War on Christmas — and Israel?

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Nothing Wrong With Holiday Cheer

In all the schools that I attended years ago, I was the only girl who played the saxophone (“Jewish Saxophonist Spreads Holiday Cheer with Christmas Tour,” Nov. 30). When we would give a concert around holiday time, I was obligated to practice all the songs at home. But in those days, because my grandmother lived with us, it was forbidden to play Christmas carols.

I had no choice. I was part of various orchestras and had to rehearse, no matter the origin of the music I was playing. So when a performance drew near, I made sure that my grandmother was not in the house so that I could practice the Christmas repertoire. The songs were both melodic and fun to play.  

Like Dave Koz, I am glad that the songs are enjoyed by all races and religions.

Gloria Gelman | Bustleton

Defining an Israeli Victory

Jonathan Tobin asserts that Arabs in the Middle East must recognize that Israel won the conflict years ago, although he does not discuss the implications of this victory (“Time for a Peace Process Paradigm Change,” Nov. 23).

It means that everyone in the region, including the Palestinians, must recognize that Israel is here to stay. This means no more teaching children that they should aim for control of the land “from the Jordan [River] to the sea.” It means displaying Israel on official maps, an end to incitement and no more intifadas, terrorist attacks, building tunnels and stockpiling weapons.

Once the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world recognize that Israel is here to stay, then we can build a prosperous Middle East for the benefit of everyone. Several Arab states have already reached that conclusion — Egypt, Jordan and even Saudi Arabia. It is now up to the Palestinians to reject being manipulated by outside powers that show little interest in the welfare of the Palestinians.

Edith M. Cord | Columbia, Md.

Professor Says, ‘Speak Up!’

Daniel B. Markind decries Jewish American academics failing to stand up when Israel is unjustifiably attacked on their campuses (“The Cowardice of American Jewish Academia,” Nov. 16). As someone who was a professor at Temple University for 40 years, I agree with his assessment.

In 2008, I wrote an article in the Faculty Herald supporting Temple’s administration for not acting on an offer from the International Institute of Islamic Thought to create an endowed chair of Islamic Studies within the Department of Religion. As reported in the Jewish Exponent, the institute was under federal investigation for supporting terror groups and had published a book by Yusuf al-Qaradawi that called for suicide bombings against Israeli civilians. The institute later withdrew its offer.

Predictably, I was lambasted by the faculty in the Department of Religion, which was well-represented by Jewish professors, in the next issue of the Herald. But for the remainder of my tenure at Temple, no one mentioned the article to me. Instead, the faculty treated me as it did before I wrote the article, typically in a collegial and friendly manner.

I was consistently given appropriate teaching assignments and fair merit-based pay assessments. With the support of the faculty, I was given the benefits of a buyout, even though I had submitted my retirement letter two weeks earlier and had no claim on this largesse. When I retired four years later, I was given a send-off that still warms my heart.

I have a suggestion for tenured faculty who believe that Israel is treated unfairly on their campuses: Speak up. The purpose of tenure is to protect unpopular ideas, not to provide job security and personal comfort.

Saul Axelrod | Elkins Park

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