January 16, 2019

Letters to the editor: Tikkun olam in North Africa, violence against women and global warming

Supply and Demand

David Suissa indicates that tikkun olam didn’t exist in places like North Africa (“Jews Helping Non-Jews,” March 28). But he fails to mention that its absence was due to lack of necessity, not a tribal instinct to “put one’s own first.” He bemoans the supposed lack of concern for non-Jews in his native Morocco (and, I suspect, throughout the Middle East) as if it were some sort of cultural flaw inherent in “tribal” Jews of the Orient. Let us not forget that the primary reason behind the social justice movements (i.e. communism, socialism, trade unions) of Jews from eastern Europe was not an innate philanthropy among Jews, but the fear of anti-Semitism that plagued Jews there (a phenomenon largely not visited upon Jews of the Orient); that is, as long as everything is equal, there won’t be Jew-hatred. 

A good reason to love anyone is that he/she “loves helping the world.” Equating Jewish life anywhere with tikkun olam is, I think, misleading and overly simplistic. Acts of selflessness and humanity between Jews and non-Jews were commonplace in places like Morocco, to which many Moroccans here and elsewhere would attest. The difference, though, is that they committed those acts not as Jews, but rather as good neighbors.

Avner Dayan via e-mail

Basic Safety Takes Only a Signature

I want to add my support to Rabbi Laura Geller’s moving article, “We Can Stop Violence Against Women and Girls Today” (March 28). As a member of the American Jewish World Service’s Action Team and a participant in its study tour to Thailand, I have been witness to the stories that women have told about sexual violence in their communities. As a psychologist in private practice, I have listened to the painful narratives of patients who continue to suffer as a result of physical and sexual violence. A law cannot transform a predator into a decent human being, but it is a powerful statement publicly asserting that our government will not tolerate abuse of so many women and girls in our country and around the world. Signing the International Violence Against Women Act is one way to ensure the basic safety needs of half the world’s population.

Anita B. Siegman, Los Angeles

Responding to ‘Revisited,’ cont.

Dennis Prager is absolutely right (“Global Warming Revisited,” April 4). Yasher koach for the courage to speak out!  

And let me add two more points to strengthen his arguments:

First, the environmentalists have the cause and effect backward. It is the solar activities that cause heating of Earth, which in turn causes a huge release of CO2 from ocean water. The oceans store the majority of the CO2 on Earth. And that is the major cause of the increase in CO2 that we observed over the past decade, not anthropogenic activities.  

Second, even if we were able to remove 100 percent of the CO2 in the atmosphere, the humidity in the atmosphere, due to the evaporation of oceans, lakes and rivers, produces a greater greenhouse effect than the CO2. Considering that over two-thirds of Earth’s surface is water — there is nothing we can do to stop evaporation. And water vapors are much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.  

Nahum Gat, Manhattan Beach

Dennis Prager has sunk to a new low with his attack on environmentalism. A U.N. panel of the world’s leading scientists has issued its most dire warning on the dangers of climate change due to global warming. Prager refutes this with anecdotal tidbits by hoaxers who are surely tools of industries that prefer to not pay for corrective measures.

Prager’s conservatism trumps our need to have a better world for generations to come.

Martin J. Weisman via e-mail

Prager responds:

Mr. Weisman writes that all the cited skeptical analyses by world-renowned scientists are but “anecdotal tidbits by hoaxers who are surely tools of industries.” That perfectly exemplifies what the environmentalist left does. Instead of answering critiques, it dismisses all of them as “hoaxers” and “tools of industries.”

There is no moral justification for libeling the Hebrew University physicist I mentioned, Nir Shaviv, and all the many other scientists as “hoaxers” and “tools of industries.”

As for Weisman’s statement that “Prager’s conservatism trumps our need to have a better world for generations to come,” I would word that rather differently. “It is Prager’s passionate desire for a better world for generations to come that motivates his conservatism.”



The article “Ashkenazic Parkinson’s Link Under Investigation” (April 4) should have indicated that while recruitment for the first wave of the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative ended in 2013, the research is ongoing and the current study involving genetic markers is expected to enroll 500 individuals nationwide.