May 24, 2007
Bravo, Weinstein; Nes Gadol; The GOP and the Jews
Mikey Weinstein and his family follow a great and proud tradition of patriotic American Jews who have dutifully served in our Armed Forces, nobly defending religious freedom and all American values since our nation's founding ("Weaponized Evangelism," May 18).
That said, I concur with Weinstein's observations regarding a swarming and intolerant dominionist Christianity that presently infests our immensely funded military. The transformation he cites is real, obvious, clearly documented, consistently verifiable and very dangerous. And I submit to you that this same problem, furthered by our current administration's extramilitary, congressionally enabled and grossly unconstitutional faith-based Initiative, is an imminent threat to our larger American social fabric.
The first chapter of Chris Hedges' related new book, "American Fascists," aptly begins with a quotation from Karl Popper's 1971 book, "The Open Society and Its Enemies." Per Popper, "If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and the tolerance with them."
Hopefully, readers similarly concerned by Rob Eshman's column will explore this issue, determine for themselves the extent and imminence of the problem and then act accordingly and tirelessly.
Abrasive or not, Michael Weinstein is correct, right and serving justice.
Richard L. Adlof
Thank you for the article, "Nes Gadol Calls Its First Autistic Students to Torah," by Adam Wills (May 11).
Highlighting news about Nes Gadol and The Miracle Project will encourage other parents of special children to consider the spiritual needs, as well as the educational and social needs of their children.
The Jewish Journal has performed a great mitzvah by publicizing these organizations. Please print followup articles after the bar mitzvah of William Lambert, Neal Katz and Wyatt Isaacs.
There is an expression loosely phrased that to the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world. How clearly that thought resonates in the well-written article about the pioneering bat/bar mitzvah program for special-needs teenagers.
I go with my profoundly autistic nephew every week to study at Nes Gadol. It is the most important event in his week. Although he cannot speak, he types about the importance of preparing for his bar mitzvah all the time.
I know I speak for both of us when I say that we are so grateful for this amazing, inclusive program.
Thank you for reporting so accurately and so touchingly about what we look forward to every week, a supportive and challenging sense of accomplishment in a class that feels like community, helping my nephew to become a man.
Sarah Armstrong Jones
Response to Congressman Issa
In regard to Rep. Darrell Issa's (R-Vista) response to Andrew Lachman's recent letter, no foreign news reports were cited in Lachman's piece suggesting that the congressman praised Hezbollah (Letters, May 11).
Issa long ago stated that he felt that the Syrian and Iranian news agencies misquoted him on his last two trips to Syria.
Additionally, while Issa has loudly and publicly denounced Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi's (D-San Francisco) bipartisan trip to Syria and the region, he himself visited Lebanon in the midst of the July 2006 Hezbollah offensive against Israel, and he has visited Syria at least three times since 2004.
I understand that a small number of pro-Israel activists in the Republican Party have been working hard to educate Issa about Israel, and to his credit, he did vote for the 2006 resolution supporting Israel.
Issa's history, though, of a less-than-stellar voting record of support for Israel is not unique among Republican members of Congress.
Ranking Intelligence Committee member Rep. Ray Lahood (R-Ill.) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) also have histories of voting against resolutions supporting Israel.
Rep. [Dana] Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) told a reporter in the Orange County Register that he believed that [Yasser] Arafat and [Ariel] Sharon were "cut from the same cloth."
Heather J. Rothman
Democrats for Israel Los Angeles
I've been a single woman in Los Angeles for more than 20 years, and I've read The Jewish Journal all that time, and I am so amazed that the Singles Column never changes -- pick any month.
There is constant lamentation about the poor quality of men available and the bizarre experiences the "great" women find. I don't doubt this, as I have experienced the same. Yet somehow, isn't it time to stop focusing on all the "bad" and start focusing on the "good" -- and maybe that means dump the Singles column.
If the experiences are so bad for all these years, why continue to propagate them by talking about it?
It's 2007, and I came here in 1985, and the story remains the same. Doesn't that say something about the L.A. singles scene -- like, there isn't one worth exploring?
Maybe your columnists should explore communities where there is a singles scene and advise folks to get out of here and give another place a chance, instead of belaboring the fact that Los Angeles just isn't the right place for Jewish singles -- of any age -- to meet. I know, I tried, I stopped.
And now, I'm quite content on my own.
Think about it.
name withheld by request
Professor Raphael Sonnenshein's piece on the GOP candidates was very interesting and underscores the failure of the Republican Party to attract Jewish voters ("How Will GOP Fare With Jewish Voters in '08?" May 11). A paltry 11 percent of Jews voted Republican in 2006 both because the Republican Party failed to adequately address Jewish domestic concerns and because of their failure to match their rhetoric on Israel to any action.
Merely saying the right things and ignoring Israel and other issues of concern to the Jewish community are and were not enough to earn Jewish support.
Notwithstanding the fact that the Republican Congress cut military aid to Israel twice since 2001, never before has a U.S. president been so disengaged from the Middle East and Israel. The complete lack of diplomatic outreach to Israel has been most noticeable, and combined with the quagmire in Iraq caused by Bush's complete lack of planning, has made Israel less safe by turning Iraq into a haven for Al Qaeda and strengthening Iran. This may be why 77 percent of Jews oppose the Iraq War.
Sonnenshein's piece also left out the positions and statements of several other GOP presidential candidates that would support his argument that the GOP is under the control of those who advocate authoritarian ideas and narrow social beliefs, which are insensitive to Jewish values. Here are some examples:
The problem with [Arizona Sen. John McCain, [Rudy] Giuliani and [former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt] Romney is that we are never clear whether they support a conservative social agenda or not. One day they say they are for something and then they back off. Further, Romney and Giuliani say the right things with regard to Israel, but they have no record on which we can really judge them with regard to Israel or for that matter any other issue of concern regarding federal policy.
By contrast, all the Democratic candidates for president, except Kucinich (who is not a credible candidate, having raised less than $1 million), have strong records supporting Israel and their domestic social agenda is far more in line with the U.S. Jewish community, supporting (amongst others) the environment, stem cell research and stronger action in Darfur.
The May 4 Jewish Journal contained a piece by Tom Tugend about the L.A. Times quashing an article concerning the Armenian Genocide written by a journalist of Armenian descent ("'Genocide' Reporting Rankles Newsroom at Times," May 4).
The issue, according to Tugend, was "whether a journalist can write an objective story on an emotional topic affecting his own ethnic group." "In other words," Tugend continued, "can a Jewish reporter write a balanced article on Holocaust denial or a black reporter on racial discrimination?"
I find this statement shocking. Does this mean that David Irving, the infamous Holocaust denier, should have an equal footing or a forum in a "balanced" article? There is no debate; there is no issue about which balance is needed.
By the same reasoning, how can a white reporter write a balanced article on racial discrimination? How can a gay reporter write about homosexuality? How can a woman reporter write about sexual harassment? How can a Jewish reporter at The Jewish Journal write about anything Jewish? How can anyone write a balanced article about anything?
Tugend assumes that a reporter is naturally biased toward the group to which he or she belongs. Noting, with only a few exceptions, the failures of journalism over the last few years, maybe it's time for less objectivity and more emotion.
William L. Fischel
THE JEWISH JOURNAL welcomes letters from all readers. Letters should be no more than 200 words and must include a valid name, address and phone number. Letters sent via e-mail must not contain attachments. Pseudonyms and initials will not be used, but names will be withheld on request. We reserve the right to edit all letters. Mail: The Jewish Journal, Letters, 3580 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1510, Los Angeles, CA 90010; e-mail: email@example.com; or fax: (213) 368-1684.