Letters Week of Dec. 29, 2005


Red Cross Cave-In: Who Says It’s Really a Win?
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports that Israel finally won recognition and was accepted into the Red Cross: “Jewish groups welcomed adoption of the red diamond, and hoped that the development would lead to the MDA full membership in the international organization” (Israel & Mideast: “A Diamond Is a Jew’s Best Friend?” Dec. 15).

Israel, with its symbol a “red Jewish star,” has attempted to join the Red Cross since 1949, and was voted down repeatedly for two reasons: The opposition by Islamic member nations to the inclusion of Israel for political reasons, and the claim that its symbol, a star, was a religious one.

But isn’t the cross a religious symbol? In order to get the vote passed, under intense pressure from the United States, the committee did not reach a consensus, as has been its tradition, but voted by a two-thirds majority against the Arab countries.

Israel had always insisted on the condition that it would join the Red Cross only if it could retain its Magen David Adom. Israel has now capitulated, and officially dropped that demand. The new agreement now has an international recognition of three symbols: The Red Cross, the Red Crescent and the new Red Crystal.

If Israel had given up on the Jewish star issue before, it could probably have been a member since 1949!

The world Jewish community is pathetic for wagging its collective tail so hard for the degrading crumb it’s been thrown. It’s our responsibility to expose the spin and explain what this “success” really means.
Gilad J. Gevaryahu
Merion Station

Let Them Be: It’s the Paranoia That Does Harm
The paranoia of our Jewish people is greater than that of our evangelical Christian friends (A Matter of Opinion: “Oh Holiday Tree! Oh Holiday Tree!” Dec. 8).

While there’s logic in Jonathan Tobin’s equation of the two paranoias, on the surface his article displays the “balancing” of two sides to a dispute (such as that of the Israelis and the Palestinians) that characterizes so much of journalism.

The Jewish community of America should be perceived as being all for a Christmas tree being called a Christmas tree, and be opposed to such nonsense such as the example in Boston Tobin referenced.

If the whining reaches the point where Jews are considered anti-Christian, there will be a problem. In the face of rising Islamic hostility, this isn’t what we as Jews and Americans should be supporting.

We ought all be grateful and hope our Christian friends do have a Merry Christmas.

It means so much to them and their children. Why should we Jews for one moment appear in any way as denigrating their day? It’s just senseless.
Samuel Lehrer

Do We Need a ‘Holiday Season’ of Our Own?
Do American Jews think they need to fear conservative Christians in this country? (A Matter of Opinion: “Oh Holiday Tree! Oh Holiday Tree!” Dec. 8).

Sure, the fact that we’re in the minority seems prevalent this time of year. Even my 8-year-old has been uncomfortable enough to insist that “it’s not fair” that nearly everything is about Christmas right now.

But so many Christians are well-meaning. Do we jeopardize their good intentions by insisting that Chanukah really isn’t the Jewish equivalent of Christmas, and we’d rather our children just “opt out” of the “winter season programs” and “holiday” class parties?

Do I really want to take on 1,000 other families and insist a visit from Santa Claus should not be part of the school’s activities every year? I’ve told my son he doesn’t have to sit on anyone’s lap if he doesn’t want to, and that it’s okay to let people know he doesn’t want anything for Christmas because we don’t celebrate that holiday.

That’s good advice for the individualist, but what about my second-grader, who’s already taking flak from some of his classmates because he doesn’t believe in Santa?

It seems every year brings more questions and dilemmas.

How do we let our Christian friends, neighbors and teachers know that we really, really don’t need to lump Chanukah into the “holiday season,” and that, in fact, we really don’t even need to have a holiday in this season at all?
Stephanie Seldin Howard
Los Angeles

Forget Congress. Ask the Christian Right for Help
Concerning your editorial on federal funding of Middle East studies (Editorial: “Taxpayers, Beware: It’s Time to Act on Bias!” Dec. 1) since most House and Senate leaders view the Jewish vote as monolithically Democratic, the odds are, change to these laws will not come from this Congress.

The people we should be asking for help are the leaders of the Christian far-right. They are sympathetic to Israel, and they currently have clout.

Don’t wait for Democrats to win the Congress because they have always viewed the Jewish vote as having nowhere else to go, and have always taken it for granted.
Dan Mittelman
Cherry Hill, N.J.

He Knows an Excessive Profit When He Sees One
I find Fred Snitzer’s sneering piece on oil-company profits in need of a response (Business & Finance: “Oil’s Not So Well With Congress,” Dec. 8).

Snitzer seems to think that the public and the politicians are economic neophytes in desperate need of Economics 101.

He is mistaken.

He asks “At what point do profits become excessive?” No answer is given by the author.

The concept of something being excessive is well understood by most people. The underlying tone of the article is for the uneducated to let the business community rule unreined, and for the Third Estate to accept its edicts.
Seymour Rubin


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