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Letters the Week of March 3, 2011
What's the Message When You Use Such Language?
Given that Jewish leaders as diverse as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Reform movement's Rabbi Eric Yoffie agree that Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem that lie across the Israel-Jordan 1949 cease-fire lines are not settlements, the Jewish Exponent should not have run a Jewish Telegraphic Agency article in the Feb. 24 issue, which led by characterizing the U.S.-vetoed Security Council resolution as "condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal" (Israel & Mideast: "Pressing Israel at United Nations Remains a U.S. Taboo").
Let me make three points:
· JTA should not have omitted from its lead and the remainder of the article that the resolution encompassed the heart of Jerusalem, as well as "the West Bank."
· JTA should not have called the parts of Judea and Samaria that were seized and occupied by Jordan between 1948 and 1967 "the West Bank," a term coined, along with "East Jerusalem," to disassociate these areas from their historic connection with Jews. This is why the Romans renamed Jerusalem "Aelia Capitolina" and Judaea "Palestine" two millennia ago.
· JTA should not have joined in the question-begging phraseology of the resolution as declaring Jewish "settlements" to be "illegal" (or, as the U.S. puts it, "illegitimate").
For the record, the historically correct expressions are: "Jerusalem neighborhoods outside the 1949 armistice lines," and "Judea and Samaria." These are the terms that a JTA article should use in a paper that calls itself the Jewish Exponent.
Jerome R. Verlin
Vouchers Cannot Correct Our Educational Problem
Kudos for the recent articles on vouchers and failing public schools, describing a crisis both educational and moral (Editorial & Opinions: "Will Vouchers Empower Parents and Students? Or Will They Limit Their Freedom of Choice?" Feb. 3).
Many Jews have long supported using public funds to make private and sectarian schools more affordable; vouchers are another argument for such a subsidy. But they cannot solve the educational crisis.
To truly provide all children an excellent education, we must properly fund and reform our school systems, making curricula relevant to 21st-century needs while also responding to the non-academic challenges so many students face.
Philadelphia, whose students suffer from poverty, poor nutrition and other ills, cannot provide excellent opportunities to all children with 30 percent and 40 percent fewer funds per pupil than in the suburbs.
The Jewish community and other good people should lead the way in gathering those with a stake in children's futures -- elected officials, educators, social workers, unions, business leaders and parents -- to engage in an open inquiry to determine what works for kids, and then create the paths to excellence the inquiry discloses.
Otherwise, we will continue to condemn millions of children to perpetual poverty, dysfunction and finally imprisonment -- out of sight and mind.
Rabbi George Stern
Neighborhood Interfaith Movement
Some Help for Stutterers, Both Here and in Israel
Rachel Vigoda's health article, "On Its Way to Oscar, Does 'King's Speech' Speak to Those Who Stutter?" in the Feb. 24 paper touched upon important issues concerning stuttering.
The article mentioned several famous people who stutter. Please be aware that the website of the Stuttering Foundation (www.stutteringhelp.org) has an extensive list of famous people who stutter, and that people of the Jewish faith are well-represented there. Of course, 1 percent of Jewish adults throughout the world, as well as 4 percent of Jewish children, struggle with stuttering (these statistics are the same for any population).
I'd like to mention another group, the Israeli Stuttering Association (www.ambi.org.il). The worldwide stuttering community ranks the ISA as one of the best of the world's organizations devoted to helping people who stutter.