September 18, 2019

Letters to the Editor: Poland Holocaust Law, Gaza Border, and Israelis in the Diaspora

Poland Holocaust Law

The letter to the editor about Poland’s recently passed Holocaust law could not have been written by a grown-up (Letters to the Editor, April 13).

It had to have been written by a child who was raised on lies and wrong information.

Claiming that the Polish underground was the largest anti-Nazi underground army in Europe is laughable.

There are still a few of us around, so you can’t make up history to suit you.

You need to be honest and speak the truth or don’t speak at all.

Ella Mandel, Polish Holocaust survivor, Los Angeles

Gaza Border Unrest

Kudos to David Suissa for exposing the hypocrisy of the Gaza “protests” (“When Truth Comes Marching In,” April 13). His most powerful point was quoting Ben-Dror Yemini’s observation that the Palestinian marchers chanted “Khaybar Khaybar ya yahud.”  This war cry relates not to the current State of Israel but to the seventh-century ethnic cleansing of the two Jewish tribes in Medina by Mohammad’s army. Those slaughtered Jews were not living in current-day Israel but in ancient Saudi Arabia — thus exposing the virulent anti-Jewish hatred from Islam’s earliest history. This same “Khaybar” chant was sung eight years ago in the Turkish flotilla as it approached Gaza.

Hamas made a fatal miscalculation more than a decade ago. Despite being offshoots of the Sunni/Wahabi, Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaida and ISIS axis, Hamas switched allegiance to Shiite Iran, prompting Saudi Arabia and the Sunni Gulf states to abandon them. Recently Israel, with the assistance of its former enemy Egypt, destroyed much of Hamas’ tunnel infrastructure, leading inevitably to the violent protests we are witnessing today.

Richard Friedman, Culver City

Israelis in the Diaspora

This is another in a long line of letters disputing wild, unsourced journalistic estimates of Israelis living in the Diaspora, which Danielle Berrin has repeated as “more than 1 million” (“Wandering Israelis,” April 13).

The most trusted demographic estimate done by Pew Research in 2010 was 230,000 Jewish emigrants from Israel living in other countries, with the most, 110,000 in the U.S. This aligns with my 1982 published estimates for Israeli emigrants in the U.S. and about my estimate of 25,000 living in and around Los Angeles.

Fun fact: Using Berrin’s source data from the Israel Bureau of Central Statistics about 2.2 million flying abroad in a six-month period, and the U.S. nonimmigrant Israeli entry estimates for roughly the same period, fewer than 1 in 10 Israeli tourist flyers eventually landed in the U.S. As we are all learning, visiting or immigrating to the U.S. is a pain.

While the Los Angeles Israeli community has become much more organized, now raising tens of millions of dollars yearly through the Israeli-American Council (IAC), in the 36 years since a realistic estimate of numbers has been published, I have not found any evidence that the number of Israelis has changed substantially from being about 1/20th of the Los Angeles Jewish community.

Pini Herman, Beverly Grove

Israeli Salad Gets Thumbs Up

Loved the article about Israeli salad by Yamit Behar Wood (“Why I Will Eat an Israeli Salad on Yom HaAtzmaut,” April 13).

I love serving it at every Jewish affair. It just speaks to me and tells me to celebrate and be grateful to be able to celebrate and be grateful to be alive.

Phyllis Steinberg via email

What a delightful, wonderful essay. You took your readers right along on part of the wonderful ride your life has been (so far), and we enjoyed both cultures as you described them and their impact on your growing years.

Miriam Fishman via email

New, Improved Journal

First, allow me to add my praise to those of other readers who commend the Journal for avoiding the need to turn pages to continue reading your columns. It is a great convenience — and much appreciated. As we age (I am 91), our fingers become less dexterous and it is harder to turn the pages to continue reading a particular article.
More important, your articles are of much greater interest to me and, I am sure, other readers. This includes articles of a broad range of interests, such as (in the April 13  issue):

1) “Adam Milstein: Promoter of Israeliness.” I wept as I read it. He is a brilliant and great leader.

2) “Israeli Taekwondo Program Has Local Source.” As a result, I am going to ask the director of the JFS Freda Mohr Multipurpose Senior Center to provide our community with a special event to meet and talk to Lois and Richard Gunther, in honor of whom the new JFS three-story building will be named.

3) “How to Tie Shoelaces Into a Star of David.” I followed the steps on paper, and will now try it for real.

George Epstein via email

Memories of the Holocaust

Writer Thane Rosenbaum appears to hedge on the ultimate reason for remembering the Holocaust (“What’s Left to Say?” April 6). Is the continuing scourge of anti-Semitism or the “moral mystery” of the Holocaust the principal cause of its refusal to stop haunting our minds and hearts? A bit of both? If anti-Semitism disappeared forever, instead of just moving from dormancy to flare-up, the Holocaust would weigh even more heavily on the memory and conscience of mankind.

The Shoah was a catastrophe for the Jewish people, a cataclysm from which recovery is gradual at best. There are only 2 million more Jews in the world than existed in 1939, and this is despite the miraculous growth of Israel and the impressive birth rate of Orthodox Jewry in the United States.

The life force is with us, but the Holocaust is in our genes.

And as for the non-Jewish world, the eradication of anti-Semitism and the marginalization of the Jews would make the Holocaust such an embarrassment to the modern world’s sense of its humanity that all of its accomplishments in science, technology and medical cures would seem incidental to a fundamental flaw in its moral compass.

Peter Brier, Altadena

An essential part of what should be commemorated on Yom HaShoah is the extraordinary courage and dignity shown by Jews living in hopeless conditions in terrifying times. “Zog Nit Keinmol” (Song of the Partisans) should be part of any commemorative program, along with a few words about poet Hirsh Glick.

While imprisoned in the Vilna Ghetto, Glick was inspired to write these strong, deeply moving lyrics when he heard about the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Glick escaped the Vilna ghetto when it was liquidated in October 1943, but was recaptured and sent to a concentration camp in Estonia, from which he escaped in 1944. He was 22 years old and was never heard from again.

Here are the words of the young poet’s masterpiece (unknown translator):

Never say that there is only death for you,
Though leaden skies may be concealing days of

Because the hour we have hungered for is near,
Beneath our tread the earth shall tremble: we
are here!

From lands so green with palms to lands all
white with snow.

We shall be coming with our anguish and our
And where a spurt of our blood fell on the earth,
There our courage and our spirit have rebirth!

The early morning sun will brighten our day,
And yesterday with our foe will fade away,
But if the sun delays and in the east remains,
This song as motto generations must remain.

This song was written with our blood and not
with lead,
It’s not a little tune that birds sing overhead,
This song a people sang amid collapsing walls,
With pistols in hand they heeded to the call.

So never say that there is only death for you,
Though leaden skies may be concealing days of
Because the hour we have hungered for is near,
Beneath our tread the earth shall tremble: we
are here!

Julia Lutch via email