January 17, 2008
Spinker? I just met her!
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Rabbi Jacob Pressman
Dialogue With Islam
Rabbi Haim Ovadia seems bent on convincing us that Christianity is much worse than Islam when it comes to relationships with Jews ("Its Time to Open Dialogue With Islam," Jan. 11).
It is a silly project at best, and his history is wanting in many respects.
The real issue is, "which is worse for Jews now, and for the foreseeable future?"
Anybody who has read the Koran recognizes that there is absolutely no possibility of a real relationship with Muslims now or ever in the future, even if they seem to be sleeping at any particular moment.
And they ain't sleeping right now. And make-nice talk never worked with them.
To build bridges with those Muslims who desire to confront the radicals is a goal that even Dennis Prager would fully support. However, Rabbi Ovadia's summation of history is skewed and his desire to call himself a "Jew of Islam" is outrageous. In the first place, in its first millennium Christians were no more oppressive of Jews than Muslims. Furthermore, Jews have all in all fared better in Protestant countries.
While Muslims, like Christians (who the rabbi denigrates in every way and with whom he certainly does not want to identify himself) both oppose gay rights and abortion, Islam proscribes draconian punishments for disobeying its precepts; and it condones wife beating. Finally, both Muslims and some Christians believe that a benevolent God will ban all non-believers to eternal damnation, and all Muslims believe in the last Sura which states that in the end of days, Allah will help Muslims commit genocide against Jews. No rational Jew can identify with Islam.
In "It's time to (re) open dialogue with Islam," Rabbi Haim Ovadia provides a thoughtful approach to counteract religious fanaticism.
At the same time, he also offers a fascinating history lesson about the "Jews of Islam," reminding us of the beauty and richness of our culturally diverse Jewish community. Indeed, his ongoing efforts to revive the cultural heritage of Sephardic Jews reflect, as did this piece, his commitment to strengthening Jewish identity, tolerance and multiethnic awareness. For all of this, we are proud that Rabbi Ovadia is a member of the Academy for Jewish Religion, California's Rabbinical School Faculty.
Rabbi Mel Gottlieb
Rabbinical School and Chaplaincy Program
Academy for Jewish Religion, California
Maybe A Little Blood
I read with great interest your editorial regarding hearing points of view that may differ from our own ("There Won't Be Blood," Jan. 11).
Fine message for all of us regardless of our perspective on life and issues, but I believe others and I have found Karl Rove to be outside the pale.
Mr. Rove has proven himself over a number of years, but especially over the years in the White House, as being a dishonest, disingenuous and deceitful leader and has not earned his right to be heard. Differences of opinion is not the issue with him but rather is willingness, near eagerness, to lie, to cheat and to implement the philosophy of 'the ends justify the means,' particularly when those ends bring power without honor or justice.
Sorry, your effort to convince me to purchase tickets for the lecture series after the first three years when I was an eager and satisfied listener were aimed at the wrong target, for Mr. Rove is not worthy of your commentary, my ears nor the potential of what the Lecture Series can be.
There is cause to be grateful in the editor's "There Won't Be Blood" op-ed: Mr. Eshman argues for a polyphony of opinion within the Jewish community, something desperately needed these days -- particularly where Israel and U.S. foreign policy are concerned. Actually, there isn't just one Israel, any more than there is a single "Jewish community"; there are many Israels and many Jewish communities. Isn't fearless iconoclasm, therefore, our best option?
Thank you for the opinion piece titled, "Who Killed Benazir Bhutto?" by Rami G. Khouri (Jan. 4).
Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto became another innocent victim, from an assassin's bullet on the streets of Pakistan. Today, lone gunmen, militias, suicide bombers, state armies and elected leaders of so-called democratic countries have all played into this violent global drama.
When humans use violence, death and intimidation as their daily routine, or expression of their corrupt political agendas, we have lost something special, and it's called peace.
Everyone deserves to live in peace. However, we continue to hear from dictators, presidents, kings, emperors, and warlords on a daily basis as they extort democracy, freedom and peace.
Benazir Bhutto embraced humanity, democracy, freedom and peace. However, a sick generation that is proud of violence, assassination and death has silenced another voice of one crying out in the wilderness of peace!
Gerald Steven Tlapa
This article insinuates that Lithuanian Americans are right-wing and anti-Semitic since Yiddish dancers will not participate in the Lithuanian Dance Festival in Los Angeles this summer ("Lithuanian Festival Excludes Yiddish Dancers," Jan. 11). This is simply not true. What does dancing have to do with Jewish-Lithuanian relations or politics?