Letters: Trump’s Middle East Plan, Kippahs and Cultural Appropriation

February 7, 2020

Trump’s Middle East Plan
As Shmuel Rosner points out, President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan calls for “Israeli jurisdiction over territory that does not include Palestinians (and) self-rule for the Palestinians to prevent a one-state reality.” Sound familiar? (“The Cyrus Parameters: Trump and Netanyahu,” Jan. 31)

This is the Wikipedia definition of a Bantustan. “A Bantustan … was a territory set aside for black inhabitants of South Africa and South West Africa (now Namibia), as part of the policy of apartheid …. In terms of the Bantu Homelands Citizenship Act of 1970, blacks were stripped of their South African citizenship, which deprived them of their few remaining political and civil rights in South Africa, and made them citizens of their designated homelands.”

How well did that work? ’Nuff said.
Jonathan Jacoby, via email

What an end to January. Holocaust remembrance, the Grammys, and Trump’s plan for Israel and the Palestinians, based on a two-state compromise.

Trump put forth a detailed proposal on Jan. 28, conferring with Israeli prime minister candidates Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) and Benny Gantz (Blue and White). He sent a letter to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. Boundaries, tunnels, disarming of Hamas in Gush Katif (Gaza). Status quo on the Temple Mount. $50 billion for infrastructure incentives.

As the “best friend of Israel” (Netanyahu’s words), Trump has delivered again. Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel. American Embassy moved. Sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Exiting the disastrous Iran nuclear deal.

As Bob Dylan put it: “Oh, the times, they are a changin’ ….”
Enrique Gascon, Westside Village

Two Columnists, Two Views
What a pleasure to read Karen Lehrman Bloch’s column (“One Nation, One Heart,” Jan. 17). Especially that New York University’s Bronfman Center is responding to campus bigotry with “… more public displays of Jewish pride … encouraging [students] to be more Jewish, prouder of their identity.”

And what a contrast to Louis Keene’s column in the same issue (“Can a Bad Jew on the Big Screen Be Good for the Jews?”) about the Adam Sandler movie “Uncut Gems.” Keene gives his voice to inaccurate, negative characterizations, such as, “Ratner is unmistakably Jewish … he thinks being a little smarter than everyone else affords him a little extra sinning.” If you think that’s “unmistakably Jewish,” you have a problem. The column’s generalizations about American Jews today are insulting.

Lending our voices to negative misinformation about our people and heritage is self-destructive, especially in print, because it hands our professional enemies special evidence to show the uninformed and say, “This is what they admit about themselves, so you can believe it.” Can we please stop doing that, and talk more about what makes us proud of our people and heritage?
David Ruhm, Irvine

Never Again
Thank you for printing Harvey Farr’s column about his mother (“More Than a Number,” Jan. 31). It’s because such eloquent pieces that the memory of the victims and survivors of the Holocaust are preserved that we can restore their and our humanity, and that we can say, “never again.”
Robert Goldman, Santa Monica

The Cost of Supporting Israel
In his story “The Clash Over Support for Israel” (Jan. 24), Rabbi Shmuley Boteach promotes the tired and artificial binary choice that continues to exacerbate division between American Jews. I agree with his passionate characterization of the importance of Israel to the Jewish people and Judaism, and the responsibility for all of us to protect and nurture her. Why, though, must his protection and nurturing be the only way? The malignance in his choice of words that Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) has “turned on” Israel is telling. One reason I am a Jew is precisely because Judaism expects each of us to wrestle with difficult issues and big questions. Yet for Boteach and others like him, he’s done it for us and it’s his way or the highway. No room for thoughtful discussion, respect for others’ perspectives, acknowledgement of others’ passion.

Perhaps even more disheartening is his simplistic and intellectually indefensible binary approach. Essential questions such as those presented in his story, and indeed Israel, deserve more realism and nuance. I was hoping Boteach was capable of maintaining the cognitive dissonance necessary to actually solve the real and messy problems Israel faces. Doesn’t he want more minds and hearts engaged in finding solutions? But sadly, this does not seem the case. Another opportunity wasted.
Gail Robillard, via email

Boteach masterfully described the conundrum Jewish professionals find themselves in with teaching Torah and promoting Israel. So much of what I personally have experienced, he put into perspective. My rebbe, Aish HaTorah founder Rabbi Noach Weinberg, would at times put defending the Jewish people and Israel ahead of our efforts to expose Jews to the relevancy of Torah, saying, “Because when you are on the run, it’s really hard to teach Torah.” I agree that the centrality of Israel to Torah and Torah to Israel is a relationship we must foster and fortify. Kudos to the Journal for publishing the story.
Aryeh Markman, Via email

Kippah and Cultural Appropriation
I am not offended by gentiles wearing kippot to show solidarity with Jews. I appreciate their support.

The cultural appropriation that offends me is the use of the term Palestinian. It is a tactic on the propaganda front. It implies that they, not Jews, are indigenous to the land, which they claim outright.

When there was a Palestine, the inhabitants who consistently called themselves Palestinians were the Jews. Those who pointedly refused to be so-called Palestinians were the Arabs, who claimed to be “southern Syrians.” No news reports from 1948 mentioned Palestinian refugees — only Arab refugees. It wasn’t till the mid-’60s that they discovered the propaganda value of the term.
Louis Richter, Reseda

Bryant’s Tragic Death
Yay, Tabby Refael, for your poignant and sensitive window into the non-Orthodox Persian acculturation experience (“The Uplifting Wave of Kobe Bryant,” Jan. 31).
As immigrants and first-generation Americans in a race-toxic society, it is beautiful how Kobe Bryant, an American sports legend, had the capacity to make us feel connected and proud to be Americans. R.I.P. Kobe.
Mina Friedler, Venice

A Special Date for Soviet Jewry
Feb. 11 is an important day in Modern Jewish History. On Feb. 11, 1986, the Soviet Union released Natan Sharansky and some U.S. spies from the gulag in a swap for convicted Soviet spies. He had been unjustly imprisoned for almost nine years.

A significant span of his incarceration was spent in the infamous Lefortovo, Vladimir and Chistopol prisons. His courage, religious faith and incredible love for his wife, Avital, kept him alive.

In the three decades that he has been in Israel, he has left his mark, both in strengthening Jewish identity as well as his notable efforts against anti-Semitism. As a result of his 3-D test of anti-Semitism, there is now an international definition of anti-Semitism. His book “Fear No Evil” is a must read for the Journal readers.
Morey Schapira, former national president, Union of Councils for Soviet Jews Sunnyvale

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