September 14, 2006
Letters to the Editor
I do not know if I can communicate how deeply offended I was by the Republican Jewish Coalition's (RJC) Neville Chamberlain ad on page 6 of the Sept. 8 Jewish Journal. Besides the complete lack of intellectual honesty, the appalling lack of logical reasoning fails beyond the pale to measure up to the traditions of Judaism specifically and humanity in general:
Rather than deal with the threat that Al Qaeda actually presents to our national security, President Bush has chosen to waste hundreds of billions of dollars on a personal vendetta in Iraq washed in five years of the blood of the Iraqi people and citizenry of our great nation.
Rather than communicating with a government seeking to open communication between the United States, President Bush consciously closed all potential paths of dialogue and continuously vilified and threatened a sovereign nation in a tinhorn cowboy attempt to force Iran into a diplomatic mistake of nuclear proportions.
Rather than assist Israel to defend itself against continuing malicious attacks from Hezbollah or Hamas, Bush specifically chose to do absolutely nothing for five years, and more importantly, two weeks of Israel's invasion into Lebanon, then sent the single most ineffectual secretary of state within the last century to negotiate a failed cease-fire proposal.
If The Journal is so strapped for cash, it would be a far better use of its ad space to place a plea for donations and financial support from its readership, rather than compromising all dignity and integrity by running further tripe from the RJC.
Shame on the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) for running two ads which desperately tried to denigrate the Democratic Party.
First, shame on the RJC for taking an issue of great bipartisan agreement -- support for a strong U.S.- Israel relationship -- and turning it into a wedge issue for tawdry partisan political advantage. Any objective observer of U.S. politics has to agree that both of our major political parties are remarkably supportive of Israel. This fact is crucial in maintaining the strong relationship between the United States and Israel. For the RJC, however, it appears that twisting the truth for some petty partisan gain is apparently more important than maintaining bipartisan support for the Jewish state.
It is true that in both parties there are a handful of politicians who are not part of this bipartisan consensus. Carter is one of these outsiders who find no support for their positions on the Arab-Israeli conflict within their own parties.
Jewish newspapers, like all newspapers, have an obligation to not print false and misleading ads. We hope in the coming weeks, as RJC slings more mud, this newspaper will fact-check their ad copy to make sure the RJC doesn't continue to use these pages to violently twist the truth.
First Vice Chair
National Jewish Democratic Council
The Republican obsession with Iraq has left Israel open and vulnerable to the possible nuclear overtures of a Holocaust-denying Iran. The Republican obsession with the Cold War almost led to a military defeat for Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War (and did lead to a country-permeating malaise). The Republican obsession with a fundamental Christian theology that is based on the apocalyptic demise of not only Israel but Jews everywhere is too eviscerating and too self-evident to even require an elaboration.
Does any Jew still believe that the Republican party has their true interests at heart?
We applaud the recent public discussion about the support for Israel by the political parties ("GOP Sees Israel as Way to Woo Democratic Jews," Sept. 1). All who are pro-Israel should appreciate the positive influence our growing Jewish Republican community is having on the GOP. Our access to senior GOP leaders is warmly encouraged, and, in return, the Jewish community is increasingly impressed by an administration and a Republican Congress that have been deeply pro-Israel.
The example of U.N. Ambassador John Bolton is instructive. The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) was virtually alone among national Jewish organizations in supporting the nomination of this hero of the Jewish people, who not only helped to defeat the odious "Zionism is racism" resolution years ago, but who now vigorously defends Israel at the United Nations against unfair demonization and delegitimization. Many Jewish Democrats now see that Bolton is the right man at the United Nations.
Putting aside the issue of Israel, moderate Jews might approach 21st century American politics with an open mind on who is best on both national security and domestic public policy issues. It is time that respectful attention be paid by Jews to positive GOP ideas about economic growth, welfare and entitlement reform, medical liability and tort/legal reform, energy independence and educational choice and competition to best serve children.
To the benefit of Israel and the United States, the days of one-party Jewish voting are, thankfully, over.
Republican Jewish Coalition, California
Illegal Jewish Immigrants
Your articles focused on illegal Israeli immigrants who are not terrorists and do not take low-paying jobs away from minorities ("Living and Working [IL]Legally in America," Sept. 8). Instead they engage in commercial activity that is beneficial to Israel.
Thanks to your article calling attention to them, perhaps immigration officials will divert attention from terrorists to crack down on these Israelis.
Are you The Jewish Journal or the anti-Jewish Journal?
Marshall Giller Winnetka
The Jews Didn't Do It
Not all conspiracy theories are equal ("The Lie That Won't Die," Sept. 1). Richard Greenberg's article asks us to believe otherwise, holding out only two possibilities to the American public: Either you accept the government version of Sept. 11 or you are a "conspiracist."
But the world is much more complex than these two positions allow, and the democratic process itself depends on citizens who question official stories. David Griffin, author of "The New Pearl Harbor" and three additional books on Sept. 11, raises important questions about the adequacy of the Kean Commission report. His work is highly regarded in the Sept. 11 movement and is not in the least bit anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist. Nowhere in his writings is there the slightest suggestion of Israeli or Jewish involvement. Indeed, he explicitly de-links neocon politics from anything having to do with Jews or Zionism.
Griffin's work represents the consensus of the Sept. 11 movement, a movement that must be distinguished from the claims of Holocaust deniers and those within the Muslim world who use Sept. 11 as an excuse for anti-Semitism. Anyone who believes that critical inquiry is a democratic duty ought to give Griffin's work their attention.
Temple Beth Israel
As one of the "scrappy" members of Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park and Eagle Rock, I want to express my appreciation to Jane Ulman for her well-written and insightful article on our little shul ("The Little Shul That Could," Sept. 8). Jane is right -- the temple survives by dint of the intense and passionate volunteer commitment of people like Henry Leventon, Pauline Ledeen and Bill Fishman.
One aspect not mentioned is that the temple's unique location in Highland Park places it smack dab on the frontier of a phenomenon only recently recognized by the rest of Jewish Los Angeles -- the presence of messianic Jews, self-proclaimed conversos or hidden Jews, curious mainstream Christians and the not-so-mainstream Christian factions who are actively seeking a Jewish grounding for their beliefs in Jesus and his saviorship.
Hardly a Shabbat goes by without someone gingerly opening the doors to our sanctuary to see if our siddur is printed in Spanish or if the drash for the week will help support their literalist view of the Torah text. They want to know if they can join, since they are certain they are Jews and should be accepted into the temple based on that assertion alone.
Our temple is definitely on the front line of demographic and cultural changes that foreshadow the coming Jewish experience in a diverse, multicultural and multispiritual Los Angeles of a century from now. But, don't worry Jews of L.A. We will continue doing what Temple Beth Israel has done for 75 years -- engaging the community. And we will be sure to keep the rest of Jewish Los Angeles informed on what we are learning. You are going to need this wisdom sooner than you think.
Temple Beth Israel
Congratulations on a really fine column this week -- poignant, incisive, and engagingly written ("His Super Sweet 13," Sept. 8).
But most of all, mazel tov to you all on reaching this milestone in the life of your family! I am pleased for you.
Rabbi David E.S. Stein
Perhaps David Suissa's column was written in good fun, but it just amounts to a lot of lashon hara (bad speech) about the truly wonderful people who live in his new neighborhood ("Welcome to the 'Hood," Sept. 8). His time would have been better spent describing the people in his community who spend an inordinate amount of time cooking meals for the sick (rather than calling them "perfectly coiffed frum supermom"), how neighbors immediately invited him for Shabbat meals to make him feel welcome (rather than being "ecstatic a Jew moved to the neighborhood") and how his new neighbors are always available for help.
If I wanted gossip with real names, there's plenty of that in Hollywood.
As for the gifts of challah he complained about, he needn't worry, there are no more coming his way.
Name withheld by request
My wife and I, who have been married 27 years, enjoy reading the entire Journal each week, including the Singles column. However, for the first time, we were both sad and concerned by what we read in the Sept. 8 column, "The Grand Plan" by Seth Menachem.
First of all, I don't believe he is ready for marriage. A person who is in love does not put down his fiancé. If he doesn't like people asking when he is getting married, he should be man enough to let them know that question bothers him.
And well it should. He shouldn't be living with her without the finality of the wedding. My wife and I did not take each other out for a test drive before we got married.
His joke about smothering her with a pillow is not funny. In fact, I would be concerned that he is a wife beater in embryo.
We have been readers of your paper for at least six years, and we were compelled to let you know about our concern. We can only hope that they will not get married.
Rabbi and Gibson
Rabbi David Baron luxuriates in his Hollywood connections; that's the driver behind this whole episode ("What I Really Asked Mel Gibson," Sept. 1). Not mercy, generosity or second chances but celebrity and Baron's devotion to it. My guess is that Gibson's parting gift for a face-to-face meeting with Baron would be a screenplay and a two-line pitch: "Think 'Gentlemen's Agreement' meets 'Braveheart.' It'll be huge!"
In the article on Steven Spielberg in your Aug. 25 issue ("Spielberg's Donation Could Reignite Hollywood Giving"), John Fishel reports that he gets calls from many talented people who want to "talk and think about how Israel's case could best be presented to the American public." Well, how about a series of 30-second TV spots that compare, say, Hiroshima after the atomic blast to bustling, multicultural Tel Aviv today, or show Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, while making a speech denying the Holocaust and calling for Israel's destruction, morphing into Hitler at Nuremberg, accompanied by radio spots and newspaper layouts? We Jews can count on no one but ourselves and committed American Christians. We're among the most influential, affluent, media-savvy people in the world, so why are Iran and Hezbollah beating us at public relations?"
Facing a Madman
No prominent academic or cultural personality in the West has protested against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's call to destroy Israel. Where is the leadership in the United States and Europe? Why are voices not being raised in protest around the globe, recruiting public opinion against Ahmadinejad's insanity? Iran is advancing with giant steps toward the manufacture of a nuclear bomb, and there are countries, among them Russia, that are helping Iran realize this dream for money and for ideological (anti-Semitic) reasons.
Are we becoming appeasers once again. Recall how the appeasement tactics of pre-WWII caused such an abhorrent disaster. We experienced a Holocaust in which six million Jews were targeted and destroyed, along with millions of others. The world was brought to its knees because of one madman. We are once again faced with a genuine madman as we hide from reality. Have we not learned from history?
It's interesting to hear about Jewish leftist Barry Gordon's radio show. Good stuff and all that ("Radio Host Shows It's All Right to Be Left," Sept. 8). However, Robert Jaffee's piece includes propaganda from notorious Israel and America-hater Noam Chomsky about the failed peace process with Arafat in the late '90s.
He calls Gordon "well-informed" and then attributes to Chomsky, without critique, that the Taba process had led to an agreement "that the Palestinians and Iranians had signed on to" but that Israel allegedly backed out of. Nothing could be further from the truth, and it's well documented by former President Bill Clinton, among others.
At both Camp David and Taba, Arafat never made a counteroffer to increasingly generous Israeli offers. Essentially everything that Arafat claimed he wanted was offered in exchange for a permanent peace and was turned down. There is absolutely no credence to the comment that "Israel backed out."
This calls into question Gordon being "well-informed" but more importantly, calls into question Jaffee as a journalist who never analyzes or counters these spurious claims, either in the interview with Gordon or in his article.
Does The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles really want to be a vehicle for far-left Chomsky's anti-Israel lies and propaganda?
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