Letters: Jewish? Not Necessarily, Israel on Campus

March 13, 2020

Jewish? Not Necessarily
The Feb. 21 cover featuring Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg is a misnomer (“Jew vs. Jew,” Feb. 21). An accident of birth does not confirm your status as a Jew. In my view, neither of them represents any sides of the Jewish tradition or of our history.

While it is true that our history and tradition always has been religiously based with roots in holy writings, the sense of our peoplehood is an equal truth in defining Jewish identity.

Historically, we have struggled for survival as a people ever since Mount Sinai, most particularly in the past 2,000 years. Today the safety and security of the State of Israel is a singular most potent weapon we have to survive as a people. To compromise the security of Israel, label its leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as racist (as Sanders has done), and return land that Jewish blood was spilled over is an act of betrayal against the Jewish people. Loyalty and support demands that Jewish survival must be the first priority, including recognizing Jerusalem as the historical and eternal capital of the Jewish people.

Let Israeli leaders decide the proper course of action to protect 7 million Jewish citizens from enemies that have no less than genocidal intentions. If you can’t do that as president of the United States, then choose between being Jewish and being president. Donald Trump already has made his choice — and he doesn’t even have the accident of birth.
Rabbi Zvi Block, Valley Village

Regarding the story “Jew vs. Jew,” being Jewish isn’t a factor from my perspective on their “qualifications” to be president. It wasn’t clear in the story how being Jewish affected either of them specifically. It is interesting to see two Jewish politicians of the same party be so different.

I admit it’s nice to see someone who is Jewish reach the possibility of a leading a major political party in this country. It’s a testament that one’s religion doesn’t matter.

On the other hand, we also need to be conscious of the possibility that a billionaire president who is Jewish or a socialist president who is Jewish may add fuel to the fire and incite many anti-Semites in this country. It is just the world we live in.

As for me, I am proud to say my politics lean toward what Judaism teaches us about “taking personal responsibly” versus expecting others to take care of you. I am Jewish and a Republican.
Alan Mann, Simi Valley 

Israel on Campus
Re: “Two New Weapons for Reclaiming Israel’s Posture on Your Campus” (Feb. 21): Thank you, Judea Pearl, for recognizing that a change in language from traditional associations with victimhood (“anti-Semitism,” for example) to “fighting words” (“Zionophobia,” for example) is the impetus of our ascension in the quest to assert safe spaces on our college campuses where Jewish students can know that their moral positions in support of Israel, an intrinsic part of Judaism, will be heard and respected.
Mina Friedler, Venice

Voting in Israel
If Sarah Tuttle-Singer wants the reader to be upset with the Israeli government for keeping her boyfriend from East Jerusalem waiting for seven years before giving him citizenship in Israel, she has failed (“An Israeli Arab Votes for the First Time,” March 6). With so much anti-Jewish animosity in the region, the government must be cautious in all its dealings with those who wish to be part of its society. In the end, after realizing his sincerity, he succeeded in voting, and her column shows the love of the Israeli people toward anyone who wishes to participate in its processes.
Clarisse Schlesinger, Los Angeles

Thank you for writing about this aspect of voting in Israel. When reading the column, I was surprised to discover that those from East Jerusalem had difficulty attaining citizenship. It was mainly interesting that the columnist’s friend had to wait and remain  committed for so long. This demonstrated the importance of voting to those who live in Israel, and I am glad to see that as well. I never knew the wait was as long as it is. I don’t think such a lengthy wait should be needed or is fair. Although now I can’t do much as a 14-year-old, I do hope that the time is shortened and that citizenship is granted much more easily.
Toby Shafa, Los Angeles

Rise of the Machines
Your cover story (“Wake up and Smell the Automation,” Feb. 28) reminded me of a scene from the 1933 film “Dinner at Eight” (co-written by Edna Ferber, George S. Kaufman and others). A fading doyenne of the theater (Marie Dressler) is conversing with sexy, not quite couth Kitty, played by Jean Harlow. They are walking into dinner when Kitty says, “I was reading a book the other day,” at which Dressler nearly does a prat fall. “Reading a book?!”  “Yes, a nutty kind of a book. The guy says that machinery is going to take the place of every profession!” “Oh, my dear,” says Dressler, giving her the once over. “That’s something you need never worry about.”
Carolyn Kunin, Pasadena

Radical Universities
Having seen UC Berkeley and other radical institutions disinvite and violently chase away conservative speakers, libeling them as “hate merchants,” would it be wise for Scripps College to adopt this violation of free speech approach (“Helping Spread a Deadly 1,000-Year-Old Virus,” March 6)? Would it not be better to expose Jasbir Puar, associate professor of women’s and gender studies at Rutgers, as totally out of touch with reality? I like the alternative suggestion that real scholars be called upon to debunk her pernicious thesis. Since this anti-Semitic myth is still widely used in the Middle East, it might be useful to get it out in the open and properly debunked as unsubstantiated by any evidence.

One nit: In 1132, William of Norwich was not an apprentice; he was born in February of that year and died in March 1144. Although he was called a saint by Thomas of Monmouth, a monk who arrived at the Norwich Benedictine monastery in 1150, William never was officially canonized.
Warren Scheinin, Redondo Beach

A story about Israel-based business development guru Galit Horovitz (“The Business Development Guru Combining Wellness and Technology,” Feb. 28) should have said she and her partners are mapping out more than 450 startups at the intersection of wellness and tech.

A column about Los Angeles-area homelessness (“An Old Law Is Killing the Homeless,” March 6), should have said that a recent California Policy Lab analysis of survey responses by more than 64,000 U.S. adults in communities across the country found that 78% of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness reported mental health conditions.

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