By JEWISH REVIEW
article created on: 2010-03-18T00:00:00
1st Amendment applies to Israel debate
To the editor:
Chuck Freilich’s op-ed in the Feb. 15 Jewish Review repeats the view of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that “only Israel’s citizens, who endure the consequences, bear the responsibility for its policies” and “it is presumptuous for our brethren in the United States, and frankly offensive, for them to believe that they ‘know better’ what is right for Israel.” Ergo: Jewish Americans, solely because they are Jews, should refrain from exercising their full First Amendment rights to criticize the right wing, ultra-Orthodox-driven “Greater Israel” policies of the current Israeli government.
Both the local Jewish federation and AIPAC made that same argument in 1989 when Peace Now articulated a preference for a two-state solution over a Greater Israel. Peace Now was urged not to “wash Jewish dirty linen in public.” Jewish Americans, simply because they were Jewish, should refrain from trying to influence United States foreign policy in the Middle East if that meant criticizing Israel. Yet Freilich, having left America as a teenager to become an Israeli citizen, himself exercises no such self-restraint in trying to influence U.S. policy. Indeed, in September 2008 he sought to deter the new Obama administration from pursuing peace in the Middle East by urging it to “Resist the advice of the ‘peace professionals’ and old Washington hands to jump into the process. Bush stayed away for good reason: there is little the United States can do.”
What is sauce for the goose apparently is not sauce for the gander. Once Yitzhak Rabin was elected Israeli Prime Minister in 1992 and led Israel from the Madrid talks to the Oslo accords in 1993, it suddenly became legitimate for Americans openly to espouse the Peace Now line. When that happened, the Freilich line (don’t criticize Israeli government policies publicly) suddenly became anathema to the right wing. Norman Podhoretz, then editor of Commentary and the leading national proponent of that view during the Likud regime preceding Rabin, suddenly announced he could no longer hold his tongue and savaged the policies of the Rabin administration.
Mr. Freilich may have left America to become a citizen of Israel and, as such, feel some superior position to tell Jews in America what they should and should not say. However, American citizens should never abandon their First Amendment rights to assemble, petition for redress of grievances and speak publicly, both as Americans and as Jews, for those policies—within Israel and the within the United States regarding Israel—that they consider right and moral.
To do less is to diminish what it means to be a Jew, much less an American.
Paul R. Meyer
J Streeters should read Disraeli
To the editor:
Since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, Israel has never been as politically isolated by world nations as it is now.
If there was a period of time in Jewish history when the biblical prophecy in its literal form: “Lo it is a people that shall dwell alone and shall not be reckoned among the nations” (Numbers 23; 9) has indeed materialized, this is the time.
From all the wars that Israel’s neighbors forced upon her, Israel has emerged triumphant. This fact has prompted Israel’s enemies to pursue a new strategy that can gradually cripple Israel and bring about her demise. This new strategy is being waged as a comprehensive campaign by pan-Arabism, a war of words that calls for the systematic demonization of Israel in every international forum.
It is certainly working.
Mighty Israel has been politically weakened beyond measure in the eyes of a bewildered Jewish state and in our own complacent eyes.
World politics today has embraced the rights of the Palestinians over the alleged “wrongs” of Israel. This has given the Palestinians and by extension all enemies of Israel a license to indiscriminately bomb Israeli civilian centers, largely with the mutely tacit approval of the world. After all, the Palestinians have rights…..
Patience is an inherent Arab virtue. It has paid off handsomely. Due to world pressure, Israel has made many concessions, without an ounce of Palestinian reciprocity. On the contrary, Palestinian reciprocity to Israel has heretofore translated into a somber package of Israeli deaths and destruction.
The word concession means granting. It also means yielding, as in acknowledging defeat. The latter is the practical principle by which the word concession is modeled and applied in the Middle East.
“Zion shall be redeemed with righteousness” (Isaiah 1:27).
The prophet speaks of future days when Israel—both people and land—shall be saved when those Jews returning from the Diaspora will exhibit righteousness.
“There is no honor in politics,” said Disraeli. Politics is therefore hardly compatible with righteousness, for righteousness translates into mutual honest dealings and the desire for genuine peaceful coexistence between two warring nations.
A righteous approach to peace requires two partners; it takes two to tango. But Israel has no dancing partner because while only a brave minority of the overall Palestinian population appears to be willing to tolerate Israel, the majority is adamantly committed to Israel’s destruction.
The real issue in the Middle East is not how much Israel is prepared to concede for peace; rather it is the Palestinians’ proverbial recalcitrance in allowing it to come to fruition.
Unfortunately this is a fact that many of our fellow Jews still fail to grasp, thus engendering Jewish groups such as J Street, which claims to be pro-Israel but which distinguishes itself for its political ambivalence toward Israel.
As a pro-Israel group they should concentrate on tackling the real roots of the problem vis a vis the Palestinians and Israel. Their unsolicited involvement is creating a litany of political difficulties for Israel and contributing to her further isolation.
“Woe unto them that are wide in their own eyes” (Isaiah 5:21).
Since J Street feels it must dissent with the current pro-peace Israeli government for its handling of its peace talks with its neighbors, and its refusal to hand over Har Tziyon to the Palestinians it would do J Street supporters well to remember Disraeli’s admonition before the House of Commons in 1860, “It is much easier to be critical than to be correct.”
Rabbi Shlomo Truzman
Let’s look at the facts
To the editor:
Before Jewish Review readers react angrily over Israel’s announced plans to build 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem, please read some facts that have been left out of our TV and newspaper reports.
Israel says that most of the building is on land previously annexed by the state and thus does not violate Israel’s commitment not to build on disputed land.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, visiting Israel when the announcement was made, reacted harshly and was very critical.
Portlanders probably have visions of single-family homes of many square feet surrounded by green lawns. More likely these new residences are to be tiny apartments in tall apartment buildings.
The confusion may be that on the Nov. 25, 2009, Netanyahu’s Cabinet announced a policy of restraint regarding settlements which included a suspension of new permits and new construction in Judea and Samaria for 10 months. The government said it wouldn’t expropriate more land for existing settlements. Netanyahu also promised to ensure that normal life could continue for the 300,000 Israelis who live in Judea and Samaria.
Jerusalem’s position was well known. They did not include any restrictions on building in their sovereign capital. Their plan to build had been in the works for over three years.
Israel stated that there was no connection between the announcement and Biden’s visit to Israel. The Interior Ministry of Israel evidently didn’t check Biden’s itinerary or check with Netanyahu, and this synchronistic announcement and visit occurred.
My father’s family came from South Portland where we had both Italians and Jews. I loved to go to the delis and be greeted by those wonderful aromas from both cultures. We came from a mixed neighborhood of Chinese, Jews and Italians and Greeks in our Abernethy neighborhood. The PTA potlucks were amazing.
But the Palestinians don’t want us in Jerusalem at all. They want it for their exclusive capital. We have Arab citizens living in Israel but evidently they want none of us in their future state.
Biden came for talks about peace. The building announcement made it harder for him. However, there are many of us who would also find it very hard to give up one foot of Jerusalem.