Jewish Journal

Negotiating with Syria, still with the Rev. Wright brouhaha, Museum of Tolerance expansion

Posted on Jun. 5, 2008 at 2:32 pm

Talks With Syria

M.J. Rosenberg opens with the unqualified claim that former Israeli Ambassador Dore Gold is "appalled" by Israel's negotiating with Syria. ("Israeli Talks With Syrians Make Sense," May 29). False. Gold has expressed no such view.

Indeed, he actively participated in negotiations with Syria nearly a decade ago.

The only basis the author cites for this claim is a quote in which Gold warns against one possible outcome of these talks: A complete Israeli withdrawal from the Golan. But to reformulate that as opposition to Israeli-Syrian talks altogether, even being "appalled" by them, exceeds even the most creative interpretation.

Far worse, the author joins political scientists John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt in the libelous charge that certain Israeli officials goaded the United States into invading Iraq. Rosenberg states this outright about Gold, in particular, at least twice in the article. That is not only false but spectacularly so. Gold's only known statement on the issue was a position paper taking great pains to dispute that very claim about Israel's role (see "Wartime Witch Hunt," at www.jcpa.org/jl/vp518.htm).

Jeff Helmreich
Los Angeles

M.J. Rosenberg argues that Israel would be wise to negotiate with Syria to stop Hezbollah attacking it, showing he has learned nothing about Israeli negotiations with other terroristic, unreconstructed Arab parties.

Talking to Yasser Arafat and Syria's Hafiz Assad achieved nothing, even when massive concessions were offered. And in Arafat's case, where concessions were made, Israel ended up with a terror regime on its doorstep and the loss of more than 1,000 Israeli civilians to terrorism, more than all the Israeli civilians lost to terrorism in the 47 years that preceded Oslo.

Rosenberg might fantasize about Syria leaving Lebanon and reining in Hezbollah, but why would the Syrian Baathist regime be willing to do this? If a groundswell of Lebanese revulsion and international condemnation didn't achieve this in 2005, it's hard to see how negotiations with Israel will achieve it today.

The conflict with Israel is the Syrian regime's warrant for power and oppression. It shares (and increasingly encourages at home, despite its putative secularity) the Islamist goals that drive Iran, and it prefers absolute power over economic reform and opening up to the West. Until that changes, Israeli concessions will only bring dangers, not security.

Morton A. Klein
National President
Zionist Organization of America

Museum of Tolerance Expansion

[Daniel] Fink's letter misrepresenting the Museum of Tolerance needs to be addressed (Letters, May 29).

The Museum of Tolerance is not a Holocaust museum. It is the educational arm of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and its mission is to educate, using the history of the Holocaust. It exposes intolerance, racism, terrorism and modern-day genocides, and it empowers all to take responsibility for their own words and actions. One should never forget but remember by the example of how we live our lives.

As someone who has been involved with the Museum of Tolerance for many years as a volunteer/docent, I take exception to Fink's assertion that the museum wishes to "build a commercial catering facility" on its premises.

I see how young and adult visitors alike are made more aware of their potential to prejudge and are moved by their experience. The museum has an outstanding education and diversity-training program for law enforcement, educators, professionals and school and college groups that reaches far and wide. Its contribution to many walks of life makes an enormous difference. I am so proud to be affiliated with this institution.

Joyce Trank
Culver City

The Wright Flap

Raphael Sonenshein errs in characterizing Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) as "the black candidate," as he is mixed race -- and that may be the point ("The Wright Flap and the Black Candidate," May 9).

The senator has played every side of the race issue: mixed race, black, African American, post-race, racial evangelist. From adopting the Rev. Jeremiah Wright as a virtual blood relation and throwing his (Obama's) own grandmother under the bus for Wright, to rejecting Wright when Wright didn't play by the (Obama) rules.

Sonenshein errs equally if not more seriously in presuming that an endorsement of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) by the Rev. John Hagee, who is at least a supporter of Israel, is equivalent to Obama's 22-year relationship with Wright, who considers Israel a terrorist state.

More to the point, Hagee has sent a formal written apology to Bill Donahue of the Catholic League. Wright has not apologized for anything.

Even without the apology, Sonenshein's premise is overreaching, and he does not address a fundamental question: What is more potent? Obama's facile dismissal of Wright's vicious anti-Israelism or Wright's embrace of Louis Farrakhan's hatred for the Jewish state.

The issue is not whether a superficial dismissal of his crazy (suddenly) "former" pastor by Obama placates Jewish supporters, but actually whether Wright poisons the minds of many thousands of African Americans against Israel -- and that Obama has avoided this issue like the plague it is.

If Obama is as qualified to be president as Sonenshein believes, he should be far more concerned that his chances have been virtually torpedoed by Wright -- while somehow discounting any effect of other unsavory associations -- while Hagee will, in fact, have no such effect on McCain, despite the columnist's obvious attempt to distract by arguing that it should be otherwise.

Jarrow L. Rogovin
Los Angeles


In an April 25 letter refuting The Journal's reporting that Scott Radinsky isn't Jewish ("Dodgers Hit Grand Slam in History of Jewish Players," April 18), Ephraim Moxson, co-publisher of Jewish Sports Review, wrote that Radinsky is the son of a Jewish mother and Polish father. The Journal contacted a representative for the former Dodger pitcher, who confirmed that neither Radinsky nor his mother are Jewish.

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