Jewish Journal

Letters to the Editor: Rethinking Obama, Dennis Prager, Banning the Burqa

Posted on Feb. 16, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Rethinking Obama

I have read Raphael J. Sonenshein’s article (“Rethinking Obama,” Feb. 12), complete with charts and advice and apparently panic. He says the solution to the impasse in Washington is for Obama to be Obama. I think somebody should inform Mr. Sonenshein that the Obama administration collapsed last week.

Mark Steinberg
Los Angeles

Unbelievable! After all the evidence that Obama is no friend to Israel or the Jewish people, The “Jewish” Journal insists on creating more spin. I thought de-nile was a river in Africa, but no! It’s the liberal mindset in America that denies: Wright, Farrakhan, Ayers and the list goes on.

James Sanders
Los Angeles

Rethinking Obama

The cover†of this week’s Jewish Journal (ìRethinking Obama,î Feb. 12) made me think The Journal had finally recognized the terrible mistake 78 percent of Jewish Americans made in voting for Barack Obama. But no, Raphael Sonenshein†is merely†promoting a change of strategy for the President and the Democratic Left. He wants the President to start putting pressure on Blue Dog Democrats to force them to vote for measures their constituents and the majority of Americans do not want: destruction, not improvement, of the best health care system in the world, more of the “stimulus” spending that has accomplished few jobs and†will put our children†into debt.† Obama has shown†no support for freedom-loving Iranians†trying to overthrow a despotic government, and pressured Israel†to give, give, give, without a partner for peace.†

What Obama calls “obstruction” from Republicans and†Blue Dog Democrats is refusal to†let him destroy our country. Republicans have offered ideas on health care. President Obama says, “I will listen to your ideas, but they had better be good ones.” So far, ideas that differ from his†aren’t “good ones.”†Wake up, Mr. Sonenshein! The American people do not want what President Obama is selling.

Suzi Patrusky
Beverly Hills

“Rethinking Obama” starts with a laughable premise—that Obama has enlisted conservative Democrats and Republicans while ignoring the liberal Democrats. Professor Sonenshein cites health care reform as an example. The fact is the Obama administration disregarded the Republicans from the inception of his presidency, including on health care reform, where, for example, he had liberals draft the legislation and then rejected every proposed Republican idea. While Obama campaigned as a moderate and promised bipartisanship, his administration has pursued a liberal agenda entirely out of step with most Americans and simultaneously attacked any politician, group, network or commentator expressing disagreement. This heavy-handed manner of governing coupled with the liberal agenda†are two primary reasons Obamaís poll numbers have plummeted since his election, the voters of New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts rejected Democratic candidates in recent elections, and numerous Democrats have bowed out of Novemberís upcoming election. Sonensheinís supposed fix—that Obama†ignore the Republicans and pander to the Democrats and liberals—springs from his flawed premise. The Democrats are already going to pay a heavy price in the November elections. If Obama listens to Sonenshein, nothing will get done before then and the election results will be even uglier for the Democrats.

David Olson
Los Angeles

Prager on College

In the world according to Prager (“Jews, College, Money and Nachas,” Feb. 12), if your kid wants to study economics, it makes no difference if he goes to the University of Chicago or to a Cal State University (CSU). If your kid gets accepted to go to Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study architecture or engineering, save your do-re-mi and send her to CSU. Nobody will know the difference come graduation day. Nobody looking at the job applications and resumes cares.

Prager is wrong. It all matters. The school, faculty, curriculum and other students matter, a lot. And most important of all — what your parents think really does matter. It’s Jewish seychel (common sense). So kids, trust your parents. I’m not too sure about Prager.

No one is suggesting that it’s a good idea for parents to go deeply into debt to send their kids to a top college, especially if it’s just to brag about it. But it is a good idea to go to the best school they can afford. And, if they can’t afford it, go anyway. Get a job. Get a loan. Get a scholarship. Beg, borrow or steal. Whatever it takes to get to the college of your choice no matter what it costs. You’ll never regret it.

Charles D. Winkler
Woodland Hills

Thank you Dennis Prager and The Jewish Journal for the wonderful, practical and meaningful message. My hope is that readers of The Journal, particularly “our people,” will grasp the significance of what Dennis attempted to convey. It’s not necessarily what college you attended or graduated from, but what you did with the education you received.

Today, I am privileged to serve as the president and chief executive officer of the largest and arguably the most respected organization to serve the nearly 5 million notaries public in America. Like Dennis, I was never asked what college I attended when I was invited or summoned to serve.

By the way, my colleges of choice, where the experiences were superb and the expenditures were incredible bargains — Los Angeles City College (an associate’s degree) and California State University Northridge (a bachelor’s degree).

From very humble beginnings, I was always grateful to know that my parents were proud to tell all they knew, “my son is attending college.” It didn’t have to be Yale or Harvard.

Milt Valera

Absent from Mr. Prager’s “anecdotal evidence” are two words that for most of us non-celebrities are inextricable from “college” — financial aid. With the help of financial aid, one’s child can attend Stanford for the same price it would cost to send your child to CSUN (not that I have anything against CSUN — just borrowing from Mr. Prager’s juxtaposition).

Daniel E. Goodman
Valley Village

Banning the Burqa

In his article “Banning the Burqa” (Feb. 12), professor Reuven Firestone compares the burqa to the head coverings worn by many Orthodox Jewish women. In so doing, he misses a fundamental difference: The burqa, by covering the woman’s entire face, dehumanizes her, taking away her individuality and her personality. A woman in a burqa has no face, no ears, no mouth, no individual identity. She is a nameless, shapeless, invisible object — a formless nonentity — rather than a full human being with emotions, a smile, expressions of surprise or delight. No other head covering demeans women to such a degree.

Firestone assumes that the burqa is worn as a matter of free choice. But women’s head coverings, in any religion, are always subject to community standards and, often, pressure from fundamentalist elements. That is why many French Muslim women’s groups support a ban: because it will help Muslim women resist pressure from radicals — often backed by threats — to subjugate themselves to a dress code that is primarily a reflection of a contemporary political ideology.

It is sad to see ostensible “respect” for cultural and religious diversity turn into an apology for women’s subjugation. As a woman and a feminist, I find it outrageous that in the name of “political correctness,” a scholar at a progressive Jewish institution should defend the dehumanization and subjugation of women. It is time that we recognize abuses of women’s basic human rights for what they are and condemn their perpetrators whomever they may be.

Leila Leah Bronner
Los Angeles

Reuven Firestone’s main message was, I think, that there is an unforgivable level of disrespect for a culture when the governing bodies censor one quaint custom or another for the simply for the sake of the common good.

I would just like to say that I cannot wait for the next in the series by Mr. Firestone: “Understanding and Accepting the Quaint Practice of Clitoris Removal,” “Is Community Stoning Outdated?” and “Reasons and Justifications for Beheadings.”

Steve Klein

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