March 21, 2013
Letters to the Editor: Settlements, Response Policy, Secularism
Will PR Help Israel?
David Suissa’s suggestion that Israel shift its PR efforts toward legal definitions sounds reasonable but is in reality quite futile (“Israel Needs a Lawyer,” March 15). The so-called 1967 boundaries were actually the cease-fire lines of 1949, in effect everything that Israel was able to take during the War of Independence. World opinion regarded this as Israel, and the Green Line was a de facto international border. This is still the case.
Legalities or legal questions not withstanding, world opinion ever since U.N. Resolution 242 (calling on Israel to withdraw “from territories occupied” in 1967) regarded Israel’s 1967 conquests as occupied territories. Nothing Israel has done or said since has changed that widely held view. I suspect the Israeli government ignored the Levy Commission report cited by Mr. Suissa because it felt it would have little or no impact on world opinion.
The question facing Israel is, to what extent does its continued possession — regarded as occupation — of the 1967 conquests impact not only Israel’s image but its character as well? And to what extent does the continuing occupation (whether legal or illegal) assist those who are seeking to undermine Israel’s legitimacy within the 1967 boundaries? The negotiated two-state solution that would probably solve the problem may not be possible at the moment, but what is the alternative?
Rabbi Gilbert Kollin
Right of Reply
Why does the Journal routinely let Dennis Prager reply — often at length — to letters to the editor about his column? It is standard journalistic practice to let letters speak for themselves, limiting responses to those rare instances requiring factual clarification. Prager has a column every week. He should use it as he wishes, but he should not take the space allotted to readers’ opinions. Allowing Prager to respond means he always gets the last word. Prager should have the humility to let letters stand on their own, and the Journal’s editors should demonstrate fairness and have faith in readers’ ability to draw their own conclusions.
Rob Eshman responds: The Journal’s policy is to encourage free exchange of ideas whenever possible and practical. We offer all columnists the right of reply and clarification. We’ve followed this practice since our founding 26 years ago. These days, we encourage letter writers and columnists to continue their dialogue online at jewishjournal.com through our new Facebook commenting feature.
God: Reality or Invention
In Dennis Prager’s latest column, a strong attack on secularism, he states, “… because people who don’t believe in God don’t want to go crazy, they make up meanings.” (“Secularism,” March 15). (His examples included work, family and self-sacrifice for country.) Although I am not an atheist, my very basic question for Mr. Prager is simply this: Isn’t it equally possible that other groups of people — also in order to avoid going crazy — made up God?
Dennis Prager responds: Mr. Garf is almost entirely right. Yes, it is “possible that other groups of people — also in order to avoid going crazy — made up God.” But it is not “equally” possible. The idea that in one place at one time, people made up the idea of an invisible, supranatural, moral lawgiver as depicted in the Torah is extremely unlikely. Moreover, while atheists make up whatever meanings they give to their lives, those who believe in God did not necessarily make God up. He might really exist.
Uri Laio is filled with vim and vinegar in his enthusiasm for things fermented (“Preparing for Spring and the Festival of Indigestion,” March 15). There is a downside to fermentation that includes carcinogens (N-nitroso compounds) and salt, both of which are associated with gastric cancer. The fermentation of yogurt with lactobacilli and bifidobacteria is very different as it enhances our immune systems and without carcinogens. One who has stomach trouble or heart disease could find Laio’s suggestions dangerous. All fermentation is not alike. All fermentation is not healthy.
Dr. Jerome P. Helman
The article “Is the Newsweek Rabbis List Good for the Jews?” (March 15) incorrectly stated a portion of Gabrielle Birkner’s work experience before becoming a researcher for the list. She previously served as an editor and director of digital media at The Forward, not as a reporter.
The article “Man Behind Iron Dome Addresses Milken Students” (March 15) incorrectly stated that Metuka Benjamin is director of education of Stephen S. Wise. She is the president of Milken Community High School.