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Letters week of April 15, 2010

April 15, 2010
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I'm a Knee-Jerk Lover of Israel, and Yet ... 
Like many Jewish Exponent subscribers, I'm knee-jerk pro-Israel. That said, I wish to raise a couple of issues that might otherwise make me look less than loyal to the Jewish state.

First, does Israel know what's best for Israel? I'd always assumed it did; should I still be sure? I confess I'd love for it to expand to wherever it wants -- and it seems to be doing so now -- but is it in Israel's best interest to do so?

Second, do we American Jews get the same news about Israel that Israelis get? That is, do I know what Israelis know?

For example, if Israel has not yet attacked Iran, do Israelis believe it's not the threat that I and so many other Exponent readers believe it to be? 
Jerry Axelrod 
Huntingdon Valley

We All Need to Serve as Ambassadors for Israel 
During his speech at the recent AIPAC policy conference in Washington, D.C., Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, suggested that we all need to become ambassadors by reaching out to non-Jews, to educate and befriend them about Israel. It struck me how important his words were, given the many challenges facing Israel, both internally and geopolitically.

In February, I, too, became an ambassador for Israel during a mission to to the Jewish state expressly created for a group of non-Jewish clergy. During our six-day visit, organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council, we set aside our official titles of pastor, reverend and convener, and called each other by our first names. We bonded over meals and sacred texts. We prayed together for peace in the region and in our own lives.

We offered the best of our traditions and acknowledged some of the challenges. Though I have been to Israel before, this was the first time I had seen it through a prism of cultural and religious diversity.

Israel has many detractors and has to continually defend itself to a hypocritical international community. The Goldstone Report is further evidence of the double standard with which the Jewish people are judged on the world stage.

We need more friends. I believe we have gained eight more -- the local clergy who honored us with their company. 
Rabbi Jay Stein 
President 
Vaad: Board of Rabbis of Greater Philadelphia 
Senior rabbi 
Har Zion Temple

Obama's an Ideologue and Friend to Palestinians 
Barack Obama is only doing to Israel what any red-blooded, far-left radical would do if he were elected to the presidency.

The brutal truth about our president is that he is, and always has been, an ideologue. During the presidential campaign, the media either hid or downplayed his associations with people who hate and would like to destroy Israel.

Obama has for the last year pressured Israel to make unilateral concessions to the Palestinian Authority, and recently used a minor gaffe by a low-level official to try and force the Israeli government to accede to irrational Palestinian demands to stop all housing development in Jerusalem.

The Palestinians know that this president is totally on their side, and they can, with his help, force Israel to submit to all of their demands.

They may be right. 
Steve Heitner 
Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.

President Can't Deny Israelis Their Civil Rights 
I am disturbed at the administration's policy toward Israel. Criticism has been focused exclusively on the Jewish state.

When missiles are fired from Gaza into southern Israel, nothing is said. When there is anti-Israel incitement by the Palestinians, nothing is said. When rocks and stones are hurled at people praying at the Western Wall, nothing is said.

Yet when the Israelis build in eastern Jerusalem, the administration finds its voice. Then the condemnation of Israel comes fast and furious.

Construction in Jerusalem is off-limits to Jews. Why? Should Jews not be permitted to build freely in Jerusalem?

Call it what you will, but this is a form of bigotry. If a "No Jews Allowed" sign is posted, how are we expected to view it any differently? 
Julius Hochberg 
Philadelphia

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