Letters, August 13, 2009

Letter-Writer Displays Hardly Any Civility at All

I find it ironic that adjacent to your July 23 editorial headed "A Hunger for Civility," there's a letter to the editor that blatantly lacks civility ("I'll Even Vote for Palin, If She Can Beat Obama"). It clearly illustrates your point, citing rabbinic literature, that the Temple was destroyed because of sinat hinam ("causeless hatred") among the Jewish people.

The letter-writer is certainly entitled to his political views, but to suggest that the Democratic Party is "infested" with anti-Semites and self-hating Jews crosses the line.

Having served the Jewish community in a variety of capacities for 50 years, I doubt that any reasonable person would consider me a self-hating Jew, even though I am a life-long Democrat.

What many on the right fail to acknowledge is that while Israel's security should be a major concern, it's not our only concern. We elected a Democratic president for a number of reasons — the error of our foray into Iraq, the sad state of our economy, and the disastrous condition of our health system.

As Americans, we should care at least as much about our country as we do about Israel. I am aware that this viewpoint is derogated in some circles. But am I an anti-Semite or a self-hating Jew for expressing it?

The time has come, for the sake of civility, to consider our words carefully before putting pen to paper — or fingers to the keyboard.
Rabbi Robert Layman

No Divisions Between Jews at Genealogy Confab

There were about a thousand people at the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies' recent conference in Philadelphia, discussed in the cover story, "Making It All 'Relative,' " in the Aug. 6 edition of the Jewish Exponent. Our ancestors may have argued with each other about whose shtetl produced more scholars, or whether to embrace Zionism, Communism, Hasidism, capitalism, Reform Judaism, or whatever; but, in the City of Brotherly Love last week, there were few conflicts.

The crowded resource room, with banks of computers offering free access to esoteric data bases, was reminiscent of Las Vegas. There was a nickel machine — a printer that spewed copies of someone's bubbe's naturalization papers, a family's listing in the 1910 census, or the passenger list of the White Star Line Haverford in August 1923.

If we Jews were divided, it was into special interest groups, such as Volhynia Gubernia or Galicia or Sefarad. No one knew (or cared) about your opinion on the settlements or the ordination of women. What mattered was the excitement of learning that you and a perfect stranger both had grandparents who came from Trochinbrod … and grandchildren who live in Modi'in.
Rochelle Wolf

The Denial of Armenian Genocide Is Crime in Itself

I was outraged by Ergun Kirlikovali's letter ("Book About Armenians: It's Strictly Propaganda," July 30) denying the existence of the Armenian genocide. The arguments presented are classic, canned responses regarding this event.

I respect Mr. Kirlikovali's moment of "free speech." However, I wonder if the Exponent would have printed a letter from a Holocaust denier.

The Armenian genocide(s) of the 19th and 20th centuries are a fact, affirmed by such scholars as Elie Wiesel and Deborah Lipstadt. The U.S. government, along with U.S. Christian and Jewish institutions, were heavily involved in the humanitarian Armenian movement of the time. Prominent Jewish Americans, such as Rabbi Stephen Wise and Henry Morganthau, come to mind. American eyewitness accounts were reported in The New York Times. The Nazis co-opted many of the tactics employed by the Turkish perpetrators into their "Final Solution."

Turkey is not unique among nations — including the United States — regarding its bloody past towards minorities. However, it will never be able to take a place among the nations if it continually denies — and refuses to educate its citizens — about the Armenian genocide. I pity Mr. Kirlikovali his lack of historical perspective.
Mindi Snoparsky- Lammendola