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Opinion: Letters
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Political Spin-Meistering

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“It’s Ari’s party,” (October 11), reported on a gathering of Jewish Republicans in Teaneck. Ari Fleischman, the quintessential Republican Jew, addressed the faithful. He was quoted as saying that “not even a majority of Democrats” support Israel.

Say what? A recent Gallup poll tracked support for Israel. Since 2008, Democratic support for Israel has increased. Over the last three years, a majority of Democrats do indeed favor Israel over the Palestinians. Fleischer should do some fact-checking before he makes this kind of statement again. Otherwise, it is just the same old political spin from a past master of the art.

What’s more, Fleischer and the Republican Jewish coalition privately must be apoplectic over the hijacking of the GOP by the Tea Party. Rand Paul and his ilk are no friends of Israel. They favor a return to isolationism, which would deliver the Middle East into the willing arms of Russia and China. Without a continued American presence in the region — something championed by every U.S. President since Harry S. Truman — Israel’s security would be at greater risk than at any time since independence.

No American Jew can or should be able to feel at home in the new Republican Tea Party. Fleischer may not like Democrats, but an examination of the facts reveals that the Democratic Party is now a more hospitable place for Jewish Americans. You can’t spin the facts any other way.

When and if the GOP regains its senses and pulls back from the extremism of its Tea Party, that might change. Ask Eric Cantor when — or if — that will happen.


Eric Weis

Pew naivete

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There was, unfortunately, considerable sociological naivete in the Jewish Standard’s reporting and comments on the recent Pew Research Center report on American Jews. In his October 4 essay, “Observations on Orthodox Jews in the Pew,” Rabbi Alan Brill uncritically accepts the statistical data without seriously questioning the statistical and sociological validity of the study as regards both demographic and religious behavior.

Does it really make sense to accept the Pew finding that 15 percent of charedi Jews attend non-Jewish services several times a year? Is it realistic to find chasidic Jews in churches and mosques several times a year? Do 24 percent of charedi Jews really handle money on Shabbat?

The critical issue here is the matter of obtaining a valid sample — the people who were interviewed and who responded to the questions. Charedi Jews are known for their reticence about cooperating with journalists and survey researchers particularly if the interviewers are not Yiddish speakers and unknown to the community. Consequently, the number of Orthodox and charedi Jews interviewed and counted is deeply problematic, and no conclusions about these Jews can be made at this time. Brill’s conclusions, drawn from the study, consequently are deeply flawed.


Charles Selengut Ph.D.

Alienating decorations

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This is a letter I sent to the Hudson City Savings Bank in Paramus about its Christmas decorations. I hope that some readers might consider writing similar letters to their banks. That’s how change happens.

Dear Sir:

A Christmas tree is a standard symbol for celebrating Christmas.

This holiday is appropriately celebrated in a religious institution or a private home, not in a bank.

My wife and I have had two accounts at the Teaneck branch of the Hudson City Bank for 42 years and have been exposed to this religious celebration for these many years. How can you not be aware that many people who do not celebrate Xmas feel excluded and offended?

Adding one little menorah to a corner of the bank does not solve the problem.

There is no reason to celebrate any religion in a bank.

There are numerous banks in Teaneck that do not have Christmas trees on their premises and are competing with Hudson City Bank for the loyalty of this very large Jewish and multiethnic community.

May I suggest celebrating American holidays? As a former officer in the USAF I would like to see Veterans Day celebrated. Or how about Independence Day or Thanksgiving, thus including everybody in the community?

If you do intend to celebrate the religious holiday of Xmas in December, and I truly hope that you will follow the lead of Chase and other banks in Teaneck, and omit Xmas decorations, may I suggest that you not exclude your loyal Jewish customers and decorate the halls with Judaica beginning a week before Chanukah, which this year begins exceptionally early, November 28! The same day as Thanksgiving….and wouldn’t it be nice if you celebrated this national holiday too?

There are numerous Judaica stores in Teaneck and other towns where Chanukah decorations can be purchased at a very reasonable price.


Reuben E. Gross, Ph.D.

Don’t attack Iran

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For those people who urge America to attack Iran, I ask: Where will we get the money? We are fighting two wars now. Where will we get the man and woman power? Russia will have an invitation to put missile batteries in Cuba.

Do they think that Russia, China, and Arab countries will do nothing to prevent the influx of other Muslims? Many years ago I read that Iran had 40 million residents. By this time, it should have between 50 and 60 million people.

And finally, what do they think will happen to Israel, with Hezbollah and Hammas having thousands of missiles and aimed at Israel.

I would like some answers.

Nothing is going to happen before the November 5th election.


Irving Gall

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
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Dialogue, not barricades


The Talmud says …


Disagree, don’t silence



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