Opposition to BDS restated

In a July 10 letter to the editor in the Jewish Standard (“No place for BDS”), responding to a July 3 op- ed article we co-authored (“It’s not 1938, it’s 1984”), Dr. Scott David Lippe accused an organization with which one of us is affiliated, Partners for Progressive Israel, of supporting BDS. That charge is false.

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement was established in July 2005 by 171 Palestinian organizations to promote the general boycott of Israeli companies and companies doing business with Israel, the general boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions, divestment from Israeli companies and companies doing business with Israel, and international sanctions against the State of Israel. For many years, Partners for Progressive Israel and its predecessor organizations have actively opposed this movement as a general attack on the Jewish state and the Israeli public.

But we don’t believe Dr. Lippe was particularly interested in investigating either our personal views in opposition to the BDS movement or those of Partners for Progressive Israel. He is interested in promoting a particular agenda in support of West Bank settlement activity. So let’s discuss this real agenda, and the substantive differences between us.

Dr. Lippe wishes to promote a program in favor of a geographically larger non-democratic Israel with a Jewish minority, while we wish to pursue a path toward peace involving a geographically smaller democratic Israel with a large Jewish majority. Given these differences, it is no wonder why Dr. Lippe wishes to misrepresent the position of Partners for Progressive Israel. Because Dr. Lippe understands that the majority of American Jews favor our view over his, he pursues a disingenuous representation of our position on BDS instead of debating the merits of the program he supports relative to the one we defend.

We may add that our views and the positions of our respective organizations make it possible for us, in opposition to BDS, to access audiences that would be much less receptive to people who share Dr. Lippe’s views.

As for West Bank settlement, it is no secret we have been opposed to it from its earliest days, not because we did not appreciate the Jewish historical connection to the land, but because we understood the destructive political dynamic tied to the settlement project. We oppose it as a threat to the democratic Jewish future for Israel. We won’t support it politically and we have no wish to support it financially. That is why we will resist doing business with companies involved with West Bank settlement activity. But this is not BDS. It neither attacks the State of Israel nor targets Israelis as a class. Its point is not to delegitimize Israel but rather to affirm its democratic Jewish future, a future which has been placed at risk by the reckless program of West Bank settlement.

Dr. Mark Gold
Teaneck

Dr. Hiam Simon
Englewood

Obama wrong on Iran

As proud children of Jewish Holocaust survivors, we strongly condemn President Obama’s recent statement that Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu are the only ones who oppose the ill-conceived deal with Iran.

Rather than propound these erroneous and misleading attacks, the American people would be better served if he highlight the truly relevant facts. Fortunately, Israel, Netanyahu, and many members of Congress seem to understand these facts, especially the important lessons of the Holocaust.

The president and those who support him are quick to appear at annual Holocaust memorial commemorations and utter the words “we shall never forget.” But with this deal, it is abundantly clear that they have indeed forgotten — or perhaps never understood — the lessons of the Holocaust. At least Neville Chamberlain did not have the advantage of history as his guide. The president, on the other hand — knowing that 6 million Jews were killed by the murderous hands of the Nazis, that more than 1 million people were murdered in the Cambodian killing fields, that another roughly 1 million people were brutally slaughtered in Rwanda and that thousands were killed during the Balkan War — cannot claim such ignorance. President Obama had the option to do what is right or to yield to a murderous, oppressive regime. He regrettably chose to appease the enemy and has really received nothing in return but a promise made by a government that is infamously famous for breaking past promises.

He claims that the alternative is going to war. He thinks that repeating this many times will get people to believe it. Well, the undersigned do not believe it. We grew up learning of the horrors of war, and we too are against it. But we also grew up learning of the disastrous outcome of appeasement and of not standing up to the evils of the world. Iran, as long as it daily still calls for the destruction of Israel, as long as it daily supports terrorism throughout the Middle East, as long as it daily continues to burn the American flag and as long as it continues to hold American hostages is one such evil of the world.

We need to emphasize that this is not a political statement. It is simply a matter of understanding right from wrong. We cannot fathom how the president can trust the current Iranian leadership when it continues to call for the destruction of Israel and the United States. What prevents him from believing them and their murderous threats? To permit this regime to have nuclear weapons in another 10-15 years is an unconscionable and abominable act.

Shame on President Obama for not standing up to evil. Even if the rest of the world had refused to stand with him, as he repeatedly claims to be the case, then he, as president of this great country, should have had the courage to stand alone and challenge tyranny and oppression, as our heritage has taught us. Unfortunately for all of us, he chose political expediency over fortitude. The American people deserve stronger leadership than what he has demonstrated with regard to Iran.

Thankfully there is today an Israel and many educated members of Congress who are not afraid to stand up for what is right. History will judge them accordingly.

Mark Sarna

Anita Perkiel Sarna
Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors
Englewood

Really, Rabbi Boteach?

I recognize and acknowledge Rabbi Boteach’s expertise and knowledge in the area of Torah. I am not aware of his credentials and expertise in the area of (psychologic) psychosexual relationships (“Do men cheat because their wives don’t give them sex?” July 24). If this is my shortcoming, I tender to him my apology.

Even so, I find that his theoretical speculations and generalizations in this field to be interesting, even entertaining, but not at all helpful.

Any well-trained psychologist knows that generalizations in regard to the psychodynamics and behavior of any individual toward those of any other individual or groups of individuals are false and misleading. The psychodynamics and behavior of each individual is peculiar and specific to that person only.

But, as I stated above, Rabbi Boteach’s theoretical constructions are interesting and entertaining.

Jerrold Terdiman M.D.
Woodcliff Lake

Reflexively saying no

Many who are opposed to the proposed Iran nuclear arrangement have reason to be concerned. It is clear there are problems yet to be resolved. Currently, it is the only proposal that has a chance of success. Unfortunately, the opposition is opposed without a viable counter proposal.

This has been the nature of the opposition on numerous issues, ranging from the Affordable Care Act to gun control to climate change. etc. They say “NO!” to almost every Obama administration proposal. Future historians may refer to them as the “disloyal opposition.”

Elisha Gurfein
Englewood

Moved by a shul in Paterson

I recently had a very moving experience in Paterson.

Jerry Schranz, who is heavily involved with the restoration of the shul in the Federation Apartment building, was gracious enough to give me a personal tour of the shul.

I have read about it (Making a minyan in Paterson,” May 8), but actually seeing it in person made it very real. I was amazed, at first glance, at the meticulous and dignified arrangement of the room, with the tal, wooden Aron Kodesh, which, according to Jerry, was constructed by one of the building residents; several rows of chairs; the mechitzah which was strung with pretty white curtains, the bookshelves where sedorim and chumashim in Hebrew and Russian are stored. The walls were adorned with Jewish-themed pictures and a map of Israel. It is awesome to observe how an empty, unused basement room can be transformed into a respectable place of worship.

Attached to the top of the Aron Kodesh, near the Ner Tamid, is a miniature Aron Kodesh, about 12 inches tall. Jerry said that when the Torah is removed from the ark, the doors of the mini ark also are opened by hand at the same time. I found this feature to be quite interesting and creative.

There are even amenities for setting up a Kiddush for after davening. In fact, Jerry left food for the Kiddush for tomorrow while I was there.

As Jerry explained the details of this sanctuary, his strong sense of pride and serious commitment were obvious from the smile on his face and the tone of his voice.

It has special meaning for me because I am a native of Paterson. The names embroidered on the parochet, on the table cover for the bimah, and some of the names on the plaques on the wall are those of people who I knew personally. I even remember patronizing their places of business. It was as if the clock had been turned back for decades.

The fact that the shul is simple but haimish, and that the residents benefit from its existence, makes it even more beautiful. Without this shul, the Jewish residents at the Federation Apartment building, many of whom are elderly or disabled, would most likely be deprived of going to shul.

I would be remiss if I did not include Sam Heller in this letter. Sam is a very important part of this shul. He has been connected to this shul for many years, even before Jerry Schranz. Sam was Jerry’s mentor for this project. He educates the residents about Yiddishkeit and motivates them to attend the minyan on Shabbos. He visits them when they are sick and takes a personal interest in their well being. Sam is the gabbai during davening.

Thank you, Jerry and Sam, for your most heartwarming tour and your unbelievable compassion.

Arlene Glassman
Fair Lawn