March 8, 2007
In which our loyal readers take us to task for various and sundry
As the former creative director for Primedia for nearly 10 years and the publisher of Blvd Magazine, I was responsible for dozens of magazines, their content and their covers. In my weekly staff meetings, I never would have turned to any of you losers for cover ideas if the Purim spoof covers was your claim-to-fame (Cover, March 2). I wouldn't have hired any of you.
Take a minute the next time your "'creatives' who make it all possible" come-up with another great idea. Go to the waiting room of one of the Jewish cemeteries or a market outside of Beverly Hills, like Chino Hills where I live, and look to see how your "genius" covers look to the real world. I cringe!
Truth About Peace Now
In his letter, Nathan Wirtschafter is misleading the readers by claiming as fact something that is patently false (Letters, Feb. 23). Readers may be unaware that Peace Now was established by 348 Israel Defense Forces officers and reservists in 1978. They were not pacifists and neither is the movement, which soon grew into the largest grass-roots movement in Israeli history. Peace Now believes strongly in Israel's military deterrent and use of force, when necessary.
Peace Now's goal is to help Israel establish permanent, defensible borders with her neighbors and ultimately negotiated peace agreements that solidify Israel's security and its Jewish and democratic character.
West Coast Regional Director
Americans for Peace Now
Support Our Jewish Troops
Thank you for publishing Jane Ulman's article about Jewish soldiers in World War II who celebrated Purim with a liberated Jewish family in Belgium ("When a Holiday Turned the World Right Side Up," March 2). Demographics notwithstanding, there are Jews who serve on active duty in the United States today. Whatever your politics, it is nice to show them some support.
Last year, generous minyan regulars from Pasadena Jewish Temple & Center, including Rabbi Joshua Levine-Grater and Rabbi Emeritus Gilbert Kollin, shipped greeting cards, kosher salami and tefillin to our appreciative Jewish troops. If your readers would like to provide our Jewish soldiers, sailors and Marines with kosher food this Passover, please consider a donation to the JWB Jewish Chaplains Council 520 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10018 (www.jcca.org/jwb).
Anita Susan Brenner
Sorry, I Don't See Any Eggshells
I am writing to respond to the closing quote in Tom Tugend's article on the firing of Craig Prizant ("Federation Might Face Suit Over Fundraiser's Firing," March 2). I'm responding because this quote refers to me, as I am a 12-year member of the campaign staff at The Jewish Federation. In my view, the quote makes very incorrect assumptions about the mood in our department.
At this time, I find an incredible "esprit de corps" and lots of hard work happening on the campaign floors. Contrary to the anonymous board member who was quoted in the article, I have not heard anyone speak of fear of losing their job. It seems to me that staff has been invited to speak out and share their opinions more than ever before. It seems to me that morale is high during this busy time of year for us.
Our mission of tikkun olam continues moving forward with a group of amazing, passionate fundraisers and our entire staff doing an incredible job. There are great things happening here at The Jewish Federation.
With all apologizes to the anonymous board member you quote, I haven't seen any eggshells scattered around anywhere.
I am a Jewish Persian woman who has lived in Los Angeles for the past 30 years ("A Guide to Jewish Tehrangeles," Feb. 23). I was glad to see you reporting on Persian Jewish Communities in Los Angeles and showing all people we are educated people who contribute and enjoy living in the United States.
I just had issues with your article written by Sara Bakhshian, under the heading "Handy Guide to Jewish Tehrangeles," because I thought it was extremely misleading and wrong.
If this is a Jewish Journal, it should not have included nonkosher restaurants and bakeries and represented them in your magazine. It can be misleading for a lot of other Jewish readers that read your magazine and think if it is listed under this heading they must be kosher. Darya is a nonkosher restaurant, for example.
I have nothing against a nonkosher establishment. I just though it was wrong to put any food or eatery that does not observe Jewish laws in your list.
Dear Mr. Suissa
I have heard eulogies by clergy who did not know the deceased, or barely knew the deceased as a congregant, and here David Suissa, a person who did not know Laura, and was not required to eulogize her, wrote a most moving eulogy ("Death in the Hood," Feb. 23).
I am Laura's father. Laura's mother and I thank you for a most moving tribute, which we, Laura's extended family and her friends, will treasure.
Yours was a tribute not only to the person, but also to the religious, ethical and moral values by which she and her husband Steve attempted to conduct their lives.
Laura and her brother, Gunnar, followed my trade and became divorce lawyers. Of course, my pride is not only in their professional accomplishments, but also in the ethical values they brought to their practices.
To the Aish community, Laura is being remembered, as is appropriate, by her contributions to that community. What helps us in the healing process is that we have no regrets about anything Laura did. We have only pride for her contributions to her family, her community and her profession.
I will be looking for other writings by you on-line. You write exceedingly well. Joseph Gitlin
Like all other Jewish or pro Israel organizations, StandWithUs is working hard to counteract the on going charges against Jews and Israel (Letters, March 2). How good the job they do time will tell.
The definition of Zionism is: "A movement founded by the Viennese Jewish journalist Theodor Herzl, who, in his 1896 book "Der Judenstaat" (The Jewish State) argued that the best way of avoiding anti-Semitism in Europe was to create an independent Jewish state in Palestine, biblically known as Zion-Tzyion. Zionism was named after Mount Zion in Jerusalem, a symbol of the Jewish homeland in Palestine since the Babylonian captivity in the sixth century BCE. The movement culminated in the birth of the State of Israel in 1948. I will go farther and simply define Zionism as the return of the, forever persecuted and discriminated, Jews to their home of over 3,000 years.
I really do not know if one has to justify Zionism. Do Americans justify America, which, to begin with, was never theirs? Does any European country justify its borders that changed and moved again and again as one European nation conquered the other?
Archeological and ancient or more recent books are enough evidence to attach Jews to Israel or the Land of Israel, as we know today and beyond, to Jews. Enough evidence to make the claim that Israel was and is the cradle of Judaism. The land of Israel is not a matter of importance to whom? It is the home Jews were thrown out of and exiled around 2,000 years ago.
So I see no compelling argument when the word Zionists is used. I do however see total horrific misunderstanding of the word that is now used in the same breath or connotation with the word Nazism!
If until the 1970s, they -- who ever the 'they' are -- argued that "Zionism is justifiable because the land was far more important to the Jews than to the Arabs because this land was a 'tiny notch' of the Arab greater homeland," those "they" were terribly mistaken. The land of Israel was never Arab land. The Arabs appeared in the area to work for Jews or seek life-improving opportunities.
The tragedy is that since the Jews were exiled, the land of Israel went through the hands of a chain of conquerors and the land was abused and desolated but belonged to no one. The Jews leaft scattered in the Diaspora, prayed east, dreamed of Israel and their Beit Hamikdash -- their Jerusalem and the Temple, but no real initiative, not another Ezra and Nechemyia rose to bring the Jews back home. Until Herzl, Jews were too tired of being beaten, oppressed and humiliated to pack up and come back home.
The truth to be told is that Jews, in small numbers, always lived in Israel; never left their land.
And when the nations of the world legitimized the State of Israel, the book of doubts should have been closed. Israel was reestablished and Jews returned to their home.
The time has come to stand up and educate the public of the truth! The time has come to know that Zionism is simply the return of Jews to their home!
Side note: When defining Palestine one refers to a region of the eastern Mediterranean coast from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan Valley-Jordan River and from the southern Negev desert to the Galilee lake region in the north. The word itself derives from "Plesheth," a name that appears frequently in the Bible and has come into English as "Philistine."
Plesheth, (root palash) was a general term meaning rolling or migratory. This referred to the Philistine's invasion and conquest of the coast from the sea. The Philistines were neither Arabs nor even Semites; they were most closely related to the Greeks originating from Asia Minor and Greek localities. They did not speak Arabic. They had no connection, ethnic, linguistic or historical with Arabia or Arabs.
Clarifying the Facts
I want to clarify that Jeffery Ellis' essential condemnation of my letter critiquing Aryeh Cohen's criticism of the Iraq war is based on misreading my letter and poor logic (Letters, Feb. 23). I did not claim Abu Nidal was the bomb maker of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. I merely referred to the bombaker after a comma following Abu Nidal (not recalling his name).
Ellis' downsizing of Iraq's threat to the world and Israel and its historical brutality is truly breathtaking in its childlike naivete.
Ellis is in dire need of some History courses, and I don't mean Noam Chomsky's.
His name-calling (right-wing crazies, etc.) only cloaks a glaring deficiency in facts and comprehension of the nature of evil that we face today.
Faith-Based Foreign Policy
In his "analysis" of the current Middle East situation in your March 2 edition ("The Perils of Faith-Based Foreign Policy"), James Besser uses the phrase, much beloved by proponents of the "peace process," that "you make peace with your enemies, not your friends."
Historically, this is true only after the enemies have been totally crushed (i.e., Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan), both sides have exhausted themselves (i.e., Russia and Japan in 1905-06), or one side has decided it's not worth continuing the war (i.e., Britain in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, France in the Algerian War, the U.S. in Vietnam, Egypt after the Yom Kippur War, the USSR in Afghanistan after Gorbachev's accession to power) or a genuine change of heart by one or both sides.
As to Israel and its enemies, Jordan and Egypt decided it wasn't worth continuing the fight, but that could change at any moment due to Hosni Mubarak's death or King Abdullah's assassination. As to Syria and the Palestinians, the latter elected a group (Hamas) sworn to Israel's destruction, and the former is the one through which Iran ships thousands of rockets to Hezbollah to fire at Israel. Just which of these enemies do proponents of the "peace process" think Israel has a good chance of making peace with? Chaim Sisman
Zev Chafets says that we should not criticize evangelical Christians for fear that they will stop their "welcomed support", and that "Jews don't know the first thing about evangelical Christians" ("Q"&"A With Author Zev Chafets," March 2).
Is it possible that Israelis have not heard of the "Left Behind" series of books which have sold more than 50 million copies, or the Tom Hess book "Let My People Go!" in its seventh edition?
This evangelical Christian literature clearly encourages Diaspora Jews to live in the Holy Land to hasten the Rapture which will lead to the extinction of Jews and Judaism. Chafets indicates that because he "is not a Christian" their beliefs are meaningless to him.
Is it meaningful to him that mainstream Christians consider the evangelical religious right agenda "radical," and against the separation of church and state? I believe that we should have learned not to dismiss the beliefs of any religious fundamentalists.
Martin J. Weisman
Rabbi vs. Journalist
We read your (Feb. 23) story "UCLA Hillel Rabbi Apologizes, Settles 2003 Case With Journalist."
But it was student David Lazar's (Feb 20) unforgiving editorial in the Daily Bruin about giving Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller "the boot" that compels us to write.
These are times to remember that our prophet, Joseph, forgave his brothers who, in a moment of anger, left him to die.
He helped his needy siblings re-establish their lives when they again met years later in Egypt, where trustworthy Joseph had earned the confidence to keep safe the nation's food supplies.
"Hillel needs a director who has respect and self-control," Lazar insists. Except for that one, extraordinary moment of frustration four years ago, for 10 years we have known Rabbi Seidler-Feller as only mature, spiritual, and totally responsible to shepherd his UCLA Hillel community.
Who of us has not experienced rage in the face of threat to people, principles, or dreams we hold dear?
Has each of us not had to go inside, self-correct, ask for the understanding of others, then carry on as a better human being?
We have spent time with the rabbi before and after his unusual experience We know his regret for his self-forgetting moment, and his deep connection to his faith, students, and Hillel.
As co-founders of the 14-year-old Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue, we have observed and encouraged Seidler-Feller's ground-breaking work to do what most youth advisors cannot or will not -- help bring UCLA's alienated students into conversation and relationship, with a new quality of listening about matters of the Middle East.
We think the greatness of Hillel and the UCLA campus community will reside in their capacity to see Rabbi Seidler-Feller for the excellent human being he is and to move forward together with forgiveness and charity toward one another.
Libby and Len Traubman
'On Second Avenue'
We am sure that we speak for the more than 4,000 people who attended one of the performances of "On Second Avenue" when we say that this production was just outstanding ("Yiddish Curtain Rises," Feb. 16).
We were privileged to see this show in New York and there is no doubt that the Los Angles production was far superior.
Congratulations to Mike Burstyn, the Folksbiene Theater and all those connected with bring this wonderful experience to Los Angeles.
We hope that it returns -- soon!
Faye and Paul Jeser
In "Borat, Meet Eli" (Feb. 23), Arthur Lenk should have been identified as consul for communications and public affairs. Uriel Palti served as deputy consul general.
In the March 2 Tommywood ("Assume Everyone is Jewish"), the author of the book should have been listed as Daniel Shneer.
The Journal regrets the errors.
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