March 30, 2000
Re: "Our Birthright," by Gene Lichtenstein (Jan. 15):
A Jewish tour of Europe certainly would be enlightening for some, but clearly an Israel experience is more fundamental and transformative, appealing to Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jews alike.
An Israel program is a "whole body" Jewish experience. When students visit Israel, they get to soak in all of its variety, its reality, its problems and promises. They breathe in Jewish life and history and creativity 24 hours a day, and build an inner, intangible understanding of the Jewish tapestry. An Israel experience shatters the negative stereotypes crafted by local news reports and anti-Israel activists, just as it challenges the rosy stereotypes built up in romantic Jewish literature and film. An Israel program prods our Jewish youth to make Israel's complex, real issues part of their own concerns.
While there are important chapters of Jewish history in Europe, Israel is at the heart of the eternal Jewish story.
Associate Executive Director
Los Angeles Hillel Council
When the prime minister of Israel makes an issue of freeing Jonathan Pollard in connection with an important Arab/Israel peace treaty, it indicates to me that the Jewish American community has a stake in Pollard's incarceration or release, and Pollard must have given Israel important and major secrets ("Keeping a Low Profile," Jan. 15).
Pollard apparently has never apologized and is unrepentant, which is of considerable significance and concern in his present pleas for release. He clearly put the interests of another country ahead of the U.S. Even if "friends spy on friends," Jewish Americans should not be proud or tolerant of a Jew who betrays this country.
Those seeking his release are obliged to show significant evidence mitigating Pollard's betrayal. That Netanyahu would raise the issue of Pollard's release, when the U.S. is attempting to achieve peace for his country, is the height of chutzpah, and should give American Jews pause in their fervor to free a convicted traitor.
The Jewish American community should save its "currency" and requests for more important, significant, and justifiable causes than Pollard. Other than his being Jewish, why are we so involved and aggressive in seeking his release against the apparently well-taken objections of leaders of the intelligence community and other respected officials.
Thomas H. Greenwald
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