September 7, 2011
Letters to the Editor: Berman v. Sherman, college, Glenn Beck
Media Missing the Message?
Rob Eshman’s article touched on a very disturbing phenomena; the fact that ignorance prevails in the Muslim world as it does in our own (“Face to Face,” Sept. 2). In the Muslim world, this is due to the ruling régimes, the religious leaders and the media. We seem to have the same problem but in reverse order, here an agenda-driven media leads the way.
The problem is that like most of the media you have failed to comprehend that it is the media, which we assume is the medium responsible for lifting this veil of ignorance, has been asleep at the helm.
We have constantly been fed misinformation or partial truths for so long many of us have completely tuned out. We know where Afghanistan is, its where they kill our soldiers, hate us and make no excuses for wanting to destroy us. The fact that many may have displaced it and its neighboring Pakistan by a thousand miles is insignificant. They place it in the Middle East because of the culture of hate and destruction they share, the same culture the media have worked so hard to cover up.
The problem with this beautiful program by the Pearl family is that it will never have any ripple effect in the Muslim world. Every reporter visiting here, even if he falls in love with this great nation will be putting his life on the line if he even whispers a good word about America. They know that, we know that but you still go on pretending that we are building inroads into the heart of these cultures.
I am a new Jew, a convert, having a Jewish Holocaust survivor father and a non-Jewish mother. I pick up a copy of The Jewish Journal each Saturday as I leave temple. I just wanted to let you know that this latest edition (Sept. 2) sparked my mind and heart on many levels, from Rob Eshman’s thoughtful and correct editorial praising the young Arabs literally taking bullets to fight for freedom which may well stop Iran’s insanity; to David Suissa’s compelling article on the Salons seeding Israel’s new social revolution; to Rabbi Yehuda Hausman’s soul-stirring words asking us to listen and see the holiness around us. Thank you, all, for your excellent work.
Berman vs. Sherman
When I joined a delegation of J Street advocates in Washington, D.C., in April and visited with the staff of Congressman Brad Sherman, I asked his staffers if Congressman Sherman would meet with the leadership of J Street to hear their views as pro-Israel pro-peace activists and leaders. His staff told us that the Congressman would not do so under any circumstances. He would, however, meet only with his constituents on this issue or any issue. To the contrary, Congressman Howard Berman not only was willing to meet with J Street Representatives personally, but he publicly attended the Gala J Street banquet at the Washington Convention Center. Both Congressman are avidly pro-Israel. No one questions this. Congressman Berman’s support for Israel as a top congressional leader is long-standing and certain. However, only one (Berman) is interested in speaking with a very large segment of the American Jewish pro-Israel community personally that aligns itself with J Street. It is time that our elected officials all understand that to speak directly with J Street leadership and to support a pro-Israel policy that it advocates that does not necessarily align with AIPAC or the Israel government’s positions is important for the well-being both of Israel’s long term strategic interests and security and the American Jewish community’s commitment to diversity of opinion.
Rabbi John L. Rosove
Rabbi Feinstein’s advice to his daughter on leaving for college was wise, wry and wonderful (“To My Child on the Way to College,” Sept. 2).
Thank you for offering parents this jewel; at least now we have some valuable, insightful advice for our children to ignore.
Take the Support
In Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater’s opinion piece, “Glenn Beck Rally in Jerusalem: Bad for the Jews!” (Aug. 19), he concludes with the assertion that Beck, “and the whole Christians United for Israel movement is actually a false front of ‘support for Israel’ ” because what they really want is to “pave the way for the Second Coming.” Dear Rabbi Grater: When the messiah comes, everyone will know if it is his first or second visit. Until then it is ridiculous to reject someone’s support for Israel simply because they believe it will be his second visit and we believe it will be his first.
Sometimes, Silence Is Golden
Referring to Gina Nahai’s column “In Praise of Falsehood” (Aug. Sept. 2), I’m reminded of an incident that occurred many years ago (long before I, too, became a marriage and family therapist). A couple of close friends who were getting a divorce asked me to accompany them to court and be available as a witness if the judge asked for my opinion. He did. He asked why I thought their marriage broke up. I told him that they both so valued truth and honesty that whatever they thought, they said. And my mother once told me “Whatever is on your mind does not need to be on your lips.” Good advice, even today.
Boyle Heights Remembered
Thanks to Shelly Iltis for her “Heights” remembrances (“Boyle Heights Remembered,” Sept. 2). I am privileged to be the chairman of the Wabash Saxons, an organization of graduates of Roosevelt High School in the Heights that meets twice a year for lunch. Around 100 men and women and their guests gather at Taix Restaurant on Sunset near Alvarado. All graduated between the 1930s and 1960s and reside all over California and other parts of the world. Visitors are welcome.
These luncheons have been going on for over 30 years, and the main event is the renewing of these old friendships, but secondarily, we provide support to Roosevelt High and other schools, and also activities for the youth of what is now the largest “barrio” in the West.
Since I was born in L.A. in 1924 and most all of my schooling and professional life took place here, I have had a long time to gather many friends and acquaintances throughout southern California. Whenever I or my fellow Saxons mention our continuing record of lunches, we either get remarks about their parents, grandparents or other relatives having lived in the Heights, or their jealousy about not having similar connections with former classmates from the schools they attended.
Because of the diversity of the student body at Roosevelt during our years as students there, it is not surprising for us to hear from academics and other professionals that there always seems to be someone who attended Roosevelt at that time, involved in civic or governmental programs to improve intergroup relations. One of the standout records during my three years at Roosevelt was the election of two Jews, a Mexican American, a black, a Nisei and an Anglo as student-body presidents.
It was a great, but difficult time (the ’30s and ’40s), to be in Boyle Heights.
Our ‘Jewy Jew’ Ancestors
Dear Samantha S.,
My wife and I are college-educated, professional “Jewy Jews” (My Single Peeps, Aug. 26). We keep kosher and observe the Sabbath. We have raised four college-educated, Sabbath-observant, professional “Jewy Jews.” They, in turn, have blessed us with 18 “Jewy Jew” grandchildren, all keeping kosher and Sabbath observant, thank God.
I am sure that your great- or great-great grandparents were also “Jewy Jews” who came to this wonderful country from Europe or the Middle East. When you disrespect “Jewy Jews,” you also disrespect your ancestors’ memories.
P.S.: We also lead happy, fulfilled, modern lives without a single tattoo among us.
A Roomy Tent
Dear Mr. Eshman,
I’ve written to the Jewish Journal in the past, always with words of praise. Such is the case this afternoon. I’m behind with my work and facing some deadlines, but I simply must send you this short note of support and appreciation. I’ve been following your “This Week” column for a while now. It just keeps getting better, with every issue. I’m looking at the current issue (Aug. 26-Sept. 1) as I write this. What you have said about the Arab spring has taken courage and conviction. I’m anticipate that you’ll be getting some serious push-back from certain quarters. But as we all know, the Jewish “tent” is a very large one, and it also does contain folks like me, who believe that the humanistic history of our people is something to nurture and celebrate. We should embrace the courage of our Muslim brethren (yes, that’s right, I did say brethren) who have stood bravely in the line of fire. You are absolutely right in asserting that they indeed are often taking bullets for us. Hatred and cruelty have a great deal of difficulty surviving in an environment of freedom and justice.
Thank you, Mr. Eshman, for standing tall and telling it like it is. Your words are a welcome antidote to the likes of Glenn Beck.
Wealth Unevenly Distributed
David Suissa’s “Salon Nation: Israel’s Struggle for Renewal” (Aug. 26) brought up some interesting points. One point which struck me was the issue of “a handful of wealthy families having monopolies over several industries…” I recall a few years back an Israeli friend of mine proclaiming how proud she was of the fact that so many Jews were represented amongst the world’s wealthiest individuals. Having previously heard such sentiments expressed, I knew she was not alone amongst Jews in idolizing the uber-wealthy. The mentality to not question (albeit with a belief that Jews question everything) how such wealth was amassed or inherited is quite prevalent (i.e. Bernie Madoff). This unquestioning respect for people in authority I believe originates and appears most clearly in regards to religion. The rabbis have been the main leaders of Jewish life for tens of centuries and, please feel free to be offended, led 6 million Jews to their early deaths. However, 6 million Jews followed their religious “leaders” without too many questioning their leadership abilities, neither then nor now. As one who has questioned and challenged, and who continues to do so, I know first hand the bullying pressure placed upon those who wish to expose obvious failure. My point is that the problems are deep rooted and Jewish tradition wishes to fix the outside, hence avoiding the difficult task of internal change, in spite of how obvious such a need for change may be. As if to prove my point, Suissa concludes by stating how Israel can be “a light unto the nations – showing America and the world that real nation-building begins at home, in your own salons.” Yes, put on a “show” for the world. It’s not like life is real or anything, it is all just one big show. Yet for all the applause Suissa and other Jewish leaders (and followers) seek, you continue to receive mostly resounding boos. For all the world’s approval you seek, you reap so little. As far as seeking God’s approval, as usual His voice was neither sought, heard, nor mentioned in this whole conversation.
Richard S. Levik
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