Jewish Journal


March 21, 2012

Letters to the Editor: Iran, golden calf, #kony2012


Hate by Any Other Name

As someone with many people I love living in Israel, I, like most Jews, worry for their safety constantly. I thus sympathize greatly with David Suissa and his fears for the safety of his daughter living in Israel (“This Just In: Our Enemies Hate Us,” March 16). However, in using my experience on day one of the recent Arab League conference in Doha to make his point, Suissa makes clear that (a) he didn’t read my article in The Forward carefully, and (b) he didn’t read my follow-up article in the Huffington Post about day two of the conference. 

As noted in The Forward, my concerns on day one were about statements that failed to acknowledge Jewish ties to Jerusalem. I didn’t write about concerns about anti-Jewish hate speech because, simply, I didn’t hear any. As noted in my Huffington Post article, some controversy ensued when I spoke out openly as a Zionist on day two, but it quickly became clear that the issue was sensitivity to the word “Zionist” — which most people I spoke with associated exclusively, and I believe incorrectly, with denial of the existence of the Palestinian people, denial of any rights to the Palestinians, and denial of even the two-state solution. Over the two days I spent in Doha I encountered zero anti-Jewish hate speech. What I have encountered upon my return to the United States, on the other hand, has been unconcealed hate speech — unbridled vitriol and venom. This has been aimed at me by fellow Jews who, it seems, reject dialogue and prefer a zero-sum calculus in which Jews and Israelis are facing off against a caricatured enemy whose entire meaning in life centers around hating Jews and wanting to destroy Israel. Having spent most of my adult life in the Middle East or addressing Middle Eastern affairs in Washington, I know full well that there are those with anti-Israel hatred in that part of the world, but I didn’t encounter any of them in Doha. I suspect, however, that Suissa believes he encounters them everywhere he turns. This no doubt makes the world, for him, a much scarier place — but, conveniently, also a place where he is absolved of dealing with the true complexities involved in trying to secure a future for Israel as a Jewish state and a democracy.

Lara Friedman
Washington, D.C.

David Suissa responds:

Ms. Friedman is right. It wasn’t exactly Jew hatred that she referred to. It was worse: it was Jew-nullification — the denial of one’s core identity. Few things repel me more than to hear anyone deny a Jewish connection to Jerusalem. Ms. Friedman sat through a conference where Palestinian and Arab representatives, including Mahmoud Abbas, did just that. As she wrote: “All throughout the day, it was unfortunately the same story. Participants talked about Jerusalem as if Jewish history did not exist or was a fraud.” Her ability to stomach such lies and give the conference a positive “spin” makes her a better person than I am.

What It’s Really Like on UC Campuses

The joint opinion piece by six UC Hillel rabbis [and leaders], “The Truth About UC Campuses” (March 9), which painted a rosy picture of Jewish pride and safety on UC campuses as well as of UC President Mark Yudof’s supposed record of protecting Jewish students from anti-Semitism has confused opinion with truth.

Days before the article was published, hecklers at UC Davis disrupted a Jewish student event. At UC Riverside a day before the article was published, an Israeli flag was defaced with the word “terrorists.” At UC Berkeley, days after the article was published, Louis Farrakhan accused Jews of controlling the government and media. Although President Yudof criticized the behavior of the UC Davis hecklers, campus police did nothing to stop the disruption. President Yudof offered only mild criticism of Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic remarks, decrying him as a “provocative” and “divisive” figure. The president has failed to consistently condemn the hate speech of anti-Israel groups during the annual Jew-hate extravaganza, “Israel Apartheid Week,” an event that the happy [Hillel leaders] mention only in passing. The travel/study program to Washington and the Middle East that the [Hillel leaders] praise is the notorious Olive Tree Initiative, whose program has consisted of meetings with anti-Israel extremists, including a Hamas official.

The Hillel [leaders], by denying the anti-Semitism and Israel-bashing that pervade campus, do a supreme disservice to the students they are meant to inspire, and to the truth. 

Orit Arfa
Executive Director, Western Region
Paul Schnee
Board Member
Zionist Organization of America (ZOA)

Prager Provokes More Responses

Dennis Prager’s contention that Rabbi Eric Yoffie’s comments in a speech made to the Islamic Society of North America are “another example of leftism perverting a Jew’s conscience” is absurd (“Our Golden Calf,” March 9). Yoffie was defending the right of a woman to choose to wear a headscarf or a veil. “Surely the choice these women make deserves our respect, not to mention the full protection of the law,” Yoffie said, according to Prager. Does Prager feel the same way about an Orthodox woman’s right to cover her head with a wig? Should we disrespect that choice, and view it, too, as “a dehumanizing behavior”? Yoffie is not endorsing the practice; he’s supporting the freedom to choose. It’s ridiculous to suggest that this is an example of leftist perversion. Furthermore, the idea that Yoffie’s defense of the Muslim practice of covering women’s faces with veils is derived from the “rabbi’s commitment to left-wing multiculturalism” is presumptuous. Maybe it’s just the perspective of a thoughtful individual.

Cantor Richard Schwartz
via e-mail

Putting aside the cherry-picking, erroneous and venomous “content” of Prager’s irrational fixation with liberalism and its first cousin, progressivism, The Jewish Journal adds insult to injury by letting him answer his numerous critics. By permitting Prager to have the first (his column) and the last word (his rebuttal to those who vehemently oppose his screeds of leftist hate), he is given the home-field advantage as well as colluding with the referees in determining the final score.

In hopes of achieving a degree of impartiality and truth, I forward the following two suggestions: First, readers and especially writers whose letters were critiqued by Prager, should be given the last word in countering his propaganda. Second, Prager’s column should be subject to FactCheck.org in order to separate the political chaff that he passes off as wheat.

It is time to see if The Jewish Journal subscribes to the principles of fairness and justice or has crossed the line and puts the dollar ahead of the truth.

Stephon Patinsky
Van Nuys

Dennis Prager does his best to discourage support for his positions. Despite the foolish and fallacious reification of “the left” and “leftism” and his simplistic mischaracterization of Rosa Luxemburg as the most pro-Soviet socialist of the Weimer Republic (she died months before the adoption of the Weimar constitution), and the fact that no serious observer could confuse the hopes for the Soviet Union in the 1920s, when the ultimate shape of the regime was unclear, with support for the criminal and barbaric regime that ultimately emerged, etc., Prager does have a point. We are not persuaded that Prager has the answer. But he has a question, an urgent and critically important question.

It is well worth pondering why some of the most vocal antagonists of Israel, activists who are eager to make themselves the collaborators of the mortal enemies of Israel and the Jewish people, are Jewish. Why?

Chip Bronson
Stephanie London
Beverly Hills


A column about Jewish World Watch’s advocacy for the citizens of the Nuba Mountains (“Beyond Kony 2012,” March 16) misstated their location. They are in the Republic of the Sudan, also known as Northern Sudan.

A discussion of the visit by Israeli President Shimon Peres (“Peres the Prophet,” March 16) with Los Angeles Latino leaders misstated the number of members of Christians United for Israel (CUFI). The correct number is more than 950,000. In addition, it is John Hagee Ministries (JHM) that donates money to Israeli charities, and not CUFI, as stated in the article.  JHM has made significant contributions to various causes within Israel, as well as to Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The article also refers to AIPAC as the American Israel Political Action Committee; the organization’s name is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

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