September 16, 2004
Quite a Show
That was quite a show the Jewish Republican Coalition put on at the Republican Convention with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the New York Jewish Federation and other Jewish organizations participating and singing the praises of our president as a great friend of Israel ("The Hardliner," Aug. 6). They conveniently overlook the fact that before his campaign got into high gear he was critical of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, opposed to the Barrier Wall and mealy mouthed about Israel's right (and obligation to its citizens) to retaliate with full force, among other criticisms. They also forget that he opposes a woman's right to choose, stem cell research and proclaims his connection to a Christian God and increasingly chips away at the constitutionally guaranteed separation of church and state.
Overlooked, too, is the fact that the Bush dynasty has been embedded with the Saudis (who are viciously anti-Semitic and have funded terrorists) for many years.
Dell Scott, Encino
In his recent column, "Kerry Needs Clarity," Bill Boyarsky asserts that Sen. John Kerry's difficulties appealing to voters for whom national security is their fundamental concern simply stems from his lack of clarity answering questions on this issue (Sept. 10).
On the contrary, even putting aside Kerry's waffling and contradictory statements on Iraq, his 20-year Senate career is actually a model of clarity on issues of national security. His otherwise undistinguished tenure has been punctuated by a consistent record opposing the use of our military to defend our basic security interests. Why else would Kerry have to fall back on his four months in Vietnam some 35 years ago as his central qualification to be commander-in- chief? Kerry's problem is not that his campaign statements lack clarity; it is that his Senate record is so clearly weak on matters of national security.
Arthur Willner, Tarzana
In the recent article, "Political Activism Inspires Iranians," Karmel Melamed writes, "Political activism is a unique phenomenon for Iranian Jews, who, for 2,500 years in Iran, had been barred from taking part in political activities and had been denied certain civil rights" (Sept. 10). While the article is very well written and informative, I must disagree with this sweeping statement because it is simply not correct.
The Iranian Jewish community is one of the most ancient in the world, and from the time of Cyrus the Great until the late Sassanian period just before the Islamic invasion of Iran, the country's Jewish citizens played an important role in the Persian Empire and, indeed, occupied a position of privilege for much of Iran's pre-Islamic history (two of Iran's empresses were Jews, including Queen Esther).
The author's statement gives the impression that Iran is like most European countries where anti-Semitism goes to their cultural and historic cores. The fact is that the marginalization of Iran's Jews occurred mostly after the Islamification of Iran and did not have an Iranian cultural basis.
Dr. Adrian Norbash, Calgary, Canada
Temple Aliyah and Temple Judea are delighted to be the two L.A.-area synagogues referred to in The Jewish Journal who have received a joint grant from the STAR for development and implementation of the Synaplex Initiative ("Synaplex Revives Synagogues," Sept. 3). This grant represents a unique partnering of a Reform and Conservative congregation, the first time such a collaboration has taken place with the Synaplex program.
On the second Shabbat of each month, innovative, exciting and inspirational programs for all ages will enrich our synagogue community. We invite you to join us beginning Oct. 8 and 9. For more information, call (818) 758-3809.
Rabbi Don Goor, Temple Judea
Rabbi Karen Bender, Temple Judea
Rabbi Dan Moskovitz, Temple Judea
Sheila Linderman and Alan Schiff, Synaplex Co-chairs Temple Judea
Rabbi Stewart Vogel, Temple Aliyah
Rabbi Rachel Bovitz, Temple Aliyah
Synaplex Chair Temple Aliyah
Stanley Sheinbaum may have some very fine qualities ("Father of the Leftist Guard," Sept. 10). One unforgivable moral blind spot, however, has been his enduring friendship with Yasser Arafat, whose professed goal has always been the destruction of the State of Israel. Worse yet, Sheinbaum has continued to dispense advice and encouragement to the Palestinian Authority, even while 1,000 innocent Israeli men, women and children have been systematically murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists.
Joseph Strapp, Los Angeles
Cathy Young ("Texas GOP Pushes 'Christian Nation,'" July 23), objects to the symbolic reference to America as a Christian nation. But the European religious landscape raises the question of whether such symbolic slights are Jews' biggest problem.
The Texas platform contrasts with the new European Union Constitution, which, at France's behest, omits any reference to God.
In this secular environment, French Jews are denied the right to wear kippot in school, denied the right to vote absentee if an election falls on a Jewish holiday and denied accommodations when exams fall on Shabbat. Several European nations have outlawed the production or even importation of kosher meat, and others are threatening to outlaw circumcision, as well.
These restrictions are supposedly pro-animals and children, rather than anti-Jewish, in motivation. But Jews cannot thrive where religion does not.
In places like Texas, religion is deemed a constructive activity that deserves respect (even when it's a minority denomination).
In places like France, it's considered by many to be a nonconstructive, divisive activity that must yield before other goods, like "social unity" or the rights of animals.
Jews have less to fear from positive support for religion than from negative restrictions on it. The Christian resolution might make some Jews uncomfortable, but it does not make their religious practice illegal.
Mitchell Keiter, Los Angeles
Mark Pelavin's essay on the need to renew dialogue with Presbyterian leaders makes me wonder if he has actually read the resolutions passed by this church ("We Must Renew Presbyterian Dialogues," Aug. 13).
Certainly, most Presbyterians are as shocked as I am by what their leaders are doing. As they should be, because the behavior of these men is shocking.
The Presbyterian resolutions call for turning Israel into a Muslim/Palestinian state by demanding "the right of [Palestinian] refugees to return to their homeland."
And while the formal resolutions did not brand democratic Israel as an apartheid state, the church's official press release did. Moreover, the leaders of this church, notably Stated Clerk Clinton Kirkpatrick, have libeled Israel by accusing it of apartheid in numerous formal statements, the earliest at least four years old.
The leadership of the Presbyterian Church is quite deliberately working to destroy the Jewish state by demanding a right of return, by promoting divestment, by regularly publishing outright untruths about events in Israel and by demonizing Israel in programming and official statements going back over a decade.
I believe that the Jewish community will be best served not by talking with the Israel-hating Presbyterian leadership at the national level but by going directly to the millions of Presbyterian pastors, elders and individual Christians who understand that the Jewish state has a right both to exist and to defend itself.
Diana Appelbaum, Boston Israel Action Committee Newton, Mass.
Bravo to Managing Editor Amy Klein for her courageous piece on mourning ("Over Mourning," July 16). I agree with her on our need to move from a perspective of victimization to one of dignity and empowerment. Here's to continuing the conversation and moving forward.
Helen Jupiter, Los Angeles
[Regarding] the banquet honoring Doug Dowie and Fleishman-Hillard ("Nathan's Voice," Aug. 20), I would ask the local activist you quoted if the Jewish power brokers are heading to the hills because they presume Dowie guilty. What kind of loyalty does that demonstrate? Jewish business and community leaders (like any other group) need to exercise discernment in all their public associations. That discernment is cultivated over time and is a product of experience. When you have it, you will be able to quickly identify the scoundrel (or the fool) in your midst -- as well as stand by the honorable man who is falsely accused.
Asking the people with whom you affiliate and whom you occasionally honor if they are straight dealers is of dubious value. The duplicitous will always tell you what you want to hear and the honest folk will be offended. That's a bad approach.
If we as Jews want to do the right thing while walking the corridors of power in this country, if we believe we must do this because we claim to answer to a higher power, then we should proceed cautiously and with wisdom, seeking to find the truth in ourselves before we demand it of someone else.
Kenneth Yas, North Hollywood
The photo that ran in the First Person, "Cancer and Secrets,"August 27 was of the mother of Homa Shadpour-Michaelson, Mohtaram Shadpour.
We apologize for the mistake.