December 4, 2008
Prop H8, gratuitous, immature, Islam
I have read the articles about how gay couples are distraught at the passage of Proposition 8 ("Where's the Struggle," Nov. 21). How about an article from The Jewish Journal about how devastating it is for faithful Mormons to see their temple property trashed? Why not publish pictures showing signs reportedly held by demonstrators that read, "Mormon scum"?
It has been reported that donors to Proposition 8 are being blacklisted, rocks have been thrown through church windows, businesses are being boycotted and a book sacred to Mormons was found ablaze on a front porch.
Hmmm. Scapegoats, temples attacked, book burning. Does this sound familiar to Jews? Many who share these views -- the majority of Nov. 4's electorate -- are hiding their yellow signs and bumper stickers supporting Proposition 8 for fear of being outed and attacked verbally and physically. The vocal minority is on the rampage.
Although religion plays a significant role in our culture of marriage, it is not an issue of law regarding Proposition 8 ("Where's the Struggle," Nov. 21).
For myself, I am fine if gays are able to marry, and I am sure that I would not even notice, aside from the media extravaganza. My interest here is in the surprising dialogue uttered by political leaders, state Supreme Court justices, highly regarded law professors, pundits, journalists and everyone else who seems to have little understanding of the basic nature of law.
The equal protection clause does not mean that all people and things are equal, as in the same. The law does not intend to make all people and things the same, nor is it capable of doing so.
The equal protection clause means that the law will be applied equally to all citizens. My American Heritage dictionary, copyright 2001, defines marriage as the civil union between a man and a woman, as husband and wife. A civil union is a contract by law. In Western culture, marriage has been defined as between a man and woman across continents for centuries, meaning that it has long-standing precedence in law.
Our culture has evolved, and now we recognize a new kind of civil union between two people of the same sex. A union between two people of the same sex is dramatically different than a union between a man and a woman.
I am not saying anything here about one union being better than the other or one is good and the other bad, but I am saying that they are dramatically different, so where in our Constitution does it say that you have a right to legal nomenclature, which has long standing in law, of meaning something other than you wish it to be?
Homosexual couples under civil union and heterosexual couples under marriage, which means civil union, have equal actionable rights, meaning the law is applied the same to both unions. The legal terms applied to the two unions are different, because they are different types of civil unions, not the same in nature, but treated equally in applied law.
A civil union between a man and woman is the only existing union of two people that is capable of producing a child, in and of itself. No other type of union is capable of producing a child within the bounds of the legal union, with the child being of the DNA of the man and woman of the union, which is very unique, different and therefore not the same. No religion is necessary here, as this distinction is a matter of biological science.
The gay activists say that the discrimination is from the stigma of the term and that it is a term that means second-class citizen. People seem to have no understanding of what discrimination in law means.
All humans and government institutions discriminate in the course of daily life. Discrimination means to identify and classify according to difference. If you have a table full of apples and oranges and you identify which are apples and which are oranges, you are discriminating by difference.
Discrimination in law means that classification is used to cause harm by applying law unequally. Where did the legal term, "civil union," come about this perceived stigma? The term marriage means civil union, so why doesn't the term marriage carry this perceived stigma?
It is because the perceived stigma is not of the term but of the homosexuality. The law is a series of rules, not an emotional rendering of how people feel. Both unions enjoy equal application of the law, which is all the law is required to administer.
And what about the second-class citizen argument? Well, we have class licenses in law, meaning that different classes of licenses have differing applications of law. The state of California civil union law for homosexual couples is not a class license.
If a gay couple has all the rights of law as the heterosexual couple, and then they have the term marriage, will that make them a heterosexual couple in the eyes of the public and government? Of course not, which is why this debate is so silly and serves as another example of why we the people are really not very sophisticated, even at the highest levels of authority.
Marina del Rey
A Moderate Proposal
Rob Eshman laments not having space to do justice to the views of Christopher Hitchens and Rabbi David Wolpe in their debate at the Wilshire Theatre ("A Moderate Proposal," Nov. 21). If he would have left out the totally gratuitous description of what Hitchens was drinking, he would have had more space to write something useful.
Christopher Hitchens is not a bad guy, but he is immature; he needs to grow up ("A Moderate Proposal," Nov. 21). I hope some day he does. I'm praying for him.
Reaching Across Divide
"There are some anti-Jewish attitudes in the Muslim world -- Firestone said," as reported in your article, "Mosques, Synagogues Reach Across Divide," which gushes over 'twinning' under the name of confronting Islamophobia and anti-Semitism together (Nov. 14).
Some? Is the good rabbi deaf or blind? Just get on the Internet for God's sake, and it is not a pun. "Death to the Jews," "Death to America," "Death to the infidel" are broadcast daily on Al-Jazeera and other places.
In these dialogues, the underdog is helping the other side to become even more powerful. Islam is not only a religion but a dictatorial, tyrannical political system. They are not preaching love, understanding, freedom, equality, women's rights or democracy, only jihad to take over the world. Not my words, theirs.
And we should worry about Islamophobia?
They need to change first; then we sit down to talk.
Dr. Robert Reyto
Lying to Bubbe
I just read the letter, "Thou Shalt Not Lie," responding to Teresa Strasser's column about lying to her grandmother about her husband's background (Letters, Nov. 14). The letter writer was outraged at Strasser's deceit, and he only got it half right. The real moral failure here is with the editor-in-chief, Robert Eshman, for running the column in the first place and goading such writers on.
Evidently, he relishes such misadventure and, by publishing the piece, endorses it.
I enjoyed David Suissa's article, "Warrior Mom" (Nov. 14), very much, particularly because I know Esther Kandel personally. Our families have been friends for four generations.
The article reminded me of what happened to Esther Kandel's great-grandmother, who was also named Esther. Her husband went to America to seek a better life, leaving his wife back in Russia. The First World War broke out before she could join him.
Alone with three young children and also pregnant, there was no way of communicating, let alone get any financial help for five long years. She supported her family on her own, smuggling cigarettes across the border, which was very hard and dangerous work.
Eventually, a year or two after the war, they were reunited in El Paso, Texas. I am sure her namesake would have been very proud of her courageous and fearless great-grandchild.
No Money, No Cry
Yes, it's time to get creative, but stretching a buck is nothing new for Levantine Cultural Center ("No Money, No Cry," Nov. 28). For years, we have presented cultural arts programs that bring Arabs, Muslims and Jews together to listen to music, watch films, contemplate the ideas of authors and imagine the Middle East/North Africa not an embattled region but as a constellation of communities with a great deal in common.
And we've done it with less than $100,000 a year. Our funding has been strictly grass roots, perhaps because major donors are still scratching their heads, trying to figure out how their Jewish, Arab, Iranian, Armenian or other specific agenda is represented by a pancultural organization that eschews national identities for a shared dialogue of civilizations.
The Levantine Cultural Center is not a Jewish organization per se, although there are several Jews on our board and advisory board. Yet we have managed, with very little money, to prove the viability of a broader agenda that serves the interests of a Jewish community that seeks peace with Israel's neighbors.
We view the current economic crisis not as a time to retreat but an opportunity to expand our partnerships and welcome new members and supporters to the table.
Levantine Cultural Center
Now that a mensch will be moving into the White House, I hope that Judea Pearl's words are brought to his attention ("It's Time for Words to Lead the Peace Process," Nov. 21). In my opinion, Obama must cajole the United Nations into passing a resolution proclaiming that the world body will not allow the State of Israel to disappear.
Then, why must the Palestinians accept Israel as a "Jewish State" if Israel considers itself a democracy? If 80 percent of the citizens are Jewish, isn't that enough? Eighty-eight percent of Ireland's citizens are Roman Catholic, but I have never heard democratic Ireland called a "Roman Catholic state".
The degree of hatred now on both sides may preclude any hope for a peaceful two-state resolution, but I think Pearl's words could help make a miracle.
Martin J. Weisman
Like poisoned mushrooms sprouting after a toxic rain, the Nov. 21 edition of The Journal contains two articles urging that more energy be put into the fictitious peace process by Israel and the incoming Obama Administration ("New Administration Must Pursue Mideast Peace").
Some readers may recall Faisal Husseini, a "Palestinian moderate" who died in 2001. Before his death, Husseini openly said that Oslo was simply a Trojan horse, and that this ruse had succeeded in gulling the Israelis.
Despite all that has happened since the "peace process" openly collapsed in 2000, nothing seems to faze the naifs in the Israeli government or their ideological confreres who write in various Jewish publications. It's as if the British government had insisted on continuing talks with the Nazi regime, while German bombs were falling on London in 1940-41.
Let's all clap our hands if we believe in the "peace process" and the "two-state solution!"
The deaths of Rebbe Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivkah, as well as the nearly 200 killed in Mumbai, remind us of the perilous nature of zealous terrorism. We've seen these enemies before; we will see them again; we will continue to be bombarded, bombed, shelled, shot at and beaten, but we will not be overwhelmed. We hadn't for centuries; who's to say we will be.
The events in Mumbai are impossible to grapple with, and we feel impotent, immobile in the face of it. Are we supposed to pray and say, "All is in His hands?"
There is a need to be cognizant of our prayers but more forthright in our steadfastness and strength about what we believe to be right in the midst of tyranny and oppression.
Some find solace in prayer; some find solace in quiet mediation. Words can't surmise the feelings of loss in this tragedy, but maybe the passage from Psalms help us feel reassured:
"They are brought down and fallen, but we are risen and stand upright."
Why should we let terrorists win out when we know there are those who are selfless, like the Holtzbergs, who gave their lives to better others?
The lives of Rabbi Holtzberg and his wife will now embolden and inspire their 2-year-old son, Moshe, an orphan. He will learn the nobleness of living a rewarding life in the midst of immorality, chaos and danger.
"Lord, deliver us; may the King answer us on the day we call."
Fear may be the easiest emotion to feel now, but I feel it should be steward-determined resoluteness in the face of these harsh realities.
The sophistication of evil cannot defeat the simplification of human decency.
Violent terror has killed hundreds, millions, perhaps billions, over centuries of our people.
The rabbi and his wife were giving people. The names we do not know from this massacre were businessmen, locals and tourists who all espoused their freedom.
Let us not extinguish that flame of hope that symbolizes our common core decency.
Rabbi Harold Schulweis of Valley Beth Shalom in Encino was incorrectly referred to in Circuit ("Schulweis Gets ADL Daniel Pearl Award," Nov. 28) as rabbi emeritus. He continues to serve as an influential and active pulpit and teaching rabbi at VBS, as he has since 1970.
In "Diller Awards Recognize Teens' Extraordinary Efforts" (The Jewish Journal Giving Guide, November 2008), the correct name of the chair of the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards selection committee is Barbara Rosenberg. The age range for qualified nominees is 13-19. Nominations are due Feb. 17.