Letters week of May 31, 2007

Israel Celebration Needs More Participation

On May 6, I attended the "Israel 59" celebration in Fairmount Park. It was a great setting, offered good parking, and the weather was beautiful.

But the reason for my letter is that I was very disturbed by the small attendance level.

I grew up in the Philadelphia area, worked booths for many of the organizations for which I have been involved, and have participated in Israel celebrations since "Israel 19."

I have seen the venues change, and the idea of a parade come and go. I'm not one who has difficulty dealing with change, only difficulty in seeing a decline of a strong event. As a major city with a large Jewish population in five counties, this was a wash-out.

Not having more of the organized Jewish community participate decreases the festivities, as well as the attendance. I brought with me my 18- and 23-year-old children. They are very Israel-oriented, and made it a priority to join me. I doubt they will be there for the Israel 60 celebration.

I am pleased that I do not have young children who — besides camel rides — only had the offerings of moon bounces, as there were few activities of Israel or Jewish substance.

As a Jewish communal professional in Philadelphia for the last 30 years, I recommend that we get back to making the Israel celebration a true community-wide activity.
Nina Seckel Israel
Lafayette Hill


Has Elitism Become the Real Problem for Schools?

Jonathan S. Tobin's column (A Matter of Opinion: "What Price Jewish Education?" May 17) stated very clearly that "leaders must act to make day schools affordable."

My question is how many times have we read or heard this, but what is never mentioned is the fact that day schools have become elitist.

What they are doing is taking the best students and preparing them for the best colleges. What has happened is that many families who have the resources cannot send their children to these schools because they are "average," and so cannot handle the work.

Instead of writing editorials about the cost of tuition, why not find out why families are not sending their children to day schools in the first place? Edward S. Snyder

Peace Groups Ignore the Reality of the Arab World

Naomi Chazan's opinion piece is based on the views of a few peace groups who have constantly urged others to believe that the Arabs are now ready to live with Israel, despite 59 years of hatred, war and terror (Opinions: "Along Comes an Infrastructure for Peace and Movement," May 10).

The Saudi peace plan that she refers to is not new. It calls for the "return" of refugees to Israel, a divided Jerusalem and a return to the pre-June 1967 borders. This would lead to a weakened Israel and a strong Palestinian state supported by the Arab League and Iran.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whom Chazan lauds, is no different from the late Yasser Arafat, only smarter. His Fatah group and Hamas have the same purpose: the destruction of Israel.

The peace groups Chazan describes only demand more concessions by Israel, ignoring Muslim hatred of a democratic Jewish state. They are blind to reality. These groups weaken both Diaspora and Israeli unity and strength.
Henry Lotto

Want Action on Darfur? Then Blame It on Israel!

Regarding the efforts of those trying to raise awareness about the ongoing tragedy in Darfur, the remedy is obvious: Find some way to blame this issue on the Israelis (Cover story: "Sudan: Walking the Walk," May 3).

I say this only slightly tongue-in-cheek. But whenever there is a problem in the world involving Israel, how long does it take the United Nations to act? They are always right there condemning Israel and passing resolutions.

If the Israelis were somehow involved in the Darfur slaughter, you can be sure that the United Nations would have been up in arms — not to mention the media, National Public Radio and former president Jimmy Carter, all joining in the condemnation of Israel. Long before the April 29 march here in Philadelphia, there would have been all kinds of marches.

Unfortunately, what this tells me is something I've believed for a very long time. The only time Arab, Muslim, Palestinian or other Third World lives have any value is when they are threatened by Israelis.

That this remains true is both hypocritical and tragic.
Rachel Garber

A Family Trip to Israel Awakened Awareness

Thirty years ago, my wife Bunny and I visited Israel for the first time, and it was a trip that changed our lives.


This past week, we returned from our 19th visit to Israel, and we finally fulfilled a long-time dream. We brought our three grown children and their spouses, and our two granddaughters — ages 13 and 10 — with us. Everyone could not believe the beauty of the country, and no one wanted to go home.

From the planting of trees in the Jewish National Fund forest, floating in the Dead Sea, rafting on a river in the Galilee, riding Jeeps into the Judean Mountains, doing an archaeological dig at Guvrin National Park, going to the top of Masada and swimming in the Mediterranean Sea off the Tel Aviv beach, our grandkids got to see why we love Israel so much.

Most importantly, they saw the Old City of Jerusalem, visited the Western Wall, and had a three-hour guided tour of Yad Vashem and learned more about the Holocaust.

There is no doubt in my mind that this trip will change the lives of everyone in our family, just as it did ours 30 years ago.
Frank Brodsky


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