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Hathout hullabaloo; Jewish Republicans vs. Jewish Democrats once again; I bet you won’t print *this*

September 28, 2006 | 8:00 pm

Dr. Maher Hathout
 
First, kudos to Marc Ballon on his comprehensive and balanced coverage of the crisis surrounding the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission's award to Dr. Maher Hathout ("Controversial Muslim Leader Gets Award," Sept. 22).
 
Second, I do not believe that Allyson Rowen Taylor's comment should go unanswered within our community. Her suggestion that the commissioners feared riotous anti-Jewish violence from the Muslim community of Los Angeles insults not only to the thousands of God-fearing, peace-loving American Muslim citizens and immigrants with whom we American Jewish citizens and immigrants share our city and county, but also the commissioners themselves. Taylor owes all of her fellow Angelenos an apology for her (literally) incendiary remarks. (And for the record, the most recent public effigy was hung two weeks ago by non-Muslims in front of the King Fahd Mosque in Culver City as a provocative Sept. 11 memorial protest....)
 
Shawn Landres
Los Angeles

 
Hathout, seeing how a community was being divided by his nomination, could have scored points in stating that he wanted to work to build bridges, and that if this award was an impedance to this, he would rather walk away than take an award given on a decision of four yes votes to six abstains. What Hathout needs is a good reminder of King Solomon, and to understand the true meaning of "mensch."
 
Allyson Rowen Taylor
Associate Director
American Jewish Congress
Western Region

 
Who Shall Die
 
It is very easy to second guess a decision with your wonderful 20/20 hindsight ("And Who Shall Die," Sept. 22). The fundamental question was and is: How long do we wait? This is a war. Wars are sloppy, mistakes are made, and when mistakes are made in war unfortunately people die. It's a good thing you were not around during World War II.
 
The war in Iraq may be a mistake, I don't know. All I know is that this war will take a long time, and more troops (and civilians) will die. I am not ready to have the women in my family wear burkas, I am not ready to pay a tax to be a Jew, I am not ready to convert or die. Are you?
 
Glenn Roeder
Los Angeles

 
Before all those Jewish Republicans overwhelm your e-mailbox, I wanted to tell you how much I appreciated your editorial this week. For some of our leaders the ability to admit they were/are wrong about anything is beyond them. You laid your apology out for all to see. I can't say I marched protesting entry into the Iraq war, but my heart was there. Guns and violence as a way to resolve any problem are an anathema to me.
 
Thanks for your words; they were so appropriate for the beginning of the new year.

Ann Reiss Lane
Co-founder
Women Against Gun Violence

 
The suggestion of having rabbis read the names of the war dead at High Holiday services is absurd and obscene. There is already more political commentary from the pulpit than most people sign up for when they attend religious services.
 
During World War II, would anyone have called for the reading of the 10,000 names of those who died storming the beaches of Normandy so that the extermination camps would be silenced? Or the names of the bombardiers and pilots who died firebombing the city of Dresden (or the names of the 35,000 "innocent" city inhabitants that were killed)? Or the names of those who died in the South Pacific to defeat Hirohito? Should we read the names of the thousands of Union soldiers who were killed at Gettysburg or Shiloh or Antietem so we could end the scourge of slavery?
 
History teaches us that fascism and evil can only be ended through force, rather than reason. It also teaches us that we cannot endorse a war and then obscure the fact that we did so when the going gets rough. Leaders that endure the test of time -- men like Lincoln, Churchill, Roosevelt and Truman -- do not retreat because they cannot win every battle. They earn their legacies by enduring the difficult days, many times alone, with fortitude.
 
Dr. Joel Geiderman
Beverly Hills

 
I believe Rob Eshman directed his apology for "wasting good lives in a bad war" to the wrong community ("And Who Shall Die," Sept. 22). Los Angeles' Jews are the wrong audience for his war weary angst. He can even spare the families of fallen and wounded soldiers his pain as Cindy Sheehan can do that for him -- and even cite Eshman as proof of why to blame the Jews as she is wont to do. It seems that Eshman, by his own confession, would not be able to protest in this case, could he?
 
No, Eshman should save his self-flagellation for Iraq's Kurdish community. Editor and Jewish Moral Conscience Eshman needs to prostrate himself before the first Iraqi Kurd to cross his path -- nay, that he seeks and finds -- and cry out his shame, anguish and grief that this hapless Kurd no longer faces annihilation at the hands of Saddam, that 3,000 (or more) Americans was just too great a price for us to pay even though the Kurds lost perhaps as many as 130,000, including to poison gas, at the hands of Saddam's sadists.
 
As for myself, I believe that even if Iraq falls apart, the Kurds will have gained their freedom, dignity and lives, and America an ally. As for the rest of that Arab Balkans, its denizens would eventually work out their hatreds on each other in their usual fashion. If I were to advise the administration of anything, it would be to broker a deal between the Turks and Kurds. That way, there might be an iron triangle -- Turks, Kurds and Israelis -- to resist the depravity of the rest of the region. I called for a breaking up that pest hole when we first went in so I do not feel quite as anguished as Eshman.
 
Editor Eshman fails as historian, prognosticator and strategist. As a writer, he's becoming increasingly unreadable and as the editor responsible for securing miserably effacing analyses such as Jack Miles' "lead" piece when the last war first broke out, becoming less and less bearable. I remind The Journal's readers that Miles' described the kidnappings by Hezbollah at the Lebanon border as "arrests" -- and that editor Eshman made this "analysis" that week's cover piece.... 
Jarrow L. Rogovin
Los Angeles

 
You've done it again. Just as we're getting ready to celebrate the New Year, you write an editorial that's blatantly political regarding Iraq. I won't rehash the reasons for the Iraq war since it won't change your mind but the person who was responsible for most of the American intelligence (flawed or not), the head of the CIA, was an appointee of the Clinton administration.
 
My reason for writing to you however, is to take you back to World War II. I know that many of my liberal friends celebrated the movie "Saving Private Ryan." Comments included were how "realistic" the scenes were, just as some of the newscasts which we see of the dead and maimed in Iraq. I wonder if, magically, the technology for reporting the current Iraq war were present in the 1940s, and whether after seeing the casualties and counting the dead during the invasion of the beaches of Normandy, Americans in general but especially those on the political left would have continued to support the war. The carnage was horrible and the sight of the dead and dying was enough to give the toughest soldier pause. My bet is there would have been rioting in the streets and the pressure would have been overwhelming to bring the boys home.
 
It's interesting that the main reason that we were in Europe at all was because of Pearl Harbor. What would have happened if Pearl Harbor hadn't been attacked? What would have been the result if the Japanese hadn't entered the war (and quite a number of Americans in those days believed that Roosevelt manipulated the United States into World War II through Pearl Harbor)? I believe that the United States, though continuing to help supply the British, wouldn't have sent soldiers. After all, the continental U.S. wasn't threatened. The cry would have been rather to let the League of Nations handle the problem. The result of our inaction would have surely been victory by the Germans, the complete annihilation of European, North African and Middle Eastern Jewry and the creation of a huge Nazi sphere of influence. There would have been a lot of pontificating in the halls of Congress and the press about how horrible things were but my bet is that nothing further would have been done. We would be praying this holiday for 10 million Jews slaughtered instead of 6 million.
 
Iraq has become one of the central contests now, whether intended or not, between radical Islam and the West. If they (radical Islam) are victorious, we will be reaping the "unintended consequences" for generations. War is hell, soldiers die, but sometimes the results of inaction are far worse than the results of action.
 
Bill Bender
Granada Hills

 
Republic Jewish Coalition Ads, Jewish Democrats
 
I can't help but express my utter disgust with the series of repulsive, manipulative ads devised by the propaganda wing of the Republican Jewish Coalition and given such prominent placement in The Jewish Journal, full-page falsehoods handsomely paid for with right-wing money over the past few weeks.
 
Clearly, Republicans of all faiths are desperate over growing voter discontent with the overt failures and ideological bankruptcy of the Republican Party, as so many of its incumbents face ousters in the coming mid-term elections, and Americans wake up to realize they've been duped by a gang of demagogues and charlatans over the past six years, liars who play on fears of terrorism while quietly demolishing an American economy now verging on collapse and subverting Social Security and affordable health care in this country.
 
Let the ads run, of course. That's what free speech is all about. But also let fully conscious Jewish Americans not be afraid to invoke their own right to free speech and declare, loudly, their revulsion thereat.
 
Barry Smolin
Los Angeles

 
I have been a loyal reader of The Jewish Journal for many years and always found the articles and editorials very insightful. I continuously learned and gained knowledge with each issue, and I want to thank you for that.
 
However, I have been very offended recently by the numerous outrageous ads taken out by the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC). These ads are not only distortions of the truth, but are down right lies of the worst kind. Judging from the letters of some of your readers they did not go over well with other people either. So the obvious question to ask is why does The Journal allow such infuriating ads to appear, and who is in charge of making that decision? Apparently there is not much of a screening process for ads in place as evidenced by the RJC ads and this week's full page ad for hair extensions. How are hair extensions relevant for the High Holiday issue of The Jewish Journal? What's next, perfume ads so we can smell someone's fragrance while we read about Jewish issues? I am deeply disappointed in this aspect of The Journal and decided not to renew my subscription next year. I cannot support a publication that accepts ads just for the revenue value and does not scrutinize its content.
 
Evi Meyer
Palos Verdes Estates

 
It was a relief to read the letters in The Jewish Journal criticizing The Journal's Republican Party advert seeking Jewish support. If anything, the Democratic leadership the ad depicts should be more critical of Israel as it continues to veer from peaceful policies to the more Republican warlike stance.  
Our community should remember, as well, that to vote Republican is to ally itself with social policy programs which are diametrically opposed to the traditionally compassionate Jewish position.
 
We hope that readers of the Jewish Journal continue to be cautious of the Rightward drift of our country and continue to express this in the pages of this publication.
 
Katherine Krasnow Mctaggart
Andrew Liberman
via e-mail

 
I hope no readers are suckered by the skillfully twisted ad placed by the Republican Jewish Coalition in The Jewish Journal on Sep. 22 urging Jews to vote Republican. Just remember that Jimmy Carter worked incredibly hard to achieve a treaty -- still observed -- between Israel and Egypt. And Bill Clinton worked incredibly hard and came close to getting a treaty between Israel and the Palestinians. Plus, during Clinton's administration Israel and Jordan signed a treaty -- still observed.
 
In contrast, George Bush, the anti-Clinton, barely lifted a finger to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
 
We have only to turn on the TV news to see how Bush's and the Republican Party's misguided policies have made life worse for Israel, the United States, Europe, Iraq, Jordan and the Palestinians.
 
Norman Ackerman
San Marino

 
When I read letters from the liberal/left, so often they are hostile, defensive and even mean. However, when I speak with Republicans, they are hopeful, positive and full of new ideas. Bashing the Republicans is not working. It is, in fact, turning many centrist Jews into Republicans.
 
Mitch Silberman
Thousand Oaks


It's only getting worse for Jewish Democrats.
 
Not only does Rep. Howard Berman (D-Van Nuys) fail to rebut the evidence that support for Israel is precipitously declining in his party, he also neglects to reveal the threat to the Jewish state should Democrats take over the House of Representatives.
 
Potential Committee Chairs Charles Rangel, John Conyers, John Dingell, Alcee Hastings et al. are not our best friends. Whether it's refusing to stand with Israel in her time of need or equating Israel's conduct with that of Hezbollah, many of the Democrats' would-be leaders pose a grave danger.
 
Another case study: Democrat congressional nominee in Minnesota Keith Ellison. While we should rightly celebrate the prospect of the first Muslim winning election to the House, and while we ought to encourage the strong voices of moderation within the American Islamic community, we must also be wary of a candidate who reportedly has has disturbing ties to the Nation of Islam and Council on American-Islamic Relations. National Democrats would be wise to further investigate these allegations -- but they instead seek to advance their electoral standing on the backs of Muslims, as well as Jews.
 
Berman can remain a Democrat, or he can stand up for Jewish interests. Apparently, he cannot find a way to do both.
 
Michael M. Rosen
San Diego


Rep. Howard Berman has lost my vote.
 
He does not dispute the declining support for Israel by Democrats, but blames the GOP messenger for pointing it out.
 
He also fails to assist the pro-Israel community with warnings about his Democratic colleagues who are increasingly anti-Israel and anti-Semitic, such as ames Moran, Cynthia McKinney and Earl Hilliard, to name just a few.
 
Power corrupts. 30 years in office has made Dem pols more interested in power than in the Jewish future.
 
Jewish interests lie in support of a Judeo-Christian GOP, not an increasingly secular/Muslim Democrat party.
 
Gary Aminoff
Studio City


Could or should more American Jews be republicans? You be the judge.
 
Could the "people of the book" follow a leader who proudly declares: "I dont read the papers!
 
Could the people who have brought to the world so many great Doctors, so many inventions and innovations in physics, chemistry and medicine,t hat earn them a lion share of Nobel Prizes, follow a group who seriously believe "evolution" is an iffy theory, but praying to Jesus is proven fact! Could good Jews who follow the commandment of "don't shame another in public" get on the shaming train of: "Democrats support terrorists" or "If you ask a question we don't like will shame you or call the IRS!" "you are with us or against us!" "intellectuals are losers" etc. Jews were slated to be "A light for all nations"(ohr lagoyim) could they for the promise of a few words: "I love Israel" and dollars in their pockets become the blind followers of the Eemperor without clothes playing the part of the Pied Piper? You decide!

Ora Cooper
Los Angeles

 
Richard Adolf heaps dollops of praise on The Jewish Journal for printing his critical and caustic letter regarding the Chamberlain ad taken out by the RJC. I, too, had a letter printed the week of Sept. 15, but my letter was denuded of the tough truths (that the Republicans deployed Nazi allusions in their ad and in their national and international politics, show a clear preference for Mammon over manna) and left with a few verities that are true but devoid of the information that is needed and necessary to make the tough choices that both Israel and the United States face in battling the scourge of terrorism.
 
Unlike The Jewish Journal, the men and women in the armed forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and the West Bank do not have the luxury of playing "softball" with the facts that the Jewish Journal does.
 
Now that's see if The Jewish Journal prints this e-mail! 
Marc Rogers
Thousand Oaks


The Mayor's Plan
 
Bill Boyarsky's argument for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's attempt to disenfranchise the voters with his power grab of LAUSD boils down to one chilling sentence: "Putting authority -- but not absolute authority -- in the hands of the mayor will certainly centralize responsibility" ("Mayor's Plan Gets E for Effort," Sept. 22).
 
May I respectfully remind you that we live in a country where the basis of our democratic government is the radical idea that power should at all costs not be concentrated, but rather diffused (the Greek root "dem" means "the people"). History shows us again and again, in the persons of Hitler, Stalin, Hirohito, Mussolini, etc., that concentration of authority is very efficient, yes, but the price paid is much too high. Worshiping the tin gods of Authority and Efficiency is dangerous ... give me democracy any day of the week, messy old inefficient American democracy.
 
Every day in my classrooms full of immigrants to this country I am reminded of the fact that many of them have fled the lands of their birth partly because power is far too often concentrated in an elite cadre of politicians. It is only in this country that they feel they have a decent chance at getting what T.R. affectionately called "a square deal."
 
It is the secret of our success.
 
"The people," to quote an old Frank Capra film, "try and beat that!"
 
Jeff Myers
Adult Education ESL instructor
LAUSD
 
Meaning of Life
 
I very much enjoyed reading what many of our teachers had to say about the meaning of life ("Why Are We Here?" Sept. 22). However, I personally find the approach of my teacher Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man to be more useful. He changes the question "What is the meaning of life?" to "What is the question for which my life is the answer?"
 
With this approach, I am compelled to continually evaluate what makes me unique, and then to seek out ways to use my unique qualities in the world.
 
And therein lies meaning.
 
Joel Stern
Los Angeles


The Tanya gives a beautiful, simple answer to the question of why we're here and what does life mean: it says that the purpose of human life is to create a dira b'tachanim, a dwelling place in the lower worlds for the Shechinah, the divine presence. This applies both to our inner selves and in society. How is this done? There are many ways including tefilah (prayer), tzedakah (giving of charity/time) and many mitzvot. When we do these things we bring the light of hashem into ourselves and into the world.
 
Joshua Spiegelman
via e-mail

 
THE JEWISH JOURNAL welcomes letters from all readers. Letters should be no more than 200 words and must include a valid name, address and phone number. Letters sent via e-mail must not contain attachments. Pseudonyms and initials will not be used, but names will be withheld on request. We reserve the right to edit all letters. Mail: The Jewish Journal, Letters, 3580 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1510, Los Angeles, CA 90010; e-mail: letters@jewishjournal.com; or fax: (213) 368-1684

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