February 22, 2007
We were surprised to read the mischaracterization of the American Jewish Committee (AJCommitee) in Rob Eshman's column ("Shutting Jewish Mouths," Feb. 16).
As our 175,000 constituents know, we welcome a wide range of viewpoints in the AJCommitee "tent" and our members count themselves as liberals, conservatives and everything in between. AJCommitee is a strictly nonpartisan organization, long viewed as centrist in its orientation and we pride ourselves on a deliberative style of discussion and debate on policy matters. Contrary to Eshman's view, there is no "party line" at AJCommitee.
Legitimate and informed discussion of Israeli policies is welcome, and, as ardent defenders of the Jewish state, we have been long-time participants in that debate. Indeed, AJCommitee is a leading advocate for a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But we must take umbrage with anyone, even fellow Jews, who call for Israel's demise.
The essay by professor Alvin Rosenfeld of Indiana University addresses a very real threat that a Jewish imprimatur gives to the campaign to challenge Israel's very legitimacy. As the American Jewish community's leading think tank, the AJCommitee chose to publish the essay because it is important to illuminate views held by those on the political fringes asserting that Israel has no right to exist and should either be destroyed or morphed into a so-called bi-national state, which means the end of Israel as a Jewish state.
Their language needs to be read to understand why professor Rosenfeld, a highly regarded scholar, felt compelled to write his essay and why AJCommitee chose to publish it. It can be found at www.ajc.org.
Meanwhile, those who claim that an effort is underway to stifle debate are just wrong. Discussion online and offline has been vibrant, and we hope interest in the Rosenfeld essay will spark serious conversation on the important issues he raises.
Sherry A. Weinman
Los Angeles Chapter
American Jewish Committee
Bravo, well said ... and it needed to be said. I admire your courage in speaking out against an increasingly stultifying establishment... which, of course, was itself the point.
No matter how much heat you catch -- and I'm sure it will be plentiful -- know that you have many readers who respect your resolve to deliver real journalism. Kol hakavod l'cha.
Rabbi Ken Chasen
Leo Baeck Temple
Your statement about being the former head of Americans for Peace now [in Los Angeles] made everything clear about how you have used The Jewish Journal to put down the religious Jews who really care about their G-d-given birthright, the land of Israel and the nominally Jewish traitors who would sell their soul for a fake peace with the Islamic terrorists who want nothing more than to eradicate Jews from the face of the earth.
If ever there were a case for removing a traitor from a "Jewish" publication, it is you. You are a pogrom all by yourself.
In "Shutting Jewish Mouths" (Feb. 16), Jewish Journal Editor in Chief Rob Eshman makes an almost comical argument: the American Jewish Committee can stop Peace Now's abusive criticism of Israel.
But pacifists, whether in England in the 1930s, West Germany in the 1970s or in the West today, always blame the victim first.
Thus, while friends of Israel seek to improve Israel's public image, Peace Now supplies the raw materials for anti-Israel coverage. While Israel seeks new markets for its products, Peace Now assists in economic boycotts. While the IDF maps Iranian nuclear sites, Peace Now maps settlements. While Hamas prepares to introduce sharia, or Islamic law, into the formerly "occupied" Gaza strip, Peace Now advocates splitting Jerusalem. While Hezbollah and Syria plan another round of missile strikes, Peace Now demands that Israel surrender the Golan.
It's true that we all love Israel. But love from pacifists tends to hurt -- a lot.
Nathan D. Wirtschafter
Justice Takes a Beating
Joe R. Hicks' otherwise excellent article about the sentence of freedom given to the gang that nearly beat to death three innocent young girls on the street while screaming anti-white racial epithets against them left out the most important information: the judge's name ("Justice Takes a Beating in Racial Hatred Case," Feb. 16).
It is Superior Court Judge Gibson Lee, not only the object of worldwide scorn via the Internet and talk radio, but thankfully the subject of a recall petition. Lee is a disgrace to the bench and to America, and should resign immediately.
In the course of his lukewarm, non-defense of Dennis Prager, David Klinghoffer adds insult to injury by claiming that the "Muslim scriptures do not deserve" the same recognition as the Bible because "what has made America so special" can be traced to "a unique blending of Christian and Jewish beliefs," in which the "Quran played no role whatsoever" ("Prager Shouldn't Lose His Museum Post," Feb. 16).
Klinghoffer needs to go back and study his U.S. history. What made America so special is not some Christian/Jewish exclusion of other religions, but the inclusive principle of religious tolerance.
Campaigning for religious freedom in Virginia, Thomas Jefferson demanded recognition of the religious rights of the "Mahamdan," the Jew and the "pagan." Richard Henry Lee asserted: "True freedom embraces the Mahomitan and the Gentoo [Hindu] as well as the Christian religion."
Jefferson recounted that in the struggle to pass his landmark Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom (1786), the Virginia legislature "rejected by a great majority" an effort to limit the bill's scope, "in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan."
Officials in Massachusetts were equally insistent that their influential Constitution of 1780 afforded "the most ample liberty of conscience ... to Deists, Mahometans, Jews and Christians."