Letters week of August 31, 2006



Republican Ad Politicizes U.S.-Israel Alliance

The National Jewish Democratic Council calls on Jewish newspapers across the country not to publish a Republican Jewish Coalition ad that includes factual inaccuracies amidst a desperate attempt by Republicans to politicize the U.S.-Israel relationship.

The ad appeared on Page 6 of the Aug. 17 Jewish Exponent.

First, the ad includes a high-profile quote from anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, improperly labeling her as a "Leading Democratic Activist." Sheehan may be a peace activist, but she does not speak for the Democratic Party.

Second, the ad wrongfully portrays the Israel views of former President Jimmy Carter and New York Rev. Al Sharpton as consistent with the Democratic Party. When it comes to Israel, these two men are on the outside looking in.

Third, and perhaps most worrisome, the ad falsely implies that the Connecticut primary results pose a threat to American support for Israel.

This just isn't true. The Connecticut Senate primary election had nothing to do with Israel, and the press has reported that Israel will have a friend in the Senate and that friend will be a Democrat, regardless of who wins in Connecticut this November.

The RJC ad campaign, plain and simple, is a dangerous attempt by Republicans to use Israel as a partisan wedge issue.

It's disheartening to see Republicans use the U.S.-Israel relationship to divide the Jewish community, especially when they refuse to criticize members of their own party for holding views counter to the Jewish mainstream.

Rather than waging attacks on those who stand by Israel, Republicans should join Democrats who call for bipartisan support of the Jewish state and its right to self-defense.
Ira Forman
Executive director
National Jewish Democratic Council
Washington, D.C.

Reject Advertisement From 'Friends' Schools

I saw an ad for Friends Select School in the Jewish Exponent that appeared on Page 13 in the Aug. 17 issue.

There's nothing wrong with Friends Select; it is an excellent school. Parents are free to enroll their children there.

However, do we as a Jewish community — a part of which is represented by the Exponent — need to accept money from Christian schools that teach Quaker values? Are we that desperate, that naive or stupid?

I do not think you'll find one rabbi (of any denomination) in Philadelphia who will tell you that 12 years of Quaker education and values are a really good thing for a Jewish child. Furthermore, I am willing to bet that most Jewish children going to Quaker schools do not get as many quality hours of Jewish education as they get of Quaker ideals.

If the established policy is not to accept advertisements from Jews for Jesus or other Messianic cults, why then does the Exponent not establish a similar policy regarding Quaker and other Christian schools?

Why? Because a lot of Jewish people send their kids to such schools, and no one wants to insult those parents.

I'm not telling these people what to do. What I am saying is that the organized Jewish community has no business promulgating Christian schools in its publishing arm!
Paul Newman
Merion Station

Mourning the Passing of the Last of the Fersts

As I get older, I find myself looking at the obituary column of the daily paper before anything else. Recently, I read of the death of Barton E. Ferst (Obituaries, Aug. 17).

Bud was a really special person. He was a good friend, a marvelous mentor, and a client of mine for most of my life. I treasured his friendship and good counsel.

As I sat at his funeral listening to the eulogies, I thought not only of Bud, but of the three brothers of the Ferst family: Barton, Stanley and Robert. They were all important members of the Philadelphia community for years.

Each of the brothers was first and foremost family-oriented, and each excelled in their chosen fields: Bob and Stan in accounting, and Bud in the law. Their combined intellect was impressive.

Each became involved with different agencies. Bob toiled in the fields of Albert Einstein Hospital. He was a board member and a financial officer.

Stan devoted himself to the Jewish Community Centers, where he became president. He was also involved with the Jewish Welfare Board and the JCCA association.

Bud's passion was the pursuit of Jewish education, and he spent a lifetime as a volunteer for Gratz College, becoming chairman of the board and receiving an honorary degree. He also served as president of the Jewish Exponent.

The brothers were generous supporters of federation campaigns, and served on the board and the executive board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. When there was a need for help in any Jewish community — anywhere in the world — the Fersts sent the first check.

Our Ferst family will be missed.
Michael R. Belman

Checks Work, but What About Some Volunteers?

With all that is happening in Israel today, where are our Jewish youth? Are our young people so involved with their iPods and picture phones that they are unaware of the gravity of the situation abroad?

Why aren't we forming a volunteer brigade to rush to our brethren in Israel? During the Spanish Civil War, young Americans formed the Abraham Lincoln Brigade to fight against Franco. We should be forming a brigade today to defend Israel; it's not enough to just write a check.

I'm too old to go, but if I were younger, I'd be lining up to help Israel in this cause that must be won.

Wake up, American Jews, before the bell tolls, because if it tolls, it will toll for thee.
Arthur Hill




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