Three Letters

Recent letters in the Jerusalem Post:
October 22, 2015
Regarding “The Anousim,” (Letter Oct 20), although there are potentially countless Bnei Anousim in South and Central America, Iberia and many other countries around the world, many of them have either lost their interest or connection to anything Jewish over the past 500 years since the forced conversions to Catholicism.  Also, even those that still retain some Jewish religious rites and customs, and are interested in returning to the Jewish people, will not necessarily be interested in making aliyah.  So to call them the “11th Tribe” may be somewhat over-optimistic. On the other hand, we can be optimistic that they will seek, each in his own individual way, their forefathers’ stolen and forgotten heritage.
Certainly the State of Israel should take this potential return of the Bnei Anusim seriously.  A Knesset Caucus was recently established for this purpose.  Still, the question of “return” or conversion is complex, and both the political and the religious authorities will have to be involved, as they were in the aliyah of the Jews from the former Soviet Union (ca. 30% of whom are not halakhically Jewish), the Bnei Israel from India and the Ethiopian Jews.
We must act sympathetically towards those who genuinely want to reconnect with the Jewish people after 500 years of forced separation.Yours etc.
Jack S. Cohen
Professor (retired)
Board Member, Inst. for Sefardi and Anousim Studies, Netanya Academic College

November 3, 2015 (Magazine Section)

US Secty. of State Kerry has finally stated the obvious (“Kerry: Palestinian leaders must stop their incitement,” Oct 29).  But, I totally disagree with him regarding his statement that “this [the violence] is what it will look like if there is not a two-state solution.”
How does he know that, can he predict the future?  It is purely a guess on his part, but for us it could be life or death.  On the contrary, I predict that if there is a two-state solution things will get much worse.   The putative Palestinian State will become another failed Arab State (like Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon) which will invite more terrorists in, including IS that is not far away, and the situation will be like we now have with Gaza.  Yet another failed terrorist mini-state on our border.
To avoid this situation, there needs not only to be a cessation of incitement, but also a recognition by the Palestinian leadership of Israel’s existence as the Jewish State.  Without that a two-state solution is an illusion of foreign diplomats.
Yaakov ben Meir (my Hebrew pseudonym)
November 6, 2015
In his excellent essay “In defense of Jewish Nationalism” Dan Illouz (Oct. 23) misses a crucial point, namely that in the Diaspora the Jews were “rootless cosmopolitans,” because they had no choice.   The transition to being a nation with a nation-state was a wrenching and traumatic process, that most of the Jews still living in the Diaspora have not been able to transcend. 
Part of the condition of being a universal minority was the very powerlessness that reawakened the drive to regain sovereignty in our own Land.  But, that transition also required a change in the fundamental psychology and politics of the Jewish people, from left-wing to right-wing.  This is why it is so difficult for a Jew in the Diaspora to be accepted as authentically leftist, because if he also supports Israel he must naturally be a nationalist and therefore right-wing.   
Jewish nationalism can only work if and when there is in fact a Jewish State.
Yours etc.
Jack S. Cohen

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