Joel Rubin excelled in his attempt to distort history in his political article entitled “Chanuka’s dangerous lessons for today’s Republicans” (The Jewish Chronicle, Dec. 9).
He labeled the Macabees as murderers while honoring the Jewish High Priest as “moderate,” the High Priest who installed the statue of Zeus inside the Temple of Jerusalem, sacrificed pigs on the altar, encouraged adoption of Greek culture, allowed heathens to officiate in Jewish religious ceremonies and tolerated public wrestling of naked Jewish youth.
Mr. Rubin certainly has the right to express his opinion on the American political scene, but he insults the American liberals when he compares them to the followers of a traitor and assimilated High Priest. Describing the dedicated Macabees as vicious murderers is a certain way of dividing the Jewish community. It alienates many Jewish families who teach their children the glory of Chanuka and its importance in saving Judaism from complete assimilation into Greek culture.
The Hasmonean family rose up against a corrupt priestly group who caved in to Greek pressure and attempted to replace the laws of Moses with the laws of Athens. Chanuka is about the rededication of the Temple as dictated by the Torah. It is taught by all congregations and Jewish schools from the most Orthodox synagogues to the most liberal temples. Both traditional and liberal Jews should reject the distortion of the truth about the Macabees.
Israel is not a pawn
On Monday, Dec. 13, I went to the Jewish Community Center to hear Jeremy Ben-Ami, [president] of J Street. As someone who has followed the “peace” process since 1993, my views are very different than his. Nevertheless, I wanted to hear his message firsthand.
In his presentation he said it was J Street’s mission is to engage Jews in discussion and dialogue with the goal of calling on the United States and its allies, to bring the Israelis and Palestinians to the table for the purpose of implementing a peace agreement with a two-state solution.
Without going into detail, the U.S. clout with its Allies has diminished greatly over the years and South American countries are presently lining up to support Venezuela and Iran. And the United States own abilities in conflicts where we are engaged with the hope of bringing peace is often questioned.
In light of this, I asked Mr. Ben-Ami how does he expect the United States to bring any of its allies to the table. He said, if the United States pulled off a peace agreement with a two-state solution, our allies will follow and come on board. Frankly I don’t think any of this is possible in the next three to 10 years, but more importantly I don’t want the United States to use Israel as a pawn in its foreign policy to get into the good graces of its allies. Israel must be encouraged and supported in negotiating peace with its neighbors on its own terms and pace.
Stuart V. Pavilack
(The author is executive director of the Zionist Organization of America-Pittsburgh District.)
Hope springs eternal
Although I am weary of the political gamesmanship and duplicitous posturing of all the players, I would truly praise anyone who could bring peace to the Middle East. I do not care whether J Street’s Ben-Ami, ZOA’s Klein, President Obama, columnist Thomas Friedman, Secretary of State Clinton, Fatah’s President Abbas, or anyone else gets the credit. While I have my preferences, my only wish for 2011 is that lives be saved and that civility becomes the reality for Israel and its neighbors, be it in a one-state or two-state solution.
It especially concerns me that political commentator Mark Steyn recently reported that “the current state in the Muslim world is to believe in state constructed realities.” I cannot help my skepticism that there is no partner for peace when Steyn shares a statistic that “versions of reality ... contain internal contradictions and have no basis in rationality ... only 17 percent of Arab Muslims believe there was any Arab involvement in 9/11, yet huge crowds and national celebrations laud the ‘magnificent 19’ who carried out the heinous acts.” Polling is only as good as the effectiveness of the phraseology of the questions posed and the honesty of the answers supplied, but the Arab world does not even come close to reality when it assesses the U.S. or Israel.
Human nature would seem to preclude any more “reaching across the divide” if one’s arm is going to get knocked away in every gesture. Nonetheless, I hope that a new year will encourage the various leaders to attempt to ignore the recurrent futility. May all the statesmen and columnists and activists keep trying to extend an olive branch and may sworn enemies shake hands in the name of peace in 2011.
Book: Give Haig the credit
Regarding the storty in the Dec. 16 Jewish Chronicle says, “Kissinger tells JTA: Take remarks on gas chambers in context.” It was Alexander Haig who saved Israel in the Yom Kippur War.
In the book, “The Secret War Against the Jews,” by John Loftus and Mark Aarons (page 317), Haig authorized a covert missile shipment (TOW), which could have cost him his career and which turned the tide of the war.
“Kissinger was intent on letting the Jews bleed a little.”
Haig realized the Israeli army would be crushed before the bulk reached the front, and so, on Oct. 6, Haig told Israeli Intelligence of the new weapon and that it could stop the Arab onslaught.
A CIA plane en route with 40 Israeli field commanders arrived at midnight at a hidden empty barracks and received orientation in TOW missile usage — a very successful covert operation.
On Oct. 14, Israel repulsed a massive Egyptian armored; it was the turning point of the war. In fact, the arms authorized by Kissinger had arrived too late to help with the defense of the Mitla Pass. Israel kept mum about Haig’s help, knowing he “stuck his neck out a long way.”
I would say, stop giving Nixon and Kissinger credit for aid during the Yom Kippur War.