February 18, 2020

Letters: Israel Respects All Faiths, Reality vs. Fiction, A Deserved Tribute

Israel Respects All Faiths
In discussing the value of Israel to the United States, one important point cannot be overlooked: 70 percent of Americans identify themselves as Christian (Pew Research Center, 2018) (“What America Gets From Israel,” March 15). Israel provides stable, secure and unobstructed access to the holiest sites in the Christian world. 

The alternatives would make many a Christian, just like many a Jew, shudder. Moreover, the ongoing pressure, often aided by violence, on Middle Eastern Christians and their resulting drastic decline in numbers have not gone unnoticed by their Christian brethren here and abroad. In the past 100 years, their number fell from 20 percent to 4 percent of the region’s populaton. 

In the midst of this long-term exodus, Israel stands out as a nation respectful of other faiths. Any danger to Israel would thus translate into the danger to the spiritual center of the Christian world.
Lane Igoudin, Los Angeles

Reality vs. Fiction
Leo Rozmaryn, in his column titled “Hard Lessons Before Steps Toward Peace” (March 8), wrote of the Arab-Israeli conflict that it will never end until both sides are willing to relinquish their prejudices. “Each side is taught to regard the other as stereotypical evil, the ultimate ‘other,’ people to fear and loathe,” he said.

These remarks are grossly unfair and inaccurate. While Arabs learn through propaganda and lies to hate Israelis, it is not at all propaganda the other way around. Arabs enjoy the right to live freely among the Israelis, benefiting from all that Israel has to offer. There are even Arabs serving in the Israeli Knesset. 

Israelis are taught to distrust many Arabs not through prejudice but through a long history of experience. Through Israel’s great humanitarianism and generosity, it has so very often given up land for peace. Invariably, Arabs have broken these peace agreements at the cost of Jewish lives, and many Arabs living in Israel have butchered Israelis.

The tremendous difference in attitude on either side can best be summed up by the responses made by Arab vs. Israeli soldiers when asked the question about how they feel when they kill one another, as broadcast in an episode of “60 Minutes” many years ago. The Arab soldier said it gave him great pleasure to kill Israelis. The Israeli soldier — in sharp contrast — said that it’s always sad when you have to take a life, but sometimes you have no choice. Again — in sharp contrast — the Israeli military routinely warns Arab civilians in advance when an attack is pending in their area, voluntarily giving up the element of surprise, often at the cost of Israeli lives.

Rozmaryn simply closes his eyes and his mind to the simple truth when claiming that “both” sides are prejudiced.
Mendi Segal, Los Angeles 

Mosque Shootings’ Aftermath
After 50 people were slaughtered in New Zealand, the Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh set up a New Zealand Islamophobic Attack Emergency Relief Fund. Did I miss it? Or did the L.A. Federation sit idly by and do nothing?
Marilyn W. Alper, via email

A Deserved Tribute
Your coverage of Esther Elfenbaum, “A Pioneer for Early Childhood Jewish Education” (March 15), was outstanding! As one of her protégés, I am profoundly blessed to have had her as my friend and mentor for so many years. She embodied everything that Jewish education should be. Our early childhood education office at the American Jewish University is rich with her books, photos and artifacts from a lifetime of service to our community. Thank you and may her memory be a blessing.
Tamar Andrews, via email

Three Mile Island Facts
This is a response to Cherie S. Lewis’ letter in the Jewish Journal (“Nazi-Looted Art and a Family’s Other Tragedy” (March 15).

Lewis is correct that Ava Cassirer was a co-plaintiff in the infamous Nazi-looted art case. It is also true that she started and sponsored a foundation to help burn victims, because she was one such burn survivor. 

However, Lewis also states that Ava suffered burns on the Pennsylvania Turnpike as a result of the Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear accident. According to all public sources, there weren’t even radiological health effects from the accident. The Pennsylvania Department of Health for 18 years maintained a registry of more than 30,000 people who lived within 5 miles of Three Mile Island at the time of the accident. The state’s registry was discontinued in mid-1997, without any evidence of unusual health trends in the area. There were more than a dozen major independent health studies of the accident that showed no evidence of any abnormal number of cancers around TMI years after the accident. The only detectable effect was psychological stress during and shortly after the event. 

I happen to agree with Lewis’ essential, damning conclusion about nuclear power as a “clean” energy source. Nevertheless, similarly to concerns regarding climate change (another major issue impacting all of us), we must stick to the facts in our arguments. Ava Cassirer’s generosity and greatness in creating a foundation for burn victims is not lessened by knowing that she was not a victim of TMI. Indeed, may she rest in peace.
Peter Hantos, via email

The Problem With Palestinians
How should Israel respond to the recent rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza? What American Jews do not yet get is that the Palestinians have it in their DNA to keep this going forever. That is exactly why they will never have a state, even though the two-state solution would be best for them.

Most Israelis accept the fact that the price they have to pay for having their own home is to humor the Palestinians in every cycle of violence. That humor also includes, unfortunately, hitting them back when they do this.

Israel cannot afford to commit the complete genocide it would take to wipe out the problem. We know that world opinion would be near lethal! Israel can barely afford afford “slapping them back,” for all the lefties and liberals of the world would again explode about the unfair “disproportionality” of not enough Jews dying in the fracas.

The Germans got slapped and woke up. The Japanese got slapped and woke up. Even the British got slapped and woke up. No big or small slap, unfortunately, will ever wake up the Palestinians, because they act as if they have it deeply in their DNA, religiously, emotionally and probably physically by this time. Their prophet decreed to “take it by the sword” and even achieve the rewards of heaven if you die trying.

The takeaway for the Israelis? It just is what it is, a part of being able to live freely in a home where they can’t kick you out — Israel.
Steve Klein, Encino

College Admissions Cheating
The parents who lied and bribed to get their kids into certain colleges were not engaged in victimless crime (“A Good Name,” March 22). Qualified applicants were pushed aside. 

If the wealthy and privileged are allowed to plead their way out of jail time, we will have reinforced our nation’s practice of two-tiered, discriminatory justice. We should stop thinking of America as a democracy until we adjust the scales by initiating procedures to release those incarcerated for nonviolent, minor infractions.
Hal Rothberg, via email

What CAIR Really Is
Rabbi Sarah Bassin thinks CAIR is a “civil rights organization” (“Muslims, Jews Need to Support Each Other,” March 22). The United Arab Emirates thinks it is a terrorist organization. If it is terrorist enough for any Arab government, it is terrorist enough for me.
Louis Richter, Reseda

Heed the Islamic Watchdogs
M. Zuhdi Jasser has been on the front line of the Muslim reform movement for years (“Islamists in the House,” March 15). And there are others, like former Wall Street Journal reporter Asra Nomani, as well. Ask Pamela Geller. However, like those involved with many non-leftist causes, they have been marginalized in the mainstream media and political circles.

It would have been great foresight had Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey appointed Jasser to John McCain’s vacant Senate seat — Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib would have had real “resistance.”
Enriqué Gascon, Westside Village

Now it’s your turn. Send in 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.