February 21, 2020

Letters to the Editor: Sex Talk, Women’s March Controversy

Sex Talk
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s Jewish take on today’s sexual crisis was so thoughtful and refreshing.  The “No More Porn Pledge” for men is a start and a possible solution. But what would be even better is if the women who perform in these porn films and pose for these photos would take the “No More Porn” pledge too, and not accept these work/job assignments. Without the women, there would be no porn. No?
Sonya Tamara Sargent, Los Angeles

Women’s March Controversy
Thank you for printing David Ruhm’s eloquent Jan. 4 letter explaining why most anti-Zionism is indeed anti-Semitic, and how crucial Israel is as a refuge for European Jewry. One wishes Rabbi Robin Podolsky could see reality as clearly (“Why I Will Walk With the Women’s March,” Jan. 4).

Podolsky defends Linda Sarsour, who’s been slandering Israel for years but recently expressed support for Jewish and LGBTQ Women’s March participants. But Sarsour supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, and the so-called “one-state solution,” which would be the end of Israel as a Jewish homeland. She also advocates Shariah law, which considers women possessions of men, condemns gays and preaches hatred for non-Muslims. Has the rabbi considered that Sarsour is just using Jewish sympathizers as cover to retain her leadership position?

Podolsky asserts that “Jews have a stake in intersectional politics,” but it’s just a form of “groupthink,” using coercion and intimidation to foment a mob mentality. For instance, Israel isn’t perfect, but neither are the Palestinians, yet criticism of them, or even asking what they can do to bring peace, is forbidden by leftist leaders. And woe to the free-thinking gay, bi or trans folks who question why they should hate Israel, since it’s the only place in the region they’re allowed to live. Although the progressive movement claims to be egalitarian, it’s really autocratic, so it’s no surprise its leaders hate Jews. When are American Jews going to realize this and fight back?
Rueben Gordon, via email

Wonderful article, thank you!
Michelle Gubbay, via Facebook

You are defined by the company you keep. If you march with an organization that is co-led by a supporter of Louis Farrakhan, you are giving credibility to the anti-Semitism he promotes. You cannot have it both ways.
Stuart Shlossman, via Facebook

It would be incredibly easy for [Linda] Sarsour and [Tamika] Mallory to simply declare their rejection of the rabid anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan. This has not, and will not ever happen. Therefore, Rabbi Robin Podolsky has allied herself with anti-Semites.
Mitchell Felder, via Facebook 

Rabbi Podolsky, I am sorry that you have been so hurt by Jewish men in your lifetime. This is no reason to support this march, whose leaders support of a rabid anti-Semite is simply a deal-breaker. Sarsour and Mallory have to denounce Farrakhan. All the good the Nation of Islam does in black communities does not give Farrakhan a pass to speak so horribly against Jews. 

Rabbi, you should be upset about being ignored, disrespected or tossed out by Jewish men. Fight that, talk about it, but don’t support a group that allows this awful hate speech.
Sam Tramiel, via Facebook

Barbara Yaroslavsky, Unsung Champion for All
Over the years, Barbara Yaroslavsky forged her own path of altruism and compassion for so many whose voices needed to be heard. Her drive to help had a quiet and gentle urgency. Her nudging sometimes required a firm resolve that persuaded many to listen to her and draw attention to important issues that needed to be addressed.

She saw the need and never stopped working to shape policy, change people’s lives and get the job done without fanfare or recognition. Her time, efforts and generosity of heart were her gifts to all. She had so much integrity that went along with her honesty and authentic nature.

Thank you, Barbara, for your larger-than-life heart, boundless love and immense humanitarian efforts. You are already missed and will always be remembered by so many.
Frances Terrell Lippman, Sherman Oaks

Setting Record Straight on Anti-Zionism
Thank you for Karen Lehrman Bloch’s column “A Missed Virtue Signal” (Dec. 21), lambasting Michelle Goldberg’s New York Times column defending anti-Semitism, and David Ruhm’s Jan. 4 letter noting that Zionism is “inseparable from Judaism” and thus anti-Zionism is “inherently anti-Semitic.”

One additional criticism of Goldberg’s New York Times column bears mentioning. Goldberg smugly asserted that “people with an uncompromising commitment to pluralistic democracy will necessarily be critics of contemporary Israel.” I couldn’t disagree more. Israel epitomizes a vibrant, pluralistic democracy. Its governments alternate between security-minded and peace-seeking. Its diverse population includes Holocaust survivors; Jewish refugees from Arab lands; immigrants from Ethiopia, India and the former Soviet Union; Arab and Bedouin Muslims; and Christians, Druze, Buddhists and B’hai. Women comprise a majority of Israel’s university students.

By contrast, Palestinian Authority (P.A.) President Mahmoud Abbas was elected to a four-year term — in 2005. He demands a judenrein Palestinian state. He has called the Holocaust “the fantastic lie” and insists Jews be barred from Jerusalem’s holiest sites lest they “defile them with their filthy feet.” The P.A. is corrupt, tortures political critics, terrorizes minorities and LGBT people, and condones honor killings of women. Goldberg, self-appointed uncompromising paragon of pluralistic democracy, is silent on this.
Stephen A. Silver, San Francisco

Don’t Compromise Values
It is becoming exhausting to constantly hear that our deeply divided political parties should engage in compromise.

Dan Schnur, quoting Jon Meacham (“We’re Divided, but Been Here Before,” Jan. 4), says, “So healing on the other side of the divide to find even a small patch of common ground …” sounds and feels good but it is of little consequence. Compromise is the way our political system works. In areas such as monetary issues, entitlements, national debt and others — very tough issues to be sure — we work it out. But I ask Schnur and Meacham: How do we compromise values? Values such as religious freedom, abortion (particularly late-term abortion), illegal immigration that is changing the nature of the “American dream” by virtue of expanding foreign cultures, the First and Second Amendments. Do we say: I’ll trade you the First Amendment for the Second?

We have reached a point, as pointed out in the column, that we have been here before. True enough, but until now the dissension has generally focused on a single or very few issues. We have all been united under Judaic-Christian values. But no more. Now we seem to be divided on just about everything. The battle between leftism and conservatism has become overwhelming.

How do we reach a compromise?
C.P. Lefkowitz, Rancho Palos Verdes

A photo accompanying Rabbi Chanan (Antony) Gordon’s commentary in Table for Five was incorrect in the Jan. 4 edition. 

A photo credit accompanying a story on Anna Shternshis was incorrect in the Dec. 21 edition. The credit should have said: Courtesy of Roman Boldyrev.