August 4, 2005
Birds and Bees
Three cheers for the gutsy parent who spoke up about the sexual ethics program at Alonim. ("Beyond the Birds and the Bees," July 17). I was a CIT at Alonim 45 years ago during the "golden days," when founding pioneer Dr. Shlomo Bardin was running the camp.
We had sessions on sexual ethics. However, Bardin would never trust a "facilitator" with such a subject. This task was entrusted to no less a person than Rabbi Jacob Pressman. Pressman gave us solid Jewish values to carry with us for the rest of our lives. He also accomplished this without squandering $20,000 of the Jewish community's money.
Rabbi Louis J. Feldman
Rob Eshman does not refute that the 25 Jews, or for that matter the remaining 75 non-Jews, do not "screw up America." ("Goldberg's List," July 29). The reason he does not do this is because he can't.
Though a few of the book's entries I do not agree with, I do agree with the book's general thesis that there is a media-education-legal elite which is doing significant damage to this country.
Instead of trying to morally equivocate Bernard Goldberg to various hate groups, Eshman would do his readers a big service and evaluate a much more important question: Why is it that when liberals (Jewish or otherwise) try to tear down America, they get upset when there are consequences and strong reactions to their behavior?
If the directors of news at the major networks (except, of course, Fox) are on the list of people screwing up America, how long will it take for a politician bent on "saving America" to push the FCC to require that the network news divisions take steps to become more "fair and balanced" like Fox.
And, if The New York Times columns critical of the Bush administration are no longer honest critiques of policy by a Princeton professor, but rather the product of one of the 100 people screwing up America, what right-minded reader that cares about America won't support a campaign for their local paper to stop carrying Paul Krugman's columns?
I've heard Bernard Goldberg on television stress that words have consequences. How true. That's why a book like his on the top of the best-seller list is so dangerous.
For Bernard Goldberg's response to Rob Eshman's editorial, see Opinion
For a long time I withheld reading The Journal, but recently started again only to find out that nothing has changed. The front page story, "Meet Dov," a story of depravity and Chilul Hashem, had no place in The Journal and especially featured as it was ("Unfashionable Crisis," July 29). Isn't there any "Jewish" news that the editors can feature which would make our people proud rather than ashamed?
The Israel Vote
Idan Ivri's article on Israelis living abroad was right on point ("Political Journal," July 29). I recently returned from Israel and met with members of the Knesset (Dr. Yuval Steinitz, Gideon Sa'ar and Gilad Erdan) who all agreed it was time for Israelis living abroad to have the right to vote in Israel.
The next generation of Israeli politicians does not hold in contempt Israelis living abroad as did previous generations. Today, Israeli leadership is well aware of the vibrant Israeli Jewish community in Los Angeles who regularly watch Israeli television, read Israeli newspapers, quietly financially support the State of Israel and do business with Israeli businesses.
Once Israelis living abroad are given the right to vote in Israel, the Israeli Jewish community living in Los Angeles will most assuredly become a leading Jewish community.
As was confirmed to me over and over again, those who grew up in Israel, served in the Israeli military, lost friends and loved ones who defended the State of Israel and who have a vast network of family and friends living in Israel know more than any other Diaspora Jewish community what is in Israel's best interest.
Those of us who grew up outside of Israel would be well served by a politically active, vocal Israeli Jewish community living among us.
Myles L. Berman
As a federation that has been a supporter of the Kol D'or think tank for young Jews, I think that the Rachel Pomerance article misses a crucial point ("Can Jewish Groups Get Back on Track?" July 22).
The annual UJC General Assembly serves a very different purpose than the other initiatives. Just by virtue of the number of registrants, in the thousands, it changes the focus of the GA conference to a more grass-roots, broad-based opportunity to exchange ideas and best practices within the Jewish world.
The Jewish People Planning Institute, Kol D'or and the Israel President Moshe Katsav meetings are structured to engage elite leaders in a small group setting, allowing for serious engagement on strategic issues for the Jewish people. This is not the focus of the General Assembly, which is more tactical in its thrust.
The General Assembly will take place in Los Angeles in November 2006. Anyone interested should contact The Federation with ideas on how to make it a more effective event for a meaningful exchange on issues core to Jewish life.
John R. Fishel
From the List
The Jewish Journal criticizes the Bernie Goldberg book for naming many Jews whom Goldberg believes are hurting the country -- the critique is that extreme right-wing Web sites will use Goldberg's arguments to tar Jews ("Goldberg's List," July 29). Yet, mainstream leftists tar Jews and Israel all the time to the general public, glorifying Rachel Corrie (a member of an organization supportive of Palestinian terror against Jews) and compare the Israeli separation wall to the East German death walls.
So which is worse: lending aid and comfort to fringe obscure Web sites, or lending aid and comfort to anti-Jews and anti-Israelis in the general media?
Once again, Jews achieve -- however dubiously -- far exceeding their proportion of the general population. Hooray for us! Notwithstanding Rob Eshman's condescending commentary regarding Bernard Goldberg, I can understand how some of the listed folks could belong on this list within their respective fields.
Rob Eshman's July 29 editorial attack on Bernard Goldberg's recent book included an accusation that publishing his list of dangerous individuals could lead to an outbreak of anti-Semitism.
Eshman identified 25 percent of those on his list as Jewish. One whom he particularly seems to admire is "radio pioneer" (his words) Howard Stern. Sadly, several weeks ago, you also featured an article by one of your editors, Howard Blume, which, as several of your readers noted in letters to the editor, provided ammunition to those hostile to Israel and made little effort to offer a balanced account.
By the way, is this the same Howard Blume who appears as a commentator on KPFK, a fiercely anti-Israel station that has in the past had (and maybe still has) a weekly Middle East program that consists largely of Israel bashing? (With friends like The Jewish Journal....)
Rabbi Steven Leder departs from a whole history of Jewish thought and seeks to turn his personal political convictions into religious dogma ("The Way of Madness," July 22).
To argue that Pinchas was awarded the priesthood so that he would calm down is opposed to the whole history of Jewish discussion of the subject, as well as God's explicit approval of Pinchas' action: "He skewered the two of them, the Israelite man and the woman, in her belly, and the plague ceased from upon the Israelites.... God spoke to Moses, saying: 'Pinchas son of Eleazar son of Aaron the priest removed My wrath from the Israelites when he avenged My vengeance among them, so that I did not annihilate the Israelites in my vengeance.'"
Additionally, Leder's assumption that those who support continued Jewish life in Gaza, Judea and Samaria value settlement of the land more than life is highly offensive. There is, and has been, a debate about whether giving the Palestinian Arabs more land will cause an increase or a decrease in loss of life.
Those who oppose the plan note that most Palestinian Arabs view disengagement as an Israeli defeat, that Hamas is poised to seize power and that Israel's borders before the Arabs provoked the 1967 War -- the very borders to which some would now return without even a paper treaty -- were indefensible.
Nobody seeks to minimize the value of life; indeed, opponents of Ariel Sharon's plan fear the violence that would be provoked by the perception of a victory for terrorism. I would like to see an apology from Leder for his dreadful accusation.
David B. Greenberg
Steven Leder's comparison of Pinchas' zealotry to the assassination of former Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin is imprudent. Since God rewards Pinchas with a "covenant of peace" and identifies him with his famously peaceful grandfather, Aaron, it is clear from the context that his action was justified. (Numbers 25:11-12)
Worse, Leder's suggestion that in light of the plan to expel Jews from Gaza, "we all wait and wonder whether" a Pinchas will "live again" (i.e. a religious Jew will murder another Jew) is a slap in the face to the entire Orthodox community, which condemned the murder of Yitzchak Rabin.
In addition, huge numbers of Jewish Israeli members of the nationalist Zionist camp oppose the transfer of 9,000 Jews in Gaza and northern Samaria from their homes, synagogues, schools and businesses, yet have illustrated in dozens of demonstrations that they are committed to expressing themselves peacefully. Leder should be ashamed of himself for comparing a biblical leader of the Jewish people to a murderer who was ostracized by the entire Jewish community.
It is ironic that in a piece about the Torah portion, Leder so offensively slanders those who differ from him religiously or politically as not valuing human life.
It's a shame that Joseph Aaron is more upset by the ugly rhetoric on Gaza than he is by the ugly action threatened by the government, encouraging the enemy by "ethnically cleansing" the area of Jews ("There's No Place for Ugly Words on Gaza," July 28).
This does not represent one of "those unifying values" of our people, and it is the action, not the words, which is "endangering the Jewish people".
This is not comparable to exercising eminent domain to use land for a public purpose. A truer comparison would be removal of all Americans from California because Iran or Libya wants the territory.
The nonpolitical role of the army is defiled when it is used against Jews, not our enemies, for enforcement of a policy, not defense.
Joseph Aaron is entitled to his opinion. But he is not entitled to engage in calumnies against groups of Jews he disagrees with.
The expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif and other areas of Gaza is to be done forcibly. Jews are to be expelled from Gaza and later, most of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and never to return.
This is not an "eminent domain" or a "land-use" issue. The fact that Ariel Sharon managed to pass this "lawful" expulsion order through the Knesset still marks this as the first deportation of Jews from a part of the Land of Israel since the establishment of the State of Israel.
Gaza, by Jewish law (halacha), is part of the Land of Israel. The Sinai peninsula was not considered part of the Land of Israel. The fact that most North Americans and Israelis of Jewish ancestry are secular simply points out that Jewish law is meaningless to them.
Aaron alleges that "senior rabbis" made "halachic references" that it would be a mitzvah to assassinate the prime minister of Israel. Say what? How about some small details like who, what, where and when? And this guy is an editor of a major Jewish newspaper in a major American city?
He ends this outrage with the idea that "two things" have "always" been "unifying forces" for the Jewish people: The "sacred" memory of the Holocaust and "respecting the nonpolitical role of the Israeli army."
Excuse me, sir -- just what held the Jewish people together before 1940?
As a personal observation to the editor: This could simply be a case of the visiting village idiot. Or just when you think the Jewish people have hit bottom, some Jews insist on digging yet deeper.