Campus hate — while down — is still a problem, wailin’ on Palin


Quiet War at UCI

We agree with the Sept 5 letter from five UCLA academics that anti-Zionism/anti-Semitism at UCLA is less severe than that at UC Irvine (“Quiet War on Campus,” Aug. 22).

However we commend The Journal for running [Brad] Greenberg’s review of the situation on American campuses. It was a comprehensive piece that included differing views about the problem’s severity, and was of great service to Journal readers who are concerned about the issue.

We disagree however with the professors’ strategic recommendations and the elitist tone of their letter. Minimization or denial will not solve the problem, nor will denigrating off campus groups who share concern about the immediate and long-range impact of campus anti-Zionism. The 20,000 faculty members who felt it necessary to form an organization, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) to combat imbalance and poor scholarship about the Middle East conflict certainly cannot be accused of being “amateurish,” promoting “shoddy research” and “propaganda,” and of not understanding the campus or “academic freedom.”

SPME’s roster includes highly acclaimed professors and Nobel Prize winners.

There is a crying need for united action so Jewish students and faculty can proudly support Israel, not only in Hillel buildings, but also in classrooms, faculty offices and on campus quads. Jewish campus institutions have a vital role to play in this effort, but they may be constrained by sensitive campus affiliations. Independent organizations also have an important role because they are freer to express student and faculty concerns about abuses, intimidation and propaganda-like distortions.

If the five academics collaborated with other well-intentioned groups, they would find them much more reasonable, open-minded and sophisticated than their letter implies.

Roz Rothstein, Executive Director
Roberta Seid, Education Director
StandWithUs

Palin and the Jews

In response to your recent article, “Sarah Palin and the Jews” (Sept. 5), please count me as one reader who was shocked and sickened by the nastiness and pettiness of Sarah Palin’s speech [at the Republican National Convention].

If insulting community organizers, making snide remarks about Sen. Barack Obama’s popularity and mocking the location of Obama’s acceptance speech make her presidential material, then America is in serious trouble.

Jeff Goldman
Culver City

I was shocked by your flattering treatment of Gov. Sarah Palin. After picking through the trivia and smears for substance, you conclude that she “has genuinely warm relations with her Jewish constituents … and appears to have a fondness for Israel.” However, you present no evidence that she has genuinely warm feelings about Jews or genuine fondness for Israel.

Furthermore, you brush off her wearing a Pat Buchanan button when he visited her town “as a courtesy.” Come on! Would it be acceptable for her to put a sheet over her head as a courtesy if the Ku Klux Klan paraded through her town?

James Kallis
Los Angeles

I hear Jews around America saying that they are voting for Sen. John McCain because he is good for Israel. Democrats are better for Israel than McCain could ever dream to be, but now that Gov. Sarah Palin is on McCain’s ticket, there are more pressing matters at hand.

Palin recently said that the war in Iraq is “God’s task.” She’s even admitted she hasn’t thought about the war much … just last year, she was quoted as saying, “I’ve been so focused on state government, I haven’t really focused much on the war in Iraq.”

Palin wants to teach creationism in public schools. Creationism is not going to be taught from the Tanach; it will be from the New Testament — how can we allow that?

I hope that the Jews of Los Angeles will stand up against Palin so that she will not be able to continue on her path toward ruining our country.

Aimee Sax
Los Angeles

Charter School

As a retired Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) middle school teacher, I was elated to read about the New Los Angeles Charter School (New L.A.) that will be opening this month (“P.S. Tikkun Olam,” Aug. 29).

Given the poor academic performance and high dropout rate throughout much of the LAUSD, it is imperative that parents have meaningful options, such as New L.A., to assure that their children receive quality instruction in a safe and nurturing environment.

Unfortunately, both the LAUSD and United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) have misplaced priorities. LAUSD’s insular district office personnel are often insensitive to the real needs of on-site administrators, school faculties and students. Meanwhile, the teachers union (UTLA) spends much of its resources blocking sorely needed reform.

It was the union that stood in the way of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s plan to create 100 additional charter schools in Los Angeles. Little wonder that New L.A. received almost three times as many applications as it has openings.
Anything that can topple the status quo is welcome relief. On behalf of the children of Los Angeles, todah rabbah and yasher koach to Matt Albert and his crew for putting forth the effort and accepting the risk associated with starting the New Los Angeles Charter School.

Leonard M. Solomon
Los Angeles

Singles Comic Strip

Never Mind Amy the Date (“True Confessions of an Online Dating Addict,” Sept. 5). Amy’s comic strip should get dumped. Three words sum up that inert strip: worst comic ever.

Seriously, with all of the amazing Jewish comedic minds out there in Hollywood and beyond, can’t you find one real cartoonist to create something funny? Maybe you can poach a guy from HEEB.

Erin Stack
Beverly Hills

Ed. Note: We like it. Judge for yourself.

Correction
The D.I.S.C caption in the Sept. 5 issue (page 41) should have read "Dr. John T. Knight, Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon, D.I.S.C. Spine and Sports Center," instead of "Dr. Robert S. Bray Jr., CEO and Founder, one of the country's preeminent neurological spinal surgeons."

Free speech on campus


That campus anti-Semitism thing, you say it’s your birthday


Quiet War at UCI

It is unfortunate that The Jewish Journal would choose to run as its cover story two weeks ago an article by Brad Greenberg that preys on the deep and recurrent fears of some in our community of a rampant anti-Semitism on our college campuses (“Quiet War on Campus,” Aug. 22).

There was nothing newsworthy about the article, no recent event or episode to prompt it. The episodes and anecdotes recounted in the story were months and, in most cases, years old — and have been amply rehashed in the Jewish press.

Indeed, the chief novelty that we discerned in Mr. Greenberg’s article was his willingness to report that “the amount of anti-Israel activity on campus is so negligible that it is almost impossible for students to find unless they are looking on all but maybe three campuses a year” —and this from the director of student programs at AIPAC [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee], an organization that is usually not deemed to be slack in defending Israel.

What is even more unfortunate were the letters last week in support of the article. They revealed precious little awareness of the state of affairs on college campuses, and even less of the nature of academic freedom. One letter suggested that we should be outraged because a certain UCLA professor did not submit to a request from an off-campus group to invite a “mainstream speaker” to offer a competing view to his on Zionism. We value the principle of academic freedom and regard it not only as the cornerstone of the American university, but as a key stimulus to intellectual creativity and innovation.

We may not agree with the views of all our colleagues on Israel or other subjects. But to begin to demand — and even legislate — the introduction of so-called balanced perspectives in the classroom is a step not to be taken lightly. Where does it start and where does it end? Should we have insisted that the course on the history of Israel taught at UCLA last year by a distinguished historian of Zionism should have included a speaker who advocated the dismantling of the State of Israel? Is that the kind of balance required? We think not and see the university as a free marketplace of ideas, where logic, quality of argumentation and fine scholarship win out over shoddy research and propaganda.

At the end of the day, we, as longstanding observers of and participants in college life today, concur with the AIPAC official that, thankfully, anti-Semitism is a negligible presence on our campuses today. To regurgitate episodes from four to six years ago is not only not news. It is a disservice to the legitimate fight against anti-Semitism, as well as to the important work of Hillel and other groups in nurturing a vibrant Jewish life on so many college campuses today.

Professor Aryeh Cohen
Rabbi Susan Laemmle
Professor David N. Myers
Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller
Professor Roger Waldinger
UCLA

There was little explanation in your article as to why the conclusions of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) — dismissing the Zionist Organization of America’s (ZOA) civil rights complaint that anti-Semitic harassment at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) was not being adequately addressed by university officials — were wrong.

The major problem with OCR’s decision was that it denied Jewish students the protections of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI protects against racial and ethnic harassment, but to OCR, Jewish Americans are a religious group, not an ethnic group, and thus fall outside the scope of the law.

Jews are an ethnic group, sharing an ancestry, a heritage, traditions, language, homeland and culture. Not protecting them from anti-Semitism on college campuses means that a national problem may go unaddressed, because colleges and universities need not answer for their conduct.

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, representing groups across the religious and political spectrums, complained about the decision in the ZOA’s case against UCI and urged OCR to reconsider it, saying that “[t]his decision will affect Jewish students not only at UCI, but also at other colleges and universities across the United States.”

In addition, three Republican U.S. Senators and six Democratic U.S. Representatives, including California Representatives Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) and Linda Sanchez (D-Cerritos), sent letters to the secretary of education, complaining about OCR’s decision. According to the Senators, OCR’s conclusion was “inconsistent with its prior policy statements.”

Similarly, the Congress Members emphasized that it “reversed OCR policy, as clarified in 2004, of protecting Jews against anti-Semitism.”

Fortunately, congressional efforts are underway to amend Title VI so that it is clear that Jewish students are protected and they can get their education in an environment that is tolerant and welcoming, rather than intimidating or threatening.

Morton A. Klein
National President
Susan B. Tuchman
Director
Center for Law and Justice
Zionist Organization of America

Kaplan’s Birthday

There is a time and a place for everything. Marty Kaplan’s birthday article is inappropriate and does not belong in The Jewish Journal (“Happy Birthday to Me,” Aug. 22).

Paul Venze
Los Angeles

Joe Biden

I am happy to say that I spent many years in Delaware. My children and granddaughter still live there [and] I have worked on Senator Biden’s campaigns (“Rob Eshman’s Monday Journal,” Aug. 18).

Biden understands the issues of the Israel and her neighbors better than most Senators including our own California Senators.

Biden definitely makes a difference I am thrilled to be able to say that I worked on his campaign and that he would always answer my phone calls when I needed him.

I believe he is a great asset to the ticket.

Gila Katz
via e-mail

DeLet: The Solution

I was pleased to note that Rob Eshman identified DeLeT as a “solution” to the “shortage of top-quality teachers in Jewish day schools” and that he singled it out as a “model” of how “to streamline qualified professionals into the teaching profession” (“The Teacher,” Aug. 29).

This is precisely what the funders and founders hoped DeLeT would become when they designed the program seven years ago.

In the ensuing years, DeLeT — Day School Leadership through Teaching — a fellowship program of the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion with a parallel program at Brandeis University, has launched over 90 new Jewish day school teachers.

Today, DeLeT continues to take a novel approach to preparing teachers for day schools by helping novices learn the most powerful research-based approaches to teaching and learning while integrating Jewish and general studies.

Anyone interested in learning more about this novel approach to teacher preparation can check out the DeLeT website (www.huc.edu/delet) or e-mail Rivka Ben Daniel, DeLeT’s Education Director at rbendaniel@huc.edu.

Dr. Michael Zeldin
Director
Rhea Hirsch School of Education
and DeLeT
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

The New Jewish Funeral

Your article takes me back several years when a friend lost her 4 1/2-year-old son (“Green is the New Black,” Aug 8).

Thank God I knew someone, Rob Karlin from Los Angeles Funeral Service, who was the most helpful and compassionate person in this time of sorrow. Through his knowledge and contacts, he arranged casket, service and flowers through several resources and by the time we were finished with the comparison of prices from the first quote, Mr. Karlin saved by friend over $3,500 … a major difference in my friends needs.

Several months after the funeral, my friend contributed a portion of her savings to the Tay-Sachs Disease Support Group in memory of her son.

Ursula Reeg
Los Angeles