August 2, 2011
Letters to the Editor: Norway, Jacob Dayan, Redistricting
Christian Hate Claims Jewish Roots
While Rob Eshman makes an important and necessary argument in his editorial, he misses a serious point (“Web of Evil,” July 29). Fundamentalist, right-wing Christian extremists can claim brotherhood with Zionist Jews because their perception — sadly correct often enough — is that regardless of population demographics, regardless of the laws of Torah and the basic laws of Israel, regardless of our well-documented activities promoting tolerance and understanding, there are serious and continual examples of discrimination against the Israeli Arab population and a visceral antipathy among a significant portion of the in-and-out-of-Israel Jewish population for Arabs and Muslims. Where have I heard, “The only good Arab is a dead Arab”? From local Israelis. Where have I heard, “They’re all liars and can’t be trusted”? From American-born Jews.
Ironically (though they don’t see it this way), the defensive, underdog position defenders of Israel have been forced into has led them to embrace an Evangelical Christian right that, while professing fervent support of Israel, teaches in its dogma an ultimate Armageddon that leaves Israel with, at best, a caliphate-level Jewish population (separate and unequal) or, at worst, Judenrein. It is inherently anti-Semitic.
Yes, the Jewish community must do everything possible to distance itself from the malignant hate seething from an Anders Breivik and his ilk (Pat Buchanan?), but we must also face honestly the extent to which we fertilize the ground he walks on.
Praise for Jacob Dayan
Thank you for your articles about departing consul general Jacob Dayan and his wife, Galit (“A Diplomatic Partnership,” July 29). The Dayan family have been a perfect representation to Angelenos of the very best that Israel has to offer. Yaki has been a passionate and tireless advocate for the state of Israel at a time when the Jewish state has been under constant attack, both at home and abroad. He has also been an inspiration and source of strength and support to the local Israeli community.
It has been an honor and a pleasure to have hosted Yaki at our synagogue, Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel.
I am confident that we will be hearing much more in the years to come about this very special man and his exceptional family.
Tzetchem B’shalom. L’hitraot.
Rabbi Jay Shasho Levy
Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel
Another View of the Redistricting Issue
The fundamental premise — that Jewish political power increases when we’re clumped into a single district — is flawed (“Berman vs. Sherman?” July 22). It is equally likely that when a Jewish neighborhood is split into two or more political districts, two or more politicians can be made to pay attention to our concerns. That doesn’t dilute our political clout, it strengthens it.
Remember, Republicans enthusiastically embraced “majority-minority” districting in the South because, while it increased the number of black representatives, it decreased the total number of Democratic representatives. How? By bunching blacks, who are overwhelmingly Democrats, into fewer districts, thereby creating more majority Republican districts.
When it comes to political influence, building relationships with officeholders and coalitions with other voters is a better strategy than huddling together.
Circumcision’s Other Health Advantages
The article on the San Francisco circumcision ban by Jonah Lowenfeld (“The Great California Foreskin Fight of 2011,” June 24) thoroughly covered the characters co-sponsoring the anti-circumcision bill, but it failed to emphasize the multiple proven scientific lifetime preventive health advantages of newborn circumcision. During infancy and childhood, uncircumcised infants have a tenfold increased risk of getting severe kidney infections as well as being uniquely susceptible to foreskin infections, retraction problems (phimosis) and difficulties with genital hygiene. In young adults, circumcision helps prevent HIV/AIDS, genital herpes, HPV and other sexually transmitted infections, as well as cervical cancer in female partners. In old age, penile cancer and difficulty maintaining genital cleanliness are foreskin-related problems. Emphasizing these proven lifetime benefits is more important than getting out the anectdotal anti-circumcision party line.
Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, Emeritus
University of California, San Francisco
The Arab Mentality
Rabbi Laura Geller, in her Torah Portion column, speaks out against an e-mail, “The Arab Mentality,” about a Palestinian woman arrested as a suicide bomber even though, after checking the story, she found the story to be true (“Silence Is Consent,” July 22). One objection was that the author was a member of a right-wing party. If the story came from a left-wing party member, would the story be OK? The author of the article ascribes a characteristic to a whole group (Arabs) and Rabbi Geller ascribes a characteristic to a whole group (right wing parties, not to be trusted even if what they say is true). What’s the difference between saying “The Arab Mentality” and “The Right Wing Mentality”?
Rabbi Geller is correct that we must speak out against something that is wrong, even if it comes from a rabbi.