Jewish Journal

Rabbi David Baron vs Mad Mel in Yom Kippur Pulpit Match

9/11 Conspiracy Theories; GOP and the Jews; Matt Altman

Posted on Sep. 7, 2006 at 8:00 pm

When I initially heard that Rabbi David Baron had approached Mel Gibson to give him the opportunity to apologize for his anti-Semitic remarks, my immediate reaction was that Yom Kippur was a perfect occasion to bring him before his congregation to atone ("What I Really Asked Mel Gibson," Sept. 1).

I firmly believe that our tradition teaches us that forgiveness between human beings during the Days of Awe is an extremely important tenet of our faith and is to be encouraged. Giving Gibson such an opportunity would have allowed him to start on the path to understanding why he spoke his inexcusable words and why his conduct when arrested was inappropriate.

I neither saw Rabbi Baron's approach to Gibson as one offering the latter a "pulpit" nor as an act of publicity seeking. I viewed it as his providing Gibson with the opportunity to apologize and take responsibility for his actions thereby allowing the Jewish community to start the process of forgiveness depending on the degree of his contrition.

Geoffrey M. Gee
Los Angeles

Sept. 11 Conspiracies

I was appalled to read all the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories responsible for Sept. 11 ("Conspiracy Theories Continue to Blame Jews and Israel," Sept. 1). I can only hope that most Americans believe these theories are strictly propaganda and pure falsehoods. It seems whenever there are tragedies in the world the Jews will be the blamed.

Michael Levi
Santa Monica

At 35, I am not young, and I'm no longer an activist per se, but I am anti-war, and I'm intelligent enough to take offense at the characterization of "young anti-war activists" as conspiracy theorists. This ad hominem is particularly inappropriate when the latest polls say more than 60 percent of Americans are now anti-war.

And while Syracuse U.'s Michael Barkun may be correct that conspiracists show a profound distrust of governmental authority, it's worth mentioning that these authorities have led us into an illegal and immoral war based on lies about weapons of mass destruction and false links between Iraq and Sept. 11.

Kezia Jauron
Sherman Oaks

Dems vs GOP

Even if the local chapter of Progressive Democrats of America voted to recommend that the United States cut off military aid to Israel during the Hezbollah bombardment ("GOP Sees Israel as Way to Woo Democratic Jews," Sept. 1), this is not reflective of the overall view of contemporary Democrats.

When it comes to supporting Israel's military actions, I will be happy to compare Democratic members of Congress: Reps. Howard Berman, Jane Harman, Adam Schiff, Brad Sherman and Henry Waxman to such Republican members as Reps. Darrel Issa and Dana Rohrabacher. Democratic primary voters in Georgia just ousted anti-Israel Rep. Cynthia McKinney from Congress. I haven't yet seen Republican primary voters in Texas do the same to anti-Israel Rep. Ron Paul.

The Democratic Party leadership realizes that true liberalism cannot survive in this world if we are beset by powerful terrorist forces such as Hezbollah and Hamas. In fact, considering that these groups are primarily religious fundamentalists, nothing could be further from them than today's Democratic Party in the United States.

The small minority of leftists, who do not comprehend the importance of backing a loyal ally in a kill-or-be-killed struggle against a barbaric enemy that opposes everything that modern liberalism stands for, are abandoning the strong anti totalitarian tradition of the party of Harry Truman, Hubert Humphrey, JFK and Bill Clinton.

Democratic Party leaders understand that a world in which modern freedom thrives-including equal rights for women and an increasing secularization of governments-requires a vibrant, prosperous and safe Israel. It is unfair to judge our party by a small group that fails to see the connection between world peace and the vanquishing of murderous fundamentalists such as Hezbollah and Hamas.

Edward Tabash
Beverly Hills
Past President
Democrats for Israel Los Angeles

Methinks the Democrats protest too much.

If they are truly pro-Israel, they would celebrate the substantive support for the Jewish state from the GOP.

Howard Waldow
Beverly Hills

President Bush's long standing and unwavering support for the State of Israel is well documented ("GOP Sees Israel as Way to Woo Democratic Jews," Sept. 1). While most Jewish Democrats I know cheer strong Republican support for Israel, some Democrat politicians are defensive and even harsh in questioning GOP motives regarding Israel.

The Republican case for Jewish votes is solid support for Israel and an equally solid program in other critical areas. The GOP proposes vital anti-terror measures, resolute action against radical Islam and, on the home front, tort reform, necessary immigration reform and continued strong economic growth.

Democrats too often are seen as obstructing and criticizing rather than offering substantive, workable solutions.

As the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11 approaches, the message of the Republican Party resonates with today's Jewish community. That is why the Jewish Republican movement continues to grow in Southern California and throughout the country.

Richard Sherman
Republican Jewish Coalition
Los Angeles Chapter

It is getting clos e to the time when the only people who will need to cut and run are Jewish democrats, especially those who hold office. Wake up and smell the coffee. Those aren't burnt bagels you're smelling.

Perry Smulson

Liberal Jews are delusional about the Democratic Party. Republicans are more supportive of Israel because they are able to understand the moral difference between a good and democratic Israel and the evil of Islamic Fascism. If Rob Eshman is truly troubled by the lack of support among Democrats he should switch parties and stop being dishonest about the direction the Democratic Party has taken over the last 25 years. How Jews can support the Democratic Party today is baffling. In particular the moral decay of the Democratic Party in California is absolutely disgraceful.

Why doesn't The Journal write about SB 1437 and SB 1441 which the Democrats just passed. Do California Jews believe in sexualizing our elementary school children? Jews need to open their eyes and be honest about the tremendous damage the Democrats are causing our state. Hopefully the governor will veto this destructive legislation.

Dr. Sabi Israel
West Hills

True Heroes

Your article about CAA's Matt Altman's inspired plunge into Northern Israel (when the country was facing such an onslaught) reminded me of a similar plunge made by Beverly Hills Police Special Tactics Sgt. Walt Gordon who volunteered in Kiryat Shmona ("TV Agent Casts Himself in Reality Show: Lebanon War," Sept. 1). In Israel, he saw for himself the extraordinary phenomenon of people dropping everything to help in some way.

What Altman and Gordon did is nothing short of heroic, because they also dropped everything. They took their thoughts beyond upbeat words (which are extremely valuable, too!) into the realm of physical action.

In order to outshine this bitter wave of hatred come from so dark a cluster of extremists, we are all going to need to follow their example.

Why not by calling for a non-military service brigade where we can serve in either the United States or in Israel?

Think about what that would do for our mindset as a nation. Shouldn't there be some choice other than strict military service as a way to do as these "regular folk" have done?

In the meantime, I suggest we support Altman's actions.

Benyamin Ben Avraham Yosef
via e-mail

Pain and Pleasure

Rob Eshman is correct to point out that "no one knows what works" in "captivating" the crucial younger Jewish demographic ("Pain and Pleasure," Sept. 1).

Let's start with what does not work. Agendas don't work. Insincerity doesn't work. That's why people are so turned off by any program or event that smacks of "I love you for what you can do for me." Well-meaning program directors often assume they know what "their market" wants, when the truth is they don't -- or worse, they don't care. The result is big rooms, small crowds and a lot of left-over cookies.

What does work? For starters -- the opposite of the above: No agenda. Care about me. Give me what I want. At the same time, young Jews deeply yearn for acceptance of who they are, a chance to connect meaningfully to other Jews and kind and patient guidance in exploring their Jewish heritage.

Rabbi David Ordan
Director of Outreach Programming
Aish Hatorah Los Angeles

I must immediately tell you how thrilling this week's column is. I may not have the ability to analyze the brilliance of this writing, but it is, as many other columns are, fantastic, informative, detailed, a product of your clear view and responsive intellect. This one is tender, many-faceted and, to me, humorous.

What a portrait -- I wish I could say more about it, but, I am sure you have professional colleagues who can.

Just, thank you for so many other exciting, uplifting, challenging -- and somehow heartbreaking -- Thursday "reads."

Renee Merar Geffen
Santa Monica

At Risk

I am rather disappointed that such a sophomoric article would appear from the pen of the editor-in-chief ("At Risk," Aug. 25). Your almost utter dismissal of the risk of terrorism smacks more of politics than of reality. Statistics are wonderful things to manipulate arguments with. Unfortunately, they often have no relevance to the situation at hand. The one in a million chance means nothing to the victim of a terrorist attack. To him or her, it's a probability of one. To the survivors, it's a cause for anger that something wasn't done about it.

Emanuel R. Baker
Los Angeles

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