Letters to the Editor: Local Teen Lucky to Be Alive; Democrats and Israel and more

September 25, 2019

Democrats and Israel
I don’t know whether I’m more disappointed in the Sept. 13 cover story on Mark Mellman of Democratic Majority for Israel (“A New Pro-Israel Democratic Group Looks to Reduce the Political Partisan Divide”) or the Sept. 20 letter from Ada Horwich of the Jewish Democratic Council of America. The cover story lamented Democratic unhappiness with Israel, yet I failed to hear solutions except to get Democratic leaders to trumpet the same “Israel = good” message we hear from the right. On the other hand, Horwich alarmingly denies that there is a serious problem and mainly decries virulent anti-Semitism on the right.

But I note helpful statements in both writings: The story notes the balancing act of “defending the virtues of the U.S.-Israel relationship while also acknowledging the precarious nature of the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict.” And the letter fairly argues that differences with Israel’s policies don’t equate to “abandoning Israel.”

My worry is that Democrats and Republicans increasingly blur the lines between political dissent and rejection of statehood. To combat this (in part), I suggest we more genuinely welcome political discussion, including progressives’ anger at the Israeli government, while inviting opinions on how to better and strengthen the (sometimes deeply) flawed yet most liberal-democratic institution in the Middle East.
Michael Feldman, Los Angeles

The recently minted (2017) Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) is a  group that poses as an independent voice for Jews but is obviously owned by the Democratic Party. This is manifest when one of its board members, Ada Horwich, castigates the Republican Party’s support for Israel and especially President Donald Trump, who, according to her Sept. 20 letter to the editor, “regularly engages in anti-Semitic rhetoric that other Republicans refuse to condemn or acknowledge.” That position is based primarily on an off-hand remark Trump made after a Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Va. Horwich ignores the fact that the remark was later amended and amplified to remove any possibility that the president was supporting neo-Nazis who allegedly were present. 

Aside from the fact that the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, daughter Ivanka and their children are Jewish, he has had the U.S. recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and has acknowledged Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. There is no issue with Trump and Republicans supporting Israel. The issue is the anti-Semitic Democrats in the House of Representatives and the refusal of the Democratic Party to denounce them.
Richard N. Friedman, via email

Lessons From Our Elders
Wendy Paris’ story on the death of her father-in-law (Daniel Callahan) struck a very responsive chord within my psyche and my heart.  I totally concur with her decision to take on some part of Callahan’s character (“Taking on What Others Leave Behind, “Sept. 20).

Through the death of my parents, I resolved to embrace the gift of empathy that my mother possessed in such abundance as well as the reasoning and forbearance traits that my father bestowed on me by his words and actions.

My mother taught me that even while I was the sun in her universe, I was, in reality, a planet in the wider galaxy and it thus behooved me to try to acknowledge and understand (even if I did not agree) with anyone who crossed my path.

Conversely, my father inculcated in me the lessons of deploying the dyadic tools of rationalism and patience in my daily endeavors while concomitantly using emotions as the fuel to rocket my thought-out decisions into fruition.

Between the passed on gifts of my parents, I have tried to live a moral and productive life that honors their legacy and burnishes their collective memories.
Marc Rogers, North Hollywood

Local Teen Lucky to Be Alive
Wow. Yasher koach to the Journal for publishing the story about Simah Herman, who nearly died from complications of vaping (“Local Teen ‘Lucky to Be Alive’ After Vaping Incident,” Sept. 13). The word needs to get out to our “precious jewels” that e-cigarettes are dangerous. Parents need to be more proactive in talking to their children about vaping and to inform them that just because something tastes good doesn’t mean it is healthy.

The increasing use of e-cigarettes among youth threatens five decades of public health gains in successfully deglamorizing, restricting and decreasing the usage of tobacco products. Thank you, Simah, for being brave enough to share your story. Hopefully it will result in better e-cigarette regulation and legislative action ASAP.
Ronald Nagel, M.D., Beverly Hills

Philippines Opened Doors for Jewish Refugees
In 1939, refugees fled fascist regimes in Europe to find no other countries would take them in. In a notable humanitarian act, Manuel L. Quezon, who served as president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines from 1935-44, in cooperation with U.S. High Commissioner Paul V. McNutt, facilitated a rescue plan. Herbert Frieder and sons, owners of a cigar and cigarette manufacturing company and family friend of Quezon, raised money to transport the refugees to Manila, provided housing and built schools for their children.

Quezon and McNutt previously proposed 30,000 refugees to settle in Mindanao and 30,000 to 40,000 on Polillo Island. Quezon offered a 10-year loan to the Manila Jewish Refugee Committee on a tract of land adjacent to his family’s estate. 

During World War II, at the invitation of the U.S. government, Quezon established the commonwealth government-in-exile with headquarters in Washington, D.C. There, he served as a member of the Pacific War Council, signed the Declaration of the United Nations against the Axis powers. He died Aug. 1, 1944 in Saranac Lake, N.Y.

On Nov. 29, 1947, the Philippines became the only Asian nation to cast a crucial vote in the U.N. General Assembly for the partition of Palestine and the creation of the State of Israel.
Willie Florendo Ordonez, Altadena

I Am A Jew
I am also
A Charedi Jew
A Chabad Jew
A Satmar Jew
A Modern Orthodox Jew
A Conservative Jew
A Reform Jew
A Reconstructionist Jew
A Baal Teshuva Jew
An Engaged-Affiliated Jew
Unaffiliated, indifferent Jew
A Zionist Jew
A Non-Zionist Jew

And many other things these past 3,500 years.
I do not like the second and third prayers of Kol Nidre.
I think the Amidah is unnecessarily repeated.
I am all those things like every other Jew.
I am a Jew.
Walter Uhrman, Encino

In an interview with Steven Rajninger (“The Architect of Sacred Spaces,” Sept. 20), the reporter wrote that Temple Beth Am asked Rajninger’s firm to answer how an auditorium is different from a sanctuary. It was one of the firm’s previous clients, Congregation B’nai Israel in Sacramento, that presented the question to the firm.

Now it’s your turn. 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.

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