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August 6, 2004

Presbyterian Decision Not Representative

In light of Israel’s history and centuries of Jewish suffering at the hands of Christians, one might think that Christians would make a special effort to understand Israel’s unique and perilous situation as a Jewish state among Arab neighbors (“Protestant Group OKs Divestment From Israel,” July 16).

Such is not the case with the Presbyterian Church (USA). At its recent annual denominational meeting, delegates passed a number of anti-Israel resolutions, recommending divestment in Israel, condemning Israel’s security fence and even opposing Christian Zionism. These resolutions reflect thinking that is at best highly dubious — and at worst presumptuous and hostile.

The notion that a privileged group of American Christians, who do not live daily with the threat of a terrorist attack, has any right to dictate Israel’s national security policy completely ignores the fact that every sovereign state has not just the right but the duty to protect its citizens.

The very notion that Israel should place Palestinian convenience before Israeli lives by removing the security fence is outrageous. Calls for economic isolation of Israel are simply vicious — and particularly callous as Israel struggles with a real economic crisis. And the implication that Israel is in any way comparable with apartheid-era South Africa is repugnant. These fallacious ideas should disturb seriously not only Jews, but also Christians who rightly believe in a secure and peaceful Israel.

Thankfully the Presbyterian Church (USA) does not represent the opinion of most Christians.

On the other side are the many evangelicals who have proven themselves staunch friends of the Jewish state. Whatever the religious, political and ethical reasons for their pro-Israel stance, their economic and moral support has been invaluable to Israel, and its people are profoundly grateful.

In light of this, many Jews may be wondering: If evangelicals draw the obvious moral distinction between Israel’s efforts to thwart terrorism and the willingness of radical Islamists to kill as many Jews as possible, and recognize that Arab nations refusing to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist cannot be partners in peace, why doesn’t the Presbyterian Church (USA) do likewise?

Maybe they’re just too busy. If the flurry of activity at their General Assembly is any indication, Presbyterians have a lot to think about. For instance, another resolution called on Christians to “ponder the message of attackers who are so desperate that they surrender their lives to kill others.”

Perhaps when the Presbyterian Church (USA) is done contemplating the “message” of those who hijack airplanes and fly them into buildings or detonate explosives in public places to cause as much suffering as possible, they can stop to think about Israel, a nation — desperate to protect its citizens from terrorism — that nonetheless rejects terrorism as its own weapon and erects a fence, albeit an “inconvenient” one, as defense against hostile neighbors.

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein

President and CEO

International Fellowship of Christians and Jews

Chicago, Ill.

Emphasis on Linkage Gives Fodder for Bigots

The Forward states in a front-page article that the 9/11 Commission’s linkage of American policy toward Israel and Islamic

terrorism had been little noticed (“9/11 Commission Finds Anger at Israel Fueling Islamic Terrorism Wave,” July 30).

Not even the anti-Bush, anti-Israel New York Times emphasized that linkage.

The Forward, however, saw fit to do so. The article also discusses a recommendation of the Jewish Agency for Israel that the Israeli government take into account the effects of their policy on the welfare of Diaspora Jews.

The invidious juxtaposition of the 9/11 Commission’s suggestion and the Jewish Agency recommendation supports the arguments of the most vicious of the antisemitic attacks: the ones that claim the United States must change its support of Israel in order to mollify the Islamists’ hatred of America — and furthermore, that Israel also should change its policies for the “good” of Diaspora Jews.

The connection the Forward has made gives credence to the unfounded fantasy that Islamists would lessen their goal of the destruction of the United States if only our policy toward Israel would result in weakening her.

Matthew Yarczower

Professor Emeritus

Bryn Mawr College

Wynnewood, Pa.

Let These (Hot) Dogs Have Their Day, Too

The July 23 Food Maven column is exactly what I like about the Forward: a courageous newspaper that is not afraid to tackle Jewish taste buds (“Good Dog!”).

As one who consumes a kosher frank now and again, I think your “Consumer Report” on the quality and flavor of Manhattan kosher hot dogs was an important contribution to Jewish cuisine in the 21st century. But I’d like to call your attention to a couple of kosher brands available in Atlanta (that are sold in trayf venues).

Best Kosher Frankfurters, made in Chicago, are among the finest tasting around. They can be purchased in many of our local supermarkets and at most of the Sam’s Clubs supermarkets in the area.

In addition, Sam’s Clubs supermarkets feature them at their snack bars, where they must sell hundreds of thousands of these kosher dogs a year.

Another great kosher frankfurter is sold by Omaha Steaks, a company that sells tons of expensive trayf meat through catalogs and the Internet but also caters to kosher eaters with briskets and franks. These are perhaps the best of all the kosher hot dogs. And you don’t have to go out on the Web to get them; Omaha has six or seven retail stores in Atlanta, and I’m sure that there must be a few Omaha locations in Manhattan.

Pass the mustard.

Sholom Rubinstein

Atlanta, Ga.

I was disappointed to see that the Food Maven did not test Empire National Kosher frankfurters

They have been around for a long time and are the franks sold at New York institutions like Second Avenue Deli and Ben’s Best. They are the best.

I assume they weren’t tested because they are not glatt kosher, and the Food Maven already had Hebrew National as the token “not glatt.” But Empire National’s frankfurters are produced under strict Orthodox standards and in accordance with all the laws of the Shulchan Aruch. The Forward has done its frankfurter-eating readership a disservice by not tasting Empire National hot dogs.

Karen Rothberg

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Column on Kerry Values Offers Valuable Views

We were horrified to see David Klinghoffer’s July 23 opinion column attacking Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (“The Devaluation of Values”). The placement of Klinghoffer’s disputation column on the editorial page could be read as an indication of the Forward’s support of President Bush.

Klinghoffer follows the Republican Party line of attacking Kerry on values. Of course, one can find many ways to argue the meaning of “values,” and this could be an important article with various sides discussing what is meant by the term. But again, its placement on the editorial page conveys something much different.

Klinghoffer, in arguing for moving the debate from “values” to “right and wrong,” writes that, “In the mind of Bush, authentic ideas of right and wrong are by definition grounded in a transcendent source: God.” But doesn’t Klinghoffer recognize how Bush waffles from “God” to “Christian?” This can be seen in many of Bush’s speeches, particularly before Christian groups.

Does Klinghoffer want Kerry to tell us he talks to God, as Bush has told us?

Leonard and Zeace Nadler

Silver Spring, Md.

Opinion columnist David Klinghoffer is right on target about John Kerry’s “slipperiness” concerning moral values and the widespread attack against ultimate truths.

On this count, it is truly the mission of the Jewish people to loudly uphold and proclaim these ultimate truths — even if many of us fail to seek to uphold that mission.

Like him or not, President Bush is a straight shooter, while John Kerry presents the most contorted image of any candidate one might recall. Perhaps perching on both sides of the fence, via moderation, is a tried-and-true political tactic. But no candidate can be 100% on one side and seek to redeem himself on the other without being seen as devoid of core values and good character.

While it is painless to stake out ground on every corner, Bush should be applauded for making mature decisions over key moral struggles.

We should all join Klinghoffer in our worry over the Kerry-Edwards ticket.

David Friedman

Bethesda, Md.

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