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March 19, 2010

Maybe Agency Should Call it Quits

Sometimes organizations should declare victory and close (“Embattled Jewish Agency To Promote Identity Over Aliyah,” March 12). If the Jewish Agency has achieved the best it can on immigration, if it is not being supported by Jews around the world, that might be the honorable choice. Why manufacture some vague new purpose to continue?

Elaine Reuben
Washington, D.C.

Students Embraced Brochure’s Premise

Your March 12 article “Campus ‘Apartheid Week’ Drew Little, Varied Response” alleged that students at ColumbiaUniversity “objected” to a brochure provided by StandWithUs and used a quote from me in support of that assertion. But the article omitted relevant context that I had provided.

As I explained in my interview, deconstructing the word “apartheid” (especially as it relates to Israel) was the primary goal of LionPAC, Columbia’s Israel advocacy group, in its response to Israel Apartheid Week. The StandWithUs brochure, together with materials from other organizations, served as supplementary hand-outs to documents that we created ourselves.

I explained that those students who questioned the brochure were concerned about its placement in our overall campaign as opposed to disagreeing with its contents, which mention human rights abuses toward women, homosexuals and Jews in Middle Eastern countries. I fear that the quote that appeared in your article may leave readers with the impression that students at Columbia rejected the premise of the booklet entirely.

The article also did not mention my observation that many students at Columbia found the brochure helpful and enlightening. I noted that students are often interested in the Palestinian perspective on the conflict due to human rights concerns and that the StandWithUs brochure directly addresses the issue of the real human rights violators in the region. This information was especially helpful for students who have limited knowledge and whose opinions of Israel are greatly influenced by the anti-Israel campaign’s use and abuse of human rights rhetoric.

Jacob Shapiro
President Emeritus
New York, N.Y.

The Real Provocateurs

J.J. Goldberg suggests that, in listing Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb near Bethlehem for heritage status, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might be seeking to poison the diplomatic atmosphere so as not to make concessions (“Playing With Matches in Hebron,” March 5).

But Netanyahu has already made two major, unilateral, unreciprocated concessions to the Palestinians to facilitate negotiations: conditionally accepting a Palestinian state and a 10-month freeze on Jewish construction in the West Bank.

Moreover, Goldberg misses the reason for the vociferous Arab reaction to the heritage listing: It is not because these are also Muslim holy sites, but because Palestinians refuse to accept them as being Jewish holy sites at all, just as they refuse to accept Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state.

In 2000, Yasser Arafat told an amazed Bill Clinton that there had been no Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. In recent years, Joseph’s Tomb has been destroyed by a Palestinian mob and rebuilt as a mosque. Rachel’s Tomb has been the target of innumerable acts of sniper fire and attempted arson. The ancient Jericho synagogue has been deliberately damaged. Last but not least, the Muslim religious authorities in Jerusalem have done untold damage to Jewish archaeological sites beneath the Temple Mount.

It is important to note that the Palestinian Authority recently announced that it would name a public square in Ramallah after terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, who murdered 37 Jews in 1978. Last year, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had sponsored celebrations commemorating the 50th anniversary of her birth. Why doesn’t Goldberg mention these real provocations as harming the chances of negotiations?

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

As the Cheek Turns

In his February 26 column “Un-Righteous Indignation,” Jay Michaelson writes: “‘Turn the other cheek’ is Christianity, not Judaism.”

I beg to differ. Lamentations 3:30 reads: “Let him give his cheek to him that smiteth him.”

Many persons, both Christians and Jews, believe that statements in the New Testament are unique to Jesus, when in fact they are merely Jesus’ recitation of statements in the Hebrew Bible, with which he, as a Jew, was very familiar.

Harry Cohn
Richmond, Va.


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