September 18, 2019

Letters to the Editor: Donald Trump, Adolf Hitler and AIPAC

Trump … and Hitler

While I accept Rob Eshman’s assertion (“Abu Trump,” March 17) that Donald Trump is not another Hitler, Trump is the closest to Hitler ever to be nominated for president by a major political party.

James Kallis, Los Angeles

A Historical Perspective on Zionism

Eitan Arom (“The ‘Z’ Word,” March 24) writes compellingly of his experience as a millennial struggling with his relationship to Israel in today’s fraught political environment. But a cover article purporting to address the meaning of the word “Zionism” ought to have some historical perspective.

We might, for example, point to the great divide between the ideological movement of Zionism in the 19th to early 20th centuries and the political and philanthropic “Zionism” emerging after the establishment of Israel in 1948. The earlier movement was nothing less than a new form of Jewish identification, an answer to the pressing question of Jewish modernity, “Who is a Jew?” According to Zionism, a Jew is a member of the Jewish “people,” a national group whose history dates back to its origins in Judea (hence, “Jew”), and whose collective memory, religion, culture and language make it a “nation.” In the 19th century, this challenged the post-emancipation notion that Jews were merely another religious group in Western society, and echoed the parallel trend of European nationalism. The idea of re-establishing an autonomous Jewish homeland in Palestine came later, and the contemporary meaning of “Zionism” as support for the existing State of Israel still later.

If we are going to talk about Zionism, we really ought to know what we’re talking about.

David E. Kaufman, Visiting Professor of Jewish History Hebrew Union College-
Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles

Stop Those Who Would Stop SNAP

Regarding your story “The Right Vehicle to Spread Their Message About Hunger” (Nov. 25), SNAP — not the social media Snapchat we are very familiar with but the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — assisted my parents to feed my brother and me when we fled Ukraine, a country that persecuted people for being Jewish. When my family came to this country as refugees in 1995, SNAP was known as food stamps. Unfortunately, this
program is being threatened and is under attack by the Congress and the administration we have elected. I am seeking your support to prevent these life-devastating changes. Reach out to your members of Congress. Let’s stand together to stop the cuts to SNAP, which helps working Jewish families care for their loved ones.

Milena Bakalinskaya, Los Angeles

Youth Movements and IfNotNow

I am the son of a survivor of Auschwitz and Mauthausen whose extended family was wiped out there. I am also a proud former combat soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, and I would do my service all over again in a flash.

IfNotNow are arrogant little kids who have no real clue about the world, and certainly not about the Middle East (“IfNotNow and AIPAC,” March 31). They never face even a smidgen of the daily threats that Israelis face every day, yet they have the gall to demonize Israelis in their so-called name of peace. 

George Muenz via email

Thanks for defending Peace Now. That needed to be said.

It’s so disappointing that AIPAC Jews cannot keep two different ideas in their heads because all they see is conflict and can’t imagine the two notions can coexist in one brain: Israel has a right to exist as a sovereign state and the settlements are an aggressive insult to Palestinians (right or wrong) and impede the cause of peace.

Jim Ruxin via email

Rob, great column!

Your recollection of the reaction to Peace Now brought to mind an earlier example of the same phenomenon. A number of rabbis supported Breira in the early 1970s and were also subjected to ugly vituperation from the community establishment. Among them were Leonard I. Beerman, Richard Levy and me. Some traditions have deep roots.

Rabbi Sanford Ragins via email