Changes Start Shaking Up Conservative Movement" (Nation & World, Sept. 24), an indisputable point was made, in language more common to the business world: If you are marketing to a rapidly shrinking target, it can only lead to a smaller and shrinking enterprise.
Rabbi Steven Wernick, in his interview with the Forward, was right when he stated: "We don't believe," about Conservative Jews. No apology should have been given for his insight. The Conservative movement has never defined the "tradition" it is attempting to preserve and what change that it advocates.
Only Wernick's venue was all wrong.
The Law Committee at the Jewish Theological Seminary has failed to define what the movement believes, nor does it provide support to local rabbis in that belief.
Rather than "process and landmark nondecisions in direct contradiction to the Bible, how about ruling on some issues that ignore political correctness and define the movement?
For example: What does shomer Shabbat mean when synagogues serve communities so large that only a few members can walk, and where electricity flows like water?
What is the role of kashrut when only Orthodox supervision makes kosher-meat products and restaurants available?
When are traditionally male ritual requirements mandatory on women to participate in synagogue life?
The true "market" for the United Synagogue of America is not synagogues, but Conservative Judaism as a whole.