March 27, 2008
Take our spoof, please
My neighbor asked me to throw away any newspapers on her driveway while she was away. So, I have been picking up The Jewish Journal for two weeks. I was shocked by the cover with Ann Coulter appearing as a date with a plastic looking Jesus (Cover, March 21).
I couldn't imagine what bad taste possessed the editors to feature this joke in the middle of Easter holy week.
Does this mean that The Journal is anti-Christian/Catholic, or maybe it means the staff of The Journal is so insular that they are clueless what might be offensive to another religion?
At the very least you have bad taste.
I was shocked and appalled to see Jesus on the cover of your March 21 issue. Wait a minute.
No, I wasn't.
Keep up the good work.
It's an altogether unrealistic notion to expect Barack Obama to become as beholden to the Jews as he would be to anyone else ("Dear Senator," March 21).
If he's truly the sort of candidate who can represent every viewpoint equally (and he most likely is just that sort of candidate among all those running), then his looking forward to the day when "Israeli and Palestinian children can live in peace" should be very fervently commended and not rejected so insensitively by [Beverly Hills Mayor Jimmy] Delshad in the manner it was.
The editorial was just another illustration of how we get so identified with only our group and its agendas.
I was at the "Live for Sderot" concert on Feb. 27, and 1,200 Jews did not boo Obama ("Dear Senator," March 21). Yes, there were boos, but there were some cheers, too.
But putting politics aside, I have to say that I, for one, do look forward to a day when "Israeli and Palestinian children can live in peace." I doubt I'll see that in my lifetime (I'm 54 years old) but it's a sentiment that I agree with and one that I'm sure my Israeli relatives agree with, too.
Is that a terrible thing for me to say? I don't think so.
Barack Obama has done a superlative job in parrying any criticism toward him into an overall discussion about race relations in the United States ("Obama Ties to 'Separatist' Pastor Raise Big Questions," March 21).
If he were a professor of history, I would say his speech was superlative. But unfortunately, he not a professor; he is a candidate for our nation's highest office. If I were to judge a person by his words alone and not his actions, let alone inactions, I would have been tempted to buy into it.
As a 77-year-old who has listened to the sermons of Rabbi Max Nussbaum of Temple Israel of Hollywood for approximately 30 years, I was harangued continually with his call for brotherhood and corrections of evils perpetuated in Little Rock in the 1950s and Mississippi in the 1960s.
At the same time, my wife listened to Rabbi Leonard Beerman of Leo Baeck Temple in West Los Angeles, who paid his dues with calls for brotherhood by marching with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma in the 1950s.
We had every opportunity to leave our respective sanctuaries, but we agreed with what we heard and we remained.
Contrast this to Obama, who cannot deny knowing contents of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's sermons spouting hatred for the past 20 years and also knowing of Wright's endorsement of racist Louis Farrakhan. Obama, knowing what he knew, remained in his church. If he claims not knowing, he was, what they call in freshman law school, showing a studious desire to remain ignorant.
In any event, Obama gives moving speeches, but his inactions speak louder. There is no place for him in any public office, let alone as president.
So, Daphne Ziman and others of her political persuasion continue to attack Barack Obama, despite his clearly stated support for Israel and the strong defense he has received from virtually every bona fide mainstream Jewish organization and leader ("Sen. Obama, Answer My Questions on Your Past." March 21).
Let's put the same shoe Ziman does on our own Jewish leadership. Recently, Herschel Schachter, the head of the rabbinic training program at Yeshiva University, openly called for the assassination of the Israeli prime minister, should he negotiate over the future status of Jerusalem.
So, where is the condemnation from within our community? Should all Orthodox Jews disaffiliate from Yeshiva University? Has the rabbi been fired, or have students and faculty staged a walkout?
Avigdor Lieberman is an avowed racist and proponent of ethnic cleansing but was an accepted member of Israel's ruling coalition. Where was the great outcry among the leaders and rank and file of world Jewry?
The ultra-Orthodox Jews of Israel threaten and physically attack fellow Jews who do not meet their standards of religious observance. What sanctions have American Jewish organizations proposed be taken to end support for these radical cults?
There are some Jews who only find nuance, complexity and even understanding as positive qualities when found in our own community. I believe Ziman and her fellow anti-Obama hatemongers to be among them.
The March 8, 2008, Letter to the Editor titled, "CAMERA Ad," mistakenly indicated that CAMERA was involved with the ad in question. It was not. Additionally, Dexter Van Zile was mistakenly listed as a "disaffected United Church of Christ minister." He is in fact the chair of Board of Deacons of Brighton-Allston Congregational Church in Boston, Mass., and serves as its delegate to the MA Conference and to the Metropolitan Boston Association.
Letter to My Secular Friend
I'm one of the secular Jews of Tel Aviv whom Orit Arfa refers to in her article, " A Letter to My Secular Friend in Tel Aviv" (March 14).
Having been an activist in Meretz, the political beacon of the Israeli left for more than 15 years, I allow myself to write to you, telling you how disappointed I am with The Jewish Journal's decision to publish the article.
Mr. Eshman, I can't tell you how offensive I have found this article, how shallow in its generalizations, how patronizing in its tone.
Merkaz Harav is a yeshiva that is a stronghold of extremist right-wing ideology.
Students and rabbis at the yeshiva have continuously, strongly opposed reconciliation with the Palestinians and any concessions in the peace process.
I would like to suggest that this ideology has led to dismissal of Arfa's friend and her difficulty to identify herself with an institution that had gained reputation for fostering extremism and hatred.
Arfa suggests that the students at Merkaz Harav serve in the army, while my friends don't contribute to national causes. How ridiculous.
Students at Merkaz Harav usually serve for a significantly shorter period of time (although in combat units) -- the hesder program. Some serve all three years; some don't serve at all and receive exemptions as the ultra-Orthodox do.
Moreover, the religious-Zionist Gen. Stern recently strongly criticized the hesder program, because it creates separation and favoritism within the army.
I was an officer in the army. My brother was a pilot. My friends (both men and women, mind you) served in the army, in combat units and others. My brother's friends lie 6-feet under the ground, and I read that they sat in the yeshiva "because they wanted me to be safe."
I know no single person who did not condemn the brutal and horrifying murder of the yeshiva boys, I and my friends and Meretz members of parliament included. But this disgusting terror act should not serve as an excuse to portray us as traitors who are willing "to burn the book!"
Orit Arfa was very upset by an insensitive remark by a friend concerning the massacre of innocent yeshiva students by a Muslim zealot ("A letter to My Secular Friend in Tel Aviv," March 14).
It is difficult to understand the murdering of innocents by a sane human being. It was reported that some Muslims celebrated.
Let us turn the calendar back to Feb. 25, 1994. Orthodox Jewish settler Dr. Baruch Goldstein entered a mosque in Hebron and murdered 29 praying Muslims and wounded 150. Other congregants overpowered and killed him.
It is my understanding that Goldstein's gravesite has been made a shrine by the Orthodox. Regardless of the particular religion, fundamentalists can become fanatics, and fanatics can become terrorists.
Martin J. Weisman
Thank you for the Mel Levine article on Barack Obama in the March 21 issue ("Obama's Record on Israel Repudiates Critics"). It was truly enlightening.
This has been a most challenging election year for the Democrats. Much negative press has attacked Obama. It really helps to learn what the other side of the debate has to offer.
The Jewish community is naturally concerned with the effect of U.S. leadership on the conflict in the Middle East, but if Obama really has the integrity combined with intellect that is needed in dealing with the conflict, we need to be aware of the benefits he could provide, in order to be able to weigh both sides of the option more wisely.
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