November 16, 2006
Israeli-Palestinian Confederation; CAIR; Borat; Elections; More JewQ questions
Josef Avesar says of the Israelis and Palestinian Arabs that "each side demands that the other relinquish crucial aspects of its identity," and that therefore, some form of confederation would be a "pragmatic" solution to their problems ("Mideast Solution: A Confederation," Nov. 3). Both Avesar's diagnosis and prescription are wrong.
Palestinians aim to eliminate Israel as a Jewish state, not merely to change some aspects of its identity. Israelis only demand that Palestinian Arabs relinquish this aim, not their identity.
Avesar envisages Israel and the Palestinian Authority in time relinquishing their power to what "will become the de facto authority to establish rules to settle issues, solve problems." There is a simple term for this -- binationalism, something which would see Israel gradually dismantled and Jews turned into a minority in a greater Palestinian state.
Avesar's confederation scheme is therefore simply a program for foisting a creeping binational scheme on Israel.
Morton A. Klein
Zionist Organization of America
It is curious how Hussam Ayloush, the executive director of the Southern California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), defines the terms "extremist" and anti-Semitic (Letters, Nov. 10).
He claims his organization merely "denounce[s] human rights violations committed by Israel." But in fact, Ayloush himself is known to use the term "Zionazi" to refer to Israelis and compare Zionism to Nazism, once writing in an e-mail, "Indeed, the Zionazis are a bunch of nice people; just like their Nazi brethren! It is just that the world keeps making up lies about them! It is so unfair." Ayloush cavalierly accuses me of engaging in "guilt by association" but avoids comment on CAIR's involvement in the promotion of anti-Semitism.
He does not dispute the virulently anti-Semitic language used by Wagdy Ghoneim at a CAIR-sponsored event, in which he led the audience in a song with the lyrics, "No to the Jews, descendants of the apes."
Additionally, CAIR has invited neo-Nazi William Baker to speak at various conferences, whose presence at such events Ayloush has defended. How dare people infer anti-Semitism and extremism from such incidents.
As for Ayloush's claim that CAIR "defend(s) the civil rights of unpopular individuals," such defenses typically involve attacking any terrorism investigation or asset forfeiture as, for example, an "'anti-Muslim witchhunt' promoted by the pro-Israel lobby in America." (One should note that the individuals involved in that company have been convicted of providing material support to Hamas and violating sanctions imposed on state sponsors of terrorism, receiving sentences up to seven years in prison).
Of course, Ayloush himself responds to any criticism of his organization in the typical fashion employed by all CAIR officials: smearing anyone who reports on uncomfortable and disquieting facts by labeling them an "Islamophobe" or "anti-Muslim." Ayloush's own record of engaging in and tolerating anti-Semitic viewpoints speaks for itself.
Investigative Project on Terrorism
Ed. Note: Hussam Ayloush's previous response is online at www.jewishjournal.com/forum, where the two men are invited to continue their exchange.
I believe that your article on the Modern Orthodox/Charedi split underplays the differences on the ground between the two communities ("Two Neighborhoods Reveal Orthodox Community's Fault Lines," Nov. 10). By interviewing only moderate rabbis (Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein is the local Charedi apologist, far to the left of his colleagues) and few congregants, one gets an overly rosy picture. I believe more animosity and derision of the other exists.
Modern institutions will find more like-minded teachers and clergy will not respond to Charedi book-bannings, and Charedim will have to look elsewhere to fund their causes.
Name withheld by request
Steven Rosen's review of "Borat" was right on target in regard to the satirical elements of the anti-Semitism depicted in the movie. However, Rosen failed to comment on the fact that when Borat spoke to his cohort/producer, Bagatov, he did so in Hebrew. My husband and I thought this added to the satire in that a "flagrant anti-Semite" would never even know lashon Hakodesh. Kudos to Sacha Baron Cohen!
Nancy Cooper Federman
A better approach than making a car that gets 100 miles per gallon is to develop one that rarely uses gasoline ("Size Matters," Nov. 10). A plug-in hybrid would do most driving based on battery power from being plugged into an outlet and switch to gasoline when the batteries are depleted.
I've read about alternate approaches for storing energy in a car. These include using flywheels or compressed air. The "Tel Aviv Project" that you propose does not have to limit itself to improving gas mileage or batteries.
Loss of Interest
Rob Eshman's editorial caused me to stop and think. He poses the question: Why is the attendance at the General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities so low ("Size Matters," Nov. 10). Why only 3,000? Why not 25,000? After all, Los Angeles has the second-largest Jewish population in the United States.
I can offer an explanation for the apparent lack of interest among our Jewish community. Certainly I speak only for myself, but I believe what I say would apply to many others like me.
Until several years ago, I was very interested in the Jewish community, but then I experienced the workings of The Jewish Federation, with its abandonment of the Jewish Community Centers and self-aggrandizement, and the workings of the Greater L.A. [Federation] administration. Then I realized that our leaders are more inclined to cushion their own portfolios, rather than the good of the Jewish community, and too many leaders suffer from exaggerated egos.
So today, instead of donating to the Los Angeles Jewish Federation, I have found more worthy causes, where more of my contribution goes to the charity and not to the leaders. Very likely, my perception has rubbed off on others with whom I relate. And perhaps many other have the same opinion.
P.S. I enjoyed reading about Theodore Von Karman ("Jewry's Role in Human Advancement," advertisement). What few people know about him is that he played a key role in the development of the armor systems helping to save lives in Iraq and elsewhere. In 1956, as the program manager at Aerojet General Corp. for an Army program to develop advanced personnel armor concepts, I was fortunate to have Dr. Von Karman as a consultant for my program. His analysis showed the properties desirable in an improved system for protecting humans from high-speed projectiles. Then, we prepared samples and, with the aid of the Picatinny Arsenal where we ran the rifle-firing projectile tests, we evaluated and proved the validity his analysis.
Today all armor systems are based on this technology. Personally, I was honored to be in his presence. Truly a great, unassuming and humble man -- well deserving of every honor bestowed upon him!
With all due respect to the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), I have some serious doubts about the accuracy of its self-funded "poll," claiming that 35 percent of Jews who saw its misleading ads were swayed to vote Republican. The RJC ran these ads in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania.
According to CNN exit polls, 87 percent of U.S. Jews voted for their Democratic candidate for Congress; 74 percent of U.S. Jews voted for Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez; 78 percent of U.S. Jews voted for Sherrod Brown for Senate in Ohio and Bob Casey for Senate in Pennsylvania; 86 percent of U.S. Jews voted for Hillary Clinton in New York and Bill Nelson in Florida. If the RJC's claims are true, these numbers would be much lower.
In fact, it seems that the American Jewish community spoke clearly and agreed that the Republican Party was not the party to protect their interests. Six of the 28-33 new Democratic members of the House of Representatives will be Jewish, including U.S. representatives from Arizona, Kentucky and New Hampshire. Of the 30 Jewish members of House of Representatives, only one is a Republican.
In a Democratic Congress, we will have a Congress with long-time friends of the Jewish community in high places. Rep. Tom Lantos (D-San Mateo) will chair the International Relations Committee and Rep. Howard Berman (D-Van Nuys) will be the second-ranking member of that committee. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) will chair the House Subcommittee on International Terrorism and Nonproliferation and Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) will chair the subcommittee on Middle East.
Rep. Nita Lowy (D-N.Y.) will chair the International Operations Appropriations Subcommittee and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles) will chair the influential Government Reform Committee. There is also a possibility that Rep. Jane Harman (D- Venice) will chair the Select Committee on Intelligence.
The CNN exit poll makes clear that the American Jewish community voted with their feet and rejected Republican policies that were inconsistent with our beliefs and values. Israel and America will both be better off for it.
Democrats for Israel Los Angeles
Do not be fooled by the convoluted double-talk of Hussam Ayloush (Letters, Nov. 10). He is a prime example of the current anti-Zionism-anti-Semitism that tries to mask itself as freedom and justice for Palestinians.
I heard him speak recently, and he referred to the Palestinians as being in concentration camps. He and his ilk represent a most insidious form of Jew-hatred. Steve Emerson, on the other hand, is a hero who brings the truth to light. The Jewish community needs to be clear on who really expresses the truth, and it is not CAIR.
More Questions for Dumb Jews
Question: What is the name of the Israeli national anthem in Hebrew, and what does it mean in English?
Answer: "Hatikvah." It means "the hope."
Q: Why are there three patriarchs and four matriarchs?
A: Because Jacob married both Leah and Rachel.
Q: Who sent Joseph to prison in Egypt?
A: Potiphar's wife.
Q: Who was Joseph's favorite brother and why?
A: Benjamin, because he was Rachel's other son.
Q: Who is known as "HaTzadik"? (a) Moses, (b) Aaron, (c) Joseph, (d) David.
Q: In what year was Israel established as a sovereign nation by the United Nations?
Q: True or false -- Arab nations chose to attack Israel on it's holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur, in l973.
Q: In what year did the Six-Day War occur?
Q: True or false -- An Israeli prime minister was assassinated by a fanatic Jew.
Q: True or false -- Orthodox Jewish men say a prayer daily thanking God that they are not women.
Q: Observant Jewish women are excused from what kinds of ritual observances?
A: All time-bound commitments.
Q: True or false -- One of the 13 principles of faith includes daily waiting for the arrival of the messianic age
Q: Name three things you purportedly will be asked as soon as you arrive in the next world:
A: Were you honest in business, did you set aside time to study Torah, did you create to the best of your ability a Jewish family (legacy)?
Q: What is the Chofetz Chaim known for, and how do we refer to it regularly?
A: He is known for the lessons on how to guard your tongue -- not speak gossip -- and we refer to it in our day-to-day lives as lashon hara.
Rabbi John Rosove of Temple Israel in Hollywood has written that he was "mortified" at Israel's use of the cluster bomb (Letters, Nov. 3). It's OK for them to use it against us but not for us to retaliate with? It's a war, rabbi -- a real war.
I urge you, if you are so "mortified" by the Israelis use of weapons of any sort against those people who have vowed to eradicate Israel from the face of the earth, to please go live there. Take your family, your beloved wife, your adored children and go. Come back in a year or however long you could endure the situation of being under attack every day of your life and write those words again, if you could.
The Jewish Journal published Josef Avesar, who writes about his plan for a confederation of Palestinian and Israeli entities, while insisting it's not a one-state solution ("Mideast Solution: A Confederation," Nov. 3).
I'm not writing to counter his arguments, although I find them ridiculous. I'm writing to alert the editors of The Jewish Journal and the readers of this piece that at the end there was mentioned a symposium on this subject that was held earlier this month. One of the speakers was professor Norman Finkelstein of DePaul University. This professor is a known Holocaust denier who has spoken highly of David Irving.
One Web site described him as "the most openly anti-Semitic Jew on the planet. DePaul employs Finkelstein as assistant professor in political science, this after Finkelstein got fired from two New York-area adjunct teaching jobs (at NYU and Hunter College) because of his pseudo-scholarship and fraudulent rantings against Jews and Israel.
Finkelstein is a disciple of Holocaust denier David Irving and claims Irving is an authoritative historian. Finkelstein refers to the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis as the "Six Million" in quotation marks and says that nearly every Holocaust survivor is a fraud and a thief and a liar. (Finkelstein's own parents are Holocaust survivors, and Finkelstein has long tried to capitalize on this as a way to legitimize his own anti-Semitism.) The psychiatry department at DePaul might have interesting things to say about this.
Finkelstein routinely libels Holocaust survivor, philosopher and writer Elie Wiesel in scurrilous terms. Finkelstein is the star on every Holocaust denial neo-Nazi Web site on earth, serving as the "Jew who proved there was never any Holocaust."
He has been denounced as a fraud and anti-Semite by Alan Dershowitz, historian Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Dennis Prager, professor Omer Bartov, the World Jewish Congress and just about everyone else on earth, gentile or Jew. The New York Times compared Finkelstein's book to the old czarist forgery, "Protocols of the Elders of Zion."
Clearly, the fact that this Holocaust denier spoke at a symposium on this subject clarifies the goals of this "confederation." But what concerns me greatly is that The Jewish Journal chose to publish this editorial tainted by association with Norman Finkelstein, and that The Journal also advertised this symposium and even linked to it.
Don't you have enough submissions from an array of political perspectives without association with anti-Semitic professors who espouse Holocaust denial? You have certainly moved one step closer to the cancellation of my subscription, as well.
You are certainly entitled to the anti-Iraq War position you maintain. Yet the cartoon (Nov. 3) noting "More U.S. Deaths in Iraq Than in the 9/11 W.T.C. Attack" makes a truly absurd comparison, requiring a consummate ignorance of history.
Using that logic, one can only reach the truly ridiculous conclusion that as soon as British military deaths in Europe equaled the loss of life within England during the Blitz of World War II, Britain should have brought home its troops. Or the U.S. should simply have ceased fighting Japan as soon as American military deaths in the Pacific equaled the death toll at Pearl Harbor. Or, had those neo-con Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto not have had the audacity of that uprising (1943), all would have been OK.
In the Al Qaeda screed of Sept. 30, Ayman al-Zawahiri called on the pope and all Christians to convert to Islam. If we cease to fight, will Islamists end their goal of world dominion?
The common -- and wrong -- analysis of the argument in the editorial cartoon is that if you stop fighting a totalitarian enemy who has sworn to destroy you, that your enemy will therefore cease its efforts.
Thomas Jefferson astutely noted that democracy can survive only with educated, well-informed citizens. Otherwise, propaganda and misstatements of fact will be accepted.
A newspaper can be a source of education or a vehicle to disseminate diatribe and assure ignorance. Your approach certainly, and sadly, affirms Jefferson's analysis.
M.J. Rosenberg dismisses Israeli Nobel laureate Robert Aumann's timely description of Israel being too easily fatigued in its fight for survival as being an "upside-down Zionist vision" ("Israelis, Palestinians Deserve U.S./Euro Push for Peace," Oct. 27), but this is simply a case of shooting the messenger.
Rather, it is Rosenberg who is giving his readers an upside-down vision by continuing to suggest that there is a genuinely moderate Palestinian leadership with whom Israel should be urged by Washington to pursue negotiations.
The Palestinian Authority's Mahmoud Abbas, who pretends before Western audiences that he recognizes Israel, said in a recent Arabic television interview that neither Fatah nor Hamas need to recognize Israel (Al-Arabiya [Dubai] and PA TV, Oct. 3, translation courtesy of Palestinian Media Watch).
Abbas consistently fails to denounce the acts of Palestinian terrorists, but this month he condemned as a "heinous massacre" the killing by Israel of seven Palestinian terrorists belonging to the Popular Resistance Committees terrorist group -- just the sort of people he is obliged by the Oslo agreements and the 2003 "roadmap" peace plan to arrest and jail but hasn't.
But then, he is not likely to arrest terrorists he has hailed as "heroes fighting for freedom" (The Age [Melbourne], Jan. 3, 2005). Nor has he ended the incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps which feed terrorism. It is time Rosenberg explains to his readers why a Palestinian leadership with this record is one with whom Israel should conduct negotiations and make concessions.
Morton A. Klein
Zionist Organization of America
Jewish World Watch
Rabbi Harold Schulweis wrote eloquently about Jewish responsibility to alleviate suffering ("Loyalty to Jews or to Humanity? There Is No 'Either-Or,'" Oct. 27) We hope and pray that Jewish World Watch will put the same energy into helping the precious Jews of Gush Katif return to their Torah communities and organic farms which were a blessing to Israel and the whole world.
Schulweis quoted a beautiful statement by Rav Kook, who would certainly support the preservation of Yehuda, Shomron and 'Azza ("YESHA"), the biblical lands commonly called the "West Bank." As a Jew who lost family in Treblinka, it didn't feel right to read that place cited, knowing that Jewish World Watch doesn't appear to be addressing the concerns of Jews who work to preserve our sacred lands.
Hopefully, the organization will see the connection between, say, American Indian sacred ground and the importance of YESHA to the people of Israel. It'd be great to see the Jewish world, specifically Israel, more included in Jewish World Watch.
Clarification: As stated in "Feathers Fly" (Sept. 29), the chicken roaming Pico-Robertson before Yom Kippur was neither the property nor the responsibility of Pico Kosher Deli or any mashgiach of Pico Kosher Deli.
Correction: An article in the Nov. 3 issue misnamed the Hollyhock House by Frank Lloyd Wright, which reopened in June 2005 in Barnsdall Park in Hollywood. The article also indicated that the park is being redesigned. It is not. The lawn is scheduled to be replanted with water-conserving plants and grass, according to Fonda L. Portales of the marketing department of the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org; or fax: (213) 368-1684