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Jewish Journal

Letters

March 2, 2006 | 7:00 pm

GOP 'Munich' Event

In his review of the Republican Jewish Coalition's "Munich" event ("'Munich' Still Topic of Debate," Briefs, Feb. 24), Robert Jaffee feigns surprise when he states, "Even with Republican sponsors and a largely Republican audience, the panelists at a recent discussion on Steven Spielberg's 'Munich' covered most of the spectrum from left to right."

As moderator, I opened the event by stating the two conditions under which we agreed to co-host the event with Pepperdine. First was that it should be held as a nonpartisan event, since I do not believe there is an established Republican or Democrat position on the movie -- nor should there be. As evidence, I cited critics of the movie on the left, such Alan Dershowitz, as well as defenders of it on the right.

My second condition was that I would not allow the discussion to devolve into ad hominem attacks on either Steven Spielberg, for whom I hold admiration (and as a guardian of the memory of the Holocaust, gratitude), or Tony Kushner, whom I do not particularly admire.

To the audience's credit, they abided by these admonitions. And when two (out of almost 200) participants engaged the panelists with debate from their seats -- as Jaffee noted with condescension -- I reminded them of our agreement to submit questions on cards, and they also responded respectfully.

It is curious that Jaffee would leave out all mention of these comments by me.

Readers of The Jewish Journal should be reassured that if they choose to sample one of RJC's thoughtful events, they will be greeted with respect, not with cream pie in the face, a fate that has befallen conservative speakers at some venues.

Dr. Joel Geiderman
California Chair
Republican Jewish Coalition

Jack Abramoff

Two recent articles in the Los Angeles Times have undermined David Klinghoffer's impassioned statement on Jack Abramoff ("In Defense of Jack Abramoff," Jan. 27). One demonstrated that Abramoff used charities as a place to park money, which he subsequently used as if it was his own, and from another, we learned that this self-described Orthodox Jew advanced the interests and facilitated a meeting for the president of Malaysia with the president of the United States. His client had made such well-publicized anti-Semitic statements that they were broadcast throughout the world.

I wonder if Klinghoffer's op-ed should not be withdrawn by the author or at least by the papers which published it. We now know it was contrafactual and verifiably untrue when it was written.

I do not claim that Klinghoffer knew that his defense -- or his attack on the so-called attackers -- was untrue, but his failure to withdraw the story leaves such an impression on this -- and I presume other readers. If he does not withdraw it, The Jewish Journal should.

Michael Berenbaum
Director
Sigi Ziering Institute
University of Judaism

David Klinghoffer responds:

This correspondent missed the point of my article. That Jack Abramoff broke the law, abused the system and the trust of others was the premise of and occasion for the article I wrote. Once again: What I asked was, given that Abramoff has admitted serious criminal activity, that he's publicly abased himself, that he's now going to receive a hefty and deserved prison sentence, how appropriate is it for the Jewish community to continue to pour scorn and, indeed, hate upon him?

The lack of pity and compassion from so many of his co-religionists, the venom I've seen in numerous e-mails sent to me directly, is the real desecration of God's name in this case. The fact that the writer of this letter can't understand such an elementary point illustrates, rather than contradicts, what I tried to say.

Shameful Cover

On our trips to Israel we have seen Ethiopian Jews in modern dress, integrated into modern Israeli society. It was heartening. Your Feb. 24 cover showing a primitive Ethiopian and questioning whether such a person can be a Jew is a shameful dig or racist bigotry. It would be more appropriate for a Ku Klux Klan publication than for The Jewish Journal.

Marshall Giller
Winnetka

Not Made Clear

The Bush administration and the Israelis should have made it clear before the Palestinian elections that democracy does not mean that a people has the right to vote for "Nazis" ("U.S. Must Refocus Democracy Building," Feb. 24). No fair-minded person would deny that Germany is a democracy, but certainly the Allies would never have let the people of (West) Germany govern themselves if they had elected Nazis, and if this happened, the Allies would not be called "hypocritical.

Another point of common sense. Now that everyone is aware how sensitive Muslims are about certain things, should the world not demand not only that Hamas recognize Israel and denounce terrorism, but that it end all hate speech against Jews.

Obviously, Jews certainly have the right to feel more sensitive about Holocaust denial, the blood libel and being called "pigs" and "dogs" than Muslims do about cartoons that truthfully depict their behavior.

Ronnie Lampert
Los Angeles

Questions

I hope someone asked Elias Khoury at his book reading why the people who started the war against Israel with the intent of wiping it and it's inhabitants off the face of the earth have the chutzpah to call themselves victims, after they lost their attempted genocide of Israel ("'Gates' Hold Key to Palestinians' Pain," Feb. 24). I hope someone also asked Khoury why the Arab perpetrators of the "nakhba" didn't take care of there own refugees.

Robert Miller
Sherman Oaks

Shlomo's World

Howard Blume's piece is precisely the kind of self-righteous equivocating that keeps the Jewish people off course and susceptible to attack ("Shlomo's World," Feb. 24). How dare he go on and on about one, count 'em: one person named Goldstein who killed Arabs while over the past five, 50, 100 and more years how many Arabs have killed how many innocent Jews?

Blume demonstrates that he has very little accurate knowledge of the history or purpose of his own people. A child of the civil rights movement, he does not see a religious Jew's world as [Blume's] own world -- and therein lies the problem.

Blume was raised with the American civil rights movement as his religion. Has he or others like him really taken the time to see what the roots of that movement were and how it relates to Israel? It was and is the heroic story of the people of Israel that fuels and informs the struggle of black Americans for their freedom.

But Blume apparently refuses to see the cold, hard realities of the Middle East. He doesn't believe it that when someone says they're coming to kill you, they actually mean it. If Blume knew the history of his own people and understood what is truly his own world, he would have a very different view.

But, alas, he and others wish to remain in their give peace a chance/we are the world cloud, while denigrating the very religious Jews, who by the courage and devotion, continue to live and maintain the land of Israel. Give a thoughtful reading to from time immemorial will ya?

Read about some of your heroic brothers and sisters on israelnationalnews.com. And you are welcome to contact me for a thorough discussion of the real story of Israel in the Middle East.

Joshua Spiegelman
Sylmar

Kudos to Howard Blume for his article, which clearly states that the fundamentalists of any religion can be quite evil. They believe that anyone who does not believe exactly as they do are fair game.

In 1977, my wife and I gave ourselves a 25th wedding anniversary gift by touring Israel. My first purchase was a blue-and-white Israeli hat that I wore throughout the tour.

Our guide took us through West Bank communities without any fear. There were soldiers around, but we comfortably fraternized with Arabs in their shops and on their streets. I was delighted to witness Arabs and Jews praying simultaneously in different rooms at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

I constantly wonder what the situation would be today if subsequent Israeli governments had chosen to separate synagogue and state and not encourage religious Zionists, like the murderer Baruch Goldstein, to settle in the West Bank and Gaza.

Martin J. Weisman
Westlake Village

Betty Friedan

Blu Greenberg's eloquent tribute to the late Betty Friedan reminds us how much courage it took for Friedan to stand up against American society's treatment of women in the early 1960s ("Friedan: Universal Woman, Particular Jew," Feb 10). Less well known is that more than 20 years earlier, Friedan spoke out for another unpopular cause -- bringing German Jewish refugees to the United States.

Friedan was a freshman at Smith College in Massachusetts in the autumn of 1938, when Hitler unleashed the Kristallnacht pogrom. A debate soon erupted on campus over whether the United States should aid Jewish refugees.

On one side stood Smith President William Allen Neilson, a deeply principled humanitarian who believed America should be true to its tradition of welcoming the downtrodden. He urged the students to sign a petition asking President Roosevelt to let German Jewish girls enter the United States outside the immigration quotas, in order to enroll at Smith.

On the other side in the debate were most of the students, whose opposition to the refugees mirrored the bigotry and isolationism that was all too common in American society then. To Friedan's surprise and dismay, some assimilated Jewish students joined the anti-refugee side.

Each student house held its own discussion on whether or not to sign the petition. "A number of girls spoke against it, about not wanting any more Jews at Smith," Friedan later wrote.

There were four older, well-to-do Jewish girls in her house -- "the type that spoke in whispery voices and became utterly anemic because they did not want to be known as Jews," as she put it. "I expected them to speak up [in favor of the petition], but they didn't. Finally, despite being only a freshman from Peoria, I spoke, urging that we open our doors to those girls fleeing persecution."

Sadly, her plea fell on deaf ears -- the petition was rejected by a large margin. But it is to Friedan's credit that she stood up for what was right, even when it was unpopular to do so.

Dr. Rafael Medoff
Director
David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies Melrose Park, Pa.

To read more letters this week, visit www.jewishjournal.com. 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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