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Letters the Week of Aug.14, 2013
Departing Consul Thanks Philadelphia Community
In the Jewish tradition, in the Talmud, it says: Potchim bi'chvoda shel aa'ch'sanya, which means in English: "We open by praising the host."
As I prepare to return to my home in Israel, after serving four years as Consul General of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region of the United States, I must praise my host city. Philadelphia has shown me the true spirit of Brotherly Love.
As the son of two first- generation Israeli diplomats, I have been fortunate to travel and live in diverse places. I was thrilled to arrive in Philadelphia in the summer of 2004 to assume my post. Nowhere have I felt more love and dedication to Israel and Jewish ideals than among this community.
Every year, thousands of Philadelphians travel to Israel through federation missions; Hillel programs; and Birthright, synagogue trips and family vacations. The Philadelphia Jewish community was at the forefront of the Soviet Jewry movement, which profoundly strengthened Israel's society and culture. There are various Jewish organizations in Greater Philadelphia, with different goals and visions. However, the one equalizer is a strong commitment to the State of Israel.
You were with us in our finest hours and in times of great challenge. Together, we honored Israel's 60th anniversary with a tremendous celebration on the Parkway. In Love Park, we rallied for peace and stood in support of Israel. In difficult times, during the Second Lebanon War, where Philadelphia native Michael Levin fell in defense of Israel, the community responded with strong support and warm embraces. Israel will always cherish the memory and the sacrifice of Michael Levin. We will be with the Levin family.
During my term, I recognized the unique role of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. Israel treasures the special endeavors and initiatives launched by this extraordinary Federation.
In 1948, the Jewish population in Eretz Yisrael was roughly 600,000. Today, it is tenfold -- more than 6 million!
Today, Israel is strong and vibrant. In 60 years, our tiny state has attained achievements that are extraordinary in scope. Together, we have built an outstanding country. We have a thriving economy, a level of technology among the most advanced in the world and a rich cultural life.
I am filled with great hope and confidence for Israel's future. I will miss Philadelphia, but we all know that there is no place like home, and mine is Israel. Next year in Jerusalem!
Consul General of Israel Mid-Atlantic Region
Groups Don't Support 'Tough Love' for Israel
Jonathan Tobin attempts to tie the Israel Policy Forum, Americans for Peace Now and J Street to the "tough love" proposals toward Israel put forward by New York Times' columnist Nicholas Kristof (A Matter of Opinion: "Does Israel Need 'Tough Love?' " July 31).
But times have changed over the past 10 or so years, and groups like IPF, Peace Now and J Street are much more mainstream, as is AIPAC.
All four organizations share a vision of a militarily strong Israel and an end to the occupation of Palestinian territories.
Compared to the Jewish far-left fringe, who fail to acknowledge Israel's legitimate security needs, and the far right-wing American Jews, who continue to dream of a Greater Israel, the above-mentioned groups occupy the center, to which most American Jews subscribe.
In addition, lumping IPF, AFPN and J Street with John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, the authors of The Israel , doesn't work either. By speaking to the real suffering of the Palestinians over the past 60 years -- but showing no comparable understanding of Israel's losses to Arab terrorism -- the two authors demonstrate a strong anti-Israel bias.
IPF, Peace Now and J Street, while having a deeper understanding of suffering on the other side than AIPAC, certainly know of the suffering Israel has sustained in countless wars and terrorist attacks.
Settlements: They're Not an Obstacle to Peace
Nicholas Kristof's solution for resolving the impasse to forging a peace agreement between the Palestinians and Israel cites old arguments that have been roundly discredited as invalid and irrelevant (A Matter of Opinion: "Does Israel Need 'Tough Love?' " July 31).
Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza -- a risky experiment designed to augur peaceful co-existence -- went tragically awry when the Palestinians' putative acceptance of a two-state solution was trumped by their endemic and constantly reinforced hatred of Israel and Jews.
The two recent bulldozer terrorists in Jerusalem were fully employed middle-class Arabs, eligible for all benefits and advantages Israelis are entitled to, rendering the usual rationales that murderous terror acts are due to poverty and hopelessness as patently illegitimate and fallacious.
Settlements are not now nor have they ever been the obstacle to peace in the region. The Arab world's determination not to accept Israel's existence is.
Believe It When People Say They're Going to Kill
Thanks for Jonathan Tobin's column on the push to force Israel to make more concessions (A Matter of Opinion: "Does Israel Need 'Tough Love?' " July 31).
However, Tobin is letting Nicholas Kristof off easy. He is not a stupid man, but a besotted, self-loathing, liberal fool. I long ago stopped debating Israel with people of his sort.
I am 66 years old, and for me, "never again" still means never again. It is only when Jews fight back that they survive. The Israel Policy Forum, Americans for Peace Now and the left-wing lobby J Street are, at the minimum, appeasers.
Last year I read a story in a local newspaper about Holocaust survivors. They asked the survivors what is the most lasting lesson you personally learned from your experiences. I will never forget one answer: "When a man comes and tells you he is going to murder you, murder your family, and murder your friends, believe him."
Kristof and his buddies do not "believe."
Palm Beach, Fla.