Are progressive Zionists like us “murderers” for opposing settlements and calling for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? In the eyes of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and their allies on the right, we are. And with a spirited demonstration on May 11 at UJA-Federation of New York protesting the Israel philanthropy of the Federation’s president and the annual participation of progressive Jewish groups in the Salute to Israel parade, a “murder” charge against our community’s central organizational body may soon come as well.
For many, the word “intermarriage” connotes all that is wrong with the American Jewish community, but it shouldn’t. A reanalysis of the data collected in 2013 by the Pew Research Center shows that interfaith families — while they remain a minority on the “inside” of the organized Jewish community — can, and increasingly do, find a place inside Jewish institutions.
Regarding Pope Francis’ move to support Palestinian statehood (“Vatican Officially Recognizes Palestine,” online story, May 13): At a time when Jews are being brutalized and butchered from Copenhagen to Cannes and seriously contemplating the second mass exodus from Europe in less than a century, this punitive act against Israel by the Vatican is a clear indication that European Jewry is being handed their hat and shown the door.
Irwin Wall doubts Israel’s motives for helping earthquake victims in Nepal (Letters, May 15).
At the end of his letter Mr. Wall calls Israel an occupying power. He totally forgets the history of how Israel, after the Six-Day War of 1967, offered a total withdrawal from the West Bank in exchange for a peace treaty.
There has been much ado once again about the inclusion of the New Israel Fund (NIF) and affiliates in the Salute to Israel Parade, taking place May 31. This year, the parade requires that participants disavow BDS.
It is as intimate as any hour in the Jewish year, the half-light of Shavuot near dawn, after the all-night learning when it is time for early prayer and then rising for the reading of the Ten Commandments. Yes, most of the world is still asleep, but most of the world was “sleeping” at Sinai, too. Legend has it that every other nation on the planet was offered the Torah first, but declined, politely and otherwise. Only the Israelites said yes, and even then with a threatening mountain held above them, and the skies a wild concoction of a desert storm, thunder, lightening and a rain, say the mystics, that was reminiscent of Noah’s.
Follow-up programs to engage returnees from Israel have been problematic; several are seeking to fill the vacuum.
Editor and Publisher
As successful as Birthright Israel has been, providing free, guided trips to Israel to more than 400,000 young adult Jews from across the diaspora, the follow-up efforts with its alumni have been problematic.
The new Pew Research Center study, “America’s Changing Religious Landscape,” shows a steep decline in Christian affiliation and a parallel increase among the unaffiliated. Some believe the study’s results suggest that we will have a more difficult time advocating effectively on behalf of Israel, as spelled out in Robert Goldblum’s article, “Less-Christian U.S. Seen Disturbing For Jews On Israel” (May 15). But this judgment is not so clear-cut.