Jewish Journal

Letters to the Editor: Israel, health care, education

Posted on Jul. 11, 2012 at 2:56 pm

The Promised Land: To Whom Was It Promised?

David Suissa compellingly observes that the principal motivator of anti-Israel sentiment is the charge of “occupier” (“Note to Boycotters: Israel Is Not a Thief,” July 6). But then he quotes me as refuting that charge, by way of showing that the West Bank was not legally anyone else’s when Israel captured it. I am not sure to what end I may have written that point, in a paper nearly 10 years old, but it hardly refutes the complaint that drives most non-radical criticism of Israel, to wit: that Israel occupies the people of the West Bank, whatever its claims to the land itself.

In that context, it is self-defeating to trumpet Israel’s territorial rights beyond the 1949 lines. Such talk only lends support to the devastating suspicion that Israelis would gladly rule a piece of land without extending full political rights to all its residents. There are, of course, ways to challenge that suspicion — and doing so is Israel’s only hope of reclaiming legitimacy in the West — but “It was ours all along!” isn’t one of them.

Jeffrey S. Helmreich
Boston, Mass.

David Suissa is correct. There is no country in the world that has to perpetually justify its existence. And Alice Walker’s blanket assessment that Israel is an apartheid state is not only based on abject ignorance but is racist in and of itself.

Alyse Golden Berkley
via e-mail

David Suissa’s claim that Israel has legal rights to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is based on a selective reading of history.

Suissa misquotes the League of Nations mandate that calls for a “national home for the Jewish people,” but not, as he implies, Jewish authority over the land. And that document goes on to explicitly protect the Palestinian people, saying, “t being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”

Actually, the Israeli Declaration of Independence cites a later legal document, namely U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181, which partitions Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. It is quite obvious that if Israel owns all the land, there is no room for a Palestinian (Arab) state, so Israel cannot own all the land.

Suissa and other Zionists may believe that Israel owns all the land, but no one else in the world does. Even Israel’s strongest supporter, the United States, does not accept that notion.

Jeff Warner
La Habra Heights

David Suissa responds:

The critics overlooked my key point: If Israel doesn’t reaffirm its legal claims to Judea and Samaria, its land concessions have no value, and there is nothing to negotiate. That’s one reason peace talks keep failing.

Socialized Medicine an Imperfect System

In arguing for socialized medicine, Rabbi Elliot Dorff acknowledges that in Canada, Western European countries and Israel, waiting months for care can be a problem, although he states that this is only for non-emergency procedures such as hip replacements (“Health Care for All: It’s an American — and a Jewish — Imperative,” July 6).

Perhaps Rabbi Dorff does not know or remember the case of Danny Williams, the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador who in 2010 came to the United States for heart surgery rather than wait the months that it would take in Canada. Williams decided to “choose life” and use his own funds to come here for his heart surgery. Canadians understand that they have a two-tier medical system, one for those who have their own funds (that is called the U.S. system) and the other for everyone else, who get to wait and hope they survive until their turn comes up.

There is no doubt that the U.S. health care delivery system needs to be improved, but increasing demand for services without similarly increasing the capacity to deliver those services (i.e., more doctors and other health care providers) must inevitably lead to long lines and two-tier systems, together with the heart-rending choices of who is to get what services in an increasingly scarce medical environment. Logic and the actual experience of other countries dictate this result.

We should not, however, delude ourselves into thinking that the problems experienced in those countries with socialized medicine either don’t exist or won’t happen here.

Avi Peretz
Via e-mail

Freedom to Read

Thank you for a lovely and comprehensive article on this summer’s Freedom School at Stephen S. Wise Temple (“ ‘Freedom School’ Keeps Reading Alive Through Summer,” July 6). My family and I have been members of Stephen S. Wise since its beginning, and we are thrilled and proud of all our shul has accomplished.

Here at the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, we were so impressed by this program that we donated more than 200 brand-new books for the Freedom School children — now each student will be able to start a home library. Miss Fitzgerald, the beloved “First Lady of Song,” established her foundation in 1993 in order to help children and families make better lives for themselves. Freedom School certainly fits that criteria. 

Fran Morris Rosman
Executive Director
The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation

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