Letters week of March 25, 2010


Plain and Simple, Fayyad Never Condemns Terror

Leslie Susser of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency wrote a paean to Palestinian "state-builder" Salam Fayyad, in which the reporter refers briefly to — and makes no comment about — the fact that Fayyad paid a condolence call on the families of Palestinian terrorists who were killed after murdering an Israeli (Cover story: "Man of the Hour? Deconstructing the Resonance of Fayyad's Effect," March 11).

What Susser failed to mention was that, during his visit, Fayyad didn't condemn the murderous acts of the dead terrorists, but did condemn the killing of the murderers by Israel. Fayyad is a man who honors terrorists and opposes Israeli efforts to stop them.

When I attended a meeting of American Jewish leaders with Fayyad last month, and the issue of Palestinian incitement to hatred and murder was raised, including Fayyad's visit to the terrorists' families, the Palestinian leader simply avoided the issue, failing to respond to a single substantive point raised. He merely made his own statement and left.

This is chilling. Clearly, even when confronted with the evidence of these odious acts, Fayyad feels himself under no pressure to apologize for or condemn them — or even to lie about them. That tells us a good deal about why there is no peace today, and why negotiations with the Palestinian Authority will not bring peace.

Morton A. Klein 
National president 
Zionist Organization of America

Israel-Obama Rift: Quite Real and May Never Heal

I fear that both the writers of the editorial "Healing the Rift" and the op-ed "Stepping Back From the Brink After Biden's Israel Contretemps" in the March 18 issue seriously misjudge the situation.

It is obvious that President Barack Obama has done nothing meaningful to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, providing the disaster can be blamed on the Israelis.

This is the essential meaning of the linkage of the "peace process" and "dialogue with Iran" that has been apparent from the outset of this administration.

Since any Israeli policy — short of suicide — can be used to defend our president's lassitude in preventing Iran's acquisition of genocidal bombs, no Israeli concessions will suffice to initiate reconciliation with this administration.

Indeed, should Israel be eliminated — God forbid — by Iranian nuclear strikes, this will be viewed in many circles as a just punishment for building Jewish homes in Jerusalem.

Instead of indulging in fruitless battles with evangelical Christians, gun-owners, pro- lifers and tax-cutters, Jewish leaders should turn their attention to the terrifying dangers of the de facto coalition of the radical left and Islam, which threaten to plunge the planet into a new dark age.

Nahum J. Duker, M.D. 
Melrose Park

Did Population Survey Get the Jewish 'People' Right?

In the 2009 "Jewish Population Study of Greater Philadelphia," major areas of concern were marriage between Jews and non-Jews, and the identity of their children. But we who think of ourselves as secular Jews are questioning some of the emphases in the study.

The Jewish communal slogan has long been "We Are One," but we seem not to have agreed on exactly who "we" are. What about Jews of various "colors"? How should we identify, classify and count children born in Africa, Asia, Latin America or Eastern Europe adopted by self-identifying Jews?

Will Jewish upbringing, education and self-identification qualify them to be counted as part of the Jewish people? Those who identify will marry whom they want, will bear or adopt children as they see fit, and live their Judaism as they wish. We embrace them all.

In the Philadelphia region, there are at least six organizations for secular or humanist Jews. Among them is the Folkshul, which receives funding through Federation and has an enrollment of more than 100 children and young people, an active high school-age group and a vibrant adult community.

The Kehilla for Secular Jews actively welcomes intercultural families, as we hope is true of all communal activities.

Paul G. Shane 
Board member 
Jewish Children's Folkshul 
Kehilla for Secular Jews of Philadelphia


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