December 8, 2010
Letters to the Editor: Yeshivas and Settlements
Are Settlements the Issue?
Surely, like other ideologues, historian David N. Myers means well when he claims that “settlements [on the West Bank] are the major impediment to Israel’s future as a Jewish state,” as he denigrates Dennis Prager for his thesis that the settlements are not the problem in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (“Settlements Are the Issue,” Dec. 3). Myers (conveniently?) overlooks the many facts that support Prager’s position.
Most significant, Myers states, “If settlements remain ... then the region between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea will become one political entity. And ... the majority of the residents ... will be Palestinian.” Therefore, he argues, as a democracy, Israel will have to grant all residents the right to vote; and then the Palestinian majority will vote a virtual end to the State of Israel.
Aside from the fact that Israel’s “occupation” of those territories is a myth, the Israeli settlements are located primarily near the current Israeli border. The rest of the West Bank (with or without the Gaza Strip) could easily be forged into a “Palestinian” state – independent of the State of Israel.
Kudos to Dennis Prager for his independent analysis and his courage to go against the tide of political correctness.
History, which is Mr. Myers’ raison d’etre for this article, shows us that most of his arguments are baseless and hold no merit. But first allow me to agree with his biggest concern that I do share —the effect of the occupation on Israel as a democratic country. For years I have decried the negative effect the occupation has had on Israel as a nation and on its citizens as humane human beings. As the saying goes, power corrupts, and it has had this effect on soldiers and policemen guarding and controlling Arab populations, it has had the same effect on the settlers themselves and on Israel’s population as a whole to some degree.
Another concern of Mr. Myers that I used to share is the changing demographic in favor of the Arab population if we do not separate the two peoples as the two-state solution dictates.
Now let me dispel the concerns and theory the learned professor has put forward.
1. Until very recently the settlement freeze was not an issue, negotiations came and went with no real results and any reason to believe a peace settlement is feasible. Neither Arafat nor Abu Mazen claims the continued construction was the only hurdle to the peace process. It was well understood that most of the settlements, including those surrounding Jerusalem, will stay on the Israeli side of the peace agreement. The freeze is the brainchild of president Obama as an effort to further appease the Arab countries and it has picked up momentum [faster] than a snowball.
I’m sure we will be innovative enough in the coming years to figure out a way to allow the Palestinians to continue their life in a semi-autonomous environment that will assure Israel a safe way of life while not depriving the Palestinians (those among them that are assured rights by their laws and exclude women, gays, Christians) of a free environment to define their destiny with a few limitations that include restriction on efforts associated with the destruction of Israel.
If we will not find that solution, we may have to settle for a not fully democratic system of law, a possibility that may shock many in this wonderful country. The Palestinians will still have a much better and prosperous life than under any Muslim regime and Israel will be able to continue to exist. Not perfect but it beats having to swim all the way to New York.
Martin J. Weisman
Contrasts Between Secular Universities, Charedi Yeshivas
Unlike virtually all of his other Jewish Journal screeds, Dennis Prager’s column (“Ultra-Orthodox Yeshivas and Secular Universities,” Dec. 3) is only half wrong. Prager correctly condemns the Israeli government’s policy of paying 65 percent of Charedi Jewish men to study Torah, rather than work. However, he goes spectacularly off the rails with this non sequitur: “Most secular left professors and most ultra-Orthodox yeshiva scholars are mirror images of one another.”
After quickly glossing over the obvious distinction that college professors are paid to work while Charedi “scholars” are paid not to do so, Prager embarks upon an anti-intellectual and anti-academic jeremiad whose bottom line is that American universities are a secular left “cocoon.”
As a graduate of Claremont Men’s (now McKenna) College, I wonder if Prager had in mind one of my alma mater’s icons — Harry Victor Jaffa, who authored Barry Goldwater’s 1964 GOP nomination acceptance speech? Could he have forgotten Milton Friedman and the University of Chicago? What about the Hoover Institution at Stanford University? Or Brigham Young University? Bob Jones University? All hotbeds of secular liberalism?
Prager’s mantra is clear: I hate all liberals; facts, logic and reason be damned. How sad that The Jewish Journal wastes valuable trees to publish such drivel.
As usual with Dennis Prager, he cites not one fact to back up his outrageous statements. He goes on with his rant of the “left” by saying these teachers devote their life to the study of increasingly irrelevant matters, with the results that lack wisdom and therefore too often produce nonsense, sometimes harmful nonsense.
I assume Mr. Prager concludes that conservative teachers never teach liberal arts. Prager should do at least a minimal amount of research before writing his columns. The dictionary defines liberal arts as “the studies (as language, philosophy, history, literature, abstract science) in a college or university intended to provide chiefly general knowledge and to develop the general intellectual capacities (as reason and judgment) as opposed to professional or vocational skills.” It is apparent that Mr. Prager is saying that he and the conservative right have no interest in developing the capacities of reason and judgment.
Leon M. Salter