Letters: The Death of Qassem Soleimani, Nessah Synagogue

January 17, 2020

The Death of Qassem Soleimani
Of course people of good faith mourn the death of innocents. But the false cultural and religious equivalency shown by well-meaning people is at best naive and at worst dangerous.

Gen. Qassem Soleimani was a religious imperialist bent on establishing a Shiite landbridge from Iran to the Mediterranean. He has propped up his fellow Shiite butcher, President Bashar Assad in Syria. He has a proxy force established in Hezbollah in the north in Lebanon and with Hamas in Gaza in the south with advanced missiles Iran has smuggled in. He and the mullahs in Iran consistently have threatened to destroy Israel since they came to power. They have been calling for genocide against the only Jewish country and its people for 40 years. They call Israel a cancer, deny the Holocaust and are bent of developing nuclear weapons “for peaceful purposes.” Soleimani was head of the Quds Force, which means Jerusalem in Arabic. The idea is to drive Jews out of Jerusalem and into the sea. Sadly, the once great Persian nation is under the totalitarian rule of religious theocrats and mullahs of Tehran who oppress women, gays and religious minorities and make apostasy and blasphemy crimes punishable by death.

I hope the death of a fanatical religious imperialist is viewed for exactly what it is.
Eric Biren, Santa Monica

Thank you, Jewish Journal, for two excellent stories (“What the Soleimani Killing Means for the Future of Iranian Radicalism,” “Jewish Groups React to Soleimani Killing,” Jan. 10), bound to make readers stop and think. The question from Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, is logical: “The question is whether the Trump administration has weighed the significant ramifications of this action and whether President Donald Trump has a clear strategy for what comes next.”

Certainly, that’s an appropriate question. In the early 1990s, Moshe Arens, Israel’s defense minister, was on the right track when he stated: “While focusing on Iran’s nuclear development, the U.S. and the other signatories (to a coalition involving Middle East leaders as well as the U.S.) missed the main target: Iran’s aggressive plans in the Middle East.” Unfortunately, at the request of then-President George H.W. Bush, the coalition decided to hold off from further action.

Iran repeatedly has shown the world that it does not seek peace, but rather to dominate the Middle East and, perhaps, other parts of the world. Its nuclear program persists and will be a major danger to the world if — when — it develops nuclear bombs. Its ballistic missile program has never slowed down. Its support of terrorist groups continues at a threatening level. Iran’s treatment of its people is terrible and clearly demonstrates who is in charge: a powerful religious leader who poses a serious danger to the free world, including the continued existence of the State of Israel and its Jewish citizens.

On that basis, there is only one reasonable plan of action.
George Epstein, Los Angeles

Fires in Australia
Thank you, Kelly Hartog, for your column on the devastating fires in Australia (My Country Is Burning Jan. 10).  My heart breaks for the people of this continent. Although Australia is halfway around the world from Los Angeles, we know too well that the fires are not. We must protect ourselves from future infernos by managing our land and forests effectively, investing in our firefighters and supporting action to stop the warming that comes with a thicker blanket of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, trapping heat on Earth, exacerbating the fires we’ve always experienced in this basin and in this state.

Fortunately, the Jewish community is beginning to lead in this area. Newer organizations such as the Jewish Earth Alliance, Jewish Climate Action Network and Dayenu are mobilizing Jews across the country. Existing organizations such as the Religious Action Center and Hazon are helping to pass climate-friendly legislation in California and in this country. In fact, Hazon and JCAN support the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, introduced by Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) with 75 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. Readers: We can’t do it without you. We hope you’ll jump on board.
Judy Berlfein, Encinitas, Calif.

Self-Defense for Jews
Although I am all for Jews learning self-defense, as David Suissa recommended in his column, practically speaking, it’s not likely that most Jews will become proficient at Krav Maga, etc. (“Why Jews Must Learn Self-Defense,” Jan. 3). What we do think is practical, however, is to learn how to react proactively in case of an attack.

There are all sorts of psychological tactics that can be used to ward off an attacker, if you know what body language to look for. People can learn tactics to escape an attacker and, if necessary, properly engage using pepper spray, a purse or a belt.

To this end, my husband and I are helping martial arts instructor Eliyahu Krause promulgate a first response class in the Los Angeles Jewish community. The class is under the auspices of Safer Semites, a new organization that aims to bring practical self-defense classes to Jewish communities all over the country.
Linda Miriam, via email

I couldn’t agree more with Suissa’s column about the need for Jews to learn self-defense. When my son was in sixth grade, several students, who apparently had watched the “Kick a Ginger Day” episode of South Park, decided it would be “Kick a Jew Day” at school. My son was among their targets.

Little did they know that as the youngest of three high-energy brothers, my son was quite accustomed to holding his own against bigger kids. The first student kicked my son; my son kicked him and punched him. Bully No. 1 retreated. A few hours later, a second student, a much bigger eighth-grader, kicked my son and ran away. My son chased him and punched him multiple times. That was the end of attacks from Bully No. 2. When my son was kicked by a third student, this time from behind and during class, he gave the boy an angry stare. The student apologized.

My son learned self-defense at a very early age and it served him well.
Leslie Gold, Rancho Palos Verdes

The Oldest Hatred
About 10 years ago, I approached a man loading his car at Costco in Culver City to see if he were leaving the handicapped space so I could use it. He shouted at me to go somewhere else, so I parked farther away from the entrance. I’d had recent hip surgery and would have appreciated the closer space. But I had to walk past his car to get to the store. As I walked by, he shouted at me, “When was the last time you got laid?”

I was shocked by his comment. I am not a 20-year-old “hottie.” I am a grandmother.

He saw my Star of David, then he shouted at me, “Oh, you’re a Jew They should have gotten you all at Auschwitz”

In all my life, I’ve never had a person wish me dead because of who I was. I was in a state of shock that such hatred still is alive and well. Others at the store came over to console me, but to this day I have never forgotten his hatred.

It never goes away — as we are seeing today in so many places.
Marcia Jacobs, Culver City

No Hate Crime Justice
It shouldn’t be hard to understand that a physical attack accompanied by taunts of “you f—ing nasty-ass Jew” on a Jewish woman who was speaking Hebrew on the subway in New York, was a hate crime.

At least, that was the initial assumption.

“We have confidence that once the district attorney’s office gets all the facts and completes its investigation, it will prosecute this crime as the hate crime it is,” said Lihi Aharon’s attorney, Ziporah Reich.

But confidence in the Manhattan district attorney’s office was misplaced.

“We spoke directly with the Manhattan district attorney’s office and they informed us of their initial decision to not pursue hate crime charges. They wouldn’t even present the case to a grand jury to determine whether such charges were merited,” Reich said. This decision was made after the slayings of Jews in Jersey City, N.J., and in Monsey, N.Y., in a rabbi’s home.
Julia Lutch, Davis, Calif.

Nessah Synagogue
Hope, optimism and the pursuit of happiness are states of mind that people of all denominations strive for; these attitudes of bliss are the unifying tenets for all faiths. To achieve sustained happiness and peace, a sense of security and calmness in our daily lives must exist. After that security has been violated, the surroundings that once nurtured inner tranquility cease to do so, and the tranquility is replaced with uneasiness and often sorrow.

In the early hours of Dec. 14, a man gained access to Nessah Synagogue and vandalized it. He displaced our sense of calm; he made us question our safety in surroundings that we never questioned before.

Fortunately, the synagogue was closed during this criminal act. But what if worshippers were present when this man entered? A violent act might have resulted and we would have blamed ourselves for not acting sooner to create security measures.

Let us give thanks that there was no violence. Now we have the opportunity to design security measures. Our uneasiness can be temporary, and we can go back to experience the tranquility that exists within our synagogue.
Ebby Jebreel, via email

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