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Letters the Week of Feb. 17, 2011
An Incomplete, Harmful Picture of a Serious Issue
We write to express our disappointment with the Jewish Exponent's cover story on the decision by Beth David Reform Congregation to disinvite a Muslim speaker, Iftekhar Hussain ("Riding Rough Tide of Muslim Relations," Feb. 10).
The article reported that the decision was related to the speaker's connection with CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations. It went on to repeat serious charges against CAIR and to assert that CAIR is "considered taboo by nearly the entire Jewish organizational spectrum."
What it did not report is that for almost a decade, Mr. Hussain has taught at local synagogues, churches and community centers, offering "Islam 101" to attentive and responsive Jews and others.
The article did not report the views of rabbis and Jewish laypeople who have worked with Mr. Hussain, with Adnan Zulfiqar (the speaker referred to later in the article), and with many other Muslim partners in dialogue and engagement.
It is our hope that in the future you will offer your readers a fuller picture of the emerging story of Jewish-Muslim engagement in our region.
Rabbi Rebecca Alpert
Rabbi Phyllis Berman
Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer
Rabbi Lauren Grabelle-Hermann
Rabbi Linda Holtzman
Rabbi Yael Levy
Rabbi Mordechai Liebling
Rabbi Arthur Waskow
Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell
Rabbi George M. Stern
Story on Muslims Was Shallow and Dangerous
Your cover story about Muslim speakers at local shuls was shallow, unresearched and very dangerous ("Riding Rough Tide of Muslim Relations," Feb. 10).
The article falsely created the impression that Muslims are somehow misunderstood, and that we, as Jews, must embrace and protect them from malicious charges of violence.
While there certainly are genuinely peaceful Muslims, Islam is not a peaceful religion.
It has an almost unbroken 1,300-year history of murder, beheadings, conquest and barbarism. In recent years, we have seen televised beheadings of Jews and Christians, and lustful celebrations of terrorism, murder and violence.
If your writer had done more research, he would have uncovered that these people live to mislead, lie and lull their victims into complacency. They live to conquer and oppress; they are enemies of Judaism and Israel.
Jews should know their enemies. To provide a sugar-coated news story about loving and misunderstood Muslims only sets Jews up for destruction.
Israel Can Help Many See the Light About Kids
I read with great interest the article about Israel assisting China in handling child abuse and neglect (Health & Science: "Hands-Off Training," Feb. 10).
About 35 years ago Haim Ginot, a pioneer Israeli psychologist, wrote in Between Parent and Child about physical punishment of children. He said "children are not for hitting." He is revered by all those who spend our careers helping kids.
Since then, Israel has made corporal punishment illegal in school and at home, based on more than 20 years of research on the adverse effects of child maltreatment on the developing brain.
Israel could also help the United States since, believe it or not, physical punishment in schools, including hitting with a wooden paddle, is legal in 20 states. Countless children have been seriously injured, many of them minority children.
Soviet Jewry Came Under the Umbrella of JCRC
Referring to the article on the Smuklers work with the Soviet Jewry Council (Focus on Community: "Connie and Joe Smukler: Their Amazing Jewish Journey Continues," Feb. 3), I'd like to add that the council was part of the Jewish Community Relations Council, an independent agency at the time.
Connie and Joe, and many other lay leaders, worked with the JCRC staff for more than 25 years on innumerable projects to achieve their historic goal.
JCRC was the home of the Soviet Jewry Council and the epicenter for its advocacy.
Former director of information
Jewish Community Relations Council