September 20, 2019

Letters to the editor: Prager v. progressives; Kishkas vs. Sechel; Bernie and Noam

In Conversation: Prager and a Progressive

I have to start by saying I am a secular, progressive, left-wing Jew and, for the most part, disagree with the views expressed in Dennis Prager’s column (“Why Many American Jews Support the Iran Deal,” Aug. 28). 

I also support the Iran nuclear agreement, as one would expect, but one of the main reasons I support the Iran deal is that I served in the Vietnam War in the U.S. Navy. That experience has colored and informed my views on war and U.S. foreign involvement for the past 45 years.

I noticed when I searched Prager’s name on the Internet that we are the same age; in fact he recently celebrated his 67th birthday. That made me think: How did his experience living through or serving our country during the Vietnam War years inform his views on the Iran nuclear agreement? I look forward to hearing from him.

Jeffrey Weinstein via email

Prager responds:

1. I had a student deferment and then was classified “1Y” because of asthma. Because I did not fight in Vietnam, I could not support a war in which so many of my generation were dying. That turned out to be a particularly foolish decision. The war was moral or immoral whether or not I served in it. And it was indeed moral. But I was so troubled by my not serving that I opposed it. I regret that morally indefensible position.

2. My father, who fought in World War II and became a lieutenant commander in the Navy, taught me how important it is for America to fight evil — hence my hatred of communism and my subsequent alienation from the left, which hated anti-communists more than communists.

3. The lessons you claim to have learned from serving in Vietnam are not what most people who served there or who serve today in the U.S. military learn. Most of them oppose the Iran agreement. I think it is your progressive politics, not your service in Vietnam, that most animates your support for the Iran agreement. Had you never served, I suspect you would still support it. 

Sweetening the Deal

The strength and vitality of our Jewish community depend on our toleration of diverse views on just about everything (“Our Fight Over Iran: Kishkas vs. Sechel,” Aug. 28). Sadly, our fight over Iran has degenerated into insults, name-calling, personalizing and profanities. But even this is better than every American Jew being coerced into some one-size-fits-all Orthodoxy.

John Thomas via

The greater issue is kichel vs. rugelach. Something light and airy for dessert, or a more substantial pastry with nutty texture and sweet flavor?

Jeffrey M. Ellis via

More to Learn About Bern

Ron Kampeas, in his article “Where Bernie Sanders Stands on Israel” (Aug. 21), mentions that Sen. Bernie Sanders is best friends with Richard Sugarman. What he fails to mention is that Sanders is also best friends with Noam Chomsky who, putting it politely, is not a friend of Israel. 

I agree with most of what Sanders wants to do domestically. However, I do not agree with his endorsement of the Iran deal nor am I sure that he is a friend of Israel. Until I am sure of where he stands on Israel, I cannot support him.

Tobi Ruth Love, Thousand Oaks


The article “Policy Expert Talks Nukes and Israel” (Aug. 28) misquoted former Vice President Dick Cheney. He did not say, “We don’t negotiate with people we’ve defeated.” He said, “We don’t negotiate with evil, we defeat it.”