Letter to the editor:
Last week, we hosted three athletes from Panama who participated in the 2019 JCC Maccabi Games here in Atlanta.
We had volunteered to host in response to public appeals for families to house athletes, particularly athletes who requested housing with a kosher kitchen. We applied to be hosts, were interviewed, and checked out – and we passed.
We received written materials describing our duties and we attended a training session at the MJCCA – all excellent. During the athletes’ arrival on Sunday and during the week’s evening activities, we received frequent and informative text messages on their whereabouts, keeping us in the loop.
We were assigned three 14-year-old boys on the Panama 14-and-under soccer team. Three wonderful boys! We divided our activities: Kevin drove them to the venues and picked them up from nighttime activities, and Claire did the laundry!
We accompanied them to the opening ceremonies, which were very exciting. In the ensuing days, Kevin attended their soccer matches at Marist School. What a great facility! Great buildings and terrific fields. Kevin took pictures of the boys and sent them home to their parents.
The soccer matches were scheduled so that transportation to them was easy. All of them started on time, as planned. The boys also rode JCC buses between Marist and the MJCCA, giving them safe freedom of movement to be with their friends.
On family night, Wednesday, our wonderful neighbor organized a cul-de-sac party nearby, giving the athletes an opportunity to make new friends. Our boys loved it.
Our biggest challenge was laundry late at night; but that comes with the territory.
Our experience was great fun. Though our boys came from another country, they were, in so many ways, the same as 14-year-old Jewish boys in Atlanta.
We congratulate the MJCCA for an amazing job. Logistically, organizing 1,600 athletes, housed in many homes, playing many games at multiple locations, and attending many events at disparate locations is, no doubt, very difficult. But it was very well done.
We don’t imagine Atlanta will see the Maccabi games again soon, but when they come again, we suggest hosting.
Kevin and Claire King, Atlanta
Letter to the editor:
Regarding: “Playwright Encourages Difficult Conversation About Israel,” Aug. 9.
Is J Street mischaracterized as anti-Israel because of misunderstandings from its earliest days? I tried to find out.
The J Street website proclaims Jerusalem’s status must be settled via negotiation, but also describes the desired outcome (West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state). It urges Israel not to encourage countries to move their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and not to encourage Jews to establish homes in East Jerusalem.
Is it reasonable to ask Israel to wait until the Palestinians are open to negotiating? Doesn’t J Street know that both Yasser Arafat (2000/2001) and Mahmoud Abbas (2008) flatly rejected Israeli proposals for the establishment of a Palestinian state on essentially all of the disputed land, even with the possibility of shared governance in parts of Jerusalem?
Do the Palestinians have a right to demand part of Jerusalem for their capital? Because Jordan illegally occupied the Old City and ethnically cleansed it of its Jewish population? Should Israel risk Palestinians repeating their past behavior? (In 2000, Palestinian snipers commandeered houses in Christian Beit Jala so they could fire on Jews in neighboring Gilo. Should more of Jerusalem be allowed to fall into firing range?)
The J Street website also shows a 2012 statement by Abbas, noting his understanding that he no longer has the right to live in the city of his birth, Safed, and that Israel is for the Israelis while Gaza and the West Bank are for the Palestinians. The website doesn’t mention the outrage which this statement sparked among Palestinians. Nor does it mention that, in the interview in which Abbas made these statements, he also renounced terrorism. Yet, he has since praised martyrs (Palestinians imprisoned for attacking and killing Israelis or killed during attacks) and prioritized paying stipends to the martyrs and their families over paying salaries to Palestinian Authority employees.
I applaud Gili Getz for encouraging conversations about Israel. I urge AJT readers to visit websites, such as jstreet.org, camera.org, and memri.org, so that they can participate intelligently in those talks.
Toby F. Block, Atlanta