slightly open mail slot

Letters for the week of April 28, 2017

Correcting the facts about AIPAC’s positions

I am writing as a counterpoint to your April 7 article “Working with AIPAC doesn’t work.” The article is factually incorrect and spreads a false narrative.

1) AIPAC does not take a position on the settlements, so it is factually incorrect to say “it supports the settlements.” 2) AIPAC cannot support “50 years of occupation”; no occupation has ever existed. The term “occupation” is factually incorrect because the only sovereign nation in the region since biblical times has been the Jewish state.

One can argue what its boundaries should be, or whether Israel should “give up” (not give back) territory in exchange for peace. However, one cannot say it is an occupying force when the territories of Gaza (now entirely Jew-free!) and the West Bank of the Jordan have never been in control of another broadly recognized sovereign nation. (Jordan controlled the West Bank from 1948 to 1967 and this annexation was recognized by Iraq, Pakistan and the U.K. — hardly a global show of support. Similarly, does any sane person think the Golan Heights would be better under Syrian control today?)

In contrast to the writer’s claims, AIPAC does represent the broadest swath of the Jewish community. It attracts the largest number of participants to its annual conference and supports both Democrats and Republicans, Jews and Christians. No other organization comes close to its breadth of support in the Jewish community.

It’s time for organizations with marginal memberships like IfNotNow to be put in perspective. These organizations represent a small minority of our community. Giving them a platform endangers Israel by spreading a false narrative which, in many ways, makes Israel less safe and secure by being used as propaganda by those who seek to destroy or delegitimize its status as a sovereign nation.

Jordan Hymowitz,
San Francisco

For Germany’s Jews, fighting ignorance, denial

Doug Kahn, director emeritus of the San Francisco-based JCRC, recently wrote “The challenges that lie ahead for Germany’s Jews” (op-ed, April 21). It’s not just the disappearance of survivor Jews, but a combination of denial and ignorance within Germany’s first post-Holocaust generation.

In my grammar school days in Oakland, one of my teachers had just returned from teaching at a U.S. school for military kids in Berlin. She also befriended several local teachers. Our Oakland class was matched with a similar-age class in Germany. We wrote to them in English; they wrote back to us in English! To this day I have maintained contact with one of those students.

Most interestingly, during senior year of high school, my Berlin friend noted that instruction in German history stopped in 1939 … and began again in 1946. On the positive side, my (non-Jewish) friend’s children in Berlin have had excellent instruction on fascism and the Holocaust.

My mother (Hilder Korr, z”l) was a native of Darmstadt, Germany, in the state of Hessen. That city was well-known for its scientific and cultural excellence for more than two centuries. (Today, the European Space Agency headquarters are in Darmstadt.) As a Jew, she was expelled from public high school in early 1938 but completed her high school education at the “Philantropin” Jewish High School in Frankfurt a/M that year and went on to study at the Jewish University in Berlin, where expelled professors and students continued their academic efforts. My mother and her immediate family fled Nazi Germany in May 1940 — nine months after WWII started — and came to Oakland.

Postwar she was able to re-establish a letter-friendship with two non-Jewish women in Darmsdtadt, who had been very kind to her during her school years despite the Nazi-mandated hatred of Jews.

My mother, like many survivors, vowed never to return to Germany. Yet in 1987, on the 50th anniversary of her “Abitur” — the intensive high school matriculation exam given in Germany, equivalent to an AA degree in the USA — she decided to return to Darmstadt, specifically to see her two girlhood friends again.

My mother was asked to speak to high school students at her own alma mater, which she agreed to do. Following her brief, personal history lesson, one of the students asked her: “How could [the Holocaust] have happened?” My unflappable and very smart mother responded sharply: “Ask your parents!”

Fred Korr,

J Street, ‘obsessed’ with occupation, ignores its roots

As reported in the April 21 issue (“Federation CEO, J Street U have a meeting of the minds”), a J Street U student asked during the March anti-BDS summit whether “it is possible to be both anti-BDS and anti-occupation” — to which Congressman Alan Clemmons (R-South Carolina) remarked, to the resounding approval of the audience: “I actually consider your organization [to be] anti-Semitic.”

Before the righteous indignation of the J Street members reaches a full crescendo, it is worth looking at what is anti-Semitism. Most often it takes the form of ascribing sinister motives to Jews in general, and to Israel in particular. Such is the term “occupation.”

J Street is not interested in looking at the other side of the coin, at the roots of the problem or its history. It simply is obsessed with “occupation.” In reality, the “occupation” is the controlling of territories from which Israel was attacked in the 1967 Six-Day War. No international law dictates returning conquered territories to a defeated aggressor the next day, or the next year, after the military actions have been ended. To this extent, U.N. Resolution 242 has addressed the entire scope of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by establishing two main principles: A) “Israel’s withdrawal from territories” (please note, no “the” or “all”) and B) “termination of states of belligerency.”

Unfortunately, Israel’s withdrawals from South Lebanon and Gaza have led only to heightened belligerency from Hezbollah and Hamas. There are no signs that Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank will result in a brighter outcome.

Vladimir Kaplan,
San Mateo

‘Mutal understanding’ means knowing motives of others

According to Federation CEO Danny Grossman, who appeared at a J Street U event: “The tone is a positive one, of collaboration. We’d like to identify the places we agree, and develop greater mutual understanding.”

But J Street U Northwest region VP Zoe Goldblum, a Stanford student, wanted the Federation to justify its decisions about funding three organizations whose positions J Street U has decided do not conform to the Federation’s funding guidelines.

J Street U pressed Grossman to establish a public timeline for the Federation to update or revise its guidelines, which he declined to do. This was not an effort to identify places of agreement or positive collaboration. It was an effort to force the Federation to defend its funding decisions by implying that the Federation was failing to adequately apply its guidelines.

This is an example of Alinsky’s fourth rule in action. There is no way to keep implementation of Federation guidelines free from attack for some supposed infraction cleverly detected by a determined group whose goal is to undermine and effect change in the Federation to advance its own agenda.

“Mutual understanding” requires Federation to recognize the intent of the tactics employed by J Street U.

Julia Lutch,

J Street looking to take over Federation resources?

Federation CEO Danny Grossman made a mistake in accepting an invitation to speak at a J Street U event, thereby granting that group undeserved legitimacy in the Jewish community.

When a marginal, leftist group like J Street U expresses a desire to “work with” a large mainstream organization like the Federation, it usually means that they want to infiltrate it by getting some of their people hired into it, then exert steady pressure from within to push it further and further to the left, and ultimately take over the whole organization.

If J Street ever achieved its goal of controlling Federation resources, most of the grants would go to groups that, like J Street, reject the core tenets of Judaism and declare to the whole world that Israel’s presence in its own homeland is an “occupation” that must be ended for the sake of “peace.” At the same time, they would deny funding to authentically Jewish groups that are proud of their Jewish heritage, and not ashamed of it like the J Street supporters.

Martin Wasserman,
Palo Alto

J. Staff