Letters: Carr Seat, Abortion and Halachah, West Bank Annexation

February 13, 2019

Carr Seat
Kudos to the Jewish Journal for its front-page article on the appointment of Elan Carr as Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism (“Meet Elan Carr, The New Anti-Semitism Envoy,” Feb. 8). President Trump made a wise choice in appointing Carr. When Henry Waxman retired from Congress, Carr ran for his seat in District 33 and unfortunately lost to a Democrat. If the Jews in District 33 had been more supportive, Carr might have had that seat. Carr would’ve been one more supporter of Jewish values and support for Israel in Congress, instead of his opponent whose party willingly tolerates Jew haters in Congress.
Marshall Lerner, Beverly Hills

Abortion in Halachah and Reality
I am often perturbed by the liberal trope that restricting abortion is necessarily an imposition of male authority on a woman’s body, and as such cheapens the very necessary calls to action over true chauvinism and sexual violence. I thus empathize with the desire to clarify the traditional Jewish position (consistent with many other religious schools of thought) that our bodies, regardless of gender, are divinely created vessels in our care but not ownership.

I am nonetheless profoundly disappointed by the Rabbinical Council of America’s (RCA) recent statement on the Reproductive Health Act (“Open Debate: Is N.Y.’s Abortion Law Halachic?” Feb.  8). Almost all religious authorities, even outside Orthodoxy, oppose “abortion on demand.” But determining what constitutes a serious enough physical or psychological threat to the mother leads to a wide diversity of halachic opinions. Civil law does a terrible job at honoring such subtly when it encroaches upon the issue. Though I am not a fan of Roe v. Wade’s language, it correctly established that legislating such personal and religious matters is a constitutional problem — and I would add, a Jewish problem as well.

It bears mentioning that the Orthodox Union wisely sidestepped the issue entirely. What does the RCA hope to accomplish by publishing its statement? Will it cause Democratic interest groups to rethink? Will it decrease abortions of convenience? I fear instead that it will only strengthen the liberal trope I bemoaned at the start: that well-meaning voices of caution on the issue of abortion are nothing more than groups of right-wing men out to impose their will on women’s bodies.
Michael Feldman, Los Angeles

The debate continues in this issue, on page 16.

No Illusions
Shmuel Rosner was spot-on in his article (“Anti-Semitism and Jewish Illusions,” Feb. 1) when he wrote, “… Jews cannot even control anti-Semitism. … They have never had the power to tame anti-Semitism. … This does not mean that Jews should stay silent when anti-Semitism is on the rise.”

I would urge the Jewish Journal to publish a list of those members of Congress who voted in opposition of the anti-BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) bill. Their excuses of “First Amendment concerns” were flimsy at best. We should encourage true supporters of Israel to write to them, letting them know that they do not represent us and that we will not support their bids for re-election. I highly doubt that our letters will change their core beliefs, but as politicians they need our votes.
Miriam Fisher, Via email

West Bank Annexation
The most common, two-fold argument against Israel annexing areas of the West Bank doesn’t hold water (“Annexation Is a Pernicious Issue for Israel,” Feb. 8).

First, the demographic argument often has been disproved, as current Arab population figures are greatly inflated and their current birthrate is below that of the average Israeli, let alone the Charedi sector of Israel’s society.

Second, who cares if annexation may anger our allies in the European Union? There is absolutely nothing we can do that will appease their centuries-old anti-Semitism and bias against Jews and now the Jewish state. There will be no change in their policies toward us whether we act on annexation or not. Every excuse they use to threaten us and try to delegitimize us is just a pretext they employ to hide behind their own insidious and discriminatory behavior.

It’s time Israel does what’s best and safest for its citizens regardless of who it might upset. And it behooves individual Jews, so eager to be accepted by the non-Jewish world, to learn the same lesson and to speak and act accordingly in support of our homeland.
Allan Kandel, Los Angeles 

Whose Donkey Gets Help
If you don’t mind (or even if you do), I’ll help my friend’s donkey first (Table for Five, Feb. 1).
Stephen J. Meyers, Woodland Hills

Sneaky Anti-Semitism
In David Suissa’s column, (“Fighting Sneaky Anti-Semitism,” Jan. 25), he decries the “sneaky” anti-Semitism of left-wing anti-Israel extremists who masquerade as “social justice” advocates.

Actually, they aren’t sneaky at all.

Louis Farrakhan dehumanizes Jews as “termites” — pests to be exterminated.

Michelle Alexander’s New York Times column falsely smears Israel and brazenly claims Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — a proud Zionist who praised Israel as “an oasis of brotherhood and democracy” — as an anti-Israel fellow traveler.

Tamika Mallory says Jews “uphold white supremacy” — denying the leading role of Jews throughout the American civil rights movement, from NAACP co-founder Henry Moskowitz and President Joel Spingarn, to King’s close friend Stanley Levinson, and Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, two young civil rights organizers who were murdered in Mississippi in 1964.

Linda Sarsour insists Zionism is incompatible with feminism — ignoring Israel’s role as a glowing example of women’s rights — while Israel’s neighbors condone honor killings, marital rape and female genital mutilation.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) accuses Jews who support America’s ally Israel of dual loyalty.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D.-Minn.) says Israel has “hypnotized the world” and Jews have bought off its supporters. These people aren’t sneaky about their anti-Semitism. They’re unabashed bigots.
Stephen A. Silver, San Francisco 

Thanks, No Thanks
If we had never heard of Donald Trump until the State the Union address, perhaps we would have felt the same way David Suissa did in his online column. While we agree that the courageous Americans recognized at the State of the Union are deserving of our praise, we feel strongly that Trump isn’t one of them.

Trump campaigned for president using anti-Semitic imagery and tropes, omitted any mention of Jews in his first Holocaust Remembrance Day statement, and proudly identified himself as a “nationalist” — a term that has been used in association with white supremacy and Nazism. Trump equivocated condemning white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville and likened neo-Nazis to those protesting them. He has emboldened anti-Semites and done little to combat the unprecedented rise of anti-Semitism in the United States in the past two years.

Jews have no obligation to issue perfunctory praise of Trump’s choreographed, hollow words, even those that were specifically devised to pander and appeal to our community. We judge the president on his record as opposed to 82 minutes of carefully scripted theatrics, and we feel no obligation to say “thank you.” Until he proves in both word and deed that the last two years were an aberration, our values compel us to hold our applause for President Trump.
Ada Horwich and Halie Soifer
Horwich is a board member and Soifer is executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America.

Rabbi Eckstein Memories
Thank you, Debra Nussbaum Cohen, for your beautiful obituary on Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein (jewishjournal.com and this issue, page 56). I have fond memories of sitting with him in Daf Yomi with Rabbi Yosef Gavriel Bechoffer giving the Shiur at Bnei Rueven in Chicago. We had 20 people and we would debate the Gemara.
Mitchell Morgenstern, Via email

Now it’s your turn. Don’t be shy, submit your letters to the editor. Letters should be no more than 200 words and must include a valid name and city. The Journal reserves the right to edit all letters. letters@jewishjournal.com.

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