September 22, 2005
Truth About France
I have been reading for quite some time now the articles published in various papers (such as the Russian weekly, Panorama) by Richard Chesnoff about France and Europe.
The recent presentation of his new book about French-American relations in The Jewish Journal confirms once again that Chesnoff unfortunately enjoys using the same clichés that have been used to discredit our longstanding relation with the United States ("Q&A With Richard Z. Chesnoff," Sept 9).
I would like to highlight three points:
1) France and the United States have been friends for more than 230 years. France still is and remains among America's best friends and allies as illustrated today by our exemplary cooperation in intelligence sharing to fight terrorism, by the strength of our economic relations ($1 billion each day, according to a recent study by Congress), by our common involvement in the resolution of important regional crisis (Afghanistan, Lebanon, Haiti, just to name a few recent examples) and by the solidarity shown by the French people and the French government after the Hurricane Katrina disaster;
2) France, home of the third-largest Jewish community in the world, after Israel and the United States, is not an anti-Semitic country. During his visit to Paris last July, Prime Minister Sharon thanked President Chirac "for his staunch fight against anti-Semitism" and expressed "his full and entire faith in the strengthening of the deep friendship between Israel and France." France is indeed firmly committed to eradicate all forms of anti-Semitism and racism, wherever they arise, beginning on its own soil. This fight translates into repression and education. Israeli authorities as well as all major American Jewish organizations have praised our strong resolve. Locally, this consulate has developed very constructive relations with the Jewish community and its leaders;
3) And last, France does not intend to be a counterbalance to the United States. President Bush during his trip to Europe in February expressed his support for a strong European Union because such a strong partner is not only in the interest of Europe itself but also in the American interest. Along with the United States, France aims at solving the pressing issues of this world that no country can face alone. For this reason, it is an active and responsible member of the United Nations, of NATO and of the G8.
L.A.'s Katrina Help
Thank you for Marc Ballon's article on the communal response to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina ("Groups Pitch In With Housing, Tuition," Sept. 16). The most impressive feature of the collection program referenced by Ballon is the fact that it transcends boundaries of synagogues, movements, agencies and institutions. The project, known as Jacobs' Ladder, is a collaborative effort initiated by the Union for Reform Judaism and its Camp Henry S. Jacobs in Utica, Miss., with local endorsement and assistance from the Board of Rabbis, The Jewish Federation and area congregations. We are especially appreciative of the leadership of Rabbi Dan Moskovitz of Temple Judea and Rabbi Ken Chasen of Leo Baeck Temple, who have opened their synagogues as central collection sites for this relief effort.
Rabbi Mark S. Diamond
Evacuees All Around
How sad to see the images on TV of the havoc wrought by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast leaving hundreds of thousands of displaced persons. People being forced to leave their homes losing all their possessions ("Going in After Katrina," Sept 16). People having to relocate in distant cities, communities broken up, livelihoods gone, synagogues and churches destroyed, friends and relatives scattered -- 9,000 of our fellow Jews amongst them -- all homeless refugees. How our hearts go out to these poor souls.
Our Jewish federations immediately responded by calling emergency meetings to organize much needed relief programs for all the victims of the New Orleans disaster.
How good it is to see that the refugees of an American tragedy draw such an outpouring of concern and action from our Jewish "leadership" -- but how sad it is that another 9,000 refugees, our Jewish brothers and sisters from Gush Katif and the Northern Shomron, draw only a deafening silence. No matter where one stood on the disengagement issue -- note that the current state of the New Orleans refugees is the same as that of the Israeli refugees. They are all homeless. Our fellow Jews in Israel desperately need our help, too.
In my column last week on Rav Ovadiah Yosef, The Journal dropped his honorific "Rav" and he was referred to merely as "Ovadiah," which is a discourtesy I would never commit ("We Must Condemn Heartless Bilge," Sept. 16). Please let your readers know that in the original article I referred to him throughout as "Rav Ovadiah."
Rabbi David Wolpe
Ed Note: The Journal regrets the error. A correct version is online at www.jewishjournal.com/archive.
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