Jewish Journal

Letters to the Editor: New Israel Fund, murder, two-state solution

Posted on Dec. 20, 2012 at 4:11 pm

More on the Two-State Solution

I’ve spent 20-plus years as a working peacenik on the board of the New Israel Fund and Israel Policy Forum and even served as president of Americans for Peace Now, and I find it quite painful to admit that I agree with much of Rob Eshman’s editorial (“Two-State Attrition,” Dec. 14). There certainly is no reality to Peace Now now. Eshman suggests that a two- or more state solution may evolve through attrition. No peace, just a limited mutual tolerance between two peoples, because there seems to be no solution other than exhaustive hair-trigger tensions that could erupt anytime into deadly conflict.

Facing that scenario, I believe that many people share Eshman’s feeling of being “tired” of this frustrating and apparently futile effort. But this is no excuse for quitting the struggle. I stick with Peace Now and organizations advocating negotiations when none seems currently available, calling for a two-state solution when there is little active interest, supporting Israeli groups calling for alternatives to Benjamin Netanyahu’s isolationism. I don’t think it is idealism run rampant. I just believe that you put your resources and energy into what you believe is right, even with such a dim outlook. The world is dynamic, and keeping this two-state solution in the public eye as much as possible seems to me the most rational position possible, even though, agreeing with Eshman, I don’t hold my breath for a quick answer.

Dick Gunther, Los Angeles

Your fine and sensitive editorial, especially the last section about wishing some pragmatic cooperation and negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis, expresses the feelings of many of us, being exhausted from wavering between mostly pessimism and occasional optimism. It seems that even God is not so sure anymore. When He was asked by a simple Jew: “God, please tell me straightforward, will there ever be peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians?” God responded: “Certainly, My son, certainly, but probably not in My lifetime.”

Yona Sabar, via e-mail

God as Source of Morality

In his column (“Why Is Murder Wrong?” Dec. 14), Dennis Prager concludes with a reckless claim that “the one God [as] the source of the one moral standard — ethical monotheism … — is no longer taught in most synagogues or rabbinic seminaries.” If Prager intends to equate a one-dimensional moral standard with monotheism, then he is correct. At least speaking for the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), it is true that, rather than falling back on simple moralism, we follow the Jewish tradition in investigating and weighing the highly ramified implications of morality. If, however, Prager means that most Jewish seminaries and synagogues do not teach ethical monotheism, or that they do not teach God as the source of all things — morality included — then he is simply mistaken.

I write, however, not just to correct Prager’s mistake. More urgently than that, I object to his heedless and gratuitous hostility. It is difficult not to read Prager as a provocateur, claiming incisive and close analysis, while in fact painting in broad strokes of facile caricature.

HUC-JIR and every other synagogue and seminary with which I have interacted teach God as the source of morality, even if they do not always cast aspersions on those who arrive at morality differently.

Joshua Holo, Dean, Jack H. Skirball Campus, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Israel’s Moral Obligation

According to Jewish tradition, the primary moral obligation for Israel is the protection of its citizens (“Two States for Two Peoples Is a Jewish Value,” Dec. 14). Withdrawals from Gaza and southern Lebanon have proven that yet another state controlled by Palestinians will pose a security risk to the Jewish people. Instead of missiles hitting Ashkelon and Haifa, Tel Aviv and Israel’s heartland will be the target.

Jewish moral traditions teach us that the land of Israel is a Divine gift to the Jewish people and we have no right to give it to others. At the same time, Judaism teaches us to treat all with dignity as well as respect, Jew or non-Jew.

Yehuda Kurtzer’s assertion that there is “ethical tradition” in Judaism that impels the creation of a Palestinian state has no basis anywhere in classical Jewish teachings. Not in the Talmud, codes, Midrash, Zohar or the Torah itself. His theories are an effort to transfer Western liberal values and political theory into Judaism. It is not a Jewish teaching.

The greatest moral failure in the conflict between Arab and Jew over the historical homeland of the Jewish people has been the Arab leadership. From the early 20th century, Jews have offered compromise time and again only to be rejected by the Arab side. The most recent withdrawal from Gaza was yet again a moral failure of Arab leadership. Instead of creating an oasis of freedom, opportunity and democracy, the Palestinians have made Gaza into a despotic regime. In the Hamas charter is enshrined their goals — the destruction of Israel and war against Jews around the world. 

Rabbi David EliezriePresident, Rabbinical Council of Orange County and Long Beach

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