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Jewish Journal

Dumb Jews; Cluster bombs; Democrats and Republicans

November 2, 2006 | 7:00 pm

Dumb Jews

Your headline, "Dumb Jews," is despicable (Oct. 20). Who do you think you are, Jackie Mason? With all the anti-Semitism in the world, must a leading Jewish newspaper contribute to this unwarranted criticism? There are many thousands of Jews in Los Angeles who contribute millions of dollars to various Jewish charities every year. If they do not score well on your historical test, I suggest that their money be returned to them.

Herb Citrin
Los Angeles

Your recent cover was terribly offensive. This is the kind of picture and slogan anti-Semites have used since before Hitler. My grown children were offended and said it was displayed prominently in drug stores, markets and libraries wherever they went. I thought your previous cover about Israel's last chance was also offensive. You are creating tabloid headlines. You are insensitive to your readers and sending the wrong message to other people. So who's dumb?

Rita Murstein Wohl
via e-mail

The "Dumb Jews" issue of the Jewish Journal featured articles in which theologians and layman offered opinions about how to strengthen Jewish observance among the alienated Jewish masses.

Unfortunately, many of the articles lacked any credibility, and were laughable if not downright pathetic. One reason is that among the contributors were "Reform" and "Conservative" laymen and "theologians." I have no doubt that these "purveyors of non-Orthodox Jewish faith" probably were able to answer most -- if not all -- of the "Dumb Jew" questions. Yet I'd be willing to bet my last dollar that few "Reform" and "Conservative" Jews (even those who haven't intermarried) could.

I don't care how many letters you or I receive about how bigoted I am, and that I am all wrong, and that the "Reform" and "Conservative" movements are the salvation of the Jewish religion in the United States and elsewhere. The statistics speak for themselves. If the objective is to develop Jews who are "shomray mitzvot," Torah-observant Jews, the place to start is not with the "Reform" and "Conservative" movements and their authors, but with authentic Judaism as taught and practiced by Orthodox institutions -- and for The Jewish Journal to leave out articles by those who destroy rather than enhance Jewish observance.

Rabbi Samuel Cohen Morgan
Northridge

Jews are not dumb, they are uneducated; their understating of Judaism is based on the shallow Hebrew school education, gastronomic nostalgia and Jackie Mason jokes.

How many Jews today can open a Talmud, study a Rashi, or even translate a verse in the Torah on their own. The Jewish world has made Jewish learning a stepchild. Take a look at the GA, happening in Los Angeles in the next weeks. Thousand of Jewish leaders are coming to town for dozens of sessions on Israel, fundraising, Jewish survival, threats to Jews, etc. There could have been a wealth of offerings on Jewish learning; instead there are just a few sessions.

There is one new program that has evolved in the last few years into a powerhouse of adult Jewish learning, Chabad's Jewish Learning Institute (JLI).

JLI has become the largest network of adult Jewish learning in the world. Ten of thousands of students attend three course offerings in over 200 locations worldwide. Each course is designed with its own textbook, PowerPoints and teacher training. Last summer, JLI launched a new innovative project, the National Jewish Retreat, where hundreds spent five days of intense learning of everything from biblical archeology to Talmud, Torah or medical ethics.

Rabbi David Eliezrie
Yorba Linda

Here's a Jewish IQ question for the editors:

If your paper, which is distributed right before Shabbat, has a quiz on Jewish IQ, you will best serve your readers by a) Publishing the answers on your Web site. The suspense of waiting for Shabbat to end so that people can see how they did will make the feature even more exciting! As an added bonus, forces people with no Internet access to finally get online.

b) Same as (a), but put the answers in a format suppressed by Web ad blockers. This really separates the knowledge-seekers from the poseurs!

c) Publishing the answers in the paper itself. Send me a self-addressed stamped envelope, and I'll let you know how you did.

Jo Pitesky
Studio City

I recently visited Studio City and stayed at the Days Inn in Studio City where I picked up a copy of The Jewish Journal. I read the article about Dumb Jews and took the quiz entitled "What's Your Jewish I.Q." I took the article home to Idaho with me and when I remembered to look online, I could not find the answers to the quiz online as indicated in The Journal. I would like to check my answers to see if I am a dumb Jew.

Please tell me how I can find the answers you have decided upon for the quiz. My sources might have something different.

Conny Young
Rexburg, Idaho

We were saddened by your cover story "Dumb Jews" (Oct. 20) and the described gap in Jewish literacy. Fortunately, the Bureau of Jewish Education with the support of the Jewish Federation has just launched a new easy portal to Jewish literacy. Members of the LA Jewish community can now log on to this new Website at www.myjewishresource.org and connect to an updated listing of Jewish online and in-person learning opportunities for families, teens, young adults and adults, throughout Los Angeles and at all levels of knowledge or intensity.

Susan Jacoby Stern
Vice President
The Bureau of Jewish Education
Miriam Prum Hess
Director Day School Operational Services
The Bureau of Jewish Education and Vice President
The Jewish Federation

Note: The answers and quiz are still online at jewishjournal.com/home/quiz. Or, call us at (213) 368-1661, ext. 201 for help.

Cluster Bombs

I was mortified when I learned of Israel's use of these weapons, which to me is unforgivable despite my deepest love for the state and Zionism ("Cluster Silence," Oct. 27). Your saying as much so publicly is a bold and courageous move, and I support and applaud you, as embarrassed and distressed as I am by the fact of it.I can hear the Israel right or wrong crowd from the midst of their rising blood pressure plotting to slam you. Please know you are not alone.

Rabbi John Rosove
Temple Israel of Hollywood
Should we protest the Israeli use of cluster bombs? I suggest that Jews in America, who live without having rockets shot at us from across the border or having suicide bombers trying to kill us on a regular basis, have no right to tell Israelis how to cope with those problems. How would we feel if Israeli journalists protested our immigration policies or our border fence?

Marshall Giller
Winnetka


I have never been so proud of you as I am reading your column on Israel's use of cluster bombs. You have more courage than most in the community.
Yael Swerdlow
West Hollywood

GOP vs. Dems

It is my custom to pick up The Jewish Journal as frequently as possible, although I must confess that I don't always get to all the articles that interest me. I do read the advertisements. In particular, the recent of spat of Republican vs. Democrat ads has caught my attention.

The recent Democrats for Israel back-page ad is a case in point. It was clearly a response to The Journal's previously published Republican ads, but it misses the point of the Republican ads. The ad states that Democrats are "tired of Republican lies, half-truths and distortions" and that "Democrats are proud of their record of 58 years of support for Israel." Pictured in the ad were five members of the United States Congress all of whom are at least nominally Jewish and all of whom are hopefully "pro-Israel".

But the issue of the Republican ads were not whether Democratic Jewish members of Congress are pro-Israel or even if the Democratic Party's "official position" is Pro-Israel. The issue is, what does the Democrat rank-and-file, the grass-roots members of the party think about Israel?

There is no question that the average Republican voter is more pro-Israel then the average Democratic voter. This has been shown conclusively in survey after survey. The "official" statements of the Democratic Party may still quaintly reflect their pro-Israel stand, but in this case, the horse has not caught up to the wagon.

This should trouble traditional liberal Democratic-voting Jews around the nation and that was the point of the Republican ads.

Dr. Robert C. Hamilton
Santa Monica
Many Persian Jews hold Jimmy Carter and the Democratic Party responsible for the rise of radical Islam, which culminated in the Sept. 11 attacks, and is the root cause of our current predicament. The Democratic Party may see fit to call the Republican Jews liars but the truth is that the Democratic party of today and its values have nothing in common with the history of which they proclaim to be proud.

Solomon Meskin
Beverly Hills


Anne Brener

Since the Jewish Journal adopted the policy of mail subscriptions and free drop-off sites, I have read your publication occasionally ("The Book of Jonah: When Doves Call," Sept. 29). I didn't realize how much I missed it until I was able to pick up the edition printed before Yom Kippur. There I read and reread the column by Anne Brener, and once again I felt connected to our Jewish community in Los Angeles. As a result, I mailed in a subscription to your office last week. Please run her writings again; she has so much to offer as she is a skilled therapist and an outstanding Jewish scholar.

Estelle Markowitz
via e-mail


Are you kidding us with that Democrats for Israel d?

Jewish Democratic congressmen cannot handle the truth that their party is weakening on Israel, and national security. Terrorists and tyrants must be laughing at the Jewish left, which carps about needed counter-terrorism measures and drives around with "War is Not the Answer" bumper stickers.

Jewish liberals should laud GOP opposition to Islamo-fascism, which would go after women, gays, and elitist Jews first. They also should celebrate GOP leadership on Israel, but they only care about losing power. The Democratsare the ones who sacrifice principle for politics and throw mud instead ofcheers at our President and his party, which properly rejected Arafat, overthrew the Taliban, attacked and disabled Al Qaeda, named Arab genocide in Sudan, and opposes anti-Semites like Ahmadinijad and Hugo Chavez.

Democrats put their head in the sand. No wonder Jews like me under 35 aresaying good-bye to the party of JFK, Scoop Jackson, and Joe Lieberman, which has now become the party of Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Nancy Pelosi.

Eric Golub
Westwood


The ad running in The Jewish Journal by Democrats for Israel slyly asks if we are tired of "Republican lies, half-truths and distortions?" They don't cite any, of course, but I think their question was intended in an ironic sense. You see, it is their own Democrat ad that is one gigantic whopper, a fabrication crafted to deceive you. The whole point of the ad is to make it seem like 36 Senate Republicans failed to support Israel during its recent struggle with Hezbollah, by failing to support Senate Resolution 534. But Resolution 534 was passed unanimously! Every single Republican senator voted for it, as did every Democrat. In fact, at the time, this resolution was hailed as a sign of bipartisan support for Israel, at least in the Senate. So why this ugly slime by the Democrats now? I think they are desperate in this election to hide even uglier truths about their party from Jewish voters, like the fact that two of their most prominent leaders in the House of Representatives, John Conyers and John Dingell, cannot even bring themselves to choose between Israel and Hezbollah. The Democrats know there are no such prospective committee chairmen on the Republican side, no such anti-Israel virulence in a party and President so committed to Israel. They have no facts to cite, so they make the facts up.

Michael Quinn
Los Angeles


Correction: In "Fate of Building Embroils Rabbi, Foes in Fight" (Oct. 27), the architect of the Teriton should have been Sanford Kent.

Jewish Werewolves

Jeremy Wexler's "Should Jews Save the Werewolf From Extinction?" (Oct. 27) was fun to read but not always accurate. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" didn't portray the werewolf Oz (full name Daniel Osbourne) as Jewish. Still, Jewishness does surround the character. Seth Green, who played Oz, is Jewish. So is Oz's girlfriend, Willow Rosenberg (played by Alyson Hannigan, whose mother is Jewish). Yasher koach, Oz. Keep fighting the wolf. David Seidman
West Hollywood


Battle of the Sexes

If Rabbi Yosef Furman, head of YULA girls' school, truly believes what he says -- "I think what we're doing [at the girls' school] is far superior to boys' education. I think that by bringing in Gemara, we would detract from that" -- then does he believe that the boys should stop learning Gemara and start learning as the girls do ("Battle of the Sexes Reaches Talmudic Teaching," Oct. 27)? After all, I assume that Rabbi Furman would want the boys to received this superior education as well.

Elana Hassan
Los Angeles




Moderate Muslims MIA

When an obscure Danish newspaper published a caricature mocking Muhammad, the Muslim world erupted in violent protest and effigies of anything Danish were burned.

When Pope Benedict cited a critique of jihadism from the 14th century, Muslim fundamentalists called for his head and churches across the Middle East were torched.

Last week during Al Quds (Jerusalem) Day celebrations, Irans president, a proud Holocaust denier, renewed his call to wipe Israel off the map and extended the threat to European nations that recognize the Jewish state. The reaction from the Muslim world: defeaning silence.

Where are the so-called moderate, peace-loving Muslims? Does it not border on hypocrisy when caricatures and outdated quotes warrant mass demonstrations, while calls for the mass slaughter of the modern-day descendants of Abraham, Moses and Jesus-commonly referred to as People of the Book in the Koran -- are wholeheartedly ignored?

Brian J. Goldenfeld

Woodland Hills


Prop 87

It is a shame that The Journal chose such a biased "energy expert" to opine on Prop. 87 with illogical, short-sighted arguments ("Prop. 87 Fuels High-Stakes Fight on Oil Production Tax," Oct. 20). Hopefully, his views will not influence anyone to vote against the proposition that Thomas Friedman wrote will spur the dream if a clean-energy independent economy. The proposition has the potential to help make California the alternative energy R+D center of the world. Here is a response to some if Gal Luft's points:

1. Luft is skeptical of the proposition because its goal of a 25 percent reduction in petroleum consumption is unachievable. Even granting that Luft's foresight is 20/20, so what? The fact that the proponents have an ambitious and difficult-to-achieve goal as a reason to vote against the proposition is as preposterous as voting against the stem-cell-research funding propositions because some of its most outspoken advocates are too optimistic about future medical breakthroughs.

2. Luft illogically criticizes a proposition that is dedicated to promote research and investment in alternative energy for not having the solutions already in hand. Again was there something wrong with the stem-cell-research funding proposition because its advocates didn't have new medical procedures in hand?

He writes that what is needed is a redeployment of existing technology and that the proposition doesn't have an idea where the ethanol will come from. Precisely, Mr. Luft. That's why they are looking to raise money for research and investment in these and other areas.

3. His comments on ethanol defy logic. First off, there are already vehicles that run on cellulose ethanol (derived from refuse); Volvo has a fleet of such trucks on the road in Europe.

Luft (and his group's) "solution" hardly seems to stand up to economic logic. His solution to our energy problems would be to begin massively importing sugar from Latin America and shipping it to California to make alternative fuel (ethanol). Corn ethanol fuel is about the same price as conventional gasoline in the corn producing states even after a 50-cent/gallon subsidy. It hardly seems likely the price would be any more attractive in California if produced with sugar shipped from Brazil. And even in Brazil the ethanol program has a massive government subsidy in order to make the fuel competitive. Seems like some research to take our plentiful refuse here in California and turn it into an economically viable fuel is a quite worthwhile endeavor.

4. He states that efforts to increase solar power are unimportant because only 3 percent of electricity is produced by petroleum. That may well be true, but solar power is used to heat homes and provide hot water. And what is the major energy source used for that purpose in many parts of the country? Heating oil, which comes from that same barrel of oil that produces petroleum. More solar energy equals less dependence on foreign oil.

5. Finally, Luft states that if Prop. 87 weakens big oil companies it will help entities like Saudi Aramco. Funny, it seems to me progress on alternative energy would weaken BOTH the major U.S. oil companies AND the Saudi state owned entities. And he is concerned that universities and research institutions looking at alternative energy sources would be the major beneficiaries. Now I'm really confused. The proposition is bad because it may hurt big oil companies and help researchers into alternative energy?

Of course Luft didn't mention what seems to be his main problem with it: it doesn't promote the agenda of his organization.

Howard Goodkind
Los Angeles


Push for Peace

There are some people who have a vision of a greater Israel, and Robert Aumann may indeed be one of them. The majority of us who are weary of any kind of a "peace deal" -- many who supported the Oslo Peace Process -- do not share this dream ("Israelis, Palestinians Deserve Push for Peace," Oct. 27).

However the beliefs of people such as Rosenberg are every bit as much based on faith not facts. Those with this "faith " never comment on facts such as: that the Arabs who favor a "peace deal" repeatedly say to their own people that "peace " would be a shrewd temporary step towards the annihilation of Israel: the other side started the second intifada after an extremely generous offer from Israel, among hundreds of other extremely compelling points. Those on the left who distort the facts by implying that the only opponents of a "peace deal" are those who favor a Greater Israel and promote the ridiculous idea that if only Bush would put more pressure on the Israelis, then peace would be a certainty, are giving a great deal of encouragement to the enemies of Israel. Ronnie Lampert
Los Angeles


M.J. Rosenberg, red hot to convince the United States and Europe to get tough with Israel, sinks to a new low by slandering Israeli Nobel Prize winner Robert Aumann. Such intellectual dishonesty, however, cannot conceal the moral bankruptcy of the Peace Movement, including Rosenberg's organization, the Israel Policy Forum (IPF).

The IPF has consistently been the trumpet of appeasement. The IPF championed abject policy failures such as the Oslo Accords, Israel's abandonment of the security zone in Lebanon, and the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. Approximately one year ago the IPF lobbied Secretary of State Rice to browbeat Israel to relax necessary safeguards at the Gaza borders. Most recently the IPF lobbied Congress and the Senate to dilute anti-Hamas legislation.

Blinkered by anti-Zionist ideology, Rosenberg blithely ignores the overwhelming evidence that the root of the problem is not settlements, but the Palestinians' unrelenting desire to see Israel destroyed. Rosenberg clings to the delusion that peace can be achieved if only the US and Europe would force Israel to make increasingly dangerous concessions. History has proven him to be wrong.

Steven Goldberg
Encino


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