Letter to the Editor: Viet-Nam (Vol. 31, Issue 10)
To the Editor:
In the Feb. 28 issue, Lawrence Kaplan expressed shock and sadness to read of a petition signed by 800 students at Yeshiva which whole-heartedly supported Administration policies in Vietnam. I, too, was shocked and saddened. I was shocked to see Mr. Kaplan imply that the position they took was somehow not in consonance with true Orthodox hashkafah and that his more critical attitude towards Mr. Johnson’s policies is the attitude traditional Jews should accept. I venture to say that the petitioners’ position, as well as Mr. Kaplan’s, can draw support from our heritage. The threat that Communism poses to us may be no less than that posed by any of our multitude of oppressors and enemies of the past, and one could even take our attitude toward Amalek as a guideline and end up with a policy more extreme than the most militaristic proposed today. To suggest a single answer to the Vietnam problem, based on our heritage, is rash; I suggest that Mr. Kaplan work on some political military approaches to the situation.
Furthermore, I was saddened to read that 800 students (an overwhelming majority of the population at Yeshiva) are in complete accord on such a complex and controversial topic as Vietnam. The particular position that was taken is irrelevant, but the near-unanimity is not. This consensus of extreme proportions indicates an intellectual malaise at Yeshiva that can only be mourned.
Vibrant and, even heated discussions of current affairs are a necessity for intelligent analysis and one can only wonder how much debate goes on in the dorm rooms of Yeshiva, if so much of the student body is in agreement on a morass like Southeast Asia.
Yes, Mr. Kaplan, the petition of the 800 is indeed deplorable, but no more so than had they opposed Administration policy. The lamentable fact is not that they failed to agree with you, but that so many agreed at all.
Heshy Rosenbaum ’65