December 11, 2018

Letters to the editor: on Prager, Latino Jews and sourdough

Criticizing and Defending Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager’s claim that there has been “no eruption of anti-Semitism in America” (“Jewish Leaders Owe an Apology to Trump and America,” April 7) since the election of President Donald Trump is contradicted by data. According to the FBI, Jews are the most frequent victims of hate crimes based on religion in the U.S. In the 10 days after the presidential election, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported 100 anti-Semitic incidents across the country; 80 of these were vandalism that included Trump’s name. The New York Police Department reported 43 hate crimes in New York City alone in the three weeks after Trump’s victory. Of those, 24 targeted Jews — three times the figure from November 2015.
It is noteworthy that Prager did not address any of these statistics, nor call on a
ny data at all, in his nearly 900-word column.

Ami Fields-Meyer
via email

In his April 7 column, Dennis Prager makes claims that he never defends.

Prager begins his column by asserting that the claim he made in a previous column, “There Is No Wave of Trump-Induced Anti-Semitism or Racism” (March 10), was correct. One would assume, then, that Prager would go on to demonstrate why he was right about the lack of a Trump-induced wave of anti-Semitism. But Prager instead treats the fact that he is correct as his premise, and continues writing as if this should be accepted.

One would have to read almost to the end of Prager’s column to find an explanation of why he was right, where he notes that a Jew was responsible for most of the recent threats against Jewish community centers. This is all that Prager provides to prove that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and others were wrong about increasing anti-Semitism in America, as if those incidents were all that the ADL examined to conclude that levels anti-Semitism were rising. (They weren’t. The ADL analyzes hundreds of anti-Semitic incidents every year. For instance, in 2015, they documented 941.)

As the Jewish Journal’s most noted right-wing columnist, Dennis Prager is responsible for representing the beliefs of the Jewish right. And though I side with the left on most issues, the right has legitimate opinions that are worthy of consideration and debate. They certainly deserve better representation than this.

Rami Gruman
Shalhevet High School student
via email

I am not a Jew, but have been reading the Journal regularly for several years. The reason: I always find very interesting columns with different points of view about important aspects of reality. In other words, I see manifestation of freedom of speech. I am not a journalist, either, but I think free speech is all that matters, not who is right or wrong. We, the readers, can decide for ourselves who is right and time ultimately will be the judge. I find it quite disturbing when a journalist writes that some Jewish leaders should be “fired from their positions,” which Dennis Prager wrote in his April 7 column. That’s their job, Mr. Prager, to express their opinions, and if they have broken any law, let the judicial system take care of that.

Svetlozar Garmidolov
Los Angeles

Prager’s column “Jewish Leaders Owe an Apology to Trump and America” is short-sighted, lacking objectivity, and disregards important facts related to issues of the rise in anti-Semitic acts after the election of Donald Trump. Precedent to any Jewish leader apologizing, it is Trump who should apologize to the Jews and here’s why:

1. For the first time since proclamations were made from the White House regarding Holocaust Remembrance Day, the murder of 6 million Jews was not mentioned. Trump owes an apology to our survivors and Jews worldwide.

2. Prager conveniently forgets vandalism in Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia, suburban St. Louis and New York. No arrests. Trump never mentioned them. Why? His insensitivity to the issue deserves an apology.

Consider the facts, Mr. Prager, before you ask the Jews to apologize to Trump!

William S. Bernstein
Director of Institutional Advancement – Western Region
American Society for Yad Vashem
Los Angeles

Dennis Prager hit the nail on the head in his April 7 column. He proved unequivocally that the entire claim that America was engulfed in a rising tide of anti-Semitism was a lie. It’s fake news that was disseminated by some prominent Jewish community leaders who should know better. The claim that Trump’s election aroused all this anti-Semitism is not merely a lie, it was a malicious libel.

Marshall Lerner
Beverly Hills

Survey of Latino Jews Skews Figures

Yes, the results of the survey of Latinos living in the U.S. should be surprising, as the claim of 200,000 of such Jews by the American Jewish Committee’s Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs is probably four times the size of the actual estimated population based on previous research, which was based on scientific sampling done by the Jewish community decades ago (“Surprising Results Revealed in Survey of Latino Jews Living in U.S.,” April 14).

That type of scientifically reproducible survey is not being funded or undertaken by national Jewish organizations, and so wild and exaggerated population estimates of small institutes and organizations created to put forward the interests of their exotic constituencies, such as Israelis and Jewish Latinos, etc., go unquestioned and unchallenged for lack of more reliable sources of information.

National Jewish demographic surveys that get at the details of interest to the Jewish community are expensive, but without them, we continue to fly blind as we approach two decades without a national Jewish population survey.

Pini Herman
via email

Passover Lessons in Bread Starter

Thank you, Rob Eshman, for your column about sourdough. Asking why is an excellent practice, an especially excellent Jewish practice (“Starter Lessons,” April 7). 

These last two months under our 45th president have been frightening. Both of my parents were Holocaust survivors, and my resultant underlying fears are always the same. Is this the time I start sewing jewels in the hems of my garments, just in case? Of course, I don’t have any jewels and can’t afford to buy any, but you get my drift. Nevertheless, one phrase in your article was particularly striking to me, since it echoes my own M.O.

Passover teaches us to live lightly, be ready to move on quickly, live for today in the presence of all you have — leave tomorrow behind.

I have moved close to 50 times in my life and generally leave everything behind. Perhaps I’m practicing for the terrible future my father promised would happen again.

Remember, though, that rebuilding a sourdough starter is always a possibility. I have just done it again after a move from Mexico to New York. The starter is bubbling happily, and I shall certainly bring it outside with me for a breath of New York air — that had never occurred to me. What a good way for me to establish myself as having found a new home.

Lea Bergen
via email