August 15, 2012
Letters to the Editor: Gun control, Israel, kosher food at Jewish day schools
Gun Debate Continues
Dennis Prager puts forth two reasons to own a gun (“Jews and Guns,” Aug. 10). One is reasonable (family protection), the other (Holocaust prevention) not. He suggests we should arm ourselves, so that if they come to get us Jews again, we’ll be prepared for them.
We’ll need lots of ammo, won’t we? How much, Mr. Prager, do you think we should stockpile? And why stop with handguns? If you’re serious about this, then why not purchase automatic assault rifles? We’ll also need flak jackets, of course, night-vision goggles ...
Raising the specter of a second Holocaust as justification for handgun ownership is sloppy and, frankly, dangerous reasoning.
Rabbi Jeff Marx
Mr. Prager is spot on. Jews should obtain training in the use of firearms. Even if one does not own a shotgun or a pistol, Jews, both ladies and gentlemen, should be prepared to accept a loaded weapon and understand how to effectively discharge it if necessary.
It was tough for me and my family — especially for my teenage girls — to fire a shotgun, but once they did, they knew what to expect and how to use it (may they never need to). In these horrifically volatile times, in view of our history, every Jew, as is mostly the case in Israel, should be ready to fight fire with fire.
Mr. Prager is absolutely right about the fundamental right of Americans to bear arms. He is also correct that some American Jews believe that gun ownership is a “bad thing.”
However, Mr. Prager is mistaken when he suggests that the number of the Jews murdered during the Holocaust would have been lower if most European Jews had guns.
That notion is surreal and based on two major misconceptions:
First, he is wrong about the modus operandi of the Nazi genocidal machinery. In the Ghettos — at least in Poland — the Nazis never entered “every (or any) apartment.” They issued the orders for “resettlement” through proclamations or through the Judenrat, which then implemented the orders using the Jewish Police.
Second, he fails to recognize the mind-set of the Jews before the Holocaust started. They did not know what the Nazis had in store for them. They could not imagine the unimaginable. They did not believe in death camps when rumors about their existence reached them. And when the truth was right in front of their eyes, it was too late. There was never either a time or place to use a gun.
A few Jews did have guns. I had one in 1943-44, on the Aryan side in Warsaw. But when I was about to be captured in August 1944, I did not use it. Had I used it, I wouldn’t be here, and I would have endangered the lives of dozens of others.
Yes, if there were more guns available and if more Jews had guns, there would have been more Ghetto uprisings. But, sadly, the result would have been the same.
Only Dennis could have the chutzpah to write a commentary on guns and Jews and omit any reference to the several recent gun-committed massacres that have occurred (“Jews and Guns,” Aug. 10). The argument isn’t whether “liberal” Jews are in favor of near-universal disarmament; they aren’t. The argument instead is the same argument most Americans have with this issue: How do you reconcile the right of gun ownership while at the same time help to secure a safer population through some measure of gun control? In general, conservatives favor less gun control and liberals more.
Of course if Dennis stuck to the truth, he couldn’t as easily attack liberal Jews on this issue, and after all, attacking liberal Jews is the point of his commentaries — or am I missing something?
What Dennis Prager does not seem to understand is that a large majority of Americans are willing to accept the idea that individual Americans can legally own guns, but at the same time these Americans want legislation to restrict the rights of Americans to fire assault weapons, deploying dozens of rounds of ammunition, which can lead to mass killings before reloading is required.
Would Prager oppose legislation restricting Americans from firing guns with nuclear ammunition, if such ammunition is developed, because of Second Amendment rights of Americans (including militias) to bear arms?
Yet again, this time on gun control, Dennis Prager attempts to isolate and demonize liberal and progressive Jews from the “majority of Americans” and by the end of his column is darkly suggesting that such Jews are leading us to a “totalitarian regime.”
Without exploring the nuances involved in gun control, Prager claims liberal and progressive Jews are in favor of “near-universal disarmament” while he and the “majority of Americans” favor “gun ownership.”
But an NBC poll (January 2011) found that 52 percent of Americans support stricter laws on firearms and only 47 percent support the same or less restrictive laws.
If Prager had dug deeper, he would have found that in a Time magazine poll (June 2011) 62 percent to 35 percent supported banning semi-automatic weapons and ABC (January 2011) found that 57 to 39 percent supported a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips. And that same ABC poll found that a whopping 83 percent would support federal funding to report people treated for mental illness in a federal gun registry database.
The views of the liberal and progressive Jews I know are in keeping with these surveys. Now who seems out of step with the “majority of Americans”?
Stephen F. Rohde
Israel’s Omission From Forum
David Suissa is right to argue that “the movement to isolate and delegitimize the Jewish state is itself a form of terror” and that the Obama administration caved in to it by acquiescing in Israel’s exclusion from recent Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) conferences (“Hiding Israel,” Aug. 10).
Reports indicate Israel’s exclusion came about at the behest of Turkey’s Islamist, vociferously anti-Israel Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Of the 30 GCTF members, 10 are Muslim countries, including Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Of these four, only Algeria lacks at present an Islamist government.
In that context, the exclusion of Israel from the GCTF is compounded by the fact that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Under Secretary Maria Otero omitted mention of Israel’s experiences as a nation facing terrorism in their respective presentations to the GCTF conferences.
These omissions play into the hands of those Muslim nations which claim that those who murder and maim Israelis are not terrorists.
Kadima Day School Lunches
Your story regarding kosher food in Jewish day schools (“Just Bag It,” Aug. 10) fails to mention that Kadima Day School in West Hills has been successfully serving hot kosher lunches for its students for many years. Kadima has a full kosher kitchen, and its in-house chef and kitchen staff provide more than 900 kosher meals every week for students in our Early Childhood Education Center, elementary school, and middle school at a reasonable cost.
Teens Serve Their Community
We want to give a big shout-out to the Builders of Jewish Education’s “Teens Who Care” summer camp. We are 13-year-olds who just spent a week doing different types of community service projects. We served food at the Midnight Mission, visited seniors at the Jewish Home, learned about the Friendship Circle, helped with care packages for soldiers and prepared school kits for children who need them. It was a great experience and really fun. Best of all, we felt like we were giving back to our community. Many thanks to BJE for making this opportunity available.
Kaplan’s column: an appreciation
I just wanted to thank The Jewish Journal for Marty Kaplan’s column, which is always informative, thoughtful, uplifting and, yes, even entertaining. I was particularly touched by “Ambushed by Optimism” (July 6). With all the troubling stories in the news these days, it was nice to read something truly positive. Thank you, Jewish Journal, and thank you, Marty Kaplan, for bringing a beam of light and hope into what sometimes seems like an awfully dark landscape.
In the end, the blacklist backfired by creating martyrs who are admired and emulated today.
Apply WWII lessons to threat of nuclear Iran
I dare someone to tell me that professor Bennett Ramberg is a conservative or a liberal (“Dealing with Iran’s Nuclear Challenge,” Aug. 10). He’s not only smart, he knows what he’s talking about because he’s studied the subject for years. His purpose is to prevent those unwilling to exert themselves as he has from going off half-cocked in taking action against Iran. His message is simple. When it comes to the safety and security of Israel, taking the wrong action now may be as risky as taking no action for now. Ask the governors of Japan circa 1941.
William L. Speizman