December 25, 2008
Madoff, Christmas, Chanukah and Hebron
I fully enjoyed Elon Gold's story, "Don't Feel Bad! I Love Christmas, Too!" (Dec. 19). He left out that Christmas is the one time a year when millions of people worldwide celebrate the birth of a Jew.
The Chanukah cover (Dec. 19) is outrageous. Is that the best you can do a few days before our glorious Jewish holiday, Chanukah? Granted, Christmas is very important for Christians, celebrated by the gentile world only one day. This year, it falls in the middle of Chanukah, which is celebrated by Jews for eight days.
Would it not have been appropriate to have Jewish symbols on the same cover, such as a menorah, dreidles, Chanukah candles, candies, latkes, sufganyot, etc., marking our holiday? After all, it says it is "The Jewish Journal" -- it is not a Christian paper, or is it? Are we not proud of our traditions of Chanukah celebrations?
The victims of the Bernard Madoff scam are guilty of one of the oldest sins in investing ("Madoff Scandal Rocks Jewish Philanthropic World," Dec. 19). They wanted what everyone looks for and doesn't exist: equitylike returns without equity risk.
Shame on the board members of the charities that were duped by Madoff, and double shame on the consultants and advisers the boards hired to guide them -- they definitely should have known better. Once again, we learn the hard way that if someone promises you stock market returns without stock market risk, run don't walk away -- they're either lying or incompetent. Shangri-La does not exist.
The Jewish Community has a golden opportunity to use this misguided glaring spotlight on Bernard Madoff and his Jewishness to show that the Jewish community will do the counterintuitive thing, the right thing: Instead of throwing Madoff under the bus, the Jewish community must visibly ensure that Madoff receives a fair, unbiased trial; the Jewish community must visibly provide any religious and spiritual support and guidance Madoff needs, including spiritual and religious rehabilitation.
This should be done in spite of the fact that many Jewish institutions are his alleged victims. Our collective Jewish history is filled with cases of Jews that have been unfairly punished by the state because they were Jewish. Now that the Jewish community is in a spotlight it did not ask for, it must unequivocally show the world that as a group, it will never stray from its mandated justice and compassion, however painful.
Anything less would be playing into the hands of the Jew-haters and the self-hating Jews.
Martini H. Leaf
I am so proud of Rob Eshman ("Madoff," Dec. 19). His condemnation of Bernard Madoff flies in the faces of those many Jews who believe in the lunacy that Jews can do no wrong. I believe we will become better if Rob, and others like him, continue to have the courage to expose the reality of our Jewish people, warts and all.
Martin J. Weisman
Several things bother me about Rob Eshman's column about Bernard Madoff. As a retired criminal defense attorney, I find journalists who write or speak about Madoff without interjecting the caveat, "if he is guilty," doing a disfavor to our judicial system that gives the presumption of innocence to all those accused of a crime.
However, the most disturbing thing Eshman wrote is, "What kind of world is it where Jews can't trust fellow Jews?" To which I reply as a member of the human race, "What kind of a world is it where human beings can't trust fellow human beings?"
I guess the answer to both our questions is, "It's hell."
Leon M. Salter
A Pardon for Michael Milken
How ironic the same issue of The Jewish Journal that details the securities fraud of Bernard Madoff should have a column calling for a pardon for Michael Milken ("Bush Should Grant Michael Milken a Pardon," Dec. 19). Milken went to jail for a reason and came out with enough money to buy his way back into the good graces of the Jewish community.
The organizations that honor him and put his name on buildings and projects that do good deeds forget the pain of those of us who lost money trusting him. The Madoff scandal reminds us that a crook doesn't always carry a gun when he robs you.
Damage inflicted by white collar criminals endures. Milken should do good deeds for the rest of his life. He hurt a lot of people. He does not deserve a pardon.
Karen Heller Mason
Dean Rotbart's opinion in The Jewish Journal is that Bush should grant Michael Milken a pardon because he is a "tzadik." The talmudic question is, "Is dirty money really tzedakah?" President Bush, a righteous man, what should he do?
You want to write about President Bush righting a wrong (by way of a presidential pardon) before he leaves office for the final time, how about writing on behalf of a fellow Yid who is actually rotting away in jail and really does need our help (yes -- we're all sinners when it comes to our neglect in helping free Jonathan Pollard).
In case Messrs. Rotbart and Eshman aren't aware, the median sentence for the offense Pollard committed -- one count of passing classified information to an ally -- is two to four years. Pollard has been rotting in jail now for 24 years under a life sentence without parole.
Pollard deserves a write-up for a presidential pardon more than Michael Milken ever will.
Shame on The Journal and Rotbart for wasting precious opinion space on such silly nonsense.
Daniel E. Goodman
For many weeks I have enjoyed Amy Klein's "True Confessions." It is hysterical reading the woman's perspective and constantly reminds me of past dates I've been on -- unfortunately.
Thanks for finding a place in The Journal for my weekly laughs. I hear the piece is coming to an end, and I thought I would put in a plug and let you know how much I have enjoyed it. If there were any possibility, I would love if you could continue printing my favorite comic strip.
Museum of Tolerance
The Wiesenthal Center plans to build a Center for Human Dignity by committing egregious acts of indignity and intolerance ("Protests Over Jerusalem Museum of Tolerance Spread," Dec. 12). The point that the land is no longer designated as a cemetery by Israel is irrelevant and is not what is at issue here. There are still hundreds of Muslims buried on that land, and they do not deserve to have their final resting place be desecrated.
More than 150 skeletons were unearthed under the Wiesenthal Center's supervision. It is our responsibility, as Jewish and Muslim people who understand extending respect toward sacred places and religious symbols, to ensure that the Simon Wiesenthal Center does not move forward with these plans.
Building a structure of any kind, especially a Museum of Tolerance, over a Muslim cemetery, is like waving red flags in front of bulls. What, they don't have enough reasons to hate us?
This is to urge the Simon Wiesenthal Center to halt the building of a Museum of Tolerance over the Mamilla Cemetery in Jerusalem. Building a Museum of Tolerance atop the cemetery, unlike the admirable goal of furthering tolerance and understanding (as the Museum of Tolerance has done in the past), will only add to the existing pain and suffering of Palestinians and Israelis, irreversibly damage relations between Muslims and Jews worldwide and sow new feelings of animosity and division for generations to come. Is it worth the extra pain?
Dr. Murtadha A. Khakoo,
Chair, Department of Physics,
Cal State Fullerton
Please halt building over the Mamilla cemetery in Jerusalem.
Greg Abdullah Ali
Violence in Hebron
In your coverage of the eviction of Jews from Hebron's Beit Hashalom, a house whose purchase by an American Jew is currently being disputed in court, you asserted that the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the eviction and that the eviction was thus carried out pursuant to such an order ("Unchecked Settler Violence Sparks Fears of New Intifada," Dec. 12). That is incorrect and misleading.
The Supreme Court did not order the eviction of the inhabitants of Beit Hashalom and, as such, the eviction did not take place pursuant to an effort to enforce such a ruling. Rather, as former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Yaakov Turkel said, "The ruling does not obligate the state to act to evacuate the Jews, but rather gives them the freedom to decide whether to do so or not."
It was precisely that discretion -- not an order -- authorized by the court that led some 50 Knesset members to ask the government not to evict the Hebron Jews. The signatories included the chairpersons of seven Knesset parties, including Kadima and Likud, and several former ministers.
The Knesset members wrote, "The Supreme Court ... did not obligate the government to evict them." They also said, "It seems the settlers have serious evidence to prove their claims [of legal purchase] ... in light of the new evidence presented ... to the prosecutor's office.... [A] heavy feeling of bias and injustice has followed the entire case. As public representatives, we warn that continued proceedings along these lines, leading to this result, is liable to significantly damage public faith in the judicial system."
Morton A. Klein
Zionist Organization of America