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Letters week of June 7, 2007

June 7, 2007
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'United' Jerusalem Not as Polarized as Story Says

My wife and I recently returned from an Honest Reporting mission to Isr ael, where we spent nine days in Jerusalem. We were truly shocked to read the Jewish Telegraphic Agency's perspective on the use of the " slogan" of a "united" Jerusalem. (Cover story: " 'United' Capital Remains Polarized City," May 17).

"Undivided" Jerusalem refers to its status as the capital of Israel, unshared between or among different nation groups. "United" Jerusalem refers to the unlimited access to the religious centers of each religion.

Part of the claim that Jerusalem is not "united" is that Jews hardly ever go into Arab eastern Jerusalem. By that same token, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and hundreds and hundreds of North American cities and, in fact, almost all cities of the world have areas where one does not venture to walk because of the danger.

The acceptance of all religions in Jerusalem is so apparent that one need not dwell on it. It is united.

Are there differences in access to public funds by Jews and Arabs? No doubt, yes. On the other hand, the piece states: "their [the Arabs] status ... entitles them to Israeli medical insurance and social-security payments."

My wife and I saw firsthand the magnificent care that Jewish and Arab children receive at the Alyn Woldenberg Family Hospital-Pediatric and Adolescent Rehabilitation Center in Jerusalem. Evidently, "united" medical-insurance coverage and treatment are trumped by inequities in other services.

On the topic of demographic changes in Jerusalem, I recommend that readers look at sources other than those cited in the article. For example, a published study from the American-Israel Demographic Research Group contains:

"Contrary to forecasts made by Israel's demographic establishment, Jewish natural growth rate is on a solid upward trend, while the Arab rate has been plunging, in Jerusalem and between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean."
Matthew Yarczower
Professor emeritus, Bryn Mawr College
Wynnewood

BBC Buries Real Stories to Take Pot Shots at Israel

I scoffed as I read Christine Dempsey's letter in defense of BBC programming (Letters: "WHYY's BBC Bias Against Israel Isn't Our Issue," May 24).

As WHYY radio-program director, she wrote with such assurance, and yet her facts and assertions, to a knowledgeable reader, are patently absurd. Could she be that uninformed? Or was her role just to be an apologist for the BBC?

Didn't she know that Arab Palestinians in Gaza fire rockets every day into Sederot, and that their war against Israel has never stopped?

And then I realized that she may not know. As long as the story is not told, it doesn't exist. The BBC never tells this story or the many others that should be relayed.

Their most effective propaganda against Israel is to bury the real stories. Their constant mission is to vilify Israel.

The BBC grovels to please the Arabs, and even admitted that their kidnapped reporter "always tried to present the Palestinian view." Dempsey should have heard about that -- and that BBC reporters and others in their union have voted to boycott Israeli goods.

The BBC is not objective; it is openly biased against Israel.

Jewish Exponent readers should send letters of complaint -- but no money -- to WHYY until it performs the way Dempsey tells us it does.
Roberta E. Dzubow
Fort Washington

BBC and NPR Just Don't Know Right From Wrong

It was fascinating to read the letter from the BBC passed along through WHYY, the local NPR station that is their outlet (Letters: "WHYY: BBC Bias Against Israel Isn't Our Issue," May 24).

I found it especially interesting that NPR -- the party that was actually criticized in your piece for carrying this foreign-news station -- offered no defense of its actions, and merely served as a shill for BBC's lackluster response.

The BBC's response was disingenuous because it's almost humorous to see how they think they are evenhanded --when they are not. On BBC and NPR, you'll hear babies crying while bombs burst in the background in a story set in Gaza, but you'll never hear that type of story set in Sederot.

They seem to go out of their way to manufacture "moderate" Arabs, but never balance the message with stories about Hamas' commitment to destroy Israel until every Jew is gone.
Leo E. Levinson
Huntingdon Valley

She Purports the Main Obstacle to Enrollment

I'm in agreement with Jonathan Tobin about the necessity of Jewish day schools (A Matter of Opinion: "What Price Jewish Education?" May 17).

I believe we just have one obstacle: the rabbinate and synagogues. It seems to me that many of them don't want to encourage day schools for fear of losing potential congregants or students in their twice weekly Hebrew schools.
Iris Gold
Newtown

Soviet Jewry Movement and Community Relations

I was thrilled to read the profile on Joe Smukler (Focus on Community: "Lifelong Advocate Still Reaching Out for Challenges," May 24).

Joe and his wife, Connie, believed in their hearts that the Jews of the Soviet Union could be freed if we were willing to struggle on their behalf when many thought the task was impossible. The Smuklers understood this was not something the Jewish community would be able to accomplish alone.

One of the hallmarks of the Philadelphia Soviet Jewry Council was the success in making this cause an interfaith effort. Joe challenged us to find allies within the area's faith, racial and ethnic communities.

Over the years, Catholic nuns and priests, Greek Orthodox academics, African-American elected officials, Hispanic lawyers, and Protestant clergy and business leaders joined with Jewish activists, rabbis and educators in traveling to the Soviet Union to help Jews.

That principle of community relations informed Joe's leadership. It is a principle that must never be forgotten.
Burt Siegel
Director, Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia

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