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January 24, 2008

Rabbi Cooper; Enough with the Spinka; Tuskeegee Airmen

http://www.jewishjournal.com/letters_to_the_editor/article/rabbi_cooper_enough_with_the_spinka_tuskeegee_airmen_20080125

Bloods, Crips and Rabbis
In profiling Rabbi Abe Cooper, I'm glad you mentioned his work in combating hate in cyberspace ("The Bloods, The Crips and The Rabbi," Jan. 18). What is particularly noteworthy is how he has resisted the temptation to push for government censorship and instead has heeded the teaching of Justice Louis Brandeis (who not incidentally was the first Jew on the U.S. Supreme Court), who wrote that those "who won our revolution were not cowards. They did not fear political change. They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty."

By supporting conferences and online technology to combat bigotry and anti-Semitism on the Internet, Cooper has adhered to Brandeis's proscription that "If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."

Stephen F. Rohde
Vice President
Progressive Jewish Alliance


Your headline on the front page of your Jan. 18 edition states, "What's This Guy Have to Do With the Crips?" Next to the headline is a dignified picture of Rabbi Abe Cooper. My question is why does a fine paper like The Jewish Journal find it necessary to downgrade the English language by using the slang word "guy" instead of using the word man? The television media standards continue to sink.

Please don't let the print media fall into the same abyss.

Leon M. Salter
Los Angeles


Dirty Laundry
One of the worst things that a Jewish person can do is to bring shame to the Jewish People ("Following the Spinka Money Trail," Jan. 11). Shame on you Jewish Journal. Your cover story and photograph did exactly that. I'm not saying that the story shouldn't have been covered. It could have been done in a less embarrassing way, and it certainly didn't need to be on the front page and in our faces. It's nothing to boast about or to be proud of.

In the future, I hope that you and The Jewish Journal will focus on the good things in our Jewish community and not bring us any unnecessary shame and embarrassment.

Judith Rubin
Los Angeles


Young Menschen
I must add to Rob Eshman and Marjorie Pressman's comments about our pride in Benji Davis and David Landau ("Brave + Mensch = ?" Dec. 28). Both Benji and David are former regional officers of Far West Region United Synagogue Youth.

Benji was the religion/education vice president from 2004-2005 and David was the Israel affairs vice president from 2005-2006. Following their graduations from high school, both young men spent their freshman year in Israel on the Nativ College Leadership Program, sponsored by the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism. I could not be prouder of these two remarkable young men. Kol Hakavod to their families and the "village" that helped raise them.

Merrill Alpert
Director, Youth Activities
Far West Region United Synagogue Youth


Pilots Over Auschwitz
The "Black Pilots Over Auschwitz" opinion piece by Rafael Medoff ... appears to strive for some relevancy but the message is diluted by its emphasis on the race of the fighter pilots (Jan. 18). What is unknown is if any of the pilots engaged in the mission of Aug. 20, 1944, to bomb the factories near Auschwitz were even remotely aware of the daily atrocities occurring at Auschwitz. History tells us that the chances are they were not. And if not, what does the race of the bomber or Mustang pilots have to do with the subject of the piece? If the all-white pilots of the Flying Fortresses could testify just as compellingly as the all-black pilots of the Mustangs to the technical viability of a bombing mission on Auschwitz -- which they obviously could -- what is the point of the piece?

Is it merely a "feel-good" to demonstrate that Jews and Blacks could have intersected at points in history to make life better for the both of us? Or is it something else?

By the by, it appears that Mr. Medoff has deconstructed, either intentionally or inadvertently, a most cherished historical "fact" ascribed to the Tuskeegee Airmen: that they never lost a plane they were tasked with protecting. Either they did, which makes a portion of the piece false; or they didn't, which makes their vaunted reputation a lie.

Franklin S. Adler
Beverly Hills


Program for Grandparents
Although I totally agree with organizing support groups for grandparents with intermarried children, and, in fact, have conducted similar programs for years, I take issue with the subtle derision aimed at "Hebrew school teachers" ("Program Helps Grandparents Nurture Interfaith Grandkids," Jan. 18). Would that every Jewish grandparent might have the devotion to educating our children that our teachers display each time they walk into the classroom.

Judy Aronson
Faculty member
Academy for Jewish Religion/California


Yiddish Dancers
As one of the co-chairs of the XIII Lithuanian Folk Dance Festival, I would like to express, on behalf of our organizing committee, our extreme disappointment with the Jan. 11, 2008 article by Jane Ulman titled "Lithuanian Festival Excludes Yiddish Dancers." The heading of the article strongly conveys the impression that we went out of our way to deliberately exclude Yiddish dancers from participating in our festival. This could not be more erroneous.

The Lithuanian Folk Dance Festival is an international celebration of Lithuanian Folk dance held every four years, whose sole purpose is the mission of preserving and nurturing the art of folk dancing together with its music, authentic costumes and traditions. Many groups have members of non-Lithuanian descent, and this is not a criterion for participation. The festival welcomes any group, or individual, that is willing to learn the dances as part of a synchronized routine. This is the only criterion for participating.

We urge you to avoid politicizing the XIII Lithuanian Folk Dance Festival and accept it as a cultural event that embraces all participants who come to celebrate Lithuanian dance. Donatas Empakeris
Co-Chairman
XIII Lithuanian Folk Dance Festival


End Hypocrisy
Why did you term [Venezuela President Hugo Chavez] an "anti-democratic wing-nut" ("End Hypocrisy Now," Jan. 4)? Even if he was attempting a constitutionally mandated power grab (which I concur he was doing), he still put the issue before the voters. Was he called a wing-nut for promoting adult literacy in which his followers were encouraged to use the Constitution to learn to read in order to vote? Was it because he is an indigenous leader that looks like the most impoverished sector of his nation? Or because he provides gasoline subsidies not only to his own people, but also to poorer Americans who purchase Citgo?

These were some of the perceptions of some of the non-Jews with whom I interact.

They note, particularly, that the mainstream U.S. media never use such terms for obvious dictators when they are pro-West and pro-Israel.

Gene Rothman
Culver City


Azeri Jews
I was appalled by Gabriel Lerner's blind acceptance of the Azeris' view of their war against Armenia ("Azeri Jews: Centuries of Coexistence in Azerbaijan," Jan. 11).

It seems that they, like the Palestinian gang, exist only to threaten their peaceful neighbor.

They started the war with Armenia, beginning with pogroms against Armenian civilians in Baku. They claim Nagorno-Karabakh although it is an Armenian province, populated by Armenians. Armenia did not conquer it, any more than the Jewish yishuv conquered Israel: The Armenian residents, like the Palestinian Jews, defended themselves against their vicious and avaricious neighbors. The territory was given to Azerbaijan by the Soviet Union, which had no right to dispose of it so, and the Azeris feel, like typical Muslims, that any gain, no matter how ill gotten, must remain forever theirs.

I will not credit the Azeris' claim of Armenian atrocities against them in 1918 before I hear the Armenians' response to that accusation, and I expect The Journal to solicit that response for the next issue.

I am ashamed of those Jews who helped Muslims kill people who are quite as civilized, gentle and unjustly oppressed as Jews. I am horrified to read of Israeli arms supplied to Azerbaijan to continue the slaughter. How will I face my Armenian friends?

Louis Richter
Encino


Could Blair Be the One?
In his Jan. 18 column, Rob Eshman asks if Tony Blair, in his new role as the special Middle East envoy of the U.N., could be the one who brings peace to the Middle East ("Could Blair Be the One?" Jan. 18).

In early 1940, FDR sent Sumner Welles, the undersecretary of state, on a tour of London, Paris, Rome and Berlin to sound out the parties on a possible "general settlement" that would end the war in Europe, then in a quiet phase. Welles' mission, of course, had no success, and soon thereafter the Nazis conquered Western Europe. To answer Eshman, Blair will not be the one, nor will the next "special envoy" or the one or two or three after that one, because of the mindset of the Arabs, including our good friends the Egyptians and the Saudis and the Jordanians. This might be news to Bush and Blair and Rice and the United Nations, but it's obvious to anyone who brushes self-delusion from his eyes.

Chaim Sisman
Los Angeles


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