September 28, 2011
Letters to the Editor: UN-Vote, Bimah, Los Angeles Jewish Home, Rick Perry
When my husband slapped the paper down on the table and said, “Cancel our subscription, I cannot read the rest of Rob Eshman’s editorial” (“UN-Vote,” Sept. 16), I picked up the paper expecting to see a refutation of President Obama labeled as “that well-known Israel hater,” later in the article. Instead, the same slander is repeated in the fourth paragraph.
Usually good with words and believing that we should hear all sides of an argument, this calumny makes me sick. Please return my subscription money, or send me a personal note of explanation. It is never too late for teshuvah. If I have offended Mr. Eshman, I am sorry. Now it is his turn.
Rob Eshman responds: Evidently my attempt at sarcasm failed miserably. There is no evidence to support the idea that Obama is a “well-known Israel hater.” The idea is popular in some Jewish circles. I find it so outlandish, especially in the context of the upcoming U.N. vote, that I thought I’d poke fun at it.
Politics on the Bimah
As a fellow member of the Board of Rabbis Executive committee who has successfully advocated for the board to take positions on certain political issues, I differed with Rabbi Vogel’s conclusion that rabbis should remain carefully neutral when speaking from the bimah (“Politics on the Bimah,” Sept. 9). At Stephen S. Wise Temple, a large portion of my responsibilities includes engaging our membership in political activism for social justice. In that capacity, I often speak about issues such as immigration reform, climate change, budgetary decisions and advocacy for public education, to name a few. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote: “any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the economic conditions that damn the soul, the social conditions that corrupt men, and the city governments that cripple them, is a dry, dead, do-nothing religion in need of new blood.”
I fear that the risk for religious leaders who do not speak out on the major social issues of our day is to make religion irrelevant. Religions are concerned with morality and ethics, and public policy reflects particular values. Having said that, religion is an interpretive means of expression, so it goes without saying that the ideas that one religious leader culls from the words of his or her faith are a product of that person’s identity and beliefs. Therefore, it is incumbent upon religious leaders to maintain respect for divergent views.
Rabbi Ron Stern
Remember Jewish Home’s Volunteers
In answer to the proposed question of how do we maintain programs when funding is pulled back (“Turning 100: Los Angeles Jewish Home Has Ambitious Growth Plans,” Sept. 16), I feel the efforts of the vast amount of volunteers were not recognized as a vital force in helping to maintain programs at the Home. These volunteers give of themselves in many tireless ways. They are out in our Jewish community educating others about the values of the Home and accepting donations from helpful contributors. With these donations, many projects are accomplished, such as the Red Hat event pictured in your article.
Please continue to highlight the Jewish Home’s 100 years of caring for our growing elderly community.
Marty Kaplan’s explanation about how voters’ views can be manipulated by either compliments or incitement offers a very important lens into the goals and methods of conservative talk radio (“Letting Animals Vote,” Sept. 23). It is difficult for talk radio to manipulate its listeners’ views through the use of compliments. Instead, talk radio employs the use of incitement to demonize and vilify all sorts of groups as enemies. As Mr. Kaplan writes, “There’s nothing like inducing a siege mentality to make people impervious to evidence that contradicts them.”
Boteach on Perry
You have to love Rabbi Shmuley Boteach with his folksy, soft-sell Orthodox Judaism. However, I was bemused by his plea to Texas Gov. Rick Perry to consider “universal Jewish values” (“Dear Gov. Perry: Instill Christian Values With Some Jewish Ones,” Sept. 23). Shmuley’s claim to have a “deep-seated love and respect for my Evangelical brothers and sisters” seems to me to be disingenuous. Shmuley knows that the Evangelical Christian belief in the Rapture constitutes a rejection of Judaism.
Martin J. Weisman
Making Social Responsibility Affordable
I’m really not a social activist. Many of the columnists in The Jewish Journal urge us to put our money where our mouth is and to take socially responsive positions (e.g., to boycott corporations or governments that are anti-union or discriminate against gays, immigrants etc.). Recently, the diplomatic position of Turkey has changed from friendly to Israel to downright hostile. Many readers are alumni of UCLA, USC or other universities that sponsor travel programs. UCLA is one participant in a summer Black Sea cruise, which spends four days in Turkish ports. Few of us are fortunate enough to have enough disposable income for lavish travel plans. I no longer feel that I can spend money that will wind up in Turkey. In a broader sense, wouldn’t it be more socially responsible to spend our discretionary travel dollars in recession-impacted areas like California, the United States or our two closest North American neighbors?
Boyle Heights Remembered
WOW! Just by reading the article (”Boyle Heights, the Sequel,” July 16), memories floated into my brain about Boyle Heights. From 1948 to the mid-1950s, the pediatrics office of my late husband, Dr. Joseph Eiser, was at the corner of Brooklyn and Soto, right next to the famous Currie’s ice cream cone. In his office in a converted apartment building at 306 N. Soto, Dr. Joe dedicated his life to helping children of all backgrounds stay healthy while also diagnosing and curing illnesses. He also made emergency house calls all over the area and to City Terrace, Aliso Village and other areas around Boyle Heights. Eventually, we and many other Jewish veterans of World War II and their families moved east to the San Gabriel Valley — in our case, to Monterey Park and then to Montebello, where the Jewish Educational Center (which become Temple B’nai Emet) was built to house, for many years, a more-than 500-member congregation, remnants of which still hold regular services. Though he kept his practice in Boyle Heights for several years and sent his children to the Jewish Academy on Breed Street, eventually he moved his office to Monterey Park, where he continued to serve many loyal and also new patients of varied ethnic groups. These included adults, after he completed his studies to become a Fellow of the American Association of Allergists. Today, he is remembered with gratitude for his devotion to taking care of so many people and even saving their lives. Though Dr. Joe passed away in 1997, we are touched and thrilled when my family and I still meet many generations of former patients — some of whom still live in the area and some who have moved — who remember him and express their appreciation for the excellent, individualized care he gave to them, their children or in some cases even their grandchildren. His good deeds keep his memory alive in Boyle Heights and beyond.
Middle East Conflict
Is there a rift between the United States and Israel (“Is Rift Looming in U.S.-Israel Ties?”)? Not a chance. The real conflict is with the liberal-statist juggernaut of President Obama and company.
Well did Mayor Ed Koch denounce the president: “We campaigned for him, and all he has done is throw Israel under the bus.”
The president and his cadre of leftists support the perennial underdog Palestinians just because they are weak. Unfortunately, none of these pols is willing to acknowledge that the Palestinians’ weakened status in the Middle East is due to the interminable prodding and cajoling of hostile Arab states that wish to jam this never-ending thorn of Palestinian statehood into the side of the Jewish state.
Every attempt to disrupt peace is one more attempt to delegitimize the Jewish state. President Obama has inadvertently hastened this harassment from denouncing the Jews’ right to build Jewish settlements in Jewish territory, to urging Prime Minister Netanyahu to offer retracting Israel’s border back to pre-1967 lines.
The American president wants peace at any cost, even if it eventually endangers the Jewish state. Israel deserves peace, but not at the cost of its own existence.
The rift with Israel, therefore, is not with the United States as a whole, but with the current president, whose term of office is likely to be cut conveniently short by the next presidential election.
Arthur Christopher Schaper
President Abbas in his recent speech clearly enunciated what he and what the Palestinian leadership mean by “occupation.”
He stated, “What I will take to the UN will be the suffering and concerns of our people that have taken place over 63 years living under the occupation.”
Sixty-three years subtracted from 2011 equals 1948, which is when Israel was created by the United Nations.
When Abbas referred to 63 years of occupation, he was actually defining the Palestinian mind-set that “occupation” meant Israel’s “occupation” of Israel from 1948 through 1967 plus Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza from 1967 through 2011. This new concept of Israel’s “occupation” is now referred to by Palestinian leaders as Israel’s occupation of the area which Israel took control of in the 1967 war; however, the Palestinian leadership, by every act and every word in Arabic, intends to use this “return to 1967 borders” as its “peaceful” stepping stone to the elimination of Israel.
Furthermore, there are at this moment three Palestinian formal documents that call for Israel’s destruction: the Hamas 1988 Constitution, the Fatah Constitution of 1964 and the 1968 amended PLO Charter (Covenant). There has been no attempt to modify the Fatah or Hamas constitutions. There has been an attempt to allegedly amend the 1968 PLO Charter pursuant to Palestinian obligations in the 1995 Oslo II accord. A careful review of events and documents from 1993 through the Dec. 14, 1998, vote by the PNC and the leaders of the Palestinians casts serious doubts about any alleged amendments of the Charter. No new Charter has ever surfaced. If there ever were a new Charter, the Palestinian 2000 intifada violated any attempt to allegedly modify the Charter.
There have been 108 average annual Israeli civilian deaths from Palestinian terrorists from Jan. 1, 1999, through Dec. 31, 2009, versus 28 annual average Israeli civilian deaths from Palestinian terrorists from Jan. 1, 1949, through Dec. 31, 1998, which further illustrates the “benefit” of peace agreements with the Palestinian leadership.
We respect the jury process and its decision on the “Irvine 11.” The jury determined that the students’ actions were unlawful and will never be tolerated. It is unfortunate that these students didn’t respect the responsibilities of free speech. The decision sends a clear message: The right to free speech includes the right to be heard; people must learn to be tolerant of opposing views; trying to shout down others is tyranny of the mob, not free speech — a heckler’s veto. This case is a watershed. We hope that other activists will learn the lesson of this incident and in the future, protest in an appropriate and legal manner. Our video of the “Irvine 11’s” disruptions brought this issue to public attention. Our videographer taped the event and the gathering outside where the “Irvine 11” and their supporters boasted about the success of their preplanned disruption. The video went viral on YouTube with over three-quarters of a million views. Our videographers’ tapes were also used in the trial. We hope that these tapes and the consequences will help restore reasonable, informed debate on campuses and elsewhere.
An opinion piece on the Palestinian bid for statehood at the U.N. (“Silver Linings in Palestinian Statehood,” Sept. 23) should have stated that if the Palestinians get approval in the U.N. General Assembly but fail with the Security Council vote, they will be able to use international criminal courts.