July 21, 2005
The Poverty Answer
Kudos to you for publishing "A Chance to Make Poverty History" (July 1). This op-ed clearly demonstrates the need for strong U.S. leadership and intervention to alleviate global poverty. As a supporter of American Jewish World Service (AJWS), I applaud their work and add to their argument presented that in addition to debt relief for the poorest countries in the world, the U.S. government must also make good on its pledge to increase developmental aid for these countries.
Most Americans are surprised to learn that only 0.16 percent of 1 percent of our gross national product is spent on nonmilitary, humanitarian aid. Prime Minister Tony Blair, economist Jeffrey Sachs, as well as AJWS and others are urging an increase in the budgets of the wealthiest nations to 0.7 percent. International debt relief, an increase in humanitarian aid and fair trade policies that do not impact negatively on the medical needs and livelihoods of the most vulnerable are not only policy positions being taken by AJWS, but what we Jews must support as a people committed to tikkun olam and to social justice.
Judea Pearl's article in your July 15 issue was perhaps the most important one ever printed in The Jewish Journal ("Clash of Ideas Should Be Addressed"). Its importance lies in the fact that it makes obvious the fact that the "peace process" and the "two-state solution" are only fantasies believed in by Peace Now and other self-deluding liberals. Unfortunately, Pearl's solution to the problem seems to be more conferences and "educational programs" to reach "common goals." It seems that, no matter how much Arabs and Muslims repeat that they want to destroy Israel and slaughter Jews, most liberals believe they're just too shy to say they really love us.
Judea Pearl's article points out the continuing objections in the Arab world to a Jewish state. Millions of people may be taught from birth to hate Jews, but I believe that the world knows that Israel cannot be destroyed militarily. Not calling Israel a "Jewish State" may be a small sacrifice in the cause of world peace. It is no secret that Israel is 80 percent Jewish, but Ireland is 88 percent Roman Catholic and is not referred to as the Roman Catholic State of Ireland. The United States is 80 percent Christian, but we are not known as the Christian United States (even if evangelicals would like it.)
All eyes are now focused on the Palestinians. If they are sincere about a Palestinian state alongside Israel, they must make the Gaza Strip a viable, peaceful ministate. If the opportunity is missed and the Arabs persist in the intention to destroy Israel, then the world must face the reality that Israel, and the other modern Western democracies, are the "good guys" in the Middle East.
Martin J. Weisman
Matter of Ritual
Rabbi Debra Orenstein's column on Parshat Chukat in your July 8 issue was one of the most meaningful pieces on the Torah I have ever read in the pages of The Jewish Journal ("Ritual's Mysteries"). Her rational for a Jew to do the chukim, those laws God requires of us which are not based on logic, as a way of showing our love for God, was beautifully articulated. Her reasoning also struck a chord for me as a religious Jew. Orenstein makes, by logical extension of her perceptive insights, a compelling argument that one could lead the most fulfilling spiritual life by following all of God's laws, whether we understand them or not. God has created numerous opportunities for us to exhibit our love for and commitment to Him. By doing what is asked from us we can experience the remarkable nature of the relationship with God to which Orenstein alludes.
Millions worldwide stopped what they were doing for two minutes in respectful silence for the innocent victims of the Islamist suicide bombers in London ("London's Jews Carry On After Blast," July 15). Hundreds of blameless have been murdered by the same breed of Islamic extremists in Israel, Russia , Iraq, Pakistan, etc.
During the past five years, there have been a multitude of such bus bombings in Israel where hundreds have been killed and maimed for life. Why has the world never shown this respectful two-minute silence for the guiltless mothers, fathers and children who lost their lives to the indoctrinated terrorists of Islam? I do not scapegoat the Muslim religion, I blame the agglomeration of terrorist Islamists that have unrestricted entry into western democracies to spew forth their dogmas and to indoctrinate the vulnerable.
To paraphrase Ernst Klein, " If we sleep in democracy, we wake up in tyranny."
It is difficult to believe that the general Muslim population wants integration in the West as they demand from their host countries the allowance of their own Sharia laws. Towns exist, in such countries as Denmark, where the populations are run by such Sharia law. The law enforcement agencies in Denmark are daunted by the prospect of entering these towns.
Many in the world community have been critical of the fence that Israel is building to avoid suicide bombers. However, since its inception, there has been a drastic reduction in these incidents. Is it too late in the game to improve the dykes holding back the flow of insurgency into the Western democracies? At present, Western democracies revere life and those with the revolutionary Islamist dogmas seem to revere death.