December 28, 2006
Santa Claus; Uri Geller; Jimmy Carter
Santa for All
I enjoyed reading Larry Miller's article, "I'm Dreaming...of a White...Chri -- Er, Holidays" (Dec. 22).
I was born, raised and live in L.A. County, and I have yet to witness falling snow with white landscapes. Miller mentions telling his son that Santa is "for our Christian friends who celebrate Christmas." As a kid, I saw several Santas in one day, whether at the mall, at the Christmas tree lot or in the school lunch area. He was everywhere at the same time.
I don't recall feeling Santa was only for me or for all my fellow Christian believers. Santa was more of a free-enterprise guy with nonprofit status, who shills for major department stores and apparently still does. Santa Claus promised to bring you what was on your list on the condition you were a good little girl or boy, inclusively.
On hearing the words, "Merry Christmas," I feel like I should be living in Charles Dickens' merry England. A bit anachronistic of a term to be used in evolved American parlance, and one that most likely did not originate from original sacred Christian texts.
I would prefer to have something deeper, more meaningful. But for now, Merry Christmas, Larry Miller.
Although I generally admire The Jewish Journal, I feel compelled to write and say I find it disturbingly irresponsible of you to publish an article that presents Uri Geller's magic tricks as legitimate examples of psychic phenomena ("Can You Bend It Like Geller," Dec. 22).
To describe Geller as "controversial," as the article does, is not going nearly far enough. Geller has been conclusively debunked as a charlatan too many times to count, most notably by James Randi on the PBS program, "NOVA," in an episode originally broadcast on Oct. 19, 1993, titled, "Secrets of the Psychics.".
Geller is controversial only in the same sense that creationism is a controversial scientific theory. The facts remain, creationism is not science, and Geller is not psychic.
David Ian Salter
It is common in journalism when speaking of governmental dialogues to refer to national governments by their capital cities.
In "Regime Change" (Dec. 22), Rob Eshman suggests that "both Tel Aviv and Washington can fund ... broadcasts into Iran" to help bolster the moderate opposition there against the Ahmadinedjad government. My heart almost stopped when I read that sentence.
The capital of the State of Israel is Jerusalem. The seat of government for the Jewish state is in Jerusalem not Tel Aviv. And although the Jewish people will certainly never forget Jerusalem as our spiritual capital, it bears repeating in a Jewish publication that has seemingly gotten its facts a little mixed up (I only hope that the oversight was that benign) that the capital of the State of Israel is Jerusalem.
Being a supportive father of two lesbian daughters, I commend Rabbi Elliott Dorf for moving Conservative Judaism away from treating homosexuals as lesser beings by gaining passage of a ruling that permits same-sex ceremonies and ordination of gays ("Why the Conservative Movement Endorses Gays," Dec. 15).
Nevertheless, I recommend that my daughters look elsewhere to satisfy their religious needs, because they will continue to be subjected to criticism by many within Conservative Judaism.
As far as I am concerned, my daughters are wonderful human beings, and I love them dearly just the way they are. It matters not to me that Rabbi Joel Roth and others find their behavior to be a violation of longstanding Jewish law. Why should any Jew take pride in, or want to stand by, a very long tradition of abominable treatment of homosexuals?
Food for Thought
I enjoyed reading about Bob Goldberg and Paul Lewin in your recent article, "Follow Your Heart to a Vegetarian Chanukah Feast" (Dec. 15).
More and more people are looking for alternatives when planning meals, due to their objections to the animal cruelty rampant on factory farms. In fact, many Jewish religious leaders advocate vegetarian diets.
Confining animals in spaces so small that they can hardly move for their entire lives is simply too inhumane for any caring person to support.
Factory Farming Campaign
Humane Society of the United States
I am normally reluctant to urge people not to give to a charity ("With Friends Like These...," Dec. 15). However, I just replied to a solicitation from the Carter Center (to which I had been a contributor in the past) that I would not contribute to an organization whose leader tells falsehoods about Israel. I also asked them to take me off President Carter's Christmas card list. I urge any like-minded readers to do the same.
Response to Emerson Charges
[Steven] Emerson profits from the industry of fear. Emerson's McCarthyism is starting to sound like a broken record (Letters, Dec. 15). His outrageous charges would have been funny had they not been so dangerously Islamophobic.
Emerson insists on trying to defame CAIR by linking it to some New York event that CAIR did not organize, nor sponsor, nor participate in. CAIR was not even in existence in New York at the time of that event.
Emerson's pathetic attempt to smear CAIR and all those who don't agree with his extremist views as either anti-Semites or neo-Nazis is getting really old. It is quite ironic that Emerson's accusations were published only two days after CAIR had issued a strong statement condemning the Holocaust denial conference in Iran.
In its statement, CAIR wrote:
"No legitimate cause or agenda can ever be advanced by denying or belittling the immense human suffering caused by the murder of millions of Jews and other minority groups by the Nazi regime and its allies during World War II. Cynical attempts to use Holocaust denial as a political tool in the Middle East conflict will only serve to deepen the level of mistrust and hostility already present in that troubled region."
CAIR also expressed concern that individuals who have promoted racist views, like former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, were invited to speak at the conference.
No, Mr. Emerson, the problem is not language. The problem is you and extremists like you, from all sides, who wish to polarize our world in order to continue profiting from this industry of fear. The good news is that many of us, Muslims, Christians and Jews, are not buying into it anymore.
CAIR Southern California
The L.A. Wealth editorial in The Jewish Journal is thought provoking and profound in it's stark honesty, and I wholeheartedly support every word (Letters, Dec. 1). I think it may come down to the "look-the-other-way syndrome" that is commonly observed when the panhandler is standing by a busy intersection.
Life's frailness and vulnerability are often easier for many to deal with from a distance. In other words, putting distance and separation between the donor and the recipient may make the donor less cognizant of the fragile thread that separates us as human beings. "Perhaps if I support a cause, Kristalknacht will pass by my door."
The impersonal and indirect contribution to a museum or some such institution, rather than face-to-face grass-roots assistance, isn't likely to threaten the perceived immunity that wealth gives sheltered illusion to. At least that explanation is my hope, because if that's not it, the lack of a bronze nameplate on a donor's wall is all that's left, and God help them if that's the truth of the matter.
Robin Wesley Ream
San Antonio, Texas
I would just like to comment on what I'm positive so many of us nonpractitioners of Islam have thought about, and that is are we really truly valid in being petrified of Islam?
We normally can be described as tolerant and understanding of others' religious practices and beliefs, tolerant of others' political thoughts, and we have gone overboard to live side by side with the rest of the planet.
So is it rational that in the 21st century both Jews and non-Jews who are even lightly informed of Islam are downright scared of its spread and reach?
Is it because here in America we've seen no top Islamic leader stand at the podium and denounce suicide bombers, airline hijackers, caning of women and Muslim dictators bent on obtaining nukes and destroying not only Israel but the West?
Is it because we've heard no Islamic cleric come forward and actually slowly explain where obtaining 72 virgins in heaven for blowing up a bus full of civilians or a school full of kids comes from?
Are we reading the translations wrong and "ye shall put all nonbelievers to the sword" really means, "ye shall hug a nonbeliever and not blow him up?"
I mean I'm a fairly well-read and well-traveled individual, but how come it just seems that I'm not alone nor Islamophobic when I say I really dread if the day comes when the Taliban or the ayatollahs take over America.
Peter M. Shulman
Playa del Rey
Palestine Self Destruction
President Mahmoud Abbas called for elections on the heels of violent internecine bloodshed causing Palestine to erupt into full-scale civil war between Hamas and Fatah, as both sides deployed for battle in the streets. Will they blame the U.S. for this, too?
This is a culture of terror and blood feuds that has long been rampant in the Muslim world, from Indonesia to Turkey, Syria, Afghanistan, Darfur, Yemen, Uzbekistan, Algeria, Ethiopia, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, etc. It is an archaic culture where the gun is the favored tool of the electoral process. Will they ever learn that the curved blade turns back upon it's handler?
If they were to destroy their nemesis, Israel, the only democracy existing in their midst, their truculent ways would still continue and now with modern weaponry, lead to their own obliteration. The president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, would like to become champion of hundreds of millions of Muslims intimidated by tiny Israel by threatening and using nonconventional weapons. We have seen such a dictator in recent history, Adolf Hitler. Ahmadinejad is fomenting enough heat in the Middle East to cause the downfall of the more balanced governments.
He hopes to create a domino effect in his favor as the countries of the Middle East fall in his direction. Will Israel have to ally itself with the Saudis, Jordan and Turkey against Iran? What a mess.
Harry J. Grunstein
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