"Hipster Herzl," part of Israeli artist Amit Shimoni's Hipstory series, reimagines the legendary Zionist leader and his iconic beard.
"Hipster Herzl," part of Israeli artist Amit Shimoni's Hipstory series, reimagines the legendary Zionist leader and his iconic beard.

Hipster Herzl ‘an insult’; and everything wrong with our Israel at 70 essays

Picture of ‘groovy’ Herzl dishonors his memory

I think the picture of Herzl on your cover of April 6 is an insult to his memory. A clumsy false beard glued to his face, a black earring and a flippant hairdo. From his diaries, we know that Theodor Herzl was a fastidious dresser, well aware that he often met with the most important men of his generation — like his famous audience with the German Kaiser in Jerusalem.

A friend of mine who had just obtained his B.A. in fine arts — many decades younger than me — thought it was a groovy picture. However, the painting was not intended for a museum of modern art but to pay homage to a great Jewish leader in a weekly publication.

Joseph Itiel,
San Francisco

An appropriate gift idea for Israel’s 70th: annexation

Rabbi Brian Lurie’s reference to the State of Israel’s rightful presence in Judea and Samaria as “occupation” constitutes disregard for the historic presence of the Jewish people and should disturb readers of J. (“The miracle of Israel, the curse of the occupation”).

I won’t beat my chest about my own “love affair with Israel and her people” (some of whom are my blood relatives), but I will reject his inaccurate undermining of Israel by characterizing those historic parts of Israel by the word Israel’s enemies use. Annexation in the 70th year of the modern State of Israel’s founding would be indeed appropriate.

Judge Quentin L. Kopp (Ret.),
San Francisco

No ‘building bridges’ when one side seeks destruction

I wish Lily Greenberg Call’s years of Jewish day school education had given her a fuller awareness of what underlies the “Palestinian narrative” (“Building bridges to peace over formidable terrain”).

First, Ms. Greenberg Call’s reference to “military occupation” is naive or uninformed, given that Jordan captured Judea and Samaria and the eastern part of Jerusalem in the 1948 Mideast war. Israel liberated those areas in 1967.

All the areas liberated from illegal Jordanian occupation by Israel in 1967 are places of historic and religious importance to Jews, from which Jews were driven out or killed by invading Jordanians. Jewish communities, homes and property were destroyed or confiscated.

Next, with regard to “solving divides,” perhaps Ms. Greenberg Call might reflect on the fact that Palestinian leadership instructs its people that Zionism is illegitimate and offers financial rewards to those who murder Israelis and visitors to Israel.

You cannot “solve divides” when PA maps, stationery, official emblems, stamps, media and atlases depict Palestine as a single state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean, and the newest iteration of the Hamas Charter still calls for a “complete liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea.” There is nothing debatable or unclear about PA/Hamas intentions regarding Israel.

You cannot “solve divides” when anti-normalization with Israel is the policy of her neighbors, continuing unabated and without consequences.

Look to inter-Arab fratricide in Libya and Syria to understand that no Arab leader who wants to stay alive is likely to step forward in the near future to build bridges and promote genuine neighborly relations with Israel.

Julia Lutch,

The miracle that is Israel

Professor Aaron Hahn Tapper’s essay about his relationship with Israel struck a chord with me (“Why is ‘anti-Israel’ the only cause for excommunication in American Judaism?” ). I, too, formed my first feelings about Israel during years of day school attendance. My teachers were Israelis, many of whom fought in the Haganah for Israel’s independence and were transplanted to Canada by my father, who happened to be the principal. In 1967, my teachers and my parents wondered if Israel would still be there when five Arab armies mobilized on her borders and the Six-Day War began.

I profess I did not travel the Middle East outside of Israel, but I have attended many lectures by Palestinians and their supporters (and professors). I learned that many opinions are being shaped based on fabrications and omissions, which are fostering erroneous and biased views of Israel among university students. For example: Wars between Arabs and Jews simply began spontaneously, and then there were Palestinian refugees, while nothing is mentioned about Jewish refugees from Arab lands. Or Arabs are indigenous to Palestine and the Jewish people are foreigners who stole the land and now oppress Palestinians. Somehow, it rarely comes up that the Jewish people are an indigenous people in the land of Israel.

My fellow Jews who are wrestling with feelings about Israel: I hope you can also appreciate the miracle that is Israel. As Golda Meir said in 1976, “There are 21 Arab states, rich in oil, land and sovereignty. There is only one small state in which Jewish national independence has been dearly achieved. Surely it is not extravagant to demand that in the current power play the right of a small democracy to freedom and life not be betrayed.”

Sheree Roth,
Palo Alto