This past edition's cover story on UCI ("Campus Turmoil," March 11) shook me to the point that three days after reading it, I can't stop thinking about its repercussions. The article was written in such a way as if Marc Ballon was peeling an onion ... almost living down at UC Irvine watching the events unfold ("Campus Turmoil," March 11). The more I kept reading, the more upset I kept becoming that this type of anti-Semitism could happen in a place where Jews living in the "U.S. melting pot" were supposedly safe.
I was also upset because college was such an impressionable time for me, and I was wondering how many Jewish students on this campus will be affected by this "type of discrimination" and what the lifelong impact will be on their personal connection to Judaism.
In response to your recent cover story "Turmoil on Campus," I felt the need to express my view of the atmosphere at UC Irvine as a freshman living, working and studying on campus. I returned home for a day to spend some time with family and found myself being questioned by everyone regarding the so-called "turmoil" that I was experiencing. Everyone seemed to have a newly found negative view of my campus and some even worried about my safety as a Jew living there. This article gives off the incredibly false impression that anti-Semitism is a common occurrence around campus and that it is such a serious issue that it demands a cover article. I don't get this impression, and neither do most people here.
All of my friends, many of whom are Jewish, are completely apathetic, most having no idea anything happened. I'm not denying that some anti-Semitism exists on campus, but rather I am disappointed at the media's constant need to amplify the issues far beyond what they actually are thereby degrading UCI's reputation in the Jewish community. If you want to come to UCI, this is an incredible university with a student body that overall is open and respectful. Don't let these articles scare you away by saying otherwise.
Two things occur to me about Marc Ballon's article on anti-Semitism (cloaked, as always, as anti-Zionism) at UC Irvine. The first is that university administrators are as cowardly and inept in dealing with determined ideological thugs in 2005 as they were in dealing with Nazi students in the 1920s-1930s in Germany and with radical leftist students in 1968 at Columbia and other American universities. The second is a sense of amusement when Muslim/Arab ideologues excoriate Israel for "illegally occupying Palestinian land" as they strut around illegally occupied Indian land (i.e., America). The irony of the latter point might escape advocates of the "religion of peace," given that Arab raiders conquered a vast empire and imposed their own religion (Islam) and – to a lesser degree – language (Arabic) on numerous peoples.
It is extremely bothersome for me as a Zionist, Jewish and liberal Democrat to see that the campus left has been hijacked by anti-Semites. This has been a phenomenon that has been going on for at least 20 years and I witnessed it firsthand as an undergraduate student at UC San Diego. It was there where I saw the following: 1) Pro-Palestinian and anti-Apartheid activists joining together to draw parallels between Israel and South Africa in a single joint presentation; 2) Imam Siddiqi (the same one from the article) giving a scathing denunciation of Israel as an illegal state while at the same time defending the ancient Muslim custom of subjecting Jews to dhimmi status; and 3) Edward Said receiving a visiting professorship in literature where he was given a regular podium to denounce Israel on campus property and money.
It is certainly no coincidence that where the left has become intolerant of dissent, anti-Semitic and increasingly outside of the mainstream, the primary reason is the embrace of the Arab "cause."
Heritage Via Bags
As an avid needleworker, I found your article "Knitters Spin a Yarn About Tallit Bags" most interesting (March 11). I feel that one of the ways I can pass my heritage on to the next generations is in the making of tallit bags, for our children, our grandchildren, our great nieces and great nephews. To this date I have made 18 and have plans for six more. I hope they will always be a treasure, made and received with love, which will recall one of the most important milestones in their lives. My daughters and I also derive great pleasure in doing the handwork on the tallisim, including the atarah and the four corners.
For those who are not aware, there is a national organization dedicated to Judaic needlework. Pomegranate Guild of Judaic Needlework's main focus is in the inculcation and furthering of knowledge and understanding of our history through needlework. Chapters are located throughout the United States from Anchorage, Alaska to Atlanta, Georgia, and beyond, and are open to all who are interested.
James Besser ("The Golden Rule of Jewish Leadership," March 11) is from the "old" school. He makes it sound as if it is a bad thing that those who contribute the most set the direction. There is nothing wrong with a contributor giving to organizations with which s/he agrees; in fact, it actually makes sense. Working ones way up in the trenches is also not a bad thing, but should not be the only deciding factor in organizational leadership.
In "A Small Piece of Jerusalem's Past" (March 11) the photo is from the Scottish Rite Auditorium.
Irving vs. Lipstadt
I do not understand how a professor, such as Barry Steiner, can make such an absurd statement that "a man's abominable political views are in themselves no evidence that his craft or profession is being used fraudulently or wrongly" ("Letters," Mar. 11). The lawsuit that David Irving brought proved that Irving, who admits to be a Nazi sympathizer and Holocaust denier, could not be a good historian, since he had omitted in his later works any reference to the Holocaust and denied that it ever happened. Steiner's assertion that because he found Irving's earlier works did not show a thread of linkage to Nazi sympathies is specifically the reason that Deborah Lipstadt found him to be such a powerful force that had to be exposed because of his later denials re the Holocaust.
I could not find anywhere in Lipstadt's work that she disagreed with Steiner's final assertion that he refused to reject the earlier scholarly work because of Irving's political sympathies. So why does he think that somehow he was raining on Lipstadt's parade. I think that his letter makes him look rather foolish. It is inconceivable that Steiner read the book wherein the judge's findings are set out.
"Judge Gray declared it 'incontrovertible that Irving qualifies as a Holocaust denier.' He had denied the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz frequently and 'in the most offensive terms,' ... Irving had 'repeatedly crossed the divide between legitimate criticism and prejudiced vilification of the Jewish race and people.'"
I do not understand why Steiner would want to use any of Irving's works. I would think that would devalue any writings that he does when he uses them.
I thought that Lewis Carroll was writing his letter.
Strains of Democracy
Leonard Fein is one of those who do not value Israel as a Jewish state ("Israel Feeling Strains of Democracy," March 11). He is more concerned that it be a democracy.
He needs to repeat Political science I. It was founded explicitly as a Jewish state, but, like the United States, as a republic, not a democracy; and with definite elements of theocracy.
The state owes citizenship and equality to all Jews. It owes nothing to Muslims, but, as a favor, grants them equal status (actually privileged status – no draft). They are owed nothing because they are foreigners who entered our country in the seventh century as invaders; and, after desolating it and largely abandoning it, re-entered it as infiltrators from the neighboring countries. They are settlers there, and guilty of terrible devastation, oppression and ethnic cleansing of our people, massacres and unspeakable atrocities.
No other nation, with far less provocation, has shown such forbearance after defeating colonialists. We certainly don't owe them the "right" to subvert the Jewish character of the state.
I disclaim any desire to discomfort the Christian Arabs, who are as much targets of the Muslims as we are, and our natural allies.
To PETA, I have this to say: While you were eating each other; while you were pitting man against beast in stadiums for your entertainment, Torah-observant Jews were stopping to help relieve the burden of a tired donkey, even when it belonged to an enemy ("PETA Renews Fight on Ritual Slaughter," March 11). While you were out hunting for sport, Torah-observant Jews were trying to decide whether milk and eggs are kosher since they are taken from a live animal. While you hung antlers in your dining room, and wiped your feet on animal skin, Torah-observant Jews made sure to send away the mother bird before taking her eggs. While you were shooting animals in the head before sitting down to a feast, Jewish people would study countless laws, sharpen their knives to a razor and carefully perform a procedure designed to kill the animal without pain. Torah-observant Jews taught the world what it means to be kind to animals. And now, in this moment of remarkable arrogance, the student presumes to become the teacher?
To The Journal, for agreeing to run PETA's ad, and to all of the Conservative rabbis that have joined in this farce, I have this to say: Shame on you. Shame on you that you so desperately seek the approval of your flamboyant, pseudo-humane friends in organizations like PETA. Shame on you, that you now seek to cast aspersions on practices that have the Torah's approval, even if you lack the courage do defend them as your own.
And when Moshiach comes, and we are once more able to bring the daily sacrifices and burnt offerings, will you then, too, stand beside your PETA friends denouncing Torah observance? When PETA send its undercover investigators to a kaparot site on the day before Yom Kippur, will you stand beside them waiving your indignant little fists, and declare this age-old custom a violation of tza'ar ba'alei hayyim as well?
Torah was meant be a light unto the nations. Do not darken its light by inviting PETA's warped perceptions of right and wrong into Torah-observant slaughterhouses.
Shlomo S. Sherman