Letters: Trump’s Peace Plan, Congrats Mensches, Supporting Israel

February 14, 2020

Trump’s Peace Plan
I liked the column by David Suissa on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process (Rabin to Trump: A Price for Saying No,” Feb. 7). He articulately laid out why the peace process has been such a colossal waste of time and how not since Yitzhak Rabin has someone at least tried to take a bold stance on this conflict. We see how over the years Israel has compromised and been willing to give away more and more, attempting to make peace with the obstinate Palestinians but to no avail. Suissa poignantly reminds readers of courageous leaders like Rabin, who were grounded in their principles and although diplomatic at times, never lost sight of Israel’s ideology. Suissa reminds us that whether you like President Donald Trump, he is the only one who has been willing to stand up for Israel. All Jews should be grateful for that. Suissa illuminates that Trump, like Rabin, is striving to break the precedent set that Jews are weak and comprising. His bold act in putting his foot down is commendable, and all Jews should be grateful for that.
Jake Stephen, Los Angeles

David Suissa writes that “since … 1995, Israel has compromised a lot more than the Palestinians.” The only evidence he provides is Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s offer to Palestinian Authority President (PA) Mahmoud Abbas in 2008. In that instance, Abbas rejected the offer not because he hoped to get something better from the Israelis, as Suissa argues, but because Olmert, for reasons that remain unclear, made the offer as take-it-or-leave-it, not allowing Abbas to consult with his PA associates. Benjamin Netanyahu promptly took back Olmert’s offer when he replaced Olmert as prime minister.

A key factor holding back Israeli compromise with the Palestinians is that Israel is much better off without an agreement than the Palestinians are. There is little to suggest recently that the Israeli government attaches high priority to agreement with the Palestinians, and it is quite happy that the Palestinians feel the same way. It would be interesting if the Palestinians stopped sulking and attempted to force Israel to negotiate on peace terms, contrary to Israeli preferences.
Barry H. Steiner, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Cal State Long Beach

IKAR Rabbi Sharon Brous still believes in the mantra, “It’s the settlements, stupid,” with the occupation being the “ultimate obstacle to peace” while keeping the Israelis from “liberation” (“Community Leaders Respond to the ‘Deal of the Century,’ ” Feb. 7). All this even while most Arab countries today admit they don’t believe settlements are the major issue and have grown tired and annoyed with the rejectionist Palestinian position. The only “liberation” Israel needs is from the one-sided, blinded acceptance from people like Brous of the Palestinian narrative in which they can do no wrong and if Israel would just play nice, peace and prosperity are right around the corner.

Brous is right about one thing, though. She’s correct that the crafting of Trump’s peace plan did not involve the Palestinians. The Palestinians have never been involved in this or any other peace plan because their leadership is not interested in any kind of peace that doesn’t include the dismantling and destruction of the whole of Israel.
Allan Kandel, Los Angeles

Supporting Israel
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach makes several good points about support for Israel among
other Jewish values (“The Clash Over Support for Israel,” Jan. 24). But he seems to completely ignore those segments of Charedi Judaism that reject the modern-day state of Israel because it was founded by secular means rather than by a divinely-appointed king of Israel.
I am a Reform Jew and a supporter of Israel, though often not of Likud.
Barry Gold, via email

World Zionist Congress
Shmuel Rosner (“Your Vote Counts but Don’t Go Overboard,” Jan. 31) is clearly attempting to dissuade progressives from voting in the World Zionist Congress elections by depressing their enthusiasm, while encouraging everyone else to take part.

Rosner argues the insignificance of the $5 billion ($1 billion annually) at stake, compared with  Israel’s overall government budget, suggesting a progressive vote won’t really have an impact.

Don’t fall for it. These funds impact many aspects of Israeli society and global Jewish life. There are several progressive slates, including those representing the Reform and Conservative movements. Hatikvah, the one we’re proud to be a part of, represents American Jews who stand with peace-seeking Israelis and Palestinians in opposing the 53-year occupation. We support religious pluralism, gender equity, LGBTQ equality, and environmental sustainability. Those are values worth fighting for.

The World Zionist Congress elections give progressives who care about Israel a real opportunity to register our commitment and concern for its future. Let’s do so by voting in the tens of thousands. If we don’t, we are only ceding power and resources to those who do.
The Los Angeles area Hatikvah Slate members: Karen Shapiro, Los Angeles; Rabbi Sharon Brous, Los Angeles; Alisa Belinkoff Katz, Los Angeles; Shawn Landres, Santa Monica; Yudie Fishman, Sierra Madre; Jonathan Jacoby, Sherman Oaks; Jesse Miller, Pasadena; Serena Oberstein, Northridge; Maya Paz, Los Angeles; Rabbi Ephraim Pelcovits, Los Angeles; Rachael Sevilla, West Hollywood

Shmuel Rosner responds: The claim that I intend “to dissuade progressives from voting in the World Zionist Congress elections” is a lie. My column encouraged all American Jews to participate and vote. 

I do want to prevent the eventual disappointment of voters who participate in this election because of their naive belief in unrealistic promises made by people such as the writers of this letter. 

Can People Change?
I applaud the idea of using movies with anti-hate messages like “Jojo Rabbit” to teach kids not to hate because children, by nature, are drawn to kindness and away from evil. (“The Rise of Taika Waititi and Jojo Rabbit,” Feb. 5).

When I was a child in the 1960s, my mother had a German-Jewish friend, Margot, whose German uncle would come to visit every summer. He was the epitome of gentility, kindness and politeness. He would bring gifts for the children and tell us beautiful stories. We loved him, and we felt he loved us.
Then we found out he’d been an S.S. officer during World War II. My parents, who lost many family members during the Holocaust, were horrified. I was a precocious 8-year-old and asked them, “Can’t people change? They were perplexed by my question and didn’t answer.

As Jews, we believe that all people are capable of changing, especially children. When we have positive experiences with one another, we can grow love and acceptance. Although Waititi’s portrayal of Hitler is rather simplistic and “The Producers-ish,” it’s a step in the right direction.
Mina Friedler, Venice

Poland and Auschwitz
Respecting the fact that freedom of speech and expression is one of the fundamental rights, I found one of the letters printed in the Jan. 24 issue of the Journal harmful and questionable. In particular, the statement: “Poland has turned Auschwitz into a Disneyland experience to suck money from Jewish pockets” indicates the Journal has become a platform for biased and offensive comments that are disrespectful to the memory of the Holocaust’s millions of victims.

Auschwitz-Birkenau is the most recognizable symbol and place of genocide in the world. More than 44 million people from all over the world have visited Auschwitz since the end of the war. For several decades, the former camp was visited annually by approximately 500,00 to 600,000 people. From the beginning of the 21st century, that number began to steadily grow and peaked in 2019, when 2.32 million people visited Auschwitz. More than 340 licensed guides-educators, specially trained for this purpose by the International Centre for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust, and speaking 21 languages, help visitors to get to know the history of Auschwitz. No other museum in the world offers this kind of service.

From the moment when the Poland established the Auschwitz Memorial on the site of the former camp, it committed itself to preserve the memory of the crimes committed there. Taking care of the site is not only an obligation to past generations, victims and survivors; to a great extent, it is also an obligation to the generations to come.

We are fully supportive for an open and meaningful discussion on any subject including history, the Holocaust and commemoration of the victims as long as we can debate facts, not prejudiced sentiments.
Paweł Lickiewicz, Viceconsul for Public Affairs Consulate General of Poland in Los Angeles

Congratulations, Mensches
A hearty mazel tov to the people who made this year’s Mensch list from one proud mother of Naomi Goldman, one of the Mensches last year. Thanks to the Journal for recognizing all who volunteer in silence. That is what tikkum olam is all about.
Faith Goldman, via email

Now it’s your turn. Letters should be no more than 200 words and must include a valid name and city. The Journal reserves the right to edit all letters.

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