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Jewish Journal

Bibi, Judea Pearl, Muslims and the Dennis

February 1, 2007 | 7:00 pm

Netanyahu

Thank you for presenting Larry Derfner's candid perspective on perhaps the most shameful issue facing Israel: the treatment of Israeli Arabs ("Netanyahu Ranks High as Racist Demagogue," Jan. 19).

Former Prime Minister Netanyahu's disdain for Israel's Arab citizens and fear of a future Arab majority is only the tip of the iceberg. A significant portion of Jewish Israel is unabashedly discriminatory of Israeli Arabs in a manner that is an abomination of Jewish values and a mockery of democracy.

It is a miracle that the vast majority of these Israeli citizens have not renounced their allegiance to Israel and embraced Palestinian nationalism or Islamic fundamentalism. That day however may not be so far away, and if indeed it comes, Jewish Israel will have only itself to blame. Only by truly embracing the values of Judaism and democracy can we rid ourselves of the fear of an Arab majority in Israel.

David Orenstein
Los Angeles

Larry Derfner's article demonizing Bibi Netanyahu was mistakenly placed in The Jewish Journal, instead of where it really belonged, in Al Jazeera. Netanyahu's delight that his economic decisions resulted in a lower Arab birthrate has nothing to do with racism, as Derfner accuses, but with Jewish survival.

Demographers have predicted that with the current birthrate in Israel, Arabs could become a majority in less than 50 years. If that were to happen, the only Jewish homeland would be voted out of existence, and the safety of the Jewish population seriously jeopardized. Maybe Derfner believes that if that were to happen, they could count on the assistance of the United Nations. Most Israelis, however, are not that na?ve.

Derfner also slams Netanyahu for wanting the limited funds of the Jewish Agency to help the Jews but not the Arabs affected by his economic plans. Derfner's misplaced rage should rather be turned toward the Muslims around the world funneling hundreds of millions of dollars to terrorist organizations to buy weapons, instead of to their poor Muslim brethren to buy basic necessities.

Daniel Iltis
Los Angeles

Judea Pearl

Judea Pearl talks about Palestinian and Arab recognition of Israel's right to exist ("Palestinians Generate Cheer and Doom," Jan. 19). The truth is that no matter what the Palestinians or Arabs say for publicity purposes, they are driven by Islamic belief that the Middle East is ordained by Allah to be Islamic territory. They will never stop their fight to eliminate Israel, and the world should recognize that fact.

Larry Derfner criticizes Benjamin Netanyahu as a anti-Arab racist for his statements about Jewish and Arab birthrates. The truth is that Israel was founded and is intended to be a Jewish state, and birthrate differences that increase the Jewish majority are a help to Israel, so Netanyahu is not a racist but an Israeli patriot.

Marty Annenberg
Huntington Beach

Muslims and Jews

Kudos to you for your generous spread Jan. 19 on "NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change," initiated by the Progressive Jewish Alliance and the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

We'd like to point out a small but important mistake on the cover. Under the title, "Try, Try Again," our new program was incorrectly described as an "Arab-Jewish Project." (We're pleased that it was corrected on your Web site, but the printed page is irreplaceable). In reality, our participants are Jews and Muslims from all ethnic and denominational backgrounds who seek to build authentic relationships rooted in honesty and consistent engagement over mutual issues of concern.

Malka Fenyvesi
Progressive Jewish Alliance
Interfaith Program Coordinator

Aziza Hasan
Muslim Public Affairs Council
Interfaith Program Coordinator

I was really pleased to learn that Daniel Sokatch was renewing efforts to establish a meaningful relationship with the Muslim American community. We cannot abandon these efforts.

Our community should be very proud of Daniel and his continued work on behalf of strengthening ties within our culturally diverse region. I only wish that he had chosen a counterpart whose motives, intentions, and integrity have been proven to be as pure as Daniel's.

Stu Bernstein
Santa Monica

Prager's Words

Your news briefs of Jan. 5, in which you reported on the Democrats calling on the GOP to condemn Dennis Prager and Rep. Virgil Goode Jr., seemed to be more of an opinion piece than a news brief.

Prager is absolutely correct in identifying Rep. Keith Ellison's refusal to have a photo-op with the Bible in place as a refusal by Ellison to recognize the source of values from which the laws of this country derive. Goode is absolutely correct in his analysis. Immigration "reform" from 1986 has resulted in a steady flow of Muslims to the U.S.A.

People like Prager and Goode best serve the Jewish community's interests, while those like Abe Foxman and the ADL, unable to see clearly, do a disservice.

Brian Dennis
Studio City

The 'Hood'

I was disappointed with David Suissa's definition of the "hood" as an "Orthodox neighborhood." Although the point of this column is very important -- that we Jews can gain a great deal of insight from learning and caring about the lives and beliefs of Jews who are different from us -- I disagree with his generalization that a column about the "hood" automatically means a column about Orthodoxy.

I am a Conservative rabbinical student living in Pico-Robertson. This past Shabbos, on my way home from the Shtibl Minyan (a vibrant egalitarian community on Robertson Boulevard), I passed numerous friends and neighbors, all coming from other Conservative and egalitarian minyanim. I send my daughter to preschool at Pressman Academy at Temple Beth Am, a very successful Conservative synagogue and day school in the heart of the hood.

Yes, Pico-Robertson is a thriving, observant community, but it is not merely an Orthodox neighborhood. It is a Jewish neighborhood -- a place where Jews of all different affiliations love to live. This Jewish diversity is one of many aspects that distinguishes our hood from other neighborhoods, and this diversity deserves recognition.

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