‘Best defense’ against evangelicals is ‘a solid Jewish education’

I read with great interest Dan Pine’s Oct. 31 column about his confrontation with Jews for Jesus. Many years ago, I’d agreed to speak to someone from the organization. A young woman came to my home.

I quickly became bored with her talk about salvation. I asked her why she converted. She said, “My family was never religious. My dad died suddenly and I was so depressed that for the first time ever I was searching for answers. My good friends convinced me to go to their church. Soon I converted…and now I’m so happy.”

I told this confused young woman she could have found all the answers she was searching for in Judaism, too.

The bottom line is this: The best line of defense is for every Jewish child (and adult) to get a solid Jewish education. Groups like Jews for Judaism, Chabad and the National Jewish Outreach Program are very helpful, but it is up to parents and individuals to take the first step. It’s never too early nor too late to learn more.

My thanks to Dan Pine for helping to expose groups like Jews for Jesus and their hidden agendas.

Molly Miller-Davidson | Los Angeles

A de-enthnicizing snowball

Regarding his Oct. 31 column, Dan Pine should understand that the definition of a Jew doesn’t include any level of religious observance. One becomes a Jew just by the accident of birth of a Jewish mother. Period.

Later on, a person could become a “good” or “bad Jew,” but he or she will always be a Jew.

The Talmud teaches us “Jew remains a Jew despite his sin.”

Whether we like it or not, Jews for Jesus are still Jews; apostates for sure, but still Jews.

The relative success of Jews for Jesus missionaries and the wide spread of intermarriage are driven by the same reason: the de-ethnicizing of Judaism.

Reform Judaism in general and intermarried Jews in particular have a vested interest in promoting the concept. And now it is like a snowball.

When you get to know the Jews for Jesus converts closely, you’ll learn they abandoned Judaism not for some fancy theological reason but because missionaries were better providing material and spiritual support when they needed them, while the Jewish community failed.

Anybody ever compare how much it costs to be a member of synagogue and a member of the church these Jews for Jesus attend?

Rudy J. Budesky | El Cerrito

Who’s to blame

I attended Nabil Sha’ath’s recent speech at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. Joe Eskenazi’s Oct. 24 article painted an accurate portrayal, including Sha’ath’s outrageous claim that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak forced President Clinton to lay the blame for the failed negotiations at Yasser Arafat’s feet.

However, the article omitted what was, to me, Sha’ath’s most incredible comment. In response to a question following the speech, Sha’ath stated, in an almost off-hand way, that the Palestinians would accept Israel’s Camp David/Taba peace proposal were it made today.

Three years and thousands of shattered lives later, Sha’ath now says the Palestinians wrongly rejected Israel’s offer of peace.

I don’t think that there can be a more definitive answer than that to the question that Eskenazi posed at the beginning of his article: “Who’s to blame for the violence and carnage in the Middle East today?”

Scott M. Dubin | Larkspur

‘Geneva is a disaster’

The Geneva agreement is a disaster for Israel. It proposes to trade large tracts of Eretz Israel, including the Temple Mount, East Jerusalem and almost every Jewish holy site, for a piece of paper that can, and will, be torn up whenever the Arabs think it’s in their interest.

In fact, they’re already saying that unless the right of return for millions of Arabs into Israel proper is granted, there will never be peace. So the pretext for continuing the war is already established, even before the new Arab state is born.

But even if the Arabs really wanted peace, and even if they could be trusted to keep their word, the fact that the Geneva authors are willing to give up the Temple Mount at all shows their lack of belief in Judaism itself.

The promise of Judaism is that God will give us the land, and enable us to overcome our foes provided that we follow His path. Our greatest danger comes not from the Arabs but from rebellion against

God. Only when we fully internalize this, and take possession of the entire land, and drive out the enemy population, will we finally achieve real peace.

Martin Wasserman | Sunnyvale

Big enough tent?

Kol hakavod to the organizers of “Israel Education Day” featuring Yossi Beilin and the Geneva initiative. But it is alarming how much negative and threatening feedback came when the event was announced.

This week we observe the yahrzeit of Yitzhak Rabin, former prime minister, and Beilin’s mentor, who was murdered in an atmosphere of intolerance and fear perpetuated upon an Israeli public by right-wing fundamentalists for whom negotiation is tantamount to treachery.

For them, clearly the tent is not big enough for many of us.

Beilin spoke passionately and brilliantly, with a brutal honesty long lacking in our discourse over the future of Israel as a Jewish democratic state.

“It is still possible,” he told rapt audiences, “but only if we solve the conflict now.”

In only six years, the reality of demographics will mean Jewish rule over “Greater Israel” will be a minority rule over a Palestinian majority.

While Beilin acknowledged the Geneva agreement may not be perfect, he and his Palestinian counterparts have also proved there is somebody to talk to on the other side. “If we say no negotiations until the violence ends, we give veto power to the last extremist idiot on either side.”

Jacob Mandelsberg

San Francisco

Where are tourists?

I recently gave up my rent-controlled apartment in San Francisco to make aliyah, and I can tell you that Israel is not the war zone portrayed by the media.

Although the threat of terrorist attacks is very real, I feel safer walking the streets of Jerusalem than I did much of San Francisco.

I no longer drive a car either, which means my life expectancy has actually increased, considering the odds of being killed in a car accident in America are far greater than being killed in a terrorist attack in Israel.

Yet you don’t see American Jews abandoning their cars like they have abandoned Israel.

Tourism is at an alltime low, and the resulting economic hardship on Israelis is almost unbearable.

Where are all the Jews who profess to love Israel? Have they forgotten the tears, sweat and blood past generations sacrificed to create a safe haven for Jews?

Must Israeli Jews bear the entire responsibility for protecting our Jewish homeland, the only country that welcomes Jews with open arms?

I hope American Jews will soon rediscover the fortitude and chutzpah that sustained our people for centuries and come home for a visit.

Kate Hallgren | Jerusalem

Guts admired

I admire Aaron Seruya’s guts to write what millions of Jews feel and many even hate to admit to themselves that they do (Sept. 5 letters ) — that there can never be peace in Israel unless the hostile Arabs are expelled or transferred from all the land which God gave to the Jewish people.

Only the peaceful and law abiding ones should be allowed to stay. It’s truly the only “effective” and moral solution, which will also save countless lives.

Aaron is right that Rabbi Meir Kahane’s ideas (and his organizations) even now are banned in Israel under the pretense of labeling them “racist,” when in fact it’s because of the fear of its tremendously growing popularity and political threat of a Knesset takeover.

Even the reputable and reliable “right wing” news radio Arutz-7 is still outlawed, raided and harassed in Israel, and for years is still forced (at great expense) to broadcast from a ship outside Israel’s waters.

Thank God we have some sources where we can get news and ideas not censored, blacklisted, misrepresented or negatively portrayed as does your paper and mainstream Jewish organizations like the federation and government controlled, left-wing news media in Israel.

Larry Shore | San Leandro

Two-way street?

I do not see why the issue of right of return is relevant if the Palestinians end up with their own state. As far as I can see, at that time they’re perfectly free to evacuate Israel and be part of their own country so that Israel can be the Jewish state that it was set up to be. Or, are we to assume that Palestinians will get their own state void of Jews as would be keeping with the Arab tradition?

Are Palestinians progressive-thinking enough to allow Jews to live within a Palestine free of persecution? If the so-called Jewish settlers are forced to leave at the creation of a Palestinian state, is it not also fair to ask the Palestinians to leave Israel?

Deborah Stadtner Novato