The Tragedy of Gaza
Regarding the inexplicable and shameful headlong expulsion of the Jewish settlers in Gaza, this is one Conservative rabbi who weeps and screams at this folly. Who is pushing Israel to vacate? Why suddenly now? What wonderful concessions have been made to Israel to precipitate such a scramble to pull out? I know of none. The avowed goal of the Arab world is the expulsion if not the destruction of all Jews in the Middle East and who knows where else.
Even some members of Congress note with dismay that this Gaza debacle is clearly a case of appeasement, to take its place with other disgraceful efforts at appeasement that did not appease. If not appeasement then it is an out and out surrender in an unfought war, which can only be considered by our enemies as an enormous victory, and encourage them to demand more and more, since we seem to be in a generous mood -- Jerusalem, the West Bank settlements, the return of the descendants of those who ignominiously fled from pre-Israel Palestine and will now claim restitution.
I wept when Israel relinquished the Sinai Peninsula. I cried in Yamit at the beautiful home a family was going to abandon because the government said so, and at Taba, and at the oil fields, the mighty air bases, and the promontories from which any hostile movement by Egypt could be viewed. I guess I shall have to cry once again with sadness and anger if the resettlement is carried out.
Rabbi Jacob Pressman
I noticed that you did not actually rush to the defense of people such as Arthur Sulzberger, Noam Chomsky, Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, Al Franken, Howard Stern, Barbra Streisand and George Soros, and I don't blame you ("Goldberg's List," July 29). (Heck, by the time I put the book down, I was just grateful that at least Michael Moore, Robert Byrd and Al Sharpton, weren't Jewish.)
Instead, you attacked Bernard Goldberg for daring to suggest that in his honest opinion 25 Jews were doing more than their part to destroy this nation's culture and lower its level of civility. Then, for good measure, you claimed he should be ashamed of himself because real life anti-Semites took his words to heart. How's that his fault? I have heard of guilt by association, but guilt by no association? That's a new one.
Apparently, if a non-Jew says something bad about Jews, even if it should happen to be true once in a while, he's a Nazi bastard. And if a Jew such as Goldberg dares criticize another Jew, it makes him a good-for-nothing self-hater. In short, nobody can even dare suggest that we are anything but wise and wonderful.
Even God only said we were chosen; he never said we were perfect.
Bernard Goldberg is the winner of seven Emmy Awards and the Peabody Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism. It is one thing to disagree with his style, but it is unfair to dismiss the substance of his remarks without a serious look. The reason that all three of Goldberg's books have soared to the top or near the top of Amazon, The New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller lists is not because these books are only selling to toothless guys who own pick-up trucks with gun racks.
CBS News, after all, trusted Goldberg to get the facts straight for more than 20 years.
X Out X Games
I must start by complimenting Abby Gilad on doing a great job with the Kids Page every week. It is always timely and meaningful -- until this week (Kids Page, Aug. 5). While appropriate to talk about what month it is in the Jewish calendar, it is not appropriate to talk about the X Games by itself. Maybe next time, find a Jewish athlete to focus on, or tie the X Games into something Jewish, which would make it more fitting to grace the pages of The Jewish Journal.
End of Sanity
Orit Arfa's First Person essay "End of Sanity" (July 29) is appalling. As she spends her utopian weekend in Gush Katif at the Neve Dekalim settlement, she wonders that all she can see through her car window "were red roofs, palm trees, and the thick blue line of the sea."
Well, here are some of the things that Arfa might have missed because of the occupation blinders she was wearing: there are less than 10,000 Jewish settlers in Gaza (out of a population of about 1.4 million) yet they occupy 18 percent of the land. There are approximately 5,000 Israeli soldiers guarding these 10,000 settlers. There are 123 persons per square kilometer in the settlements, compared to 4,362 persons per square kilometer in the rest of the Gaza Strip (a 1:35 ratio). (In Israel proper, the population density is approximately 307 persons per square kilometer.)
According to most estimates, around 75 percent of Gaza water is consumed by the Jewish settlers. These statistics don't begin to describe the squalor and poverty, the complete lack of infrastructure, the bulldozed houses, the human "collateral damage" of years of targeted suicides and nervous soldiers.
Israel's disengagement from Gaza is the first sign of sanity in the history of the occupation and a reengagement with morality. Arfa's essay brings to mind the plaint of the Psalmist: they have eyes but do not see, ears but do not hear....
Dr. Aryeh Cohen
Associate Professor of Rabbinic Literature
University of Judaism
With regard to Israeli Ambassador to the United States Daniel Ayalon saying that "from a historical or biblical point of 0view,
I'm not sure that Gaza was part of our land in the past" ("Q&A With Daniel Ayalon," Aug. 22).
The longstanding Jewish connection to Gaza is highlighted by, among other sources, Judges 1:18: "And Judah conquered Gaza." Moreover, the borders of the Land of Israel as laid down in this week's parsha, include Gaza as part of the Land of Israel, as "the River of Egypt (Numbers 34:5)." The southwestern border, refers either to the Nile or to Wadi-al-Arish (see Talmudical Encyclopedia entry "Eretz Yisrael"), both of which are southwest of Gaza. Thus, Gaza lies squarely within the biblical Land of Israel.
What the Nazis did to the Jews will forever be in our hearts, minds and memory ("There's No Place for Ugly Words in Gaza," July 29). Wherever and wherever a Jew is abused because he is Jewish, whether verbally by a single word, or brutally by murder or politically, we will always think of the Nazis and compare it to what they did to us.
The reason I believe the people in Israel are so against the pullout in Gaza is because we are giving back the land that is ours. We are giving back land to people whose sole purpose is devoted to our annihilation. The people in Israel are not nuts. What is nuts is not recognizing that in giving back this land, he only objective accomplished is that the Arab world will ask for more land to be given back. They will want more and more until there will be no Israel. Joseph Aaron says that American Jews are using ugly words lick edict and deporting. He says these words symbolize Jewish suffering from the Holocaust, and should not be used when referring to the Gaza pullout. Don't you think Mr. Aaron, that the Jews in Gaza are suffering? They are being asked to give up their homes and communities. Israel would never have even taken the Gaza has the Arabs not waged war after war against them.
You say the government of Israel has made a decision that this pullout is in the best interest of the people and state of Israel. In a democracy, people are able to tell the government that it is wrong. Why can't the Jews in Israel practice that right? There are those who see that giving back the land will not stop the bloodshed. Jews in Gaza are bring killed by the very people we are asked to give land to.
The pullout is not for an airport or ballpark. It will give access to radical Arab groups to continue their mission to destroy Isrsael. We gave up the Sinai for peace, but Jews in Israel are still being murdered. How much should we return until we stop and say nothing will help?
I see no shame in caring for your people and your country. I see only shame in Aaron's mindless anger over Jews wanting to live where they wish in their own county
Right vs. Left
David Margolis, the erudite former Jewish Journal Senior Writer, raised an interesting question: "How Can Right, Left Each Be So Sure?" (July 29)
With regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he implies that there is a middle path that will serve the interests of both the Israelis and the Palestinians. Perhaps so. But I have my doubts because of one very significant factor. I will share with you a recent discussion with a well-educated and, I believe, highly moral person of the Muslim faith. She stated this without any doubt (and I will quote her as best I recall); referring to what we call Israel, she said: "That land is Arab land." End of discussion. With that type of mindset, the question of which path is correct becomes irrelevant.
Is there a solution? Yes, but I don't think we are pursuing it at this time. As I stated before, we are merely treating the symptoms.
Further, regarding the point of view of the "leftists," of whom Margolis speaks, my problem is that I have yet to hear any positive proposal that deals with the solution to the conflict. All I hear from these people is that Israel is not dealing fairly/properly with the Palestinians; but, how should they deal with them? Turn a cheek to the attacks? And then turn yet another cheek? And soon there won't be any cheeks to turn -- left or right.
In his introduction to his editorial, Editor-in-Chief Rob Eshman writes, "Much of this issue is devoted to the pros, the cons, the risks and the rewards of the withdrawal" ("Center Court," Aug. 5) Eshman should be grateful that the First Amendment protects him from a consumer lawsuit for false advertising. The issue contained only two articles about the Gaza withdrawal: a strongly pro-withdrawal piece by Uri Dromi, and a long article by Barbara Opall-Rome that spent most of its column inches portraying opponents of withdrawal as Jewish ultra-extremists and potential terrorists, assassins and suicide bombers. There were no "cons" and no articles discussing the risks of the withdrawal, unless one counts the two-page paid advertisement placed by SaveGushKatif.org. There was no mention of the two entirely peaceful mass protest marches, held this week and the week before, by withdrawal opponents, perhaps so as not to disturb the apocalyptic portrayal of disengagement opponents by Opall-Rome. There also was no mention of the unquestionably anti-democratic methods employed by the government of Israel to discourage non-violent protest of the disengagement.
Surely, you could have found one suitable column opposing the withdrawal, from among the intelligent and thoughtful writings of commentators such as Caroline Glick, Natan Sharansky, Frank Gaffney, Rabbi Dovid Eliezrie and so many others. Oh well, I hope that yours readers saw the SaveGushKatif ad.
Ralph B. Kostant