September 22, 2019

Letters to the Editor: American Jews, GOP Bibi and Greenberg’s cartoon

Together We Stand?

Rob Eshman’s article got it right, but perhaps it is a message that should also be sent to our fellow Americans who are not Jewish (“American Jews and the Israeli Election,” March 27). Sadly, though many of us might have agreed with several points in his speech to the U.S. Congress, Benjamin Netanyahu’s arrogance and disdain for the office of the presidency of the U.S. served to blur the distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism by some in the media and among many non-Jewish Americans who disliked Israel’s policies in the first place. It has taken [us, as] Jews, years in this country to shed the yoke of “disloyal other,” and now I feel, perhaps for the first time since the mid-20th century, it is necessary to remind ourselves and our fellow non-Jewish citizens, as Eshman said … “[Jews in the U.S.] are living very different lives [from Jews in Israel] and have developed two distinct families of a very small family.” Regrettably, through millennia of Jewish history, we have learned it doesn’t take much to awaken the dormant seeds of anti-Semitism. We American Jews will continue to fight for, and never forsake the need nor existence of, a Jewish homeland. But, toward that end, it is important to recognize our need to maintain the support of America’s citizens.

Stu Bernstein, Santa Monica

Though Eshman may feel alienated from his Jewish roots, his Jewish culture, his Jewish-Israeli relatives and his Jewishness, that is not necessarily the case for all of us American Jews. The notion that “the greatest myth American Jews have been telling ourselves is that Israeli Jews are just like us” is exactly contrary to the reality of the situation. The greatest “myth” is that we are not one people. The squabbling between us is not between us and the other, it is the squabbling between brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers.  

We are of highly mixed racial, geographic and national backgrounds, but the cultural, moral and philosophical stamp of Jewishness is indelible and just as legible to an Israeli as to another member of our shul. 

Just because Israelis talk too loudly on their cell phones, enjoy the kind of confrontation not considered genteel in America and ask intrusive questions of near-strangers, does not mean they are not us. As much as he may not want to identify with people like that, he is them. And they will accept him when push comes to shove … assuming there is still a refuge for us in the Middle East.

Matthew Ehrenberg, Chatsworth

You Will Respect My Authority

Israelis have a right to their own choices and owe no one else an explanation for how they vote (“Israelis Are Not That Weird,” March 27). Most Americans think the same way and most Israelis respect our right of choice as well. The problem is that an activist minority in each nation constantly meddles in the other nation’s business, and this more than all else is the source of our present conflicts. No one can possibly detest [Benjamin Netanyahu] more than I do, but I totally respect the right of Israelis to choose their own leaders. So do most other American Jews, and so, most likely, do Israelis respect our right to our own choices. This article makes no sense unless we are telling each other what to do, and if we are, this must stop at once.

John Thomas via

Blame Game

Raphael Sonenshein’s portrayal of Benjamin Netanyahu as “the most revered Republican leader since Ronald Reagan” is simply cartoonish (“The New Republican Hero,” March 27). I do not know how many conservative colleagues Professor Sonenshein has at the Pat Brown Institute, but I enjoy working with many, mostly non-Jewish. They see Bibi as this age’s Winston Churchill, not for his conservatism, but for his moral clarity.

Jay Braun, Los Angeles

Neither Netanyahu nor the Republican Party is at fault for the present poor relations between the Obama administration and the Israeli government. The rift is the result of the fact that Obama has shifted American policy away from Israel for the sake of cutting a bad deal with Iran. Netanyahu also understands the major flaws in Obama’s foreign policy in the Middle East, as do the Republicans. The main reason that Obama and large parts of the Democratic Party are so hostile is that Netanyahu also had the guts to articulate the problems, especially in the negotiations with Iran.

Christopher Arend via

Friendly Fire

I find it sad and frustrating that a Jewish publication would print cartoons almost every week with vitriol toward the democratically elected prime minister of Israel, voted for by the majority of Jews in Israel and for very good reasons (“Greenberg’s View,” March 27). Steve Greenberg can hardly hide his hatred of a man who simply wants to defend his country against those who wish to destroy it. Those left of center simply hate Benjamin Netanyahu, which also means they must actually hate the good Jewish citizens of Israel who keep electing him back to office.

Melissa Cohen via email