Letters week of Sept. 21, 2006



Support for Israel: It's Beyond Bipartisan

The Republican Jewish Coalition's ad in the Jewish Exponent (and I am sure other similar newspapers) represents the typical selective and manipulative information provided by the Republican Party.

Yes, President Jimmy Carter was not a friend of Israel. Neither was the elder George Bush, a Republican whose ties with Saudi Arabia far outweighed his "support" for Israel, and whose efforts in the Middle East only made matters worse for Israel.

Neither Carter (a Democrat) nor Bush Sr. (a Republican) were re-elected.

As for The Wall Street Journal/NBC Poll that was displayed so prominently in the ad, it was published on July 6. That was a week before the Hezbollah/Israel war was started. Nor did it include the prompt or question that elicited that response.

Why didn't they present data that was collected after the war began? And was not the declaration of support for Israel in the Senate unanimous (which, of course, includes Democrats as well as Republicans) and with an overwhelming majority in the House (410-8)?
Sheila Rosenblum


Senatorial Candidate: A True Friend to Israel

Shame on Jonathan Tobin for his column on the Casey-Santorum race. He violated the first rule of journalism — to get the facts right. He violated the first rule of a columnist — to understand the issues.

First, the facts. He refers to Bob Casey as "lukewarm on Israel." That is flat wrong.

My wife and I, along with several prominent members of the Jewish community, traveled to Israel last November with Bob Casey and his wife, Terese. Ask anyone who went on that trip. We will have no greater supporter of Israel in the Senate more ardent than Casey.

We are thankful for Rick Santorum's support for Israel as well, but there is simply no daylight between the candidates on this issue.

Tobin's column also implies that no other social or domestic issues matter in this election. Should we ignore all other positions espoused by the "Christian right," as long as they continue to support Israel? Does that mean we should support Katherine Harris in her Senate race in Florida because she is pro-Israel, even as she seeks to abolish the cherished separation of church and state, and describes our country as a "Christian nation"?

Pro-Israel support based on faulty logic and unstable foundations will crumble under stress like the Maginot line.
Robert D. Fox
Bala Cynwyd

Jonathan Tobin replies: The phrase "lukewarm about Israel" in the column referred to 2000 Democratic Senate candidate Ron Klink, not Bob Casey. Nor did the column state or imply that Israel is the only issue that Jewish voters should consider. Readers will have to make up their own minds on that question.


Don't Judge Candidates on One-Issue Line Items

It is fair to judge a political figure in light of his/her support of your issues, and there are times when a single issue is a make or break for your support of a politician. But a candidate should not be judged solely by blind support for Israel, even though this is the way many Jews judge their elected officials (A Matter of Opinion: "Is Security Still the Trump Card?" Sept. 7).

Support for Israel is one thing, but blind support of Israel — even if it is deferential to American foreign-policy goals — is another.

We are citizens of the United States of America, not Israel. Therefore, we should vote for candidates whose views on support for Israel are secondary to their policy views on what is good for this country.

People who cannot live with this distinction should make aliyah.

President Richard Nixon held many anti-Semitic views. But when the chips were down in 1973, he saved Israel from defeat by resupplying them with weapons when no other nation would. Nixon failed the "support for Israel" litmus test at the time of the presidential election 1972, yet he supported Israel in its hour of need.

The same was true of President Truman who, against the advice of all of his Cabinet and advisers, recognized Israel at its inception.

As with all issues, you can rarely predict how politicians will act once they are in office until they are faced with the need to make decisions that require a high degree of political courage.
Paul D. Rosenstock


Defining the Question: What's in It for the Jews?

Indeed, security is paramount (A Matter of Opinion: "Is Security Still the Trump Card?" Sept. 7). Therefore, we hear over and again, "Is it good for the Jews?"

As someone who has lived through the anti-Semitism of the 1930s. I certainly share that feeling.

Yet we are part of a whole citizenry. As such, can we ignore the egregious decisions made by American politicians that have made Israel a greater scapegoat than it might otherwise be?

Is that good for the Jews?
Kenneth D. Cohen
Bala Cynwyd


Minnesota Republican Senator's Not a Moderate

Jonathan Tobin's description of Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) as a "moderate Republican Jew" prompts meto respond.

Coleman is affiliated by marriage to a locally powerful conservative Catholic family. He has consistently voted and supported the Christian right's social and political agendas against reproductive rights, against homosexual rights and against social justice for racial minorities, the indigent and the mentally ill.

He's also against civil liberties.

If this man is a moderate, then George Bush is a centrist!

If this man's Jewishness is more than part of his political arsenal, then my role as a Jewish educator is trivialized.
Helen Major
Mounds View, Minn.



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