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Opinion: Letters
The views in opinion pieces and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of The Jewish Standard. The comments posted on this Website are solely the opinions of the posters. Libelous or obscene comments will be removed.

Communist Slovos

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In his article lionizing Shawn Slovo of South Africa (Noshes, October 4), Nate Bloom fails to point out that Ms. Slovo’s parents, Joe Slovo and Ruth First, whom he prefers to describe as “anti-apartheid activists,” were among the very founders of the Communist Party of South Africa. Sadly, today’s Communists — many among them are Jews by birth, but not by religion, as they don’t practice any religion, but promote atheism — lend their full support to those seeking to obliterate the world’s only Jewish state, and, along with it, the practice and observance of Judaism, from the face of the earth.


Harry Eisenberg
Glen Rock

Our brother’s keeper

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Am I my brother’s keeper?

The question, from Genesis 4:9, is as relevant today as it was when the world was created. And here is why.

Eleven days ago, a 14-year-old autistic African-America boy named Avonte Oquendo vanished from his school in Long Island City. He was not kidnapped. He simply ran away, and he wasn’t noticed until he had disappeared into the vastness of New York City.

This is our worst nightmare. Our 1-year-old autistic son, Harrison, also has run away. He has jumped from the bay window in our living room and run naked on a busy street while we slept.

Young Avonte cannot speak to tell anyone he is lost. Neither can our little Harry. Worse still, these boys appear perfectly normal, so no adult would even think something is amiss if they passed each other on the street.

We write now for two purposes. The first is to raise awareness of autism in our community. It is not just one of a dozen or more twisted ribbons you see on the backs of minivans. There is no peace for families of autistic children, who are flight risks and cannot communicate. Secondly, we ask that you remember this young man’s face, particularly those of us who commute for work to New York City. And here’s why: Am I my brother’s keeper? No, I am not.

We are all our brothers’ keepers.


Gabrielle Nitti

Warren Nitti, Esq.


There he goes again

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There goes Rabbi Boteach again, using his position as a columnist to blindly knock the president (“President Obama’s astonishing overtures to a terror state,” October 4). The rabbi’s diatribe, this time, refers to the president’s overtures to the new Iranian president. For one thing, rabbi, as someone who supposedly does a lot of counseling, you should be the first to acknowledge that nothing is accomplished unless and until the two parties communicate with each other. Is it better to not talk to each other and allow the status quo that you complain so vociferously about to continue? How does anything change?

All during the Cold War, American and Soviet heads of state kept in communication limiting the possibility of a third world war. Yes, Iran has done terrible things, yet you want to quash any possibility of ending this? Is your only solution to bomb, bomb, bomb Iran, as your presidential candidate, John McCain, suggested during his failed campaign? Is that your first instinct, war? America and Iran have not spoken directly since 1979 and now that there’s a possibility of some kind of communication, we should just turn away from even the slightest chance to defuse the problems between the two countries? What have we got to lose by talking? Do you think that’s weakness? No, that’s actually called statesmanship. Do you think Anwar Sadat was weak going to Israel to talk peace? No, rabbi, this is just another dig at the president, and you should be ashamed.


Larry Braverman

Blame Obama

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In your October 4 editorial, “Putting the blame where is really belongs,”, you make a great point of blaming the electorate for not fulfilling their duties as responsible citizens and voting for their elected officials. You also put blame on the Tea Party, moderate Republicans, and Democrats.

You fail to put any blame on President Obama. Our president wanted nothing more than to have the government shut down, for he believed that he could blame the Republicans for this calamity, as he blamed the Republicans for sequester calamity.

All of the presidents, both Republicans and Democrats, in the seven previous times that the government was shut down sat down without conditions with both houses of Congress to come up with a compromise. Even President Carter followed this procedure. They were seeking a solution and they found it. But, our president does not want to solve this problem. He believes that this tactic will ensure a Democratic victory in 2014. With such a victory in both houses of the Congress he will be able to put through all sorts of radical legislation and spend money that this country does not have.

I agree with your closing statement that “We have only ourselves to blame.”


Seymour Berkowitz

Stop Iran now

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In his excellent op ed, “Dishonor, war, or both?” (September 27), Ben Cohen concludes with a quote from Churchill to Chamberlain after the Munich Pact: “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you shall have war.”

What Churchill did not say is that the war he predicted was a more devastating war with much greater loss of lives, than if Chamberlain had chosen to stop Hitler initially. We must recognize that there are times when war saves lives.

The same situation exists with Iran. We all want a true diplomatic solution. We hope and pray that our leaders, unlike Chamberlain, can realize when they are being duped. If Iran successfully uses diplomacy as a delaying tactic to develop nuclear weapons, we will all pay dearly. Stopping a nuclear armed Iran will be a much more costly war in every aspect than if we do it now. A “peace in our time” diplomatic solution is not a solution. We should learn from history.


Harry Lerman

Give talk a chance

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I am generally an admirer of Rabbi Boteach, and respect his opinions. However, I was disappointed to read his October 4 op ed, “President Obama’s astonishing overtures to a terror state.”

I understand that Iran is a threat to Israel and to the United States, and the rhetoric coming from that country gives little assurance of peaceful intent.

President Obama has proven that he is a friend of Israel and that he will not shrink from making difficult choices when it comes to selective use of our armed forces. It is insulting to the president and to the overwhelming percentage of American Jews who voted for him to accuse Obama of being blind, gullible, or in some manner “soft” on Iran.

Rabbi Boteach calls Iran a “terror state,” and he is correct. If press reports are to be believed, Iran is also a troublemaker in the region. The sanctions Obama has put in place have hurt Iran and probably convinced it that the United States is serious about its need to curtail the weapons program. Most reasonable people would agree that it is the sanctions that have brought the Iranian leaders to contemplate changes in their policies.

Talking to friends is easy. Talking to enemies takes courage. Bombing is also easy, but its unintended consequences could prove very dangerous to the Jewish state.

I have every reason to believe that Obama is no pushover and will maintain sanctions until Iran, by deeds and not words, shows that, for whatever reasons, it will respect international norms and treaties. Let’s give time-limited negotiations a chance.


Herb Steiner

Godot in Yiddish

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I was pleased to see the positive review of the Yiddish “Waiting for Godot” at Manhattan’s Castillo Theater (September 27). We already have tickets and are very much looking forward to seeing it. I would just add a few corrections:

The Yiddish title of the play is “Vartn af Godot.” In the review, the Yiddish title is incorrectly rendered as “Varten far Godot,” which actually means “Waiting in front of Godot” — clearly not the intended translation.

Omitted from the review is the fact that English and Russian supertitles are provided; therefore, you don’t have to speak a word of Yiddish to attend, understand, and appreciate this unique version of the classic play.


Gitl Schaechter-Viswanath

Is Adelson a hero?

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Rabbi Shmuley Boteach praised Sheldon Adelson in his recent column, which mentioned an event on genocide where Adelson gave the introductory remarks (“As money grows, rabbis shrivel,” September 20.)

It is unfathomable how a man like Adelson can be honored this way, when his bully-pulpit newspaper Israel Hayom consistently incites xenophobia against African asylum seekers in Israel, including those fleeing genocide in Darfur.

Adelson’s newspaper runs story after story labeling Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers as “illegal infiltrators” and “economic migrants.” Israel Hayom sensationally stokes hate with blanket portrayals of Africans as a violent criminal element.

The Adelson/Boteach event on genocide at Cooper Union in New York on September 29 was subtitled: “Do the Strong Have a Responsibility to Protect the Weak?” The answer to that question, both from a human rights perspective and from a Jewish perspective, is a definitive yes.

As party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, Israel must stop returning refugees to dangerous situations without allowing them to have their legal claim for asylum heard and evaluated. Within Jewish scripture, one of the most repeated Jewish commandments is to care for gerim, the landless sojourners who seek refuge among us.

If Rabbi Boteach is serious about genocide, he should call out Adelson for his insidious rhetorical role in the mistreatment of African asylum-seekers in Israel who have fled genocide and other atrocities.

Joshua Bloom

Director of Israel Programs, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

New York, N.Y.

Shmuley Boteach responds:

Sheldon Adelson is the largest single donor to Yad Vashem and countless Holocaust educational programs worldwide. As someone who has contributed $200 million to Birthright alone — with its mandatory visits to Yad Vashem — Mr. Adelson has arguably exposed more young Jews to the Holocaust than anyone else.

Now the Adelsons have partnered with me in ensuring the world properly commemorates the Rwandan genocide, sponsoring the event I organized this past Sunday that attracted over 1,000 people, and brought together, for the first time, Elie Wiesel and Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

Every country makes a distinction between asylum seekers and economic immigrants. Israel must of course do its utmost to welcome those fleeing genocide and murder, and I personally discussed with Prime Minister Netanyahu allowing 5,000 Syrian refugees into Israel.

Approximately 70,000 Eritrean and Sudanese citizens took advantage of what was an open border between Israel and Egypt, and crossed into Israel. The Israeli Refugee Status Determination Committee checked thousands of cases and apparently found a minority to be asylum seekers, with the others registered as economic migrants. While I wholeheartedly agree that Israel should open its doors to those fleeing genocide, illegal immigration on the part of workers remains as controversial in Israel as it is here in the United States, and will continue to be debated by Israel’s citizens and publications.

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The Talmud says …



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