Ann Coulter claimed that "Jews believe that my savior, a Jew, was [a] raving lunatic" ("Over-Clamor Over Coulter's Comments," Oct. 19). No Ann, we don't. But many of us think that Ann Coulter is a raving lunatic.
I'm no fan of Ann Coulter and her rhetoric and public persona is quite nasty ("Over-Clamor Over Coulter's Comments," Oct. 19). However, I must disagree with the characterization of Coulter's comments as "hate speech" or "anti-Semitic." Her statements reflect long-standing Christian doctrine for millennia to the present.
If Jews want to be offended -- consider this: From 1950-2000, there has been little or no change in the Jewish population (at about 5 million to 6 million) in the United States despite large migrations of Jews from the Middle East and the former Soviet Union. There are studies that suggest that with comparable overall population growth in this region----there should have been 25 million Jews in America in 2000. Where are the "missing" 20 million Jews? I'm not aware of any forced baptisms, inquisitions, nor an auto-de-fe during that time interval.
In addition, Time magazine in an article on religion in America showed statistically that Jews are the least religious, the least observant and the least likely to believe in God compared to Protestants and Catholics.
Just this week, with reference to the Southern California fires, Bill Handel on KFI 640 interviewed an FBI profiler on the personality characteristics of an arsonist. Handel referred to a fire started in a warehouse or business for the purpose of collecting on the insurance as "Jewish lightening." Handel is a Jew. Offended?
By the way -- Tomas Torquemada, the chief inquisitor was likely of Jewish ancestry as were many antagonists of the Jewish community during that terrible period.
Jewish ethical and character "perfection" is a worthy goal -- "we" just disagree with Coulter on the means to that end.
Having just returned from an extended stay in the center of Jerusalem, I can tell you that it is most common to see many Arab families peacefully walking through malls, shopping in supermarkets and picnicking in public places. ("An Orthodox Rabbi's Plea: Consider a Divided Jerusalem," Oct. 26).
In fact, it is so common, that it evokes my anger to think that I would not feel comfortable doing the same in East Jerusalem.
Almost all of the workers and staff in the hotels are Arabs and it is difficult to discern the difference between a Jewish taxi driver and an Arab. Socialized medicine affords Israeli Arabs medical care equal to Jewish citizens and Arabs have their own political parties and seats in the Knesset. What practical improvement would the Arabs receive by giving away part of our precious and holy city?
We must never let our bleeding hearts cloud the essence of who we are as a people. We are Jews because of our heritage and the center of that heritage is our beloved capital, Jerusalem.
I thank Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky for reminding me, and so many of my colleagues, what it means to be a rabbi. Sometimes the circumstances of the world demand that we speak out in unpopular ways, but most of us lack the moral courage to do so. Even those who disagree with Rabbi Kanefsky must know that we will only achieve peace in our beloved Israel when Jewish and Palestinian leaders guide our communities toward honest and even painful discourse.
I hope that the trust that Rabbi Kanefsky has built over many years of working with deep sensitivity across political and denominational lines will cause people to treat him with the respect and understanding that I know he would offer each of us. I call on all of my colleagues, beneficiaries of Rabbi Kanefsky's humility, grace and courage, to support him and follow his lead in serving as true luminaries in this time of darkness and confusion.
Rabbi Sharon Brous
I applaud Rabbi Kanefsky's courage and support wholeheartedly his comments. Nothing should be off the table in the search for real peace for Israel, the Mideast and the world.
It was interesting to read the letters in response to Rabbi Kanefsky's opinion piece ("An Orthodox Rabbi's Plea: Consider a Divided Jerusalem," Oct. 26). It is apparent that the letter writers divide into 2 camps-non-Orthodox, secular or non-Jewish pacifists/leftists/dreamers; and the Orthodox mainstream, and political conservatives. The Orthodox community will not be influenced by Kanefsky's opinions [political or religious], and one can only pray that he does not become a tool of leftists and anti-Zionist elements to harm Israel.
S. Z. Newman
We Jews have more than our share of delusional egotists like Rabbi Kanefsky who sets himself up as more wise than the Torah. And recall also the Netura Karta "rabbis" who ran to attend the anti-Israeli hate-fest in Iran and were photographed with Mahmoud Ahmadinijad. They even offered a prayer for divine support in response to Iran's promise to destroy Israel. Kanefsky and his ilk, in a related type of action, now revel in undeserved attention while other Jewish leftists are joining in to support him. We Jews are a strange people with some who are true saints and others who sink to the depths of moral self-debasement.
Bravo Rabbi Kanefsky for breaking the Orthodox taboo on discussing the possibility of sharing Jerusalem!
It is the ultimate chutzpa for Rabbi Kanefsky to advocate dividing the holy city of Jerusalem. Hasn't he learned anything from the tragedy of Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza? Sixty percent of its former residents have still not found permanent housing. The sad truth is Gaza has become home to Hamas terrorists who vow to destroy the Jewish state. If Rabbi Kanefsky is honest with himself he will admit that appeasement never works. Israel must wait to have a sincere peace partner before any division of land can begin.
When Rabbi Kanefsky makes aliyah he will have a legitimate right to publicize his political views.Phyllis Herskovitz
Please convey our deepest appreciation to Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky for telling the truth in the place that was designed for truth: the synagogue and now, in the pages of The Jewish Journal. As the parties prepare for the Maryland conference, Rabbi Kanefsky's words might help prevent another peace "orphan" like Oslo.
Peace is only achievable by those who are not afraid of the accurate assessment of the use of power. That assessment must be made by all sides to the conflict. When we refuse to involve ourselves in the necessary messy job of sifting through the historical record we obscure a din v'hesbon (moral accounting). That moral accounting demands honesty toward both parties. Kanefsky's call and leadership is in the finest prophetic and rabbinic traditions. It is an embrace of a Judaism that is no longer driven by the ghetto mentality. Too often the Jewish narrative of suffering and our story of the emergence from absolute powerlessness, conflicts with the seeing the pain and suffering inflicted on the Palestinians. If we want peace we will have to search our deeds. Peace does not mean denying the other side's agency nor does it mean returning to Poland. But that searching will hopefully produce a Zion redeemed in justice (Isaiah).
Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak
We applaud Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky's courageous article opposing those influential groups in our community who are urging the Israeli government to refrain from any discussion with the Palestinians regarding the status of Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said that both sides will have to make painful compromises.
Rabbi Kanefsky's forthright statement on the progress for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians is essential for the future of Israel.
Middie and Richard Giesberg
Your efforts at upholding the truth are quite commendable. As you rightly said in your last paragraph, "There will be peace the day after there will be truth." Unfortunately, truth has been ignored by politicians since the "peace process" started in 1993, which explains the existential anguish that Jews and Israelis are going through. I hope Israeli leaders will heed your call for disclosing the full truth so that they can embark upon a new era of lasting peace.
Of course, the pursuit of truth requires knowledge first. What are we to call "truth" if we have no clue of reality? Also, reality should be known in its entirety and this knowledge should not be truncated, as the Palestinians do, a point you aptly emphasize in your article. It is only when all the facts are brought to light that the full story can be told honestly. I have no doubt that honesty is paramount to you, as you mentioned this term -- and any variations thereof -- no less than 21 times in your piece.
I am prepared to grant you the mantle of honesty but only partially, very partially. Knowingly or not, you jumped on the honesty wagon before ascertaining the truth of what you wrote. And what you omitted from your exposÃï¿½(c) is so glaring that you are misinforming your readers in a grand scale. Like the Palestinians who regularly present their narrative in their distorted fashion, you too have grossly truncated the truth by limiting your view of reality to the post 1967 period. Had your vision not been so narrowly limited, you would have discovered that the international community recognized the historical connection of the Jewish people to the whole of Palestine, including Jerusalem, back in 1920; that Jewish settlement of the whole land, including Judea and Samaria, was not only allowed but highly encouraged; that these territories were not to be ceded to any foreign power; and that all those provisions received the imprimatur of international law.
Instead, you write that Israel is illegally occupying these territories; that the settlement of these lands should not have taken place; that this situation violates international law; and that those who challenge these views "refuse to read history honestly." The most eminent legal experts in international law - Stephen Schwebel, Sir Elihu Lauterpacht, Eugene Rostow, Julius Stone and many others - would strongly disagree with each and every one of your assertions. On your side, though, you may find some allies in characters like Jimmy Carter; Arab academics of dubious credibility; the Neturei Karta sect; the leaders of Hamas, Fatah and Hezbollah, as well as a host of their Jewish sycophants who have been thoroughly brainwashed by the very kind of article you just wrote. I leave it to you to choose the most credible camp.
Allow me, Rabbi Kanefsky, to conclude with a saying from the Talmud: "If you add to the truth, you subtract from it." What you did in your article is far worse: you started by subtracting from the truth. This can only be attributed to ignorance, sloppiness or, dare I say, malice. Whatever the case may be, your 21 instances of the word "honest" ring hollow. I don't know what drove you to jettison the collective rights of the Jewish people and to disparage Jewry in the process. But I suggest that you and your supporters get better informed and, most importantly, get finally over your guilty Jewish hang-ups.
Salomon Benzimra, P.Eng.
For a week and a half I remained silent, content to allow others to castigate, criticize and most of all characterize the missive for what it is; the honest, pained thoughts of a sadly misguided religious leader. But then I realized that l'ma'an Tzion lo echesheh - for Zion's sake I shall not be silent, for the possible repercussions of Rav Kanefsky's remarks are truly frightening; they may likely be taken as acceptable Orthodox theology rather than the humble, erroneous and unrealistic opinion of one very good man. One caveat before I begin: I have a great deal of personal respect for Rabbi Kanefsky and especially for his integrity. Notwithstanding this, however, he is completely off base in his conclusions and entirely outside the pale in his suggestions.
The late Golda Meir is reported to have said that peace will only come when "the Arabs love their children more than they want to kill ours." It is regrettable and increasingly obvious that the time she spoke about is farther and farther away. Attempts to pacify and mollify our Ishmaelite cousins are destined to abysmal failure, for they -- at least those who participate in the political process -- have no intention of letting us live in peace. Rather, they engage in "piece" talks, having finally realized that they will gain far more, far faster from dialogue than from engaging us on the battlefield. As Bibi Netanyahu once explained: "It is an exercise in collective bargaining. We bargain and they collect!"Hamas and El Fatah share a common goal: the destruction of a Jewish state in the Middle East. They have become politically savvy enough to see that the old "fedayeen" image needed to be shed. Today they are fighters for freedom, out to correct the injustices of history. Most frighteningly to me, they have been joined by a coterie of "Zionist leaders" whose vision of a new Middle East order also calls for the end of Israel as a Jewish state. For years the latter paid lip service to the idea of Israel as the Jewish homeland; today, they invest their efforts in wiping out any vestige of this idea as being antithetical to progressive thought. Who would have ever believed that an Israeli Supreme Court could rule that it was "immoral" and thus unlawful for land purchased by the JNF to be reserved exclusively for Jewish settlement!
Alas, Rabbi Kanefsky and his fellow travelers have forgotten Rashi's first comments in Chumash: koach ma'asav higid l'amo -- God has revealed the power of His actions to His people. Without entering into the question of how many Palestinians truly have roots in the area, which would obviate the need to entertain the idea of Palestinian statehood, I would contend that in the period culminating in the events of May, 1948 the world was witness to an act of Divine intervention, wherein G-d removed foreign sovereignty over His chosen land and returned it to the Jews. This act was not "dishonest" Rabbi Kanefsky; it was a repetition of God's actions when He brought His people from Egypt and had them evict the seven nations who were temporarily resident there.
Most of the nations of the world -- even those who do not subscribe to Christian Fundamentalist beliefs -- might well have been prepared to accept this in 1967, for they had no rational means that could have explained what transpired. Emunah and understanding became contagious and even attractive to nations who were most uncomfortable with the concept of resurgent Jews who could, with God's clear help, take care of themselves. Remember, if you will, what those days were like. Soviet Jewry re-established its links with the West, hundreds and then thousands of "flower children" made their way into the Diaspora Yeshiva, Ohr Samaech, Aish ha-Torah and Neve Yerushalayim. The Reform movement abandoned its anti-Zionist posture, for even they saw that denying hashgacha pratit was "dishonest."
But with time, and especially with the reluctance of Jews to take the requisite steps, support for an aggressive Israel began to wane. Remember, Rabbi Kanefsky, we were condemned by the United Nations for violating the sovereignty of Uganda with the raid on Entebbe and castigated by the President of the United States for destroying the nuclear reactor at Osyrik. I hope that in your eyes this would not make us "international criminals" who lack respect for process and law!
The only thing that we have been dishonest about is the role that Gpd plays in history. Rav Yaakov Moshe Charlap, zt'l, Rav Kook's close talmid, commented in 1948 when the State was declared that "every birth has a period of impurity that is eventually replaced by a period of purity. In the case of a boy one waits a week, in the case of a girl, a fortnight. Perhaps, in the case of a medinah one will have to wait even longer. However, rest assured that the days of purity are destined to arrive." I would only add that the period of self-inflicted blindness that leads us to viewing ourselves as the perpetrators of a historical injustice to a poor deprived nation will end when the light of Mashiach is brought to illuminate the way for those who choose to stumble in the darkness.
Rabbi Dovid Landesman
Captain, IDF [res.]
Yasher koach to Rabbi Kanefsky on his bold op-ed. He argues that peace in the Middle East is not possible without truth and honesty. I would add another prerequisite: courage. Rabbi Kanefsky is an example of a courageous leader who risks criticism and worse to do what he thinks is right. His brave decision to value honesty over conformity raises hope for the future of Israel and the Jewish people.
Sarah Bunin Benor
Hebrew Union College -- Jewish Institute of Religion
Here is a "One Minute Manager" as an answer to the treasonous article written by "Rabbi" Kanefsky in last week's Jewish Journal.
1) Had there been no Arab aggression and plan to "annihilate every Jew in Israel in 1967 (one of many) there would not be an issue today over Jerusalem.
2) Had there been no Arab aggression, no war, and no invasion by the Arab armies whose intent was overtly genocidal, not only would there be no Arab refugees, but there would have been a state of Palestinian the West Bank and Gaza since 1948.
3) Senior Fatah Central Committee member Sakher Habash clearly explained the reason for the well thought out refusal of the Arab rulers including the Palestinian rulers to help the Palestinian refugees to return to normal lives. During a 1998 lecture at Shechem's An-Najah University, Habash said: "To us, the refugee issue is the winning card which means the end of the Israeli state". In other words peace is not the goal, the destruction of the State of Israel, (God forbid) is.
4) Prime Minister Barak (wrongly so in my opinion) tried giving away parts of Jerusalem in the peace accords. A stunned President Clinton couldn't believe that Arafat turned it down. His (Arafat's) articulated reason in a speech given in Arabic to his fellow terrorists was that it left the State of Israel intact. 5) Last but not least, what reasonable person can say that the concession of land by Israel in all cases has not only failed to bring peace but has indeed brought more violence?
6) It's one thing if Anti Semites in the world bought and buy this line of bull but not a "Rabbi" of an Orthodox Congregation.
I commend Rabbi Kanefsky for bravely raising one of the most challenging questions facing our community: Do we tell the story of our return to Israel honestly?
As a student at the American Jewish University's Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, I am living and studying in Jerusalem. I live in an apartment less than a quarter-mile from the Green Line; if Rabbi Kanefsky would be "horrified and sick" at the division of Jerusalem, I can't imagine what my wife and I would feel, living in the shadow of a border.
Returning from a recent trip to Bethlehem, we were struck by the same thing Rabbi Kanefsky identifies: both sides tell the same dishonest story in which they are victimized, discriminated against by the international community, and bear absolutely no responsibility for the problems they face. Israeli policies, including the "security barrier," create a "see no evil, hear no evil" situation in which most Jews in Israel can simply ignore the fact that we share this land with several million Arabs. But these policies do not promote honesty, and so they undermine the moral basis for our life here. As Rabbi Kanefsky asserts, only the truth serves morality.
Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University
Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky's eloquent appeal for honesty in the debate over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was inspiring to read. As a rabbinical student myself, I hope that someday I can come close to reaching the standard of courage and integrity that Rabbi Kanefsky consistently sets through his leadership. Thank you Rabbi Kanefsky, for putting yourself on the line to bring us all a little closer to a real and just peace.
Second Year Rabbinical Student
Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University
I guess the main point of Rabbi Kanefsky's article, based on the title, is that it is written by an Orthodox rabbi. Fair enough but once we get past this, the rest of his article reflects the uselessness of diplomatic discussions with the Palestinians. The rabbi speaks about honesty and how it is critical that Israel accepts mistakes made, especially how it came to settle civilians in territory conquered in 1967. This is a good discussion to have but this is not an unusual discussion among Jews in general or Israelis in particular in the years since 1967. Jews have always argued among each other over our successes and failures, our political aims regarding the Palestinians and there have been myriad articles and papers written on the subject, by Jews!
The problem is that these discussions have not been taking place among the Palestinians and until this happens, we will make absolutely no progress toward a diplomatic solution. In Rabbi Kanefsky's 1254-word article, there were only 120 words regarding the need of the Palestinians to be honest regarding their mistakes, a stunning 91 percent to percent% overemphasis on the Israelis to face their errors. I believe this more than reflects the bias of most commentators when speaking of Israeli and Palestinian responsibility for the current situation. Their solution tends to be "if only the Israelis would face up to and correct their mistakes over the past 60 years, all of the problems with the Palestinians would disappear."
This is childish in its simplicity and malicious in it's extreme. With due respect to Rabbi Kanefsky, it will take the Palestinians to accept more than 9 percent of the responsibility for the reality we see today for any diplomatic process not only to progress, but to succeed.
I would like to write to express my appreciation of Rabbi Kanefsky's bold position. We can learn from King David of Jerusalem himself, who admitted his mistakes (2 Samuel 12:13-14).
Although I have doubts as how to get the Arab and Muslim worlds to tell an honest story, it is we Jews who are enjoined in Ethics of Our Fathers 2:6, "In a place where there are no men strive to be a man."
It is unbelievably refreshing to hear someone of Rabbi Kanefsky's influence open a dialogue regarding the Palestinian /Israel issue. He is so right in saying that "honesty" is needed in these talks. I am sure he is aware that all the Palestinian people want is a place to call a homeland and live free like the Israeli people do. Education, medical care, clean water, parks, and the freedom to live life is what these people want and they deserve.
When in European or Middle East history have the Jews been dealt with fairly? Forget distant history and starting with the Balfour Declaration and its aftermath, did the international community deal with the Jews fairly? When the Arabs had control of Jerusalem were they fair by not allowing Jews to pray at the holiest of places? When all the Arab countries removed Jews from their land without compensation or allowing them to take valuables were they fair? When insisting on the "right of return" with no discussion of the displaced Jews, were they being fair? When Arab countries refuse to resettle "Palestinians" and force them to live in terrible conditions so that Israel will have to contend with that population, is that being honest and fair? When Jordan killed and forced "Palestinians" into the West Bank because they were threatening their government, was that being fair? (That was at least being honest on their part!) When the UN suggested that Egypt patrol the border between Gaza and Israel to prevent arms shipments, and they agreed, but turned a blind eye to the tunnels and direct shipments of arms, explosives, and terrorists that kill Israelis, was that being honest and fair? And lastly what country in history ever had to give back territory, as many in the world community has suggested, that was captured after being attacked?
What evidence is there that the Arabs will live in peace after Israel acquiesces and shares Jerusalem or any other territory? With regards to Israel, what agreements have been ever been kept that fulfills the intent of that agreement? Not the UN, successor to the League of Nations; not the Palestinians after receiving Gaza and numerous other agreements. To acknowledge Jordan, and in some way Egypt, they made an attempt to minimally keep their agreements after losing the war in 1967.
It's about time that we see the world as it is instead of wishing for Utopian perfection and expect Israel to reflect that dream!
In his essay, "Consider a Divided Jerusalem," Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky says that we must take an honest look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As expected, Kanefsky has been attacked from the right and applauded from the left. However, both seem to miss his point. He does not endorse either left or right. He calls for the truth.
As a liberal, let me praise Rabbi Kanefsky for the challenges, not for the support, he offers the left. Before charging toward the negotiating table, Rabbi Kanefsky warns we must confront our own history. No peace is possible, he writes, until "everyone at the table has the courage, the strength, and enough fear of God to tell the story as it really is." Are we ready for that?
Let's give up their false messianic dream of calling peace into existence in an instant. It won't work and we should know that by now. Oslo and the Clinton initiatives were doomed because they were not built on real acceptance, by both sides, of the wrongs they had committed and the validity of the other side's claims. Before jumping at another peace conference, let's heed Rabbi Kanefsky and make sure our stories are true.
Rabbi Jeffrey W. Goldwasser
Congregation Beth Israel
North Adams, Ma.
I write to you from Tel Aviv after having spent a week in Jerusalem. Rabbi Kanefsky has always impressed me as a wise colleague with a gentle and compassionate heart. His call for honesty in understanding the reality of Jerusalem is courageous and strong. It is also what is best for this incredible city that must be the world's as well as ours and it certainly must be the beginning of a Palestinian state that is stable and can give its people true human integrity. The tension in Jerusalem and its environs is palpable (to those who admit it) and it is certainly time, as Rabbi Kanefsky suggests, to at least talk about Jerusalem becoming both a capital for Israel and the majority of Palestinians who only seek a decent life for themselves and their families.
Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels
Beth Shir Sholom
Rabbi Kanefsky's claim that "[n]o peace conference between Israel and Palestinians will ever produce anything positive" until Israel honestly acknowledges that it was a "mistake" for the Israeli government to settle post-1967 territory aware that doing do would risk conflict with the Arab population that was living there, is anything but honest.
Nothing "positive?" In the last 12 years, the PLO/Arafat went from blackballed terrorist to hand-shaking peace partner; the Palestinian Authority was created to serve as a governing entity; the Palestinians were given self-rule in Gaza, Jerico, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin, Nablus, Qalqilya, Ramallah, Tulkarm and over 400 other villages; and Israel left Gaza.
Settling Gilo, Talpiot and Efrat was a "mistake"? Was it also a mistake to conquer and settle Yafa and Be'er Sheva in 1948, cities with then-hostile Arab majorities which were slated to be included in the new Arab state under United Nation's General Assembly Resolution 181? Why go back only 40 years -- was it also a "mistake" for David to invade and conquer Jerusalem from the hostile Jebusites in the late 11th century BCE?
He also says we should not pretend that Israel didn't know there were potential legal problems associated with settlement activity. Using this logic, perhaps he should be equally concerned about whether Israel was aware of the illegality of bombing a nascent nuclear facility in Syrian territory in 2007 or the bombing of the Osirak facility in Iraq in 1981.
Rabbi Kanefsky courageously began his article saying he could not support requests to urge the Israeli government to keep Jerusalem off the negotiating table. Had he said that it may be inappropriate for Diaspora Jewry to tell Israel what should and should not be on the negotiation table, then perhaps many people would have been intrigued with, and perhaps even applauded, his courage. He didn't say that, so instead of applause, his article should be added to the list of mistakes that we must honestly acknowledge.
I am not Orthodox, I am not the strongest Zionist, and I am not a radical leftist, I am an average American Jewish adult trying to reconcile two very difficult positions: (1) the Torah's teaching that all people are created in the image of Hashem with the divine spark; and (2) the belief that there should be a homeland in Israel for the Jewish People.
I struggle with this because my brothers and sisters on the right, not all of them, but some of them believe that "they [dehumanizing all Palestinians] are murderous, want to throw us into the sea, and that they cannot be partners in peace."
I struggle because my brothers and sisters on the left, and not all of them, but some, articulate points of view calling our on our homeland to make immediate peace with leaders who are not inclined toward peace at this moment, or with leaders who have no power and influence. I struggle because we need a homeland, but we also must not forget that all people deserve a home--that all people deserve a place on the globe that is their own. I struggle because we are more than a religion and a set of common beliefs we are a national identity. So then comes Rabbi Kanefsky into the conversation, articulating something very profound, the idea that we cannot foreclose conversation with "them".
I am tired of hearing my brothers and sisters on the right and left vilify people. I am exhausted by the idea that there is an absolute answer to these questions. Here is what I know from our tradition, and here what neither on the extreme can deny: (1) Hashem created Adam and Eve and they were the first humans, we are their heirs, all Palestinians and Jews are all created with the divine spark, not just Jews (to disagree with this is heresy); (2) there are Palestinians, many of whom are in power and have influence right now who seek to murder all Jews, who seek the destruction of the State of Israel, and these people cannot be trusted; (3) people change, evolve and transform, teshuvah is about this very thing, and to foreclose the possibility that because someone is a Palestinian they cannot change, cannot return is evil; and (4) deciding that peace is a pipe dream, that it cannot happen now, and therefore we should not talk about it does no service to anyone.
I worry that my brothers and sisters on the right see him as a traitor and that my brothers and sisters on the left see him as a the newest recruit triumphantly marching around. Neither is accurate or true. I think what Rabbi Kanefsky did is articulate a pathway to a dream of peace. He seems to articulate a vision, stating, far better than I can, that if what we want as heirs to Adam and Eve is peace, that if what we want is the rekindling of the divine spark within all human beings then we cannot foreclose any element from discussions about peace -- this is a wonderful idea.
A careful reading of Rabbi Kanefsky's opinions reveals an unsettled mind. While not calling directly for a redivided Jerusalem, he does everything to make that possible by suggesting that Israel's "story" of the past 40 years is dishonest and therefore, it and we Jews and Israelis are at fault, somehow.
His article was preceded by a sermon at his congregation, one, I am sure, that was not titled "Sermon on the Mount." For if he had discussed but one issue, the state of the Temple Mount in Muslim hands, which is what a redivided Jerusalem implies, he would realize that he is telling a fairy tale. What story could we Jews tell in a decade after the Temple Mount would be surrendered? Would there be any archeological artifacts left? Could Jews pray below at the Kotel in security? Would there be any graves to be found on the Mount of Olives?
Rabbi Kanefsky may be the spiritual leader of an Orthodox synagogue but I think his loyalty is to the League of Trembling Israelites, an intradenominational Jewish sector that seeks the high moral ground while retreating from what it means to be Jewish.
In an interview with Tony Kushner in the Oct. 26 edition of The Jewish Journal, he is reported as saying, "I ... support a two-state solution and peace talks -- which should be conducted even with Hamas, and continued even when there are suicide bombers" ("Kushner's (Old) Testament to Lincoln").
Had Kushner been around in 1863, he doubtless would have supported "peace talks" with the Confederacy "to be continued despite slavery and Quantrill's Raiders' massacres of civilians in Union territory." If he'd been a prominent person in 1944, he would have insisted that Britain hold "peace talks even with the Nazis, despite the gas chambers and V-2 missiles falling on London."
Maybe Hillary can make him secretary of state.
Fixing the Federation
The front cover of the Oct. 19 Jewish Journal, which features the incoming Jewish Federation Board Chair Stanley Gold, asks the question, "But can he fix the Federation?" ("I'm Gonna Make It Relevant"). I believe that this inference is unfair.
Mr. Gold, a smart and capable leader, will take the helm of a Jewish Federation that is dynamic and flourishing. The article pointed out that the 2005 Campaign was $47.3 million (not an inconsequential accomplishment), yet neglected to mention that we raised nearly $80 million in 2006.
The Los Angeles Federation and the national Federation system are pre-eminent in Jewish life, providing centrality to our Jewish community. The Federation is supported by most of our major synagogues, which was demonstrated recently when we collectively raised $20 million dollars in just a few months for the Israel in Crisis Campaign with their participation along with the broader community of Federation supporters.
Last year, more than 33,000 families in Los Angeles who obviously believe that the Federation is important, effective and relevant, contributed to our local Jewish Federation. This is clearly a mandate of community support.
Our Federation board is comprised of outstanding and dedicated community leadership, which is representative of the fabric of our Jewish community. The Federation staff are also top caliber. I have no doubt that Mr. Gold will continue to improve and advance the agenda of our Federation and I am very proud that he will inherit a strong and effective leadership team to work with him in accomplishing his worthy goals.
Chairman of the Board
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles
We read with interest Brad Greenberg's very thorough story on incoming Federation Board Chairman Stanley Gold and the sidebar article titled "Do-It-Yourself Jewish Philanthropy" in your Oct. 19 issue.
The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles agrees with Dr. Gary Tobin, president of the Institute for Jewish & Community Research, that, "The old game of guilt, obligation and intimidation won't work anymore."
In part, by seeking out and providing financial support for innovative programs, The Foundation has been able to increase its assets to $743 million, and expand its donor base to include some 1,200 local Jewish philanthropists.
Like Charles Schwab, which was mentioned in the article, The Foundation also offers Donor Advised Funds. What sets us apart from commercial enterprises like Schwab, however, is our comprehensive knowledge of the marketplace and local philanthropic opportunities both within the Los Angeles Jewish community and the community at large. And unlike Schwab, the modest fee we assess on our donors helps fund our grants programs that support our local Jewish community and beyond.
In fact, three of the organizations referenced in the Gold profile -- Jewish Television Network, Jewish World Watch and StandWithUs -- are all recipients of substantial seed funding from The Foundation that helped each one get its start or pursue major new initiatives.
These new paradigms in Jewish charitable giving offer the promise of innovative programs that will shape the fabric of our communities now and for generations to come. We are delighted to play a central role in this groundswell of change.
Marvin I. Schotland
President and CEO
Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles
Great story, reminding us once again, as we know from years back, that the Arab leaders' message to their population and their message to the world are entirely different ("Know Thine Enemy," Oct. 26).
We should insist that the media quote from such speeches for "internal consumption," where the real truth is plain. In that regards, the important work of MEMRI (The Middle East Media Research Institute at http://www.memri.org) in translating the Arabic media should be constantly consulted.
Raymond Ibrahim, a Christian, experienced harsh discriminination from his Arab Muslim brothers and is only one of many who have spoken out on the true Islamic supremacist nature of Sunni/Wahabi Islam, including Lebanese Christian Brigitte Gabriel.
The challenging question for Mr. Eshman is: Does he understand the broader implications?
1) The Palestinian-Israeli conflict mirrors many similar characteristics of Al Qaeda's intentional disinformation campaigns. The organization CAMERA has pointed this out for many years, most obviously the dual messages of Arafat, for instance, to his constituents, and then consumption for the West. Despite Israel's many concessions [over] the years, the drumbeat of Israel's annihilation still persists unabated among Palestinians, as we saw clearly in the failed peace initiative of 2000.
2) The left is a far greater threat to Jews and Israel than the widely discredited right. They are firmly entrenched in academia in America and Europe. The slanderous Mersheimer/Walt book mentioned by Eshman is an important example.
David Suissa's piece on tikkun olam was excellent ("Tikkun for Which Olam?" Nov. 2). He highlighted the troubling statistic that 90 percent of Jewish charity goes to non-Jewish causes. The idea of "charity" goes beyond money. How much time and energy do Jewish people invest in causes that should be addressed by others?
Has "tikkun olam" for non-Jews become the new way for Jews to avoid connecting with their roots and console themselves that they are still good Jews?
On behalf of the Brown family we would like to thank David Suissa for taking the time to interview Eva Brown ("They Killed Us Like Termites," Oct. 19). We were touched by his poignant tribute, which captured her essence.
Nancy, Kimberly, Sandy & Steve Brown
I have been living south of Wilshire and east of La Cienega Boulevard for six years, and I thoroughly enjoyed your write up ("The Downside of Upscale Growth," Oct. 26).
I would say that recent activity down here shows more and more Jewish growth. The real estate is not significantly, but marginally cheaper, and indeed Chabad have recently opened a temple on Olympic Boulevard and Ridgeley Drive.
The cover story by Bill Boyarsky about the housing crunch in Los Angeles and apartment evictions by two synagogues shows how big-tent Jewish institutions act like institutions without a strong sense of moral foresight or creativity simply to have space for institutional growth. Community involves how people connect to build wholeness, and evicting a whole building of neighbors shows a disregard for interpersonal connections that may not be replaced so easily. It's nice that the two synagogues helped people to relocate well above the letter of city law; but, the destruction of needed community housing and strain on tenants fundamentally represents hypocrisy in organized Judaism. Good communities can work out ways to involve the intimacy of people's homes, share space with other organizations, and some even create new shelters for those in need.
Name Withheld Upon Request
The high cost of housing is just one symptom of a more fundamental problem facing Los Angeles (and down here in the O.C. as well): Too many people! We are overpopulated. Look at the traffic. Look at our problems with water supply and waste disposal. Look at the fires consuming homes in places where perhaps people shouldn't be living. We are trying to put 10 pounds in a 5-pound bag and there are consequences. Suppose we "solved" the housing problem and everyone who wanted to live in sunny Southern California was guaranteed an affordable home? Then what would the population be?
For the Jewish community, consider this very generalized historical perspective. A hundred years ago we left Europe for New York. Fifty years ago we left New York for Los Angeles. Maybe it's time for our next move.
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