January 31, 2008
Should Israel care what we think? Should we care what Israel thinks? If not now, when?
The four pieces addressing the cover story have missed one aspect of the debate ("Why Should Israel Care What We Think About Jerusalem?" Jan. 25). The government of Israel, in making decisions on the fate of Jerusalem, is not operating in a vacuum. It is subject to enormous pressures by the international community that is acting in its own interest.
Almost every Arab country attended the Annapolis conference last November to influence and voice their interest in the ultimate outcome of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and on the issue of Jerusalem. Thus, decisions on the fate of Jerusalem are influenced by a large group of players whose considerations are not always aligned with Israel's.
Under these one-sided interests and multiple other considerations, the decision the government of Israel would make becomes a compromise of the pushes and pulls, rather than what is best for Israel. The Jewish voice can serve as the counterbalance that the Israeli government needs.
The Jewish people of all countries should take an active position in voicing their interest on Jerusalem. International Jewish voices are not less important than international Arab and Muslim voices, or the EU, or the U.N, or Russia or the even the United States. This may balance the adverse pressures on Israel and may allow the government of Israel to make compromises and right decisions that reflect all views.
The controversy about who should decide Jerusalem's fate reminds me about medieval Christian theologians who debated how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. No matter what concessions Israel makes, its enemies will want more, because they do not want a Jewish state in the Middle East.
Mahmoud Abbas refuses to acknowledge that Israel is a Jewish state. Saudi Arabia said it might make peace but only with an Arab Palestinian country in which Jews are allowed to live. This attitude is among the more moderate opinions in the Islamic world.
Let's take our heads out of the sand and acknowledge that Jerusalem is a sideshow. The Palestinians are more devoted to their struggle than they are to achieving a homeland. Let's get used to it.
As a citizen of America and Israel, I agree with Alan Dershowitz and Michael Berenbaum, Diaspora Jews should have a voice but not a vote when it comes to deciding the future of Jerusalem or anything else in Israel for that matter. If Jerusalem is as holy and important to some Diaspora Jews as they claim, then why aren't they willing to live there and make the same sacrifices that Israelis do?
Come on. Fight for what you believe in. Make aliyah. Pay astronomical taxes.
Earn ridiculously low wages. Send your children to the Israeli army to defend your homeland. Maybe then, Israelis will take what you have to say seriously.
The Orthodox Union has never claimed that Diaspora Jewry should posses a veto over Israeli policy. But we do believe, as most Israelis and American Jews believe, that Jerusalem's fate is exceptional.
Every Jew has a stake in the future of our capital and, therefore, a right to be heard when there is talk of its fate. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has supported this notion himself, saying that he welcomes the input of Diaspora Jewry as the Israelis move forward with peace negotiations.
It is under this rubric that the Orthodox Union has taken the position that Jerusalem, as the eternal center of Jewish spiritual life, should not be divided.
Nathan J. Diament
Institute for Public Affairs,
I read Rob Eshman's editorial about Sabeel and Naim Ateek, and to say I am shocked, as he waxed poetic about this organization, would be an understatement ("Butt Out," Jan. 25).
First of all, I have been to hear Naim Ateek and listened to the speeches about the IDF using special gas to make Palestinians run slowly, so that the IDF sharpshooters can kill them with more ease.
If you consider the ISM, the PSM and Fatah peace partners, then I would prefer that Eshman butt out and let CAMERA and the local Jewish advocates do their due diligence. I welcome CAMERA with open arms.
Allyson Rowen Taylor
Unfortunately, The Jewish Journal's good intentions are misdirected. While the Sabeel Center says it accepts a two-state solution, they actually endorse "One state for two nations and three religions."
Moreover, Sabeel has been a driving force behind the campaign by Mainline Protestant churches to divest from Israel -- openly expressed by Sabeel's director, the Rev. Naim Ateek in commentaries in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and elsewhere.
The Sabeel Center claims to advocate non-violence, but fails to condemn suicide bombings in any meaningful way. A July 2002 article by Ateek, shifts accountability for suicide bombings from the terrorists who perpetrate violence, and places blame squarely on Israel. Moreover, he never calls for an end to such attacks.
But what is most troubling about the Sabeel Center or Palestinian Liberation Theology is how it casts the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in theological terms.
As stated recently in the Jerusalem Post, "...Ateek has figuratively blamed Israel for trying to kill the infant Jesus, crucifying Jesus the prophet and blocking the resurrection of Christ the Savior."
Hatred of Jews (directed against Israel) and masked as theology is not new and is not the language of a peacemaker. There certainly are Palestinian moderates to engage in dialogue; sadly, they do not include Rev. Ateek and the Sabeel Center.
American Jewish Committee
We are Jews who live and work in the Pasadena area. While we share Rob Eshman's concerns about Jews who "ride in from out of town to try to save us from the bad guys," we are grateful for CAMERA's efforts to educate us on the Rev. Naim Ateek. We live in the area, and we have seen the brochure (