Building campus relationships
I applaud David Bernstein for the insightful concept paper that he and his organization, the David Project, have released to herald their new direction ("A new strategy for Israel advocacy on campus," WJW, Feb. 16).
As the dedication of the concept paper suggests, many in the campus Israel network, spearheaded by Jonathan Kessler and the AIPAC campus program, began over a decade ago to forge a new path in campus Israel advocacy that centered on relationship-based engagement and strategic, proactive methods. This approach eschewed the reactive, confrontational approaches of the past in favor of utilizing the campus Israel network's natural strengths to dominate the campus environment and create lasting, meaningful change.
At the time, one of the early proponents of this approach, the executive director of newly-formed Israel on Campus Coalition, championed the relationship-building strategy; to this day, the Israel on Campus Coalition makes relationship-based engagement the centerpiece of its training for Hillel professionals and student leaders. That pioneering executive director identified and brought to the ICC by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Wayne Firestone, brought relationship-based engagement with him when becoming president of Hillel to form Hillel's signature 21st-century program, the Campus Entrepreneurs Initiative. Since that time, the relationship-based model has only continued to spread and gain more adherents as its results on campus repeatedly demonstrate its potency.
There are still those in the campus community who are tempted by the urge to fight blindly, rather than to be effective and win through strategic, proactive approaches, but David's bold leadership to bring David Project into the mainstream of the campus Israel network is a welcome move. I consider David a thoughtful partner, a colleague, and a friend, and I will be among the first to stand up and congratulate him on this important step.
Executive director, Israel on Campus Coalition, Washington, D.C.
Hebrew and Jewish identity
Rabbi Barry Freundel belittles the potential of a Hebrew language charter school to support Jewish education ("Hebrew education and Jewish education," WJW, Feb. 16), but there is more than one way to build a strong Jewish identity. The potential contribution of a such a school to the spectrum of education options is great.
Competence in Hebrew opens the doors to Jewish learning - to the rich and beautiful content of Bible and prayer book - in ways that translations cannot. Hebrew language instruction on a daily basis from a young age - supplemented by observance and instruction at home, and/or the superb educational experience of Jewish summer camps - would give children a strong Jewish identity and the basis they need to engage with Judaism for the rest of their lives.
Day school education may be prohibitively expensive. Add transportation costs, fees for items like uniforms and trips and frequent appeals for contributions to Rabbi Fruendel's rather low estimate of $20,000 in tuition. Double or triple this to include expenses for two or three children. Either an ample income or serious sacrifice is needed. (Financial aid is usually available, but all families are expected to bear as much of the cost as possible.) Reluctance to commit to this way of life is not necessarily an indication of parental "cheapness." It may reflect a preference for the stimulating environment of Jewish summer camp, or practical obstacles like distance from schools or family health situations.
A Hebrew language charter school would offer another path to learning for Jewish families who have a commitment to Judaism, but who do not see day school as their solution. Rabbi Fruendel dwells on the inadequacies of afternoon Hebrew schools. That is no reason to oppose an option that offers more.
Your editorial on Iran was excellent ("Obama, Netanyahu meeting of historic proportions," WJW, Feb. 23). I agree 100 percent with everything you said.
Making a statement
Recently, Prime Minister Netanyahu refused a request by The New York Times to write an op-ed. He cited the fact that the paper recently had printed 19 op-eds critical of Israel compared to only one that was favorable. Forget the disparity, why were there 19 articles against Israel? You could not find 19 articles in total critical of any other country or entity during the last 50 years. Has any state or philosophy ever generated as much criticism as Israel?
The Times is making a statement - no matter what the reader may believe or read elsewhere Israel is so bad and perhaps so evil that it must be singled out for repeated vilification.
It follows you have BDS single out Israel, while ignoring the flagrant human rights abuses elsewhere in the world. It follows Harvard staging a "One State Conference" singling out Israel for destruction.
It follows that some Jews host panels on the Palestinian perspective, but not on the al-Qaida or Taliban perspective? Do the attendees ask the Palestinians how their right of return conflicts with and negates peace and Israel's right to exist?
The critics cannot abide Israel's imperfections even as they ignore Arab terrorism. They think they could build a better Israeli sitting in America. Let them try to build a state in their own image. Let's see how far they get surrounded by terrorists, who will kill them where they stand, while the so-called moderate Palestinians and the world stand idly by.
Before listening to the Arab perspective, before listening to the critics' constant harangue of Israel, are you so sure the solutions offered will bring peace and make for a better and safer Israel? Would you trust your security to the Palestinians or The New York Times? Idealism is great, but it does not keep us in America safe nor will it keep Israel safe.