Jewish Journal

Shutting Jewish mouths; A civil tone of voice

March 1, 2007 | 7:00 pm

A Civil Tone

Last week's Letters section offered a fascinating window on the views and feelings of our community (Letters, Feb. 23). Most of the letters were thoughtful, informative and passionate. Two stepped over the line.

One nasty note was directed at Rob Eshman personally, condemning him for once belonging to Peace Now, calling him a traitor and a pogrom, while besmirching all Jews who disagree with the writer as people who would "sell their soul for a fake peace." I'm afraid someone's been listening to too much talk radio.

And speaking of talk radio, the other letter lumps together Messrs. Prager, Medved (and David Klinghoffer for good measure) as "notorious Jewish hypocrites," while managing to disparage all evangelical Christians as people who "do not respect Judaism." Sad.

Be they on the left or the right, some folks don't seem to realize that it's indeed possible to debate with facts, rather than fanaticism. Mr. Rohde's letter proved it beautifully, with his clearly laid out rebuttal showing that our Founding Fathers did respect other faiths beyond the Judeo-Christian realm. So why tolerate the name calling?

While I congratulate you for having the guts and openness to publish even the most vitriolic letters, perhaps there's a better way.

The Journal already imposes some restrictions on writers, requesting that letters be of a certain length and contain a valid name and address. May I make a suggestion? How about also requiring a civil tone?

Want to get nasty and call names? Go someplace else.

It would be a small thing, true, but maybe it's a first step toward elevating the debate to at least a minimum level of respect.

Abe Rosenberg
via e-mail

Jewish Mouths

I thoroughly approve of your approach and point in this editorial ("Shutting Jewish Mouths," Feb. 16). Two Jews, three opinions has always characterized our tribe and always will. Even with the fear injected into the conditions of dissent from the Israel lobby line, still we rise. I hope we always will. I especially appreciate your point of the destruction of all but the most reactionary views of history and current events when the left is walled off and vilified.

Stuart M. Chandler
Mar Vista

Rob Eshman speaks proudly of having sought Jewish support for a Palestinian state 20 years ago, when it was a minority position in the American Jewish community, saying, "The moral of the story: Today's dissenters [like Tony Judt and Tony Kushner] might just be on to something."

Doesn't Eshman understand the danger of creating a Palestinian state today, which would have Hamas and Fatah running the show, whose charters call for Israel's destruction and use of terrorism, and who would continue to promote hatred and murder of Israelis in its media, mosques, textbooks and youth camps and refuse to arrest and jail terrorists?

We agree with the former head of the IDF, Gen. Moshe Yaalon, who has repeatedly stated that "a Palestinian state should not be created. It will only increase the likelihood of war."

Morton A. Klein
National President
Zionist Organization of America
New York

Absurd Assertion

I coordinated the recent Los Angeles Combatants for Peace (CFP) events ("Divided We Fall," Feb. 9).

StandWithUs' (SWU) assertion that CFP presentations are "one-sided" is false, and its categorization of CFP events as "anti-Israel" is cynical and absurd.

CFP is a joint Israeli and Palestinian peace group, and all CFP events in the UnNited States feature representatives from both peoples. CFP is comprised of former Palestinian militants and Israeli combat soldiers who have realized the futility of the violence they have perpetrated on each other, and now believe that there is no viable military solution to the conflict and that both sides are wrong to persist in armed hostilities against the other.

If SWU applies the "anti-Israel" label to any gathering that fails to promote the integrity of greater Israel, CFP events are properly categorized as such. Otherwise, SWU's labeling of CFP events as "anti-Israel" evidences a profound measure of political solipsism.

Further, I would be interested in learning what "unsubstantiated charges" and "misinformation" SWU claims CFP is disseminating. As a matter of policy and design, and out of a desire to discourage debate over ancillary matters, CFP makes no charges and takes no positions other than those expressed in its threefold mission.

Joel S. Farkas
Santa Monica

Azerbaijan Democratization

I was pleased to read one more article about Azerbaijan which stresses the tolerance of its population toward different religions and nations ("Borat, Meet Elin," Feb. 23).

However, I see a threat: Because of authoritarianism and pressure on political opposition, more and more people have started turning their faces toward radicalism. An ordinary citizen believes now that it is impossible to change the government in a democratic way.

According to OSCE reports, all elections since 1993 have been falsified by the former local KGB and Communist Party boss Heydar Aliyev and by his son, Ilham, after the father's death in 2003. Some experts have started warning about the danger of revolution in Azerbaijan. Yet, will it be "colored revolution" as in neighboring Ukraine and Georgia to democratize the country or Iranian-like path?

I do believe that only by urging authorities to cease the pressure on democratic opposition will we succeed in preventing Azerbaijan from falling into radicalism and finally starting democratization.

Elgun Taghiyev
Program Assistant
National Democratic Institute
Baku, Azerbaijan

'Curly Top' Arkin

To see Alan Arkin bald is so shocking to my system, considering here is a guy who, in a gentile high school environment, had the most glamorous and envious beautiful curly head of hair of any of us seven or eight gifted Jews who were literally his friends ("Alan Arkin: Not Just Another Kid From Brooklyn," Feb. 16).

When it came to having that suave, utterly curly head of hair, Alan had no equal.

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