October 23, 1997
Happily and coincidentally, I was at the Toward Traditionconference in Washington D.C. described by Judy Gruen ("One People:Religious Christians and Jews," Oct. 17), as well as the JewishPolicy Center meeting in San Diego discussed by Gene Lichtenstein ("IHear Mermaids Singing: Listening to the Right," Oct. 17). In between,I attended a national meeting of one of those Jewish "alphabetgroups," the ADL.
I found the TT conference extremely informative from the host ofspeakers, which included Bill Bennett, Bill Kristol, Gary Bauer,Ralph Reed, Ron Unz, Newt Gingrich, Sen. John Ashcroft, DanielleCrittenden of the Women's Quarterly, as well as those Gruen noted,Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, Rabbi Lapin, and Elliott Abrams. Yetit was more than that; it was uplifting to the spirit to besurrounded by people who felt that God, religion, and morality matterin politics, that there are such things as right and wrong, and thatcommon sense has not been eradicated beyond repair.
Lichtenstein's disaffection with the panel discussion on Jewishconservative approaches to contemporary social problems stems fromhis disagreement with those approaches, not with some imaginedundercurrent of a "nasty, thuggish mix of politics and religion" with"angry" speakers in a "game of 'get the [liberal] Jew.'"
What was discussed were possible solutions to the mess we havegotten in by following certain particular policies for so many years.As Dennis Prager noted, liberalism has divided us by race, sex, andethnic group into a balkanized country, has undermined the family associety's core structure, warred against our Judeo-Christian valuebasis, and created a welfare system which perpetuates poverty.Through Political Correctness and multiculturalism, intellectual lifein our universities is being destroyed; bilingual education, wholelanguage and new-whole math have condemned a generation to nearilliteracy. It is a fact that the overwhelming majority of Jews aresecular, liberal, and Democrat, and that they have supported andchampioned these failed policies.
At the ADL national meeting, surrounded by liberals, oneunchallenged speaker excoriated and demonized almost every mainstreamConservative group in America, and their leaders, because they haddared back candidates for school boards who would change theirdemonstrably failed practices. That was definitely "not an ennoblingperformance."
Unlike David Horowitz, I have been to Israel, and I agree with himthat the Oslo peace process is fraught with suicidal danger forIsrael. The Journal needs a regular editorial voice for theconservative view on social and political issues, one it has not hadsince Horowitz wrote a weekly column-right.
The tendency for many newspapers and commentators to actnonpartisan, but at the same time color the news to favor liberalsover conservatives comes out in a variety of ways. It was shown inthe Oct. 17 issue, which featured pictures of Jewish conservativesDennis Prager, David Horowitz and Rabbi Daniel Lapin, but onlyreported on some of the results of two differentconservatively-oriented conferences at which one or more of theseprotagonists participated.
Judy Gruen's description of the Toward Tradition meetings inWashington organized by Rabbi Lapin seemed to be factual, but theeditors couldn't resist the opportunity to give it a headline "OnePeople: Religions Christians and Jews?" and a subtitle "Is the term'Jewish conservative an oxymoron'?" implying that what these peoplewere doing was probably something less than acceptable.
The headline of Gene Lichtenstein's article on the otherconference was "I Hear Mermaids Singing: Listening to the Right." Thetheme of his non-complimentary comments is summarized by this quote:"...the panelists...cobbled together...a nasty thuggish mix ofpolitics and religion, the lines often blurring between the two."
The fact that Lichtenstein showed his biases openly rather thantrying to hide them behind some nominal show of non-partisanship isto his credit. It is unfortunate, however, that these biases, beingpublished in the Journal make it appear that the Jewish communitythinks this way.
Mitchell O. Locks
Gene Lichtenstein's response: Both Judy Gruen's story and minewere opinion pieces. The sentence "Is the term 'Jewish conservative'an oxymoron?" was hers, not mine. But the headline "One People:Religious Christians and Jews?"I will claim. I thought that's whatthe piece seemed to be saying and she indicated that "It's okay withme."
Mr. Pearlston is misinformed about several matters. I disagreedwith the panelists about half the time. What I found offensive wastheir demonization of fellow Jews -- in this instance, those who weresecular and liberal. I would have felt the same way had their targetbeen Orthodox Jews. The word "liberal" as used during the forum wasan ugly caricature, without meaning.
I'm glad that Mr. Pearlston knows what liberalism stands for.My problem is that people I know who tend to pursue policies that arelabeled liberal don't fit the description. Also, Mr. Prager andPearlston are incorrect. It is not liberalism that has balkanized us,dividing us by race, sex and ethnic groups, but the Constitution andthe governmental system that evolved with the formation of partiesand interest groups -- all of this before there were such terriblepeople known as liberal Jews.
Responding to the kind words of Irving Greenberg about my sonJonathan Pollard ("Forgiving and Pardoning Jonathan Pollard," Oct.3), I refer him to an article by attorney David Zwiebel (Middle EastQuarterly. June 1997).
Zwiebel, after careful reading of the victim impact statement doneon this case by the U.S. government, reveals that Jonathan wassentenced to life in prison for a crime for which he was not indictedand to which he did not plead guilty. Jonathan was indicted on onecount of passing classified information to an ally, Israel; this wasarbitrarily changed to read "damage to the United States" -- withoutgrand jury action on this "change." Jonathan signed a plea agreementon the original indictment, thereby relinquishing the right to a jurytrial.
His case was given a hearing in the U.S. District Court of Appealsin Washington. D.C. where two Jewish judges (Lawrence Silberman andRuth Bader Ginsberg) refused to assess the facts, citing atechnicality as their reason: "The appeal was submitted too late."But the third judge, Stephen Williams, a Christian, in the dissentingminority opinion said that "because of the government's breech of theplea agreement, the case is a fundamental miscarriage of justice."Williams further states that "the sentence should be vacated andheard before a new judge," and that "blame rests with theprosecutor."
The failure of Silberman and Ginsberg to serve justice reminds meof a statement by Ruth Wisse, professor of Judaic studies at HarvardUniversity: "Modern Jewish courtiers have made a specialty ofsacrificing their fellow Jews for the sake of their own advancement,or to win the approval of other people." (Canadian Jewish News, March9,1992)
Notre Dame, Ind.
Paying to Pray
If there is such a thing as "journalistic entrapment," MichaelBarclay 's article falls into that category ("If She Couldn't Pay,She Couldn't Pray," Oct. 10). What is even more annoying to me isthat he seemed to use his woman friend, whom he sent to seekadmission to a nearby synagogue as his weapon of choice in exactingrevenge for what he regards as the shameful way his father wastreated 50 years ago in Chicago.
The lady in question seemed sincere and turned to him for adviceas to how she could attend services. He sends her to a nearbysynagogue that he claims to respect where she was told firmly that ifshe was not a member she would have to pay $150 for a ticket. She wasin his words "angry, upset and humiliated and we thereby lost anopportunity to bring a Jewish woman back to her tradition."
They both knew that most synagogues (but not all) requirenon-members to purchase tickets. The woman had even indicated thatshe was ready to offer work time in lieu of cash. Even if the woman,unfamiliar with the scene, might not have realized that the personshe talked to lacked the authority (or perhaps even the desire ) toaccommodate her, Barclay is obviously well informed on what is goingon.
Why did he not offer to help out by calling the rabbi or thepresident to see if some arrangement could not have been made? Mycongregation requires non-members to buy tickets but the involved layleaders and I are ready to consider special situations, as are mostsynagogues.
Why did he not suggest that they look around and find acongregation that either has no ticket requirement or was willing tobend the rules for a Jew looking for the way home? Come to think ofit, why didn't Barclay, who professes to be so sad that we missedthis opportunity to bring his friend home, offer to accompany her toservices at some congenial place they could easily have located ifthey had wanted to spend a little time searching?
Rabbi Gilbert Kollin
Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center
After reading Michael Barclay's comments about a woman who wasturned away from High Holidays for lack of tickets, I have to ask,how old is this story?
Certainly, it is indeed a tragedy, an embarrassment and the heightof stupidity for any Jewish institution, including a synagogue, toturn away someone because of money. Of course every Jewish soul isvaluable, especially those seeking to