More on Israel |

More on Israel

Dear Editor:

To the Aspen Jewish community that has welcomed me, Mr. Goodwin, and especially Rabbi Mendel Mintz of Aspen Chabad, Shanah Tovah. May you be inscribed in the Book of Life.

Allow me to correct a historical error. When I studied at Hebrew University in 1973, we adopted Hebrew names. Ben Gurion ordered all senior officers and ministers to convert their names from European to Hebrew.

Simon Perske, Betty Perske’s cousin (you know, Bogie’s girl) became Shimon Peres. Today he is “Mr. President” unless he is your contemporary. Betty Perske became Lauren Bacall, Solomon Kusnetsov became Solomon Kass, Shapiro became Sheppard and Goodstein became Goodwin. We are all proud of our origins but in Israel names are important. The new RaMatKal is the son of a Survivor, he is a former Alaskan lumberjack, and the former Head of Shayetet 13.

Elaine Sandler and Dr. Altman’s led their “Aspen Counterpoint” Symposia. Two people with busy lives organized it, financed it and had 200-plus guests. There is a great DVD if anyone wants a copy.

Read “Startup Nation”; the Explorer Bookstore will order it for you. It is a concise tale of how Israel’s economy became a developed nation and thrived in peace and war. Having traveled on business in several Middle Eastern countries there is a clear contrast between the distribution of wealth in Israel and the complete opposite in Arab countries. Israel’s recent discovery of the offshore Leviathan natural gas field will create vast economic wealth, and Israel will have the fourth largest per capita gas reserves in the world in 2011-12.

Between Intel, Google, Microsoft and Leviathan’s contribution to Israel, I am at a loss as to what tactics Hamas will employ to grow business.

Aspen Counterpoint’s Symposia focused on differences in culture and energy issues, and highlighted the differences between East and West, and Arab and Israeli desires. When I visit I am always in a quandary as to what “peace” means to people, highlighted by the recent massacre of two Jewish families by terrorists. Please explain the purpose Hamas sees in slaughtering a couple with six children?

Iran and its path to acquiring nuclear weaponry is terrifying. When Adm. Mullen visited The Aspen Institute I tried to ask him what his advice would be to the president if Israel decided to launch a flight of jets at the Iranian nuclear plants.

Giving money is great. Doing something is better, like you have done at Neve Shalom. But what we all need to do is recognize the real danger in the Middle East – cultural issues that lead to hatred, energy and water issues, abuse of women and the imminent threat from Tehran. I wish those in Washington luck but they are fighting a Sisyphean battle.

If you believe, Mr. Goodwin, you can put on a great symposia we all look forward to it. But please call my former commander Shimon or Mr. President; he has earned it.

Shanah Tovah.

Walter Kass


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