Letters: 9/11 Commemoration, Spots and Activism, UAE

September 18, 2020

9/11 Commemoration
“Grow, grow, grow,” we imagine angels whispering to every blade of grass. How much more so to every human soul. That kind of growth gets me thinking about the tragedy of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

We were all terrorized, and yet what came of that horror? A unity that made all other differences irrelevant. Do you remember the relief we felt? Our society was divided then, too. Did we grow like blades of grass? Yes, we did. But also, like grass, we withered. We forgot what we learned and what we cherished. We returned to divisiveness and hatred.

If history teaches us anything, it is that hatred shouldn’t be taken lightly. What ends in violence always starts with words —  words born of beliefs about one another and about ourselves. 

When the Second Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, the rabbis didn’t demand that we annually remember what the Romans did to us. They demanded that we turn our consciousness to ourselves and to the hatred in our own society. That is the reason our Temple was destroyed. Sinat chinam. Hatred in our hearts. Let us take that lesson to heart.
Rabbi Ron Li-Paz, Spiritual leader, Valley Outreach Synagogue & Center for Jewish Life, Calabasas 

When Sports Become Political
In his column “Why Sports and Politics Don’t Mix” (Sept. 4), David Suissa wrote about how many sportswriters and announcers have supported the NBA’s move to become political. He is not alone in his views.

I would suggest that he and everyone else look up the writings of Jason Whitlock, a Black sportswriter and commentator. He has been a vocal critic of Colin Kaepernick and LeBron James, and is a sane voice in calling out all this stupidity for what it is.
Michael W. Felsenthal, Los Angeles

New Barber
I just came from the Barber,
One I’ve never used before.
I kind of had no choice now,
My former stylist was there no more.

My Barber was no longer working,
They said he had retired.
Truth of the matter, I later learned,
It turns out he was fired.

Nonetheless, a haircut,
Was needed very much.
I hoped that his replacement,
Would have the Midas touch. 

It turns out that the new guy,
Was actually a girl.
She knew how to trim the back and sides,
And how to tame a loose curl. 

But she chopped off too much on top, I felt,
I was quite displeased with that.
So what the heck- for the next two weeks,
I’ll just cover it up with a hat.
Alan Ascher, Via email

Israel and the UAE
I am 91 years old and survived five concentration camps including Auschwitz, Birkenau and the death march to Dachau and Muhldorf. I fought in three wars in Israel: Sinai (’56) the Six-Day War (’67) and the Yom Kippur War (’73).

I moved to the United States in 1975 to build a new life.

I never imagined that I would live to see peace between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. This is the first step toward the one dream I wish to see in my life: Peace between the Palestinians and Israelis.

Palestinians need a new government that can guarantee the security of Israel and understand the value of living side by side. Israel needs to pull all of its troops out of the Palestinian territories and not occupy — not even with one soldier. We need to work on trust and respect in a business-like manner. Love can come later.
Joshua Kaufman, Via email

Remembering Phil Blazer
We at the Ethiopian Jewry Foundation, Inc. are saddened to learn from the Journal of the death of Phil Blazer (“Broadcaster and Activist Phil Blazer, 76,” Sept. 4).

Blazer was the best friend of Ethiopian Jews. We extend our condolences to the entire Blazer family.

May his memory be a blessing.
Habtnesh Ezra, Ethiopian Jewry Foundation, Inc., Beverly Hills

Jewish-Israeli Pride
Israeli American Dean Kremer made a spectacular Major League Baseball debut for the Baltimore Orioles against their division rival New York Yankees, which was all but ignored by the Los Angeles Times. Kremer, a star pitcher in Israel and in the most recent World Baseball Classic, is the first Israeli drafted by a major league team.

May Kremer go from strength to strength and continue to make us all proud in the same manner Dodger great Sandy Koufax did so many years ago. Those were the days.
Allan Kandel, Los Angeles

Misrepresenting History
Many thanks to Gil Troy for exposing the absurd, myopic, reverse racist, anti-American view of author Isabel Wilkerson in her book “Caste” (“Isabel Wilkerson’s New Book Clings to the Past,” Sept. 11). Did Yale historian Matthew Frye Jacobson really think that white Anglo-Saxon Protestants viewed an Italian, Irish or Jewish immigrant as one of their own?
Warren Scheinin, Redondo Beach

Spare the Animals
Our community leaders have found such creative ways to reshape High Holy Days celebrations (“Preparing for the High Holy Days in Pandemic Times,” Aug. 28). Let’s maintain this vein of creative thinking, by embracing another constructive change in the run-up to 5781: going vegan.

Going vegan for Rosh Hashanah will significantly improve life on Earth for all beings. Vegan foods spare scores of sentient animals from a life in confinement and a painful death. They generate fewer emissions of harmful greenhouse gases, and lessen our sea and air pollution.

Prioritizing our health during this global crisis is more important than ever. Eating nutritious vegan foods reduces our risk of certain health conditions which would put us at higher risk of severe illness if we contracted COVID-19. Don’t forget that eating vegan saves about $23 per week on groceries, compared with those who eat meat, giving us extra tzedakah to help those in need. For a free vegan starter kit, visit here.
Jessica Bellamy, The PETA Foundation, Norfolk, Va.

Israel: An Ethnic Democracy
Melanie Phillips is correct that many progressive rabbis “support the enemies of Israel.” (“When Rabbis Should Not Keep Quiet,” Sept. 13, online). The criticism of these progressive rabbis is based on a false premise: that Israel, like the United States, is a liberal democracy. It is not. It is an ethnic democracy. Read the Balfour Declaration and the Israeli Declaration of Independence. As an ethnic democracy, a Jewish homeland is foundational to Israel. With the rise of European anti-Semitism in the 19th century and continuing into the 20th century, a Jewish ethnic democracy in what was the Yishuv was the goal.
Richard Sherman, Margate, Fla. 

Ethnic Studies: Divisive and Dangerous
The new ethnic studies curriculum specifies that Jews are a privileged, white racial group, and one model suggests that students “will write a paper detailing certain events in American history that have led to Jewish and Irish Americans gaining racial privilege.”
Irish privilege? What is that, specifically? What is Jewish privilege? Fighting against university admissions quotas? Having to build hospitals so Jewish doctors would be allowed to train and practice? Fighting restrictive real estate covenants? Why not have ethnic studies students write a paper detailing these issues?
Perhaps referencing Asian Americans as “privileged” because of their great success would have elicited too much pushback from this large group, so the Irish were chosen as a safe substitute. The ethnic studies curriculum will have no actual oversight, no “guardrails” because there will be no one in the classroom monitoring if some teachers push for political advocacy and activism that will subvert the educational mission of schools.
Julia Lutch, Davis, Calif.

Now it’s your turn. Don’t be shy, write you letters 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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