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Letters week of Feb. 1. 2007

February 1, 2007
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Opposing Iran War Does Not Equal Anti-Semitism

I was dismayed by your printing a full-page advertisement from the Republican Jewish Coalition, calling Wesley Clark an anti-Semite (Page 9, Jan. 18).

That was because he indicated that America should not go to war with Iran, despite the fact that wealthy "New York people want us to." He also said that the Jewish population as a whole is divided.

This anti-Semite smear should not go unanswered. I am a proud Jew who thought and still thinks we had no business in Iraq. Yes, Israel probably wanted us to get involved, but it didn't understand that Iran would profit from it. The law of unintended consequences was, as usual, at play. Does that make me an anti-Semite?

Bush and the neocons don't seem to understand ramifications, and are wobbly on national goals as well. The Republican Jewish Coalition should be ashamed of itself. Jews of my acquaintance do not wish us to invade Iran.

If we think the carnage in Iraq is disgusting, the RJC has seen nothing yet.
Phyllis Berlant-Abrams
Plymouth Meeting



Menorah's New Appeal: For the Eyes of Babes

Robert Leiter's article "O, Chanukah Tree!" (Media Clippings, Jan. 18) confirms that in a secular society, religious symbols sometimes lose significance. This was made quite evident to me when I was shopping for a menorah for my grandchildren.

Over the years, the menorah has gone through a metamorphosis, acquiring a "personality" with childhood appeal. "Mickey Mouse," "Winnie the Pooh" and even "Cinderella" adorn menorahs.

An elderly woman and a little girl, who looked to be about 8, entered the store where I was admiring the latest menorah models. The child excitedly pointed to an elaborate "Tiny Pets" one in the window.

When my eyes fixed on the large crucifix worn by the woman, I must have looked bewildered because she smiled and informed me that indeed, she wasn't Jewish.

She told me that her great-granddaughter had "fallen in love" with the menorah in the window, and had been begging her for weeks to buy it for her for Christmas.

The woman purchased it without ever asking the price.
Elizabeth Brockman
Philadelphia



How Can Self-Defense Be Compared With Terror?

Jonathan Tobin's essay about The New York Times' smear attack on Anti-Defamation League leader Abe Foxman was right on target (A Matter of Opinion: "Out of Focus on Foxman," Jan. 18).

The inversion of history continues. Jewish and Israeli victims of terror are accused of aggression when acting in self-defense, while those who speak out against anti-Semitism and the delegitimization of Israel are accused of fascism.

And all this in a Jewish-owned newspaper like the Times! What is wrong with us?
Paul Lipof
New York, N.Y.



Support Abe, but Not His Stand on Christian Right

I agree with Jonathan Tobin's appropriate response to The New York Times Magazine's article on Abe Foxman (A Matter of Opinion: "Out of Focus on Foxman," Jan. 18), especially since he also mentioned Foxman's flaws.

I just wanted to be sure, as we gather in solidarity to support Foxman, that his well-known craziness about the Christian right doesn't get swept under the rug.

Do you remember those Churchillian cadences of his statements about them?

"Make no mistake: We are facing an emerging Christian right leadership that intends to 'Christianize' all aspects of American life, from the halls of government to the libraries, to the movies, to recording studios, to the playing fields and locker rooms," he has said.

To his mind, nothing -- not Islamic radicalism, not Jewish self-haters, not Israel-bashers -- seemed to threaten Judaism as much as the Christian right.

I find that rather terrifying.
Janet Tassel
Lexington, Mass.



Despite the Obstacles, Heed the Call of Peace

The contrast between the two opinion articles published on your op-ed page on Jan. 18 couldn't have been greater.

On one side, Zionist Organization of America President Morton Klein used his space to denounce a Palestinian leader's harmful statements, and used it as an example of how Americans should not reach out and help along the peace process between Israel and the Arabs (Opinion: "Mr. Abbas: Part of the Problem, Not the Solution," Jan. 18).

On the other, Israel Policy Forum Seymour Reich wrote of the imperative for Americans to speak out for peace, despite all of the obstacles (Opinion: "Which Way Forward? It's Via America the Brave," Jan. 18).

One spoke only of the reasons to view Palestinians with hostility, while the other aimed at finding the strength to continue seeking that which Israel needs more than anything else.

Hopefully, Israel and America will heed the call of peace, in spite of the naysayers.
S. Shapiro
Philadelphia



Victims of Violence Unite for a Better Future

Over Martin Luther King Day weekend, Philadelphia Brit Tzedek v'Shalom hosted Combatants for Peace at area locations, including Congregation Or Shalom in Berwyn.

Made up of Israelis and Palestinians who were once antagonists, CFP members have now renounced violence, and dedicate themselves to advocating for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Members Elik Elhanan and Sulaiman Al Hamri said that only through open and honest dialogue will peace be possible.

Last week, we were saddened to learn that Abir Aramin, the 10-year-old daughter of Palestinian Basaam Aramin, a CFP member, was fatally injured during a conflict between Israeli police and protesters near Jerusalem. This mirrors the tragic story that Elhanan shared of how his own young sister died during a Palestinian suicide bombing.

If the members of CFP can experience such horrifying personal losses and still work cooperatively side by side, then surely, progress can be made.
Chris MacDonald-Dennis
Philadelphia


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