Letters: One Book as a Bridge, Use of Slurs Shouldn’t Be a Surprise

June 27, 2019

One Book as a Bridge
Yasher koach to Yossi Klein Halevi for his creative, innovative and empathetic “ice pick” of a book (“Letters From My Palestinian Neighbors,” June 21). In my eyes, the conflict isn’t equal, certainly not because of the lack of any ability to compromise, and thankfully an ability to lose their wars of annihilation upon the Jewish people, and also a robust political and religious anti-Semitism on the part of one side. Despite all that, this is opening new, practical connections between bitter enemies.

It’s important that some voices from the other side of the divide are resonating with the profound religious attachment that Zion represents to Jews and asking us, “Why didn’t you let us know?” (Answer: We thought you knew because it is so obvious). Regardless, it opens up a small door, which can lead we know not where.

Halevi is thinking as a pragmatist, and his project has little downside. With a media force multiplier like Al-Jazeera and a celebrity endorsement, maybe we can all be dreamers, which is what we are wont to do.
Eric Biren, via email

As a young Sunni boy living in the Libyan Sahara during the Six-Day war of 1967. I was crazed like the Arab population and swept into the irrational and self-destructive anger and hatred for Jews and Israel. Now, as a mature Jewish man living in Los Angeles, I accept the painful realty of the inability of Israelis and Palestinians to value the mutual benefits of tolerance and coexistence.

In his story, Halevi elucidates the religious, historical, political and cultural issues that are the obstacles to the current impasse. He has uniquely achieved this feat with honesty and compassion like no other contemporary writer.

Although his hope for mainstream religions to be the bridge of understanding seems contradictory to the current appeasement and patronizing, I share his possible path to peaceful coexistence. This new, uncharted and challenging path accompanied with honesty is suited to the practitioners of Conservative Judaism and to Reformist Muslims. The Shalom Hartman Institute and American Islamic Forum for Democracy, founded by Zuhdi Jasser, are excellent candidates to forge this dialogue.

May Halevi’s efforts continue to bear fruit for both sides to pursue the exchange of honest and workable solutions rather than the exchange of bullets and rockets.
Ed Elhaderi, Los Angeles

Of our “two narratives,” one is truth and the other is lies. We need not abase ourselves by showing respect to lies to gain anyone’s admiration. Our enemies will despise us regardless.
We are indigenous to the Land of Israel, according to history supported by archeology and foreign sources (like the Arch of Titus). Arabs are indigenous to Arabia. That’s why the Romans named it Arabia and named our country Iudea. We know exactly when Arabs first invaded our land — 632 C.E. We also know what they were calling it at that time: dar el Yahud (the abode of the Jew).
If the “premeditated land grab” mentioned by Halevi refers to our liberation of Samaria and Judea from Jordanian occupation, I can attest that we not only didn’t intend to enter those territories, we were unprepared to fight Jordan at that moment. When the shooting started, Jerusalem and the Corridor were defended by nothing but a few battalions of the Old Men’s Corps with three days’ brush-up training — hardly an attack force. It wasn’t until the Jordanians had shelled Jerusalem for an entire day and cut the only highway connecting the city with the rest of the country (and bombed our cities) that we sent up reserves from the coast to relieve the siege. I know because I was in the signals network of those battalions.
Louis Richter, Reseda

Use of Slur Shouldn’t Be a Surprise
Ariel Sobel seems perplexed by the ugly spectacle of the progressive movement using “Zio,” an epithet used by the KKK (“Why are Progressives Using an Anti-Semitic Slur Coined by the KKK?” June 21). An overview of history, though, should prove that this phenomenon is not an aberration but a natural outcome of similar ideologies.

Three totalitarian movements of the past and present, Nazism, Communism and Islamism, have embedded in their DNA a hatred of Jews, from Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”; to Karl Marx (self-hating Jew) shifting the hatred of “Jews” to “capitalists”; to Mohamed’s statement in the Quran calling Jews “descendants of apes and pigs” (a vile expression revived by the late Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi). Crosscurrents can be observed in recent history: The Soviets trained and supplied Arab terror groups, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood Hassan al-Banna as well as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem were allies of Adolf Hitler. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), CAIR-affiliated anti-Semite, operates as a radical leftist yet is supported by the KKK’s David Duke.

These disparate groups may seem like strange bedfellows but they are bedfellows nonetheless, united by their common doctrinal hatred of Jews and Israel.
Richard Friedman, Culver City

An Open Letter to AOC and Katie Porter
Dear Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Katie Porter,

As the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, I am deeply offended by your interpretation and comments that the U.S. is running migrant concentration camps. I understand what you’re trying to say, and perhaps another term would have been more effective and less offensive to Jewish people who lost family members in the Holocaust. 

I consider myself a Democrat but if the people of the party I support can be so insensitive and inaccurate in comparing Nazi concentration camps to migrants being held at our borders, I have to re-evaluate where I stand.

How can you compare the atrocities of the Holocaust to migrants being held at the border? Are the migrants being beaten, shot at, denied food? Is there medical experimentation taking place on detainees?

Are they in “work camps?” Are they subject to extermination and annihilation? Do they fear some crazy person will beat and shoot them if they don’t do what they’re told?

I am sensitive to what’s taking place at the border. I don’t condone the actions of President Donald Trump but to make the comparison that the U.S. is running migrant concentration camps is inaccurate, offensive and insensitive to those who perished or survived the Holocaust and their families.

“Never Again” is the motto about never repeating the Holocaust. This slogan shouldn’t be thrown around as a catch phrase for other issues. You both need to be educated about the Holocaust so you can appreciate and use proper language when speaking about issues.

Your comments demean the victims of the Holocaust but I am hopeful that this wasn’t your intention. Please be mindful. Unlike the president, I hope you realize that words matter.
Anita Heber, Los Angeles

In a story about Bnai Zion Medical Center (“U.S.-Based Nonprofit Spearheads Fortified Hospital in Haifa,” June 14), George Schaeffer’s title was incorrect. He is Bnai Zion’s current board chair.

In a story about a fundraiser to fight hunger (“MAZON Highlights Food Insecurity at ‘Hunger Bites’ Event,” June 14), the amount of money raised was incorrect. The event raised $100,000. 

In a story about online harassment of Jewish women (“The Sexual Harassment of Jewish Women Speaking Out Against Anti-Semitism,” June 14), a quote was misattributed. Chris wrote, “It might do you some good to get a tougher skin.”

A headline about a music performance at the Colburn School of Music (“Colburn School Performs Music by Two Jewish Emigres,” June 21) misstated the ensemble that performed. Pittance Chamber Music performed the pieces.

Now it’s your turn. Submit your letter 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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