Time for U.S. Jews, Israelis to Unite

In response to “A Day to Cross the Divide” (Editor’s Notebook, April 28), I would like to thank you wholeheartedly for the thoughtful article about the fallen soldiers of Israel and the fallen victims of terrorism.

This sharing of feelings and thoughts between American Jewry and Israelis is of utmost importance, mainly during this period when anti-Semitism is on the rise. This is the time to come together.

On behalf of all my Israeli peers, thank you for your support. We can come together in strength.

Ambassador Judith Varnai Shorer, consul general of Israel to the Southeast

Music Always Part of Temple History

The concert to open the celebration of the 150th anniversary of The Temple is most appropriate (“ASO Helps Temple Celebrate 150 Years,” April 28).

Inspired by Professor Mark Bauman, who has been commissioned to write a history of The Temple, I have spent a lot of time here in Jerusalem, online, learning about The Temple, its rabbis, its religious schools and its confirmations in its first 50 years.

Almost from its inception, The Temple has had musical programs of all types. These events were attended not only by Temple members, but also by many other Atlantans. Music is a part of the ongoing history of the Hebrew Benevolent Congregation — The Temple.

Mazel tov from Jerusalem on 150 years filled with the spirit of Judaism and an allegiance to the great city of Atlanta, Gate City of the South.

— Rabbi David Geffen, Jerusalem

JIFLA, JELF and Interest-Free Loans

The April 7 article about Jewish Interest Free Loan of Atlanta’s recent progressive dinner (“Dual Dinners Highlight Good Work of JIFLA”) misstated that JIFLA provided a young man funding for his college tuition. JIFLA provides many types of loans for individuals going through challenging financial periods but does not grant loans for college tuition.

The Jewish Educational Loan Fund, by contrast, serves a five-state region and grants only interest-free, last-dollar loans to students for the pursuit of higher education.

Interest-free loans are an integral part of our Jewish community. JIFLA and JELF both believe in interest-free lending as an opportunity for the Jewish community to help its own. Both organizations belong to the International Association of Jewish Free Loans and continually seek to raise awareness and provide interest-free loans throughout the community. We would be delighted to meet with any organization or individual that is interested in learning more about JIFLA or JELF.

Laura Kahn, JIFLA board chair, and Marianne Garber, JELF board chair

Arabs Must Accept Israel

The most revealing sentence in Dave Schechter’s piece on Arabs and Jews in Atlanta (“Atlanta’s Arabs, Jews Share So Much,” April 21) is the quote from Palestinian-American Jamal Awad: “Many Jews cannot see the disaster that Israel’s creation has caused on my people, family and life.” So Israel’s creation is its original sin.

Those who want Israel to survive should challenge this false paradigm. The Palestinians could have so easily had a state alongside Israel in 1948 or several times since. They and their leaders have rejected every process that would end the conflict while allowing a permanent Israel of any size. It is not enough for them that in 1948 the Arab world received Jordan, some 78 percent of the land promised to Jews, as well as the West Bank and Gaza.

Nor do Palestinians have the right to claim permanent victimhood. Yes, many of them suffered, but it is primarily the fault of their leadership for rejecting every peace proposal. Arab massacres of dhimmi Jews in the Holy Land and the broader Middle East long predated the state of Israel and Zionism. Their leaders enthusiastically embraced Hitler’s goals in the 1930s.

The whole idea of Jewish self-determination is widely seen as an affront to Arab pride, for dhimmi Jews in the region were third-class citizens (if they were citizens at all) for most of Arab and Ottoman rule. Just compare how Jewish refugees from Arab lands came to Israel and rebuilt their lives with 70 years of maintenance of the Arab refugee issue, which itself stemmed from the 1948 Arab invasion of Israel.

Trying to placate Palestinian rejectionism by rationalizing and justifying it is not going to bring peace. Palestinian leaders have to learn to accept that Jews were always part of the Holy Land and the region, that they were victims of Arab and Ottoman oppression, and that they have every right to self-determination. They need to be confronted with the fact that the “Palestinian plight” is the consequence of their own rejection of coexistence for over 100 years, and it needs to change.

— Doron Lubinsky, Sandy Springs