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Letters the Week of Feb.18, 2010

February 18, 2010
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Paper Got It All Wrong When It Comes to J Street

As someone who has devoted years of my life to Israel advocacy, I am appalled by the Jewish Exponent's coverage of J Street and its recent Philadelphia event (City & Suburb: "Competing 'Streets' Meet, but Manage Not to Intersect," Feb. 11). While the newspaper has striven for an evenhanded approach in its reporting about this controversy, the result is highly misleading.

Missing from that coverage was any mention of J Street's ties to individuals who are hostile to Israel, such as George Soros, and funding from others affiliated with organizations involved in Palestinian and Iranian advocacy.

J Street claims to be "pro- Israel and pro-peace," but in its two years of existence, it has lobbied against U.S. sanctions on Iran, opposed Israel's war to end missile attacks from Gaza, and pushed for ending the American and Israeli boycott of Hamas.

What's more, it believes that Washington should force Israel to adopt policies that neither the Israeli government nor Israel's citizens find palatable. These are positions rejected even by most left-leaning Israelis, but are strikingly similar to those put forward by radical anti-Zionists who embrace Iran and Hamas.

The Exponent's goal should be to report the unvarnished, if unflattering, truth about the group, rather than publish articles that whitewash J Street's advocacy against Israel and the nation's right to self-defense.

By choosing the latter rather than the former, the Exponent has failed to properly serve the community it is pledged to serve.

Gary E. Erlbaum 
Past president Jewish Publishing Group 
Past chairman 
Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia's Israel and Overseas Center
 

Here's One Way to Get Young Jews Involved

Thank you, Rela Mintz Geffen, for recognizing Mekor Habracha synagogue as one of "the pockets of success" in energizing the young-adult Jewish community in Center City (Opinions: "Focusing on Kids Makes Sense, but What About Singles?" Jan. 21).

Ours is a vibrant, grass-roots congregation, with a large percentage of membership comprised of students and young professionals. It is wonderful to see many former participants in Birthright trips and similar programs gravitating to our shul to maintain and grow their connection to Judaism in a traditional setting.

We hope that others will come to appreciate that building communities attractive to this demographic may be one of the most vital elements of engaging the next Jewish generation.

Rabbi Eliezer Hirsch 
Mekor Habracha/ Center City Synagogue
 

The Rabbi Told the Truth, Even If It Isn't That P.C.

My hat is off to Rabbi Richard F. Steinbrink for his honesty in voicing thoughts that too many of us shy away from voicing for fear of -- as the rabbi suggests -- being considered politically incorrect (Letters: "Haitians May Need Help: So Do Those Next Door," Feb. 4).

I join the majority of people who truly feel sorry for the Haitians for the great misfortune that has befallen them. I also join the people who believe that charity begins at home, and that funds would be better spent to help those in our midst who are in need.

One constantly hears of seniors who must choose between getting medical help or medications, and eating or paying their rent. And what about all the children in our own country who yearn to be adopted?

One thing the good rabbi left out -- and it has nothing to do with Haiti -- is the tremendous number of dollars we're spending on a space program that, though important in the larger scheme of things, drains so much from the humanitarian needs that surround us.

Mort Ginsberg 
East Norriton

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