July 5, 2011
Letters to the Editor: Paid Op/Ed, Spirituality, Pessimism, New Leaf, Circumcision
Guidelines for Writing an Op-Ed
Paul Jeser did the right thing in buying an ad in The Jewish Journal (“I am the Guy who has Been Sending the Mails Calling for a new Editor-in-Chief”, July 1). It is where his “comments” belonged. He could even have shortened the length of his words and sent them as a letter to the editor. The letters editor was absolutely correct to reject Jeser’s “op-ed.” In it, Jeser did not differentiate between opinion and an attack against a person. A review of the op-ed columns quickly establishes the following: Ideas and positions are discussed, debated and disputed. Individuals are not attacked, maligned or quoted out of context in order to demean them or, worse still, suggest they be fired. It is small wonder the “op-ed” was rejected.
Ultimately, Jeser has other choices of protesting: Contact the publisher and convince him and his board to accept the need to fire Rob Eshman. If the publisher supports the editor, Jeser can contact advertisers to boycott the paper and ask readers to do the same.
Rob Eshman needs no defense from anyone. The response to Paul Jeser’s position will confirm the fact that The Jewish Journal itself, through its columnists’ diverse positions, rightly provokes active and stimulating discussions and arguments. Rob Eshman deserves no small thanks and support for his work as editor.
Thank you so much for finding the way to bring criticism of Rob Eshman to Jewish Journal readers in the only format that was left available.
Just a few weeks ago, I wrote Eshman a letter that started with the sentence: “Rob, you just don’t get it.” A statement that you used as well and I think still holds today.
I personally like Eshman and didn’t call for a replacement, just a bit of reorientation, like the understanding that in focusing the debate on the Jewish divide, he is helping to enshrine the Palestinians and terrorists as the real victims in the minds of many of his readers.
If only The Journal and Eshman would remind readers what Hamas and the Palestinian Authority stand for, not just that out of desperation they have been firing thousands of missiles at Israel, there may come a small change in the discourse on Israel, and we might see some shift in the support of Israel in the Liberal mind set.
Not a full swing to the right, Rob, just a small morsel that may help some realize that what happened in Poland in 1946, and not only in Kielce, is happening again.
We, the Jewish people, have promised: Never Again. Let’s all ask Rob Eshman to keep his part of this covenant.
In his commentary on Parashat Chukat (“Real Spirituality,” July 1), Rabbi Muskin makes the profound point that by doing the mitzvot with consciousness, one can experience the Divine on a daily basis. He also says, “If you want spirituality, you don’t need ... anyone teaching you mysticism.” Perhaps this is true for many Jews, but some Jews are drawn to mystical teachings as well, and the study of all the majestic teachings of Judaism are to be honored. After all, a myriad of esteemed sages such as R. Yosef Karo and the Vilna Gaon studied both the halachah and the mystical realm and regarded the latter with optimal veneration. Indeed, Rav Kook writes: ‘Whoever feels within himself that his inner being can find peace only in pursuing the secret teachings of the Torah must know with certainty that it is for this he was created.’ I know that Rabbi Muskin, a true Oheiv Yisrael, must believe it is wonderful to welcome all our people who endeavor to study different dimensions of Judaism as they are drawn to divine light in the halachah and in the mystical.
(In this way, we expand the community of Israel in all its diversity and beauty. By studying the Torah in its fullness we become a divine Clal and not just a nation of individual tzadikim.)
Rabbi Mel Gottlieb
Kaplan’s Take on Pessimistic Milieu
I appreciated Marty Kaplan’s analysis of where we are at (and are likely to stay) as a society (“Pessimism Is the Last Taboo,” July 1). I was reminded of a line from the old “That Was the Week That Was” show:
“A pessimist is one who says that there will be a World War III.
An optimist is one who says that there will be a World War IV.”
‘Twould seem to me, at times, that we are, today, in a race between the plutocrats and the oligarchs — or perhaps they are just one and the same. In any case, democracy aboundin’, it ain’t.
National Bible Contest Winners
Many thanks for your splendid coverage of the recent National Bible Contest held in New York (“Valley Student Headed for International Bible Contest,” June 24). May I include another fine young scholar, Josh Silvera from Congregation Mogen David, who placed second to Andrew Sokoler, only a few points behind. It was my double pleasure to coach these talented teens. Not only did I study with Andrew’s mom, I also went to Fairfax High with Josh’s grandfather and great uncle.
We are looking forward to many more competitions.
Cantor Avrum Schwartz
Obama and Israel
David Suissa correctly and importantly highlights the stark departures from past U.S. policy toward Israel by President Obama in recent weeks that damage and weaken Israel’s negotiating position (“Obama’s Nightmare,” June 21).
Beyond the absolute veto power Obama handed the Palestinians even on Israel retaining the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, there is a further serious departure from past U.S. policy that was not noted: Obama is the first president to state that a future Palestinian state should border Jordan. This means Israel ceding the Jordan Valley, an area whose retention all Israeli governments have regarded as vital to Israeli defense. Obama ignores this, calling for a “full and phased Israeli withdrawal,” which entrusts Israeli security to those who have violated it over 17 years – the Palestinian Authority (PA). It also means all Jews living there must leave – a further endorsement of the Palestinian position.
Suissa rightly notes that Obama demands nothing of the PA. What is worse, not only has Obama not held the PA accountable on incitement to hatred and murder against Israel, as he claims he will “continue” [sic] to do, but he has munificently increased U.S. aid to the PA, up to almost $1 billion per year.
If Obama was genuine about holding the PA accountable, he would be demanding the disbanding of Fatah’s own Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a U.S. recognized terrorist group. He would demand the abrogation of the PA’s unity agreement with Hamas as a precondition of any future talks. He has done neither.
Morton A. Klein
Reflections on Global Societies
Dennis Prager asserts that bigger government increases corruption and produces citizens who do less for one another, turning them into narcissists who disdain work and charitable giving (“Liberalism and the Decline of a Society’s Character,” June 21). If big government invariably makes people worse, then the best society would be where there is the least government. But Prager’s premise is refuted by history: Somalia is not paradise. His other arguments similarly wither in the face of fact: He decries the selfishness of today’s students at public universities demanding free or inexpensive education, but they only want what earlier generations had. Somehow in the past, even archconservatives such as Milton Friedman could have college paid entirely by taxpayers, but if today’s students have a similar desire, they are guilty of “the selfish fruit of expecting something for nothing.”
Congratulations, Mr. Eshman, on your new Nissan Leaf (“A New Leaf,” June 24). However, if you think by driving the Leaf you are reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, you are mistaken. You are just moving the consumption of the fossil fuel from three feet in front of you (in the car’s engine) to hundreds of miles away (to some electric power plant). Something has to turn those generators and it usually is a fossil fuel. Unless of course, you want to dam some more rivers to produce hydroelectric power or build more nuclear power plants, fossil fuels it is! And, please don’t tell me about wind and solar [power]. You will need an acre of photo cells to power that Leaf, and I’m sure your neighbor is real excited about that wind turbine that will turn over his head day and night.
Here are a few more arguments for circumcision “The Great California Foreskin Fight of 2011” (June 24). Many others have already been promulgated.
As a dermatologist for the past 49 years. I have seen many cases of balanoposthitis, inflammation of the glans penis and foreskin. This is characterized by an uncomfortable, foul-smelling yellowish discharge laden with various bacteria, and often yeast. It can lead to adhesions, which prevent the foreskin from being retracted. This obviously does not happen in circumcised men. Maintaining cleanliness certainly helps diminish this, but I have even seen mild cases in men who try to maintain reasonable cleanliness.
Claims of diminished sexual sensation based around putative removal of sexual receptors is specious. The receptors lie in the glans, mainly in the corona (ask any man), and not in the skin of the shaft, which the prepuce is part of. Therefore, removing a small part of that skin in no way removes sexual receptors.
Robert M. Miller, M.D.