Peace needs new leaders
I applaud the Jewish Standard’s rallying assortment of Opinion pieces in the past few weeks, as we and our brothers and sisters in Israel confront the horrific tragedy of October 7, and as we in the Diaspora face a frightening and horrendous increase in antisemitic activity. Rabbi Shammai Engelmayer deserves a special compliment for his candid recognition of the abhorrent dynamic between the rise of Jew-hatred and Israel’s response to Hamas’s heinous attack.
Mark Lurinsky presciently wrote in these pages one year ago, “the de facto annexation of the area can only continue with unprecedented vehemence, and the intensity of the conflict with Palestinians will only grow accordingly.” The current government of Israel regrettably has sacrificed its integrity by intensifying the immense destruction of Gaza and the killing of many thousand Palestinians. The reality is that Hamas cannot be destroyed; Hamas is a hydra and the killing of so many is already inspiring a new generation of terrorists and a wider regional war. And three months into this war, there are still 113 Israeli hostages being held. The extremist Netanyahu government has been relying on the anguish, shock, and disgust we feel towards Hamas to behave in a malicious way, inconsistent with our higher values and which will not bring about any lasting peace.
We have so far rightly united in support of our beloved Eretz Yisroel and only whispered our ambivalence about Israel’s response. But as antisemitism becomes more malicious and the war drags excruciatingly on, we lose more Israeli soldiers, more endangered hostages, and more Palestinian civilians. Peace requires new and better leadership not only for the Palestinians, but frankly for Israel as well.
Safety requires care for others
I am writing to thank the Jewish Standard for publishing Rabbi Shammai Engelmayer’s continuing admonitions — that to promote safety for the Jews as we live among the nations, we must not only be vigilant about how the behavior of others impacts our own lives, but also how our behavior, especially the behavior of our leadership in Israel and in the diaspora, impacts the lives of others — including the lives of Palestinians.
Arthur J. Lerman
Instead, just say thank you
When Shammai Engelmayer writes all Israel is responsible for one another and the Jewish state has a right to defend itself, I, of course, strongly concur. I interpret his words criticizing the collateral damage in Gaza as an attack on the IDF and the State of Israel. He writes the world thinks we are monsters — well he is correct. For millennia the world viewed us as monsters justifying murder, rape, pillage and genocide. They gassed and burned my grandparents because they were monsters. The world thought us monsters on October 6; after all, the Harvard’s elite and their ilk blamed Israel on Oct. 7 for the atrocities before the first IDF bomb went off.
I don’t begrudge Shammai Engelmayer his progressive woke ideology, however, we as diasporic Jews have no right to shame and lecture the democratically elected Israeli government — period. When he moves to Israel and pays taxes there, and his family serves in the IDF and he votes there, then he can openly criticize the government. Otherwise, just say thank you.
He writes “When this war is over, however, we here in the Diaspora need to get seriously involved with Israel’s political issues.” How dare he be so arrogant to think he can tell those on the front lines with missiles exploding overhead as to the correct tactical response from the plush comfort of Bergen County? I publicly support all Israeli governments — left, center, and right regardless. The tone of his op-ed is one of both hubris and of a self-righteous frightened diasporic Jew.
Robert S Lebovics MD