I would like to go on record in support of the eight rabbis who courageously but respectfully voiced their opposition to the nomination of David Friedman to be ambassador to Israel in last week’s Jewish News. I would also like to associate myself with the ad which ran in the issue, also in opposition to the nomination. Finally, I’d like to commend the Jewish News itself for its editorial – “The Mideast Can’t Live ‘With Either One’ ” – in the very same edition. I guess I’m going to have to restart my subscription!
Friedman is able negotiator
Your editorial of Feb. 24, regarding a supposed difference of opinion between President Trump and Ambassador Haley regarding our policy toward Israel, seems to me to be a misreading of the situation (“The Mideast can’t live ‘with either one’ ”).
Both Mr. Trump and, later, Ms. Haley at the UN, have stated quite clearly their jointly held belief that peace in the Middle East can be achieved only through negotiations between the two parties, Israel and the Palestinian Arabs, and that the United States will accept whatever peaceful solution upon which they can agree, whether two states, one state, or something completely different.
The Arabs have been trying to get the U.N., the United States, and Europe to impose a solution upon Israel without negotiations, a solution that would make Israel vulnerable to destruction by Arab armies, terrorists and rockets. This is unacceptable. The way to peace in the region is for the Arabs to realize that they are going to have to negotiate in good faith with Israel.
As for ambassador-designate David Friedman, Lori Lowenthal Marcus wrote recently that he “is a bad choice for U.S. ambassador only to those who treat Israel as if it were not a sovereign nation.” Furthermore, James H.M. Sprayregen of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Chicago, often a legal adversary of Friedman, has described the nominee as “very creative at coming up with solutions to complex problems. ... David is great at off-the-record, behind-the-scenes conversations in highly adverse, hostile situations. … His excellent interpersonal skills ... should serve him well as ambassador.”
On a personal note: my son-in-law and a cousin have had many dealings with Mr. Friedman on a professional level and find him to be a good and able negotiator, someone who tries to satisfy, as well as is possible, both parties to a disagreement.
Wrong policies to back
Please excuse that I’m not impressed by the indignation of the J-Street representatives regarding David Friedman (“An open letter to senators re: David Friedman,” Jewish News, Feb. 17). J-Street has been exposed as an anti-Israel, extreme leftist organization whose donor list includes known anti-Israel activists, invited plenary speakers hostile to the Jewish state, invoked moral equivalence with Hamas and Israel in Israel’s defensive war in Gaza, and has continuously supported anti-Israel legislators. And let’s not forget that it was a shill for the disastrous Iran deal that allowed Iran to legitimize its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
The two-state model has been a failure since it was proposed more than 20 years ago. Israel has made tangible land concessions with only a return of increasing Palestinian terrorism, violence and incitement. David Friedman recognizes Albert Einstein’s quote that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. J-Street delusionalists, on the other hand, would like us to continuously feed upon the conventional falsehoods about the conflict.
David Friedman is the perfect candidate where alternative solutions will be explored based upon the pillars of truth and where new opportunities can arise without being stuck in the morass of Palestinian intransigence and failure.
Letter breeds danger
I am writing in response to the open letter to Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake from two J-Street affiliated students (“An open letter to senators re: David Friedman,” Jewish News, Feb. 17).
I am also a proud Arizonan, and I want to make sure that our senators do not presume that J-Street speaks for all Arizona Jews. While J-Street operatives are quite adept at reciting talking points of the anti-Israel left, I have several issues with the letter’s arguments.
The two-state solution may or may not be the solution to the Palestinian conflict – I will let Israelis make a call on that. Personally, I am not sure that there ever will be a solution to this age-old conflict, as no matter how much land Israel were to yield, Fatah, Hamas and Hezbollah will never stop their military attacks, threats and blind hatred of the Jewish state. In fact, the only times when Israel enjoyed advances in peacemaking with its Arab neighbors was when it stood strong and was supported by its friends in America.
While Mr. Friedman’s language regarding liberal Jews may have been a bit over the top, his characterization is not incorrect. Way too often, liberal Jews, however well-meaning, do things that have nothing to do with Jewish values, but everything to do with the leftist ideas they seem to embrace. J-Street, for instance, tirelessly advocated on behalf of President Obama’s policy of appeasing Iran. Their main focus is to criticize Israel – for building in Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem, for defending themselves against Hamas in Gaza, and for pretty much everything else. While they call themselves “pro-Israel,” they side with Israel’s enemies at every turn.
The letter alludes to the diplomatic precedent. Yet J-Street was silent when the State Department abandoned the long-standing policy of President George W. Bush allowing for natural growth of the “settlements,” and demanded a total ban on construction there. It cheered when Obama abandoned long-standing precedent in the Security Council, and supported the U.N.’s assertion that Israel has no claim to Jerusalem.
I don’t believe that there is anything about Mr. Friedman that disqualifies him from becoming the U.S. ambassador to Israel. I am convinced that he will be effective in representing the new approach which the Trump administration is bringing to the Middle East policy, and which will be beneficial to the interests of America, Israel and ultimately those Palestinians who want to live in peace.
I hope that he breaks with the Israel-bashing approach of the Obama administration – the last eight years have demonstrated that when the U.S. was conducting a policy of tying Israel’s hands, solely blaming the Jewish state for the lack of a peace process, and cozying up to Iran, it brought about the weakening of the U.S. position in the region, reduction in Israel’s security, and erosion of trust among America’s allies. The only real beneficiaries were Iran and ISIS. It’s high time to change that.
Garden grows happily
I was so happy to read the article about Congregation Beth Israel’s biblical garden, since my father, Dr. Richard Zonis, was responsible for starting and maintaining the garden until his untimely passing in 2012 (“Biblical garden aims for authenticity,” Jewish News Feb. 17).
After retiring from a busy and satisfying career as an ear, nose and throat surgeon, he found time to read the Bible in its entirety, sharing many passages with me. From this time forward, one of his passions was to create a biblical garden using authentic plants that he painstakingly obtained from numerous overseas sources. Truly a labor of love, he was excited to relate stories about each plant and their significance in the Bible.
Thank you for a wonderful article. It brings tears to my eyes to know the time and dedication he gave to this garden is continuing to be enjoyed by others. And thank you to Donna Harris and Beth Waldinger for letting this garden grow.
Suzie Zonis Costantino
Heat safety important
On July 6, 2016, you published an article titled: “Checklist for a safe hike.” Ellen and I have exciting follow-up news regarding our beloved son, Ariel Yitzchak. We are most proud and pleased to introduce the brand new Ariel’s Checklist website, arielschecklist.com This should help disseminate everything the common person could want to know about heat safety, with a focus on Israel.
The website will continue to grow and evolve over time and we hope this will become the world’s definitive resource on the topic for the general population.
Prioritize full-day kindergarten
As Arizona’s next superintendent of public instruction, I want to be the champion for all students, at the highest level of curriculum possible, for our state, and I want to start not at the top, but at the bottom with our youngest and most vulnerable students.
That’s why I support expanding voluntary full day kindergarten to Arizona’s neediest students. It’s a great first step in making full-day kindergarten in Arizona the full day grade it should be.
As a high school teacher for almost two decades, I have and continue to see an enormous gap in the capabilities of my students. Some come through the door reading and writing fluently. Others are still sounding out words letter-by-letter with no ability to blend the sounds into words, the words into sentences, and sentences into coherent thoughts.
The problem, too often, is a lack of the true kindergarten experience, the enrichment it brings into their lives, and the critical role it plays to create early fluent readers. Without a better structure, our kids are suffering. The basic reading tasks that most of us take for granted become their impossible dream.
Arizona’s schools currently take kids who are only 5 years old and throw at them instructional goals that take into account objectives for a full day, squashed into 2.5 hours. Any educator knows that is a recipe for disaster. Yet we, the teachers, the good soldiers, are forced to cope with the reality that this inadequate system, designed by the educational establishment, feels is best for our kids. It isn’t.
Teachers know better. Parents know better. Our kids have become pawns in the system – forced to tackle challenges they are unprepared for, at an age when their entire focus should be simply developing a love of learning.
Implementing full-day kindergarten would allow Arizona teachers to take the time to teach the formal instruction, within the objectives that surround our current curriculum, and the informal learning of schedules, sharing, caring and – most importantly – embracing the potential in their own education. Full-day kindergarten also lowers the number of transitions in a child’s day (which is critical for the comfort and development of small children) and instructs the child on the concept of a schedule which will benefit them for the rest of their school years.
If elected, I will work with the governor and our legislature to ensure that Arizona parents who want their kids in a full day program have that option, no matter where they live or how much money their family makes.
Full-day kindergarten must become a voluntary grade if we are truly committed to getting every child in Arizona prepared for a successful future.
Candidate for Arizona superintendent of public instruction