February 18, 2020

Letters: Don’t Demonize Strong Women, Trump and Immigration, Changing Religious Fanatics, Don’t Excuse N.Y. Times’ Bias, Poway Chabad Shooting

Don’t Demonize Strong Women

In “Toxic Femininity” (April 26), Karen Lehrman Bloch states we need to embrace strong female role models. That’s not achieved by throwing women under the bus whose politics we don’t like or demonizing strong and responsible women in the #MeToo movement who speak out against sexual abuse. Bloch cites several examples of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) views that don’t jibe with hers; and contrasts her with Nikki Haley, who uses “softness to make tough points” and isn’t “emotional.”

Haley, like AOC, is attractive; and in our looks-based society, that may attract votes. Far from “ditzy,” AOC is extremely intelligent and passionate about issues. AOC actually downplays her attractiveness with a conservative hairstyle, frequently wears glasses, and professional attire. She doesn’t need to conform to antiquated notions of how women should talk and act. Demonizing strong, brave and outspoken women perpetuates sexism and misogyny.

Andrea de Lange, Los Angeles

Trump and Immigration

I am the son of a German immigrant who came to the United States in January 1937. He lived in Cincinnati with his brothers and parents and became an outstanding citizen of our country. He served in the U.S. Army and became the president of Adath Israel Congregation in Cincinnati. He never considered himself a German American. He died on Sept. 9, 2001, and thankfully never go to see what happened to our country on Sept. 11.

My uncle Jerome Teller was president of HIAS and a lawyer in Cincinnati. He worked tirelessly to help Russian and Persian Jews escape persecution and find homes in the United States. He spent the latter part of his life helping those who could not help themselves, both in and outside of the Jewish community. He died a few years ago.

It would bother my father and uncle to see what President Donald Trump said in an address to the Republican Jewish Coalition recently. During World War II, Jews were sent back on ships to their homeland because our government closed its borders. Most of the Jews who were sent back died in the countries where they were being persecuted.

Now, our president is saying that “our country is full” and we cannot accept any more immigrants. How can anyone support this policy and our president in his belief that we don’t need to help out people who are escaping a dangerous situation?

Ralph Hattenbach, Los Angeles

Changing Religious Fanatics

Ever since religious terrorism was born, the world has not found the way to prevent it other than identifying and destroying religious fanatics before they can kill and terrorize in the name of their god (“Shaming Religious Fanatics,” April 26).
Do we really understand the mindset of a person who would strap on a suicide vest or persuade their children to do so? With all due respect to David Suissa, I doubt such people or their children could be shamed into becoming peaceful advocates of their religion, especially when many of their religious leaders advocate violence in the name of their God. Nor do I think shaming them would rehabilitate religion.
But surely there must be a way to convert religious fanatics into peaceful advocates of their religion. Who has the answer? I wish I did.

David Rothman, via email

Don’t Excuse N.Y. Times’ Bias

Not surprisingly, it took reading to the last paragraph of Jonathan Kirsch’s review of Jerold Auerbach’s “Print to Fit: The New York Times, Zionism and Israel, 1896-2016,” to find his defense of the blatant anti-Israel bias of the New York Times (“New York Times Seen as Bad News for Jews,” April 26).

Whatever his opinion of Auerbach’s treatise, Kirsch does an injustice in excusing the reality of the often inaccurate and sometimes immoral coverage of the newspaper. From biased news coverage to editorial columns, the Times’ penchant for depicting Israel in a negative and demeaning manner makes it unworthy of the description of the paper as the “gold standard in world journalism.”

Alice Greenfield, via email

Poway Chabad Shooting

There has been a turning point now and there is no going back. Something has changed. Our safety in worship can no longer be assured.

There will probably be more copycat synagogue shootings in the U.S. The political climate that has enabled the ultra-right fringe element, with its access to guns and explosives, to live out its long-held, ill-informed and misguided goal to kill Jews, fueled by social and other media misinformation, is now upon us. And what better place than a house of prayer? Just ask people in Muslim countries where massacres and bombings are commonplace in mosques.

We may soon become like European countries such as France and the Scandinavian states that have automatic weapon-armed troops and police on every Shabbat outside most synagogues. It’s important to feel safe, but at least now I know how my ancestors felt when going to worship in Russia and Poland.

And I hope this isn’t left up to individual synagogues to ensure the safety of their congregants. Nor should it be. This is a societal problem and government must ensure the safety of its citizens. Although I may not like it, there is now no alternative. We need to have police as well as private security at every major synagogue, sooner rather than later. How many more need die to make it happen? As I said, there is no alternative now and no turning back. Sad. Very sad.

Jay Schuster, Sherman Oaks 

Let me make it clear I am saddened, appalled and outraged at the attacks on churches, mosques and houses of worship in Sri Lanka, New Zealand and other countries. These events may be an indication of a relatively recent international revival of right-wing nationalism.

But the media has it all wrong when it conflates the recent synagogue murders with acts of international terrorism toward minority groups.  The synagogue murders in Poway and Pittsburgh are not recent indicators of anti-Semitism in the United States. Jewish houses of worship in our country have long been the object of threats. There is hardly a synagogue of any denomination I have attended in recent years where the first person who greets me is not an armed guard or security person. This is nothing new for the Jews. We know that anti-Semitism is real and continues to persist and yes, is growing even in America.

Stu Bernstein, Santa Monica

On the holy day of Shabbat, at the conclusion of Passover, the peace of sacred worship was shattered.
We are deeply saddened to hear the news of the tragic shooting at the Chabad of Poway. One member of the congregation was slain; three others were injured, including a child. We hope and pray for the dead and injured, their families and community, and for the law enforcement officers who prevented further injury and loss of life.
In yet another attack on our brothers and sisters, we are reminded of the dark shadow of hate that lies in the hearts of many, and that there are those would would do the Jewish people harm as we attempt to worship in peace. This unspeakable act was committed on the six-month anniversary of the tragedy in Pittsburgh, when another attacker is charged with storming into a synagogue and killing 11 Jewish worshippers, changing a community forever.
This is also a painful and urgent reminder of the consequences of hate speech. Attacks like this don’t occur in a vacuum; when hateful rhetoric and nonviolent hate crimes are allowed to become a “normal” occurrence, this is the inevitable result. We can no longer afford to treat hate speech against Jews or any other minority as anything less than a precursor to violence and bloodshed.
We sincerely hope that, in time, Poway’s Jewish community will find some measure of peace. All Americans must join together to halt the expansion of hate, to protect ourselves, our country and our future.

Jack Rosen – President, American Jewish Congress


The parents of a Japanese American veteran referred to in a story about a documentary (“ ‘Liberation Heroes’ Bear Witness to the Holocaust,” April 26) were not in an internment camp during World War II.