January 20, 2019

Letters to the Editor: Trump and Israel: Who to Believe, Volunteer Opportunities for Youth

Trump and Israel: Who to Believe
The dual articles on “Why Trump Is Bad/Good for Israel” by David Lehrer and Janice Kamenir-Reznik, and David Hazony, respectively (Oct. 19), shed clear light on the difference of opinions. On the one hand, you have the view of Dennis Ross, endorsed by Lehrer and Kamenir-Reznik, that President Donald Trump is bad for Israel; and on the other hand, Hazony, an Israeli, defends Trump as being good for Israel.

In decrying Trump’s very successful policy regarding Israel’s security and our support with specious rationalizations, they do Israel a great disservice. Just ask Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or any Israeli what they think. You will get overwhelming approval of Trump.

Who do you want to believe, the Israelis or the leftists? Where was the rage on the left when former President Barack Obama interfered in the Israeli election; his gross disrespect of Netanyahu when he visited the U.S.; the abominable deal with Iran, which puts Israel in grave danger; the dumping of cash from U.S. planes at an Iranian airport, etc. Not a sound from them. What chutzpah!

I commend the Journal for publishing this article, which unmistakably demonstrates the difference between the left and the right with respect to Israel.
C.P. Lefkowitz, Rancho Palos Verdes

Volunteer Opportunities for Youth
Thank you for the rich articles in the Oct. 12 issue relating to Jewish education (education supplement). In connection with volunteer opportunities for students, readers might be interested in accessing BJEImpact.org, which lists scores of such opportunities. Parents seeking educational opportunities meeting their children’s needs or creative ways of spending Shabbat as a family can find helpful guidance at JkidLA.com.

Thanks for identifying these topics as worthy of exploration. BJE is pleased to serve as a resource for those seeking further information.
Gil Graff, Executive Director, BJE: Builders of Jewish Education

A Human Side of God
It was fascinating to read the contortions needed to make sense of the weekly parsha that each of the participants engaged in, which avoids implicating the Lord in the outcome (“Table for Five,” Bereshit, Oct. 5). After all, there are three characters in this story: the Lord, Cain and Abel. Perhaps Tova Hartman comes closest when she closes her comments with “I cannot fathom why the God of Genesis patterns this tragic world of relationships, where being loved means someone else is rejected.”

Consider the (uncomfortable for some) answer that God is made in the image of humans! Hence, like all human beings, is imperfect and does make mistakes and must learn from the experience. We can see this in the evolution of the concept of God throughout the Torah. A vindictive, wrathful, vengeful, fearsome God gives way, over time, to a softer, more mellow fellow. God goofed in the treatment of Cain. Not unlike parents who try to be even-handed in dealing with their children, there are times when overt favoritism is detrimentally shown. How very human!

Woody Allen said it well: “If there is a God, it’s a cinch he’s an underachiever.” Why else would a vital concept of Tikkun Olam be needed?
Sheldon H. Kardener, Santa Monica  

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Yossi Klein Halevi is right: “Staying in the West Bank is an existential threat to Israel; leaving the West Bank is an existential threat to Israel.” But that’s because a sovereign Israel’s presence in the Middle East is seen as an abomination by her “Palestinian” neighbors (“New-State or Pre-State Solution?” Oct. 19).
There’s also the fundamentally Jew-hating world (the disgraceful United Nations being a prime example), which supports anything that endangers the Jewish state.
Israelis must secure their nation through carefully calibrated actions.
The world sees Israel’s attempt to single-handedly take responsibility for finding a “solution” as weakness or even worse, an admission of some unforgivable “original sin.”
The time for talk may exist in the distant future. But generations will pass before the poisonous, genocidal hate that surrounds Israel might possibly abate.
Julia Lutch, Davis, Calif.

Battle of the Bulge
Thank you, Mark Schiff, for being so honest about your struggle with keeping off the weight (“My Downfall Is Bread,” Oct. 19).

After trying Weight Watchers, Overeaters Anonymous, TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) and toughing it out with Type 2 diabetes, I found my own peace. When a new doctor said, “You fell off the wagon,” it turned around my thinking and it’s been much easier since.

I live down the street from a Baskin-Robbins, and when the staff started greeting me by my first name and what flavor I liked, I knew it was time to get serious.

Walking to classes from the Orange Line three times a week at Pierce College helps with the needed exercise.
Jacqueline Callan, via email

The Party of ‘I’ vs. the Party of ‘We’
Sometime after the last election, the Journal published a letter from a reader claiming that since the “Republicans are the party of the I, and Democrats are the part of the We,” it therefore follows that the Torah wants us to vote Democratic.
While this writer raises a fascinating point, what I find most interesting is that even if the writer were 100 percent correct, he/she would still be wrong.
Even assuming the validity of these questionable assumptions, and ignoring the recent hostility of the Democratic Party toward Israel, and also ignoring the recent adoption by the Democratic platform of positions that the Torah explicitly rejects, the Torah does not want us to view ourselves as “We.” Indeed, as the Talmud points out (Baba Metzia 114a), the Torah wants us to view the world as if it is dependent only on “Me” and not to be dependent on the “We.”
Perhaps this can explain a strange fact. As pointed out in the book “Who Really Cares” by Arthur C. Brooks (2007), studies show the political right gives far more to charity than does the political left. (And Brooks goes to great pains to show this has nothing to do with income levels, etc.)

Now, why should this be so — especially since Democrats portray themselves as the “ones who really care”?
If I accept the letter writer’s thesis — that Democrats are the party of “We” —  perhaps we can explain this enigma. It is not that the average Democrat really cares less, but that they believe in the “Party of the We” — i.e., fellow Democrats or perhaps the government gives more to the needy, and therefore he himself doesn’t feel the same obligation to give. Whereas the typical Republican believes in the “Party of the I” — and since it is dependent only on the “I” — and if I don’t give, I can’t assume anyone else will either, then I must give.
However, I leave this up to a wiser person than me to decide if this explains everything. As Brooks points out, the political right also gives far more in non-monetary contributions as well — e.g., donating blood or time. I am not convinced that the same logic will explain this fact.
Hayim Hendeles, Los Angeles

CORRECTION
A Q-and-A with Halie Soifer (“Halie Soifer: Getting Out the Young, Jewish Vote for Democrats,” Oct. 19) mistakenly reported that a volunteer program canvassed for Peter Roskam. It did not.


Don’t be shy. Send your letters to letters@jewishjournal.com