Jewish Journal


June 28, 2011

Letters to the Editor: Prager, Pro-Israel Divide, Truth Matters


Liberals at Fault for Society’s Character Downslide

Dennis Prager’s parents as well as mine lived through the Great Depression. “Liberalism and the Decline of a Society’s Character,” June 24). Despite Prager’s rant against FDR and liberal programs, his parents and mine would have kept their money at home if there were no FDIC. They would have lived in a slum apartment without social security. Interstate trips would have taken hours if it weren’t for the interstate highway program, which connected the nation with highways and bridges. Dozens of other programs were geared to get the country moving economically. Some were job creations such as the [California Conservation Corps] and Hoover Dam. But comparing programs in Sweden, France and Germany with our system doesn’t explain why far more people emigrate from those countries to the United States versus the other way around.

The faults of our current system of federal support gave rise to unanticipated consequences such as fatherless families in the poorer communities, welfare fraud, no more gold or silver support for our currency, and a longer lifespan with its consequent pension and medical expenses. If he interviewed naturalized citizens to compare the U.S. with their home country, he’d see that our so-called liberalism is more equitable to all than most other national systems. Prager fails to mention that one of the main goals of the GOP is to turn the clock back to the days pre-FDR and let everyone sink or swim — a form of political Darwinism.

As some would say, “If it’s that bad here, you can always leave.”

Sol Taylor
Sherman Oaks

Because Dennis Prager believes in God but does not believe in socialism, environmentalism or feminism, he views the latter three as substitutes for religion (“Liberalism and the Decline of a Society’s Character,” June 24). Yet not one of those three “isms” is mutually exclusive with religion. In fact, all three could be fueled by belief in God.

Marilyn Russell
Los Angeles

Dennis Prager has turned the world upside down by accusing the “liberal welfare state” of diminishing the “society’s moral character,” making “people worse” and encouraging citizens to be “increasingly narcissistic,” when the evidence shows that this better describes conservatives like Prager.

In April, House Republicans approved a 2012 federal budget drafted by Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), which would drastically reduce medical care for older Americans and the poor to support tax breaks for corporate America and the affluent by extending the Bush tax cuts.

“It is not courageous to provide additional tax breaks for millionaires while ending the Medicare guarantee for seniors and sticking seniors with the cost of rising health care,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), member of the Budget Committee. The proposal would convert Medicare from a federal program providing health insurance for Americans 65 and older to one where older Americans must join private health plans subsidized by the government. A Congressional Budget Office review of the Ryan proposal predicted that retirees would pay more for their health care than they would under traditional Medicare and would probably get fewer benefits.

Reducing taxes for the wealthy while cutting health care for the poor and the elderly makes most “people worse” and sounds immoral and “narcissistic” to me.

Stephen Rohde
Los Angeles

Mr. Prager knows that America is not a welfare state. The programs that FDR put in place during the great depression not only saved this country from going communist but it produced the greatest generation that fought World War II and built the prosperity following the war to make the United States the envy of the world for its innovative manufacturing, education system and much more. Mr. Prager knows that any corruption in this government isn’t because of government programs to protect the needy and the middle class from the greedy and dishonest corporations but come from the military/industrial complex that supports the Republicans so they can get rid of government regulations to keep them honest, as do Wall Street and other multinational corporations. George W. Bush fought two wars without raising taxes and brought this country to its knees by bringing on this recession and letting Wall Street go unregulated.

How can Mr. Prager blame liberals for an inability to support government programs because “today’s workers don’t have enough money to sustain such programs, and there are too few of them to do so.”  Under Republican administrations, their jobs were outsourced to China and other low-paying countries, and now, states that are in the harsh grip of Republicans are outlawing unions. Today, because of the conservatives’ holy worship of Reaganomics, practically everything we buy is made in China. Mr. Prager, I suggest you look at the preamble to our Constitution, especially the phrase “promote the general welfare.”

Leon M. Salter
Los Angeles

Dennis Prager joins his ultraconservative cohorts Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck in continuing to spew anti-liberal hogwash. He blames Franklin Roosevelt for our being
a ”European welfare state.” FDR set the tone for noblesse oblige, which means that in a civilized society the affluent have an obligation to take care of the less fortunate. We are presently far closer to a fascist state than a welfare state. Fascism promotes uncivilized rule by corporations. We are the only country in the free world with a for-profit health system. Half of our citizens are dirt poor because our financial institutions and corporations lobby our Congress to sustain insatiable greed for huge profits. It is reported that corporations are holding trillions of dollars in cash, rather than putting it into job-creating ventures. Prager insults us by stating that we “disdain work.” He probably hopes that hungry children,  the mentally ill and the disabled simply disappear. The underlying motive for his rhetoric is to convince our electorate to allow the corporate vultures to take over the presidency in addition to Congress and the Supreme Court. Please don’t let them make a clean sweep.

Martin J. Weisman
Westlake Village

I feel compelled to challenge Dennis Prager’s assertions in his sixth reason for liberalism’s role in the decline of society’s character.  Dennis writes, “Of course, businesses can be corrupt. But they are eventually caught or go out of business.  The government cannot go out of business.  And, unlike corrupt governments, corrupt businesses cannot print money and thereby devalue a nation’s currency… .”

Yes, some corrupt businesses go out of business, but many do not, i.e. Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, AIG, etc.  If Dennis’ statement was true, there wouldn’t be any car dealerships still in business anywhere in America. And why is Dennis limiting the discussion to only corruption?  What about businesses that knowingly and intentionally sell defective and dangerous products, like Ford (the Pinto and the Explorer, which killed and injured hundreds of people) and the tobacco companies (which killed millions of people).  They certainly deserve to be out of business, but they are not.  And what about companies like Exxon and BP that cause huge environmental disasters that kill people and wildlife and put thousands of people out of work?  They certainly deserve to be out of business, but they are not.  How many people have to be cheated, injured or killed, not to mention the environmental damage, before Dennis and the Republicans give up this patently false belief that the crooks and the bad guys will regulate themselves, and that the markets are perfect and will punish the crooks and the bad guys?

Yes, business cannot print money.  But they can destroy the economy through greed and selfishness.  The unregulated sub-prime lenders, the unregulated hedge funds, and the deregulated banking industry nearly destroyed our financial system, and the resulting severe recession has destroyed millions of jobs as a result.  And it was the big, bad, evil government that saved us from Great Depression II with the much-hated bailouts of the banks and the car companies and the stimulus.  Maybe it would be better if businesses could print money.  Then perhaps they wouldn’t feel the need to put their private interests (profits) ahead of the public interest.

I am waiting for the day when Dennis writes a column titled “Conservatives and the Decline of a Society’s Business Ethics.”  I think I’ll be waiting a very long time.

Michael Asher
North Hollywood

Truth Matters

Truth evidently doesn’t matter much to Chazzan Danny Maseng or to The Jewish Journal, which printed his unique interpretation of Parsha Shelach that appears to be written solely as a defense of Ambassador Joseph Wilson (“Truth Matters,” June 17).  He states that Moses leveled a death sentence on the spies and their entire generation.  I hope that Chazzan Maseng is not representative of the scholastic aptitude of the Reform Movement. Even a cursory inspection of the Parsha would show that it was G-d who declared the death sentence.  Also, not all of the spies died, only the 10 who gave the report against the land, and the entire generation did not die out, only the men aged 20-60, not the women.  Ask any young child attending a yeshivah about this episode and I’m sure that you’ll get the correct answer. Perhaps if Chazzan Maseng actually read the Parsha and the commentaries he would have a better understanding of the Parsha and would know that the reason the spies did not want to enter the land was a spiritual reason.  They knew that if the Israelites entered the land, all of the miracles that sustained them in the wilderness would cease, and they, therefore, would not be able to completely serve G-d while living in a completely physical environment.  Perhaps the next time Chazzan Maseng prepares an article about any Parsha he will try not to force his conclusion to reach a partisan result and The Journal should do a better job of fact checking these articles.  If The Journal is shorthanded, I’m sure that they can ask any 5-year-old yeshivah student to assist in this.

Morton Resnick

Chazzan Maseng in “Truth Matters” (June 17) gives an injurious reading of Parashat Shelach. Certainly, “faith matters, and love matters, and hope matters,” but the writer erroneously concludes that they conflict with the truth. He is also wrong to argue that the Timid Ten spies gave a true report.

True, there were facts, there was faith, but there was also the antithesis of both: fear.

Fear caused the Timid Ten to magnify the surmountable challenges of the Promised Land into impossibilities. By faith, Moses and the True Two spies transformed the intimidating facts into the truth: With the Lord, they would have victory.

Furthermore, Moses and the two faithful spies were truthful because they trusted in God, who had by then faithfully led the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, across the impassable Red Sea, through the harsh wilderness, all with sustenance and shelter to sustain them.

Because the Timid Ten spies focused only on the Israelites’ power, they became afraid and despaired of ever taking the Promised Land. This distortion in their minds yielded an “evil report,” not a “truthful report,” which Moses attempted to suppress, as Maseng would suggest.

Arthur Christopher Schaper

Loving Israel Unconditionally

While Israel is democratic, more than America, and does reflect American values, we have better reasons to support it:  It represents us, the Jewish nation (the only state that does), and gives us a state in (part of) our ancestral homeland.  (”The Pro-Israel Divide,” June 17). Therefore we must support it, whatever we think of its values, its form of government or the coalition in power at the moment.

We must support it unconditionally because the stated goals of Israel’s enemies are, after defeating it, to continue to exterminate all of us, to kill or enslave all Americans, and finally to conquer the world.  Unrealistic of them?  Their empire is vaster than was that of the Nazis and has endured far longer!

Our criticisms of Israel must be reserved for our own councils, out of hearing of the gentiles, lest we aid and encourage those enemies.  We join the propaganda chorus against Israel at our peril.

Louis Richter

Keeping Eshman for Sure

I’m still trying to get over the shock that two, not one but two, J Street supporters and activists wrote letters in support of Rob Eshman keeping his job (“Eshman Is a Keeper,” June 24). Who would have thought? I’m on the other end of the spectrum, one of those Goldstein-labeled  “uber-right” Zionists, and guess what? While I’m a constant critic of Eshman’s policies and musings, I too believe he should keep his job for two very important reasons. First of all, what would all the members of Orthodox shuls in Los Angeles have to talk or moan about during Shabbat morning davening if not for The Jewish Journal’s obsession with demonizing the “religious right-wingers” while portraying the left as our only hope for a peaceful resolution for Israel? Secondly, and more to the point, Eshman and The Journal always print the “other side,” even when it sometimes gets personal, and that is worth preserving and fighting for. Even when a letter might make the editor look bad, it goes in and allows another side to be heard.

I would very much miss the verbal sparring if a change is deemed necessary. And to continue in this vein, the über-left “law firm” of Goldstein, Grater, Pine and Brous complain about their inability to speak while radicals are drowning them out, but has any one of them come out publicly (and not apologetically)  to condemn when Michael Oren and other Israeli government representatives suffer the same indignity? 

Allan Kandel
Los Angeles


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