It would be better to have nuance rather than knee jerk on Israel’s new nation-state bill. Much has been made of the change of Arabic from official language to special status. However, the bill explicitly asserts that “this clause does not harm the status given to the Arabic language before this law came into effect.” Nor does the fact that Hebrew will be the primary official language affect the rights of individual Israelis who are not Jewish any more than does English being the sole official language in countries such as England or Australia affect individual citizens. Quite the contrary, Arabic will continue to have a higher status than, for example, Spanish in the United States. Other aspects of the law will no doubt be debated in Israel’s Supreme Court.
There is an unfortunate trend of “I support Israel but” amongst diaspora Jewish institutions, usually in the wake of attacks by CNN, BBC, the European Union, the United Nations … This adds to the chorus of one-sided condemnation of Israel. In addition, it strikes many Israelis as hypocritical, when they are dealing with the reality of under-reported terror attacks, Hamas rockets and fires, and know there would be outrage if Israeli institutions criticized US laws.
It is curious that there is so much Jewish criticism of Israelis strengthening their identity, but so little focus on the unwavering rejection of Jewish self-determination in any form by Israel’s implacable foes.
Your recent op-ed on headlines describes false and/or misleading information in the biased headlines of reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Most of the national media do this, thus normalizing this egregious betrayal of the accuracy and integrity we need from journalism.
Worse than that, the national media are shaping history, not reporting it, through their relentless manipulation of our perception of reality. This is where I respectfully offer a perspective other than that in the op-ed. Damage has been done and will continue, but we need to call out each instance of this ugliness and to offer fact-based corrections in carefully researched letters. There are still readers who appreciate accurate information that supports thoughtful analysis, and we need to reach them every time there are distorting, sensational headlines like the ones that all our young people have grown up seeing.
We have a responsibility to stand firm against each instance of media manipulation by making our voices heard. That is the only way we can possibly change, or at least counter, this Jewishly destructive trend.
I want to thank Roni Robbins and the Atlanta Jewish Times for all of their efforts and taking the time to cover our community Tisha B’Av commemoration (especially when given the time for the conclusion of Shabbat, this year’s commemoration went quite late on Saturday night).
This is the second year such a commemoration has occurred, and I would like to acknowledge that it would not have been possible without the efforts of other like-minded rabbinic colleagues in our Atlanta community. In particular, I would like to acknowledge my “partner in crime” in starting this event, Rabbi Alex-Shuval Weiner at Temple Beth Tikvah, whose leadership was instrumental in this event’s success, and whose synagogue graciously hosted us last year for our first gathering.
May we all merit seeing one another next year in a rebuilt Jerusalem.
Rabbi Dan Dorsch
I am a 17-year-old high school senior from Alpharetta. I belong to Congregation Gesher L’ Torah and am looking to raise awareness about a public health issue and medical emergency – sepsis. My dad, Spencer Colvin, one of the leading founding members of Gesher L’ Torah, tragically passed away this past October after developing sepsis during a routine elective surgery. Sepsis is the body’s extreme response to infection; it causes tissue damage, organ failure and death. It is the leading cause of death in U.S. hospitals, yet public awareness about this issue is minimal at best. It is also one of the most expensive conditions for hospitals to treat, costing $24 billion annually.
In addition to raising awareness, I am currently working to get mandated legislation passed in Georgia to improve timely diagnosis and treatment of sepsis in hospitals. Such legislation (Rory’s Regulations and Gabby’s Law) has already been passed in New York and Illinois and has been proven effective in reducing the number of patients that contract sepsis.
Please let our community know that I welcome any assistance that may further my cause.
Last week’s issue of the Atlanta Jewish Times carried a lot of hand wringing about Israel’s Nation-State bill. I feel it is a common-sense bill, similar to laws passed in many nations of the world. In addition, the bill is a natural reaction to “progressive” efforts to undermine Israel. Israel is beset by an intersectional coalition of enemies, including Palestinian nationalists incapable of compromise, people who feel that the nation-state in general is bad and should be abolished in favor of UN world government, plain old anti-Semites, and others who are disappointed that Israel isn’t perfect, and therefore shouldn’t exist. The new bill makes it more difficult for EU and Soros funded NGOs who seek to undermine the will of the Israeli voter.
Mr. Kirtz makes an implicit threat that if Israel is not a two-way street, then the Jewish diaspora will not be as supportive of Israel as they have been. This is an empty threat, as the Jewish diaspora has been minimally supportive of Israel for quite some time. It’s not because they hate Israel, it is because Israel is not of particular importance to them. As a local example, during the 1996 election campaign for the House of Representatives between Cynthia McKinney and John Mitnick, a Jewish Republican, McKinney won a majority of the Jewish votes. Cynthia McKinney, by her own admission, is no friend of Israel. In terms of more recent events of relevance to Israel, such as the Iran deal and moving the US Embassy to Israel, the majority of American Jews were opposed to the positions taken by Israel. It would not be an exaggeration today to state that the average non-Jew in America is more supportive of Israel than the average American Jew.
While I am an American Jew, I feel that Israel has very little to learn from communities characterized by apathy, indifference, self-aggrandizement, and diminishing life expectancy. Unfortunately, this is the current state of American Jewry.
Jack L Arbiser, MD,PhD
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