More Than Just Surviving
Looking at those amazing faces on the cover and learning their stories, it struck me, perhaps for the first time, that the term “Holocaust Survivor” may be insufficient (“My 50 Best Friends Are Holocaust Survivors,” April 25).
Those brave people faced some of the most unspeakable evil, the most vicious hatred, the most murderous acts ever perpetrated. And they prevailed. They’re still here with us. Where are their oppressors? Long gone, dead and buried, condemned and shamed by the world and history.
That’s much more than mere survival.
In most confrontations, on the battlefield or anywhere else, the last man standing is generally declared the victor. Perhaps it’s time we applied that same standard here. Far more than survivors. They are Holocaust Defeaters. They’ve won. And through them, so have we.
Abe Rosenberg via email
When Good Faith Is Silenced
In an article titled “Local Rabbis Participate in Qatar Interfaith Dialogue” (April 18), Dr. Reuven Firestone, our esteemed and beloved colleague, is quoted as saying, “While the Qatari government does not have an official policy barring Israelis from participating, few Israelis attend. They don’t always come, but some are invited.”
While Dr. Firestone’s ongoing participation in the dialogue has certainly contributed positively to the conference and to forging a stronger relationship between Jews and Muslims, we respectfully differ with him regarding his interpretation of the absence of Israeli participants. Indeed, Israelis have been invited in the past, but only those who travel on an American passport have been granted an entry visa.
In fact, in 2011 great effort was expended to reach out and invite Rabbi Michael Melchior, a former member of Knesset and a champion of Muslim-Jewish dialogue. The Qataris had explicitly asked for a prominent rabbinic spokesperson. After he received the official invitation, Rabbi Melchior immediately accepted and responded affirmatively. However, despite the Qataris’ initial enthusiasm and their purported interest in hosting Israelis, the conference organizers never confirmed his participation and did not respond to further inquiries.
Apparently the unarticulated conference policy is that any potential Israeli attendee attempting to enter Qatar on an Israeli passport is a persona non grata. Consequently, Rabbi Melchior, who proudly carries only an Israeli passport and has traveled widely throughout the Arab world to engage senior Muslim colleagues, was denied the opportunity to enter Qatar.
As a result, a number of us have refused to continue our participation in the annual conference until such a time as the Qataris lift this ban and clearly embrace the true spirit of intercommunal dialogue. Claiming to be inclusive while at the same time sustaining an unacknowledged “boycott” undermines the basic trust that is the bedrock of all genuine interfaith efforts and is, frankly, humiliating.
Hopefully, Dr. Firestone’s active involvement in the process and his considerable influence will yield a reversal of Qatari policy in the future so that true dialogue can proceed.
Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, UCLA Hillel , Rabbi J. Rolando Matalon, Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, N.Y. via email
Hats off to Marty Kaplan’s “One God, One Vote” (April 25). Any politician who vies for votes by tribe, religion or hate is avoiding issues and is attempting to win by the basest of means. We already have too many of this ilk in our various legislators.
Steve Gorman via email
Kudos to Marty Kaplan for his piece about Amy Howorth’s campaign tactics. When Jeff Ebenstein was running (unsuccessfully) for the State Assembly, every single piece of campaign literature I received touted his family’s long involvement with Valley Beth Shalom, and featured at least one photo of his bar mitzvah. I’m still trying to figure out how that photograph qualified him to serve in the Assembly — maybe that’s why he lost. I was outraged and more than a little insulted to receive such obviously slanted campaign materials — that kind of pandering has no place in an honest and intelligent campaign.
Beryl Arbit, Encino
An incorrect credit for a photograph of author Sara Davidson and Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi ran in the April 25 edition of the Journal (“Bury My Ashes at Auschwitz”). The photo was taken by Carl Studna.