Jan 2, 2009


Published December 24, 2008, issue of January 02, 2009.
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Court Didn’t Mandate Hebron House Eviction

In your December 19 editorial “Hebron and the Rule of Law,” regarding the evictions of Jews from Hebron’s Beit HaShalom, you write: “In November the court authorized the army to evict the squatters. The troops went in to enforce the law.” That is misleading.

The Supreme Court did not order the eviction of the inhabitants of Beit HaShalom, a house whose purchase by an American Jew is currently being disputed in court. As such, the eviction did not take place pursuant to an effort to enforce such a ruling. Rather, as former Israeli Supreme Court justice Yaakov Turkel has said: “The ruling does not obligate the state to act to evacuate the Jews, but rather gives them the freedom to decide whether to do so or not.”

Indeed, 49 Knesset members signed onto a letter sent to Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter explaining that the court ruling “did not obligate the government to evict” the house’s residents. Signatories included minister Rafi Eitan; Kadima’s Tzachi Hanegbi, chairman of the Knesset’s defense and security committee, and six chairmen of political parties.

Morton A. Klein
National President
Zionist Organization of America
New York, N.Y.

It’s the Right Ignoring Facts on the Ground

Focusing on inside-the-Beltway politics and replaying the blame game for past failures is obviously far easier than facing up to the hard realities and sacrifices necessary to preserve hope for the long-term survival and security of a democratic, Jewish homeland. Jonathan Tobin’s claim that pro-peace voices avoid realities in the West Bank is a bit ironic given the right’s failure to acknowledge the threat to Israel’s long-term security and peace posed by a settler movement growing increasingly out of control (“Spoiling for a Fight in Washington,” December 12).

This is most visibly demonstrated by the settlers’ recent confrontation in Hebron with the Israeli government, and their abhorrent attacks on Palestinian civilians that led Israel’s leading newspaper, Haaretz, to label them “Jewish terrorists.” Right-wing American Jews who think that the pro-Israel, pro-peace camp’s motivation to highlight these realities is to wrest organizational and institutional power from established groups are making a critical mistake.

The argument we’re having is not over organizational politics. It’s about what is best for the United States, for Israel and for American Jews at a critical moment in history. It is about standing up for what it means to be Jewish — and defining how Jewish people exercise power, how we behave and how we treat others. It is about the very survival of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state if there is not an immediate, peaceful and diplomatic end to the conflict, and a legitimate and internationally accepted Palestinian state established as its neighbor.

If we truly care about our people and our nation, if we truly seek to be pro-Israel, then it is our duty not simply to support the new Obama administration in a renewed push for peace but to press it to make good on its promise to make peacemaking a priority.

Jeremy Ben-Ami
Executive Director
J Street
Washington, D.C.

Keep Your Healthy Hands Off My Hanukkah Food

I love my latkes and my soufganiot just the way my grandmother made them, the way my mother of blessed memory made them, and the way my ex-wives and current girlfriend believe in the traditional Hanukkah fare. Who cares about oil and fat and spiking blood sugar levels for one week of the year?

I read your article on modernizing the latke and it made my blood pressure spike (“Fear of Frying — A Healthy Holiday,” December 12). Hey cookbook ladies: Leave my latkes and soufganiot alone! I can’t wait to see what you come up with for Pesach, no-flour matzos maybe?

Alexander Diamond
Wiscasset, Maine

Cartoon Rings True For Christian Pastor

The cartoon in the Forward by Eli Valley depicting the efforts of evangelical Christians to convert Jews is a dramatic and energetic illustration of what must be a deeply felt resentment of the 2,000-year history of the Christian attempt to repudiate Judaism and convert Jews (“Evangelical Tours of Israel!” November 14).

I was deeply moved by the cartoon and the reality it conveys. As a Christian pastor, I abhor any attempts to violate the integrity of anyone’s spiritual path. But especially in light of the way Christians have treated Jews, I am sad beyond words. In order for healing to begin, wounds need to be named.

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’s letter criticizing the cartoon is puzzling (“Unfair Depiction of Evangelical Zionists,” November 28). While I agree that it is wrong to extend blame to an entire group because of the actions of some, my experience of most Christians is different from his. There has been a deep sense in the Christian community (not just among evangelicals) that all the world should be Christian.

I respect Rabbi Eckstein’s experience, but the Christian church has perpetuated a call for conversion for most of its history, and it is only recently that people have begun to see a deeper and yet more complicated message in the Gospels — one of love, forgiveness and thanksgiving, and deep appreciation for the ways difference can be a source of vitality, strength, imagination and energy. Christians need to understand what it feels like to be Jewish, or any faith other than Christian, in order for loving community to be born and take root.

Donald M. Mackenzie
Retired Pastor
University Congregational United Church of Christ
Seattle, Wash.

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