Rob Eshman brings us the chilling fact that most Pakistanis believe Israel and the United States are behind the 9/11 attacks and the cause for the chaos in Egypt (“Reshaping Hate,” Aug. 30). Once again, this raises the question: “Why do they hate us?” The answers suggested by the Muslim journalists show that after all these years, we’re still guessing.
The baseless beliefs about the “Satanic USA” can actually be constructive in solving the mystery. We look for rational answers because that is how we are trained to think, but in fact, the hatred toward the United States is in the emotional realm. There are plenty of emotional reasons to hate the United States. Xenophobia and envy may underlie it.
If that is the correct answer, it can guide us to relevant solutions. We can’t be less rich, or more Muslim, but we can promote the teaching of rational thinking. Classes that teach the difference between fact and belief, opinion and feeling, and — above all — teach critical thinking.
Wherever possible, the United States should make the spreading of this curriculum contingent on U.S. aid. With patience, such teaching (careful not to clash with religious beliefs) will ultimately bring prosperity, democracy and, finally, maybe they will stop hating us.
Nurit Manor-Gazit, Valley Village
When Cameron Munter expressed his desire to bring people-to-people initiatives to Pakistan, I felt he left out one possibility.
I think that the United States would do a lot better in turning public opinion in Pakistan by instituting a computer-educational program. If the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provided laptops to every child in a large city, a medium-sized city and a few villages, we might make a profound impression on the people in those places. By providing computers, we would making our intent known that we really want to help all the people of Pakistan, not just the military.
Giving people the capability of learning about the world, the United States and the Taliban would be of more value than drone strikes. It is time for America and Americans to put forward programs that help people instead of military strikes.
Masse Bloomfield via e-mail
Jews and Wine
Rob Eshman’s interview with Jeff Morgan elicited the information that ancient people invented wine to get vitamins and to soothe the body (“People of the Vine,” Aug. 30). I think the major reason was to sterilize questionable drinking water with alcohol. Wine, beer and whiskey are pervasive among successful civilizations.
Chlorine and chloramine were beyond their technology.
Myron Kayton via e-mail
Journey Toward Adulthood
I love David Suissa’s idea of the b’nai mitzvah ceremony not being a final goal, but the beginning of a journey toward a chai mitzvah (“Happy New Mitzvah,” Sept. 6). Perhaps synagogues could offer, as a b’nai mitzvah present suggestion, a package deal to cover the cost of membership dues for the five years involved in this journey. Not that I would minimize the value of the b’nai mitzvah stepping stone along this path. I am continually impressed with the maturity of the b’nai mitzvah “graduates” I see at Congregation Tikvat Jacob in Manhattan Beach. But guiding them to adulthood based on religious values in an increasingly secular world would be a great benefit to them and to our civilization. The cost of this gift could be partially offset by having a less lavish b’nai mitzvah party since neither of these events should be, as you wrote, an opportunity to fork out a bundle on a wild party.
Warren Scheinin, Redondo Beach
Kaparot Ritual Offends
The article on kaparot sickened me (“Atonement Chickens — Swung and Tossed,” Sept. 6). The ritual is an inhumane, cruel act, and I am deeply offended, disturbed and outraged, as I am certain many people are.
Keeping chickens in cramped wire cages, swinging them by their wings, twirling them around three times and then slicing their throats has to be the most agonizing, cruel and painful death.
Whether or not you are an animal activist and believe in animal rights, this so-called ritual must be stopped. In addition, this would engender a wave of intense anti-Semitism, labeling us as barbarians and all that that implies.
Are we to believe that making a chicken suffer unbelievable pain and fear would make an individual’s sins be forgiven since these would then be transferred to a poor, indefensible creature? Is this what God envisioned?
If these individuals insist on performing this horrific ritual, might I suggest that they swing a tiger by its legs and may the best beast win.
Fortuna Spiwak, Tarzana