Close your eyes, breathe in deeply, now exhale slowly… That was easy, wasn’t it? Not for everyone…
Exposing The Times
The expose by Tom Gross that you carried on your front page last week (“Distortions and
Double Standards: How the New York Times Routinely Misreports Israel”) makes an iron-clad case against the journalism of what he calls the world’s most important paper. Gross’s work is especially important as the mainstream media by and large maintain a code of silence when it comes to this kind of criticism.
I would have one important addition to his conclusions. The reporting of the Times is not
just anti-Israel, but also fraudulent and dishonest because it clearly and deliberately distorts reality in the Middle East, as Gross so persuasively demonstrates. It is also anti-Semitic, as it employs one standard for Israel and a different standard for the rest of the world. The double standard is a classic technique of anti-Semitism.
It is important to call things by their right names. The Times should not transform terrorists into “militants” or “demonstrators,” and critics of the Times should not use milder terms for its fraudulent and dishonest journalism or for its anti-Semitism. The public will only appreciate the dangers of Times journalism and its potential damage if it is called by its right names.
Re the hateful remarks by Representative James Moran:
A Washington Post editorial correctly asserted that “Mr. Moran’s comment will be used to concentrate the poison of anti-Semitism in many parts of the world where it remains virulent and dangerous.” Indeed, at the same time that Congressman Moran’s inflammatory comments
were becoming a focus of attention in the U.S., the 17th victim of the recent Palestinian suicide
bombing in Haifa died of her wounds. Ironically, this young Israeli woman’s name was also Moran (Moran Shushan). No doubt, the horrific comments of Mr. Moran of Virginia will only contribute to the hate that brought about the death of Ms. Moran of Haifa.
West Hempstead, NY
Queen Noor (widow of King Hussein) has just come out with a memoir replete with anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish cliches. (For example, the reason that Hollywood movies supposedly portray Arabs in a bad light is because Hollywood is controlled by Jews.)
I am sure that Noor – who has always lived the most luxurious life, having been born stinking rich to an Arab-American who made it big – will be making the inevitable book tour across the country. Will the American Jewish community again lie prone while the anti-Semitic propaganda increases? Will the ADL again rest on its laurels? What is needed is a truth squad.
The ADL needs to do more than just have the Times publish a mangled letter by Abe Foxman.
Wants Tougher Coverage Of Joel
Although Richard Joel never seemed to make headlines before, I’ve noticed that ever since he
was chosen as the next president of Yeshiva University, a number of articles have appeared
in Jewish newspapers about how he’s the greatest thing since chopped liver. What really got me last week was a full-page ad about his tenure as president and international director of
Hillel, the Jewish campus organization.
Mr. Joel was lauded for several accomplishments for which many could claim credit. But what struck me was that in one publication that carried the ad there was also a front-page “bullet” and an accompanying, full-blown story elsewhere in the paper reporting on the virulent and deeply embedded anti-Semitism on college campuses across America.
I wonder where Mr. Joel was when all of this was taking root? It is very nice to read about how he was involved in a bunch of feel-good projects, but something seems out of joint.
Re: “Boro Park Y Honors Dov Hikind” (article, March 28):
You really have got to be kidding. I find it simply unbelievable that anyone other than someone in Dov Hikind’s office could have written a line like the following: “Few political leaders
are as much admired and loved by their constituencies as well as by the rest of the world as New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind.”
“As well as by the rest of the world?” Give me a break. How many people outside of Boro Park and Flatbush have ever even heard of Dov Hikind?
I don’t know who really wrote the article, but it was not an effort worthy of your paper, which,
I must tell you, has grown by leaps and bounds in terms of sophisticated news coverage and
commentary. Please be careful to exercise more restraint in the future. This kind of embarrassing, sophomoric tripe wouldn’t make it into a high school newspaper. Your readership has come to expect better from you.
New York, NY
When the Iraqis film a dead British soldier, that is a war atrocity that no one with an ounce
of humanity can comprehend, states Tony Blair.
Palestinians dip their hands in Israeli soldiers’ blood and wave them triumphantly in the air.
Iraqi soldiers who put on civilian clothing and shoot at American troops or who put on U.S. and UK uniforms are violating the Geneva Accords and will be treated as war criminals.
Palestinian soldiers regularly put on civilian clothing or Israeli uniforms in order to attack
Iraqis who place their military installations in civilian locations are thugs, states a U.S. army
Palestinians place their military installations nowhere else but in civilian locations.
Iraqis who attack from mosques, hospitals or next to historic sites are acting like thugs and the
U.S. and UK armies will follow the guidelines of the Geneva Conventions and shoot back at them regardless.
Palestinians regularly attack from mosques, hospitals, ambulances, private homes, and so
forth – and occasionally take over a historic church to shoot at Israelis.
For engaging in activities that do not begin to match in scope or barbarity the unremitting
activities of the Palestinians, the Iraqis are called thugs, terrorists, Nazis, war criminals who
commit atrocities, whose murderous regime must be replaced.
Therefore, there can be only one compelling logical conclusion: As soon as George W. Bush
and Tony Blair kill Saddam Hussein, they must implement the “Road Map” that will force Israel to agree to the presence of a Palestinian Authority state.
Yacov David Shulman
Newspapers and TV reports express surprise at some unexpected occurrences in the war in
Iraq. A suicide bomber lures American soldiers to his taxi, then blows himself up, killing himself and the four soldiers. Iraqi women and children are used as human shields.
Coalition forces are faced with the dilemma of incurring “collateral damage” as they
recognize that the enemy is hiding in hospitals and schools. Iraqis in civilian clothes attack
troops. Iraqi soldiers pretend to surrender and then kill their captors. U.S. POW’s and MIA’s
are murdered execution style without regard to the rules of the Geneva Convention.
Uniforms of U.S. soldiers are found in Iraqi hideouts suggesting that disguise will be used
as a weapon to infiltrate the enemy.
All of the above brings to mind the similarities to the war the Arabs have been waging against Israel for these many years, especially since Sept. 2000. The teen-age suicide bombers; the use of women and children as shields; the disguises as Israeli soldiers or religious Jews; and the bestial murders of Israeli soldiers and children where the dismembered bodies are no longer recognizable – all of this is the way Arabs fight. There should be no surprise for
There should be no surprise that tens of thousands of “Palestinians” are dancing in the streets, celebrating every “victory” of the Iraqis and burning Bush and Blair in effigy. We read that 30,000 Arab marchers chant, “We advise our brother in Iraq to concentrate on martyrdom operations which will plant terror in the heart of the infidels.”
I suggest that the coalition leaders seriously consider Israel’s experience in fighting against
the terror to which it has been subjected since well before its creation, and expect that the
war in Iraq will develop along the same lines. There should be no surprises.
Americans For a Safe Israel
Readers React To Editorial On Wiesenfeld’s ‘Cheap Shot’
I was horrified when I read Jeff Wiesenfeld’s remarks about the late Rabbi Shulem Rubin in a
recent issue of the Jewish Week. But then The Jewish Press made me feel a little better by
expressing exactly what was on my mind in its editorial condemning those remarks (“Cheap Shot,” March 28).
Whatever one thinks of Rabbi Rubin – and I realize that a public figure will always draw both
criticism and praise – it was a low blow for Wiesenfeld to attack a man who is no longer with
us. And to attack him in a publication like the Jewish Week, which is even worse than the proudly secular Forward when it comes to maligning Orthodox Jews, was doubly offensive.
In the past I’ve agreed with many of the political positions taken by Wiesenfeld, who prides
himself on being a straight-shooter. This time, however, he shot himself – right in the foot.
As a regular reader of The Jewish Press over the years, I seem to remember stories about how Rabbi Rubin flamboyantly enforced New York’s kosher laws. What sticks out in my mind was his practice of sending out two particular inspectors in the dead of night to uncover violations. Dubbed “Starsky and Hutch” after a TV detective duo of the 70’s, their exploits were often reported in The Jewish Press by Rabbi Rubin.
Rabbi Rubin always seemed to me to have been larger than life and projected almost a crusading image well beyond how law enforcement official typically appear to the public. I can well understand why food establishments given violations would personalize their cases and blame him for over-zealousness.
I don’t mean to justify Mr. Wiesenfeld’s remarks attributing to Rabbi Rubin the invalidation of the kosher laws by the Supreme Court, and you were certainly correct to note that Rabbi Rubin is no longer around to defend himself and the court did not base its decision on improper enforcement.
Yet something in me says that Rabbi Rubin’s penchant for drawing so much public attention to
kosher law enforcement triggered a lot of ill will which may well have provoked a serious
groundswell against the laws – and which produced a cadre of people willing to go as far as
was necessary to have them eliminated.
It would have been nice if Gov. Pataki had issued a statement immediately after his former
aide Jeff Wiesenfeld’s outrageous and unfounded attack against such a distinguished rabbi as the late Shulem Rubin appeared in the Jewish Week. Maybe the governor doesn?t read that particular newspaper.
If I understand Jeff Wiesenfeld’s attack on the late Rabbi Shulem Rubin correctly, it was based on Rabbi Rubin’s having done his job by pursuing violators of the law with a vengeance. This is to be starkly contrasted with Mr. Wiesenfeld, who laments not having done his job when he failed to advise Gov. Pataki, his boss at the time, to remove an official (Rabbi Rubin) he felt was detrimental to his administration.
Staten Island, NY
While I applaud The Jewish Press for taking on former gubernatorial aide Jeff Wiesenfeld for
tramping on the grave of former Kosher Law Enforcement Director Rabbi Shulem Rubin,
Wiesenfeld’s most recent anti-Orthodox tirade should not come as a surprise to those who are
familiar with other incendiary remarks he has made in he past.
In 1997, the Forward newspaper reported that Wiesenfeld was critical of Orthodox Jewish
organizations which had decided not to participate in a Holocaust commemoration ceremony since it was being held in a Reform temple. While still serving on Gov. Pataki’s staff as a “Jewish liaison,” Mr. Wiesenfeld was quoted as saying, “If there’s anybody out there who sees fit not to recognize Reform and Conservative Jews, they better get in touch with Hitler and Himmler because they made a very bad mistake.” At that time, Avi Shafran, a spokesman for Agudath Israel, called Wiesenfeld’s remarks “intemperate.”
In 1999, during his confirmation hearing before the New York State Senate to become a board member of the City University of New York (CUNY), Wiesenfeld was asked pointed questions by then-State Senator Dan Hevesi about other insulting remarks he had made about Jews – including one allegation in which Wiesenfeld repeatedly referred to certain members of the chassidic community as “savages.”
A transcript of the hearing revealed that Wiesenfeld never denied making these controversial statements and would only respond to the senator’s questions by saying “I have no answer for you. I think my twenty-year record speaks for itself.”
It sure does.
Balancing Faith And Reason
A talking fish? Oh come now, what will they think of next, a donkey who talks back to his
master? Rabbi Eli Teitelbaum’s dismissal of the fish story as a complete hoax disturbed me (Letters to the Editor, March 28). As I am not privy to the details of the incident, I cannot make a reasoned judgment, but I would suggest that Rabbi Teitelbaum does the community a disservice by essentially implying that those who believe in the supernatural are gullible fools.
The Torah is the quintessence of rationality, and it will not countenance any false doctrines.
That said, there is an element which exists well beyond the realm of human logic. Call it mysticism or Kabbalah or whatever you will, but it can’t be ignored. Who among us doesn’t know of individuals afflicted with severe maladies deemed untreatable by doctors but cured after a bracha from a rebbe? Or women consigned to childlessness who miraculously give birth?
No one is disturbed when science cannot find an answer, but we’re far less forgiving of our
spiritual leaders. Baruch Hashem we live in a country whose technological advancements have
allowed what was once unthinkable to become commonplace. But is has come at a great price – the diminution, at least on the subconscious level, of the need for Gedolei Yisrael.
Having taken Rabbi Teitelbaum to task, I would like to defend and perhaps elaborate on the
position taken by Dr. Yitzchok Levine in his letter. Inasmuch as they were essentially in agreement, this might seem odd, but truth is often hidden beneath the underlying principles.
Dr. Levine noted that he was a talmid of Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, for some thirty-odd years, and that the Torah giant never discussed matters such as gilgulim (transmigration of souls) since the subject was not explicitly raised in the Gemara. Rabbi Miller felt there was enough work for us to do without delving into the esoteric.
I believe that his position derived from a rather well-known and straightforward Gemara which exhorts those beset by problems to look into their actions and make the needed corrections.
There is a great danger for those who are metaphysically inclined to seek out solutions in
mysticism, trying potions and amulets as a substitute for introspection. It’s difficult for many
to accept that they are responsible for their travails, but Rabbi Miller tried to impress this point
upon his followers.
So therein lies the rub. We stand on a narrow tightrope upon a giant precipice and it’s difficult to maintain our balance. Sway too far toward the realm of science and we convert it into a deity; place our faith in the occult and we lose sight of our mission on earth. I was fortunate enough to befriend a gadol of the last generation. I once asked him for the proper approach to rebbe maasehs (stories). He told me, “If you believe them all you’re a fool, but if you believe in none you have no emunah.”
Healthy skepticism about the talking fish? That’s fine. A belief that anything within the scope
of Torah is possible? Why not?
Dr. Yaakov Stern
An Exchange With Sen. Moynihan
Editor’s Note: The following exchange between George Topas, an author (“The Iron Furnace”)and commentator whose work has frequently appeared in The Jewish Press, and Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who served four terms as U.S. senator from New York, was featured in these pages nine years ago. We reprint it here to mark the occasion of Mr. Moynihan’s passing last week.
A Plea To A Righteous Man
Dear Senator Moynihan,
In this time of trouble and unrest in the world, a world seething with hate and violence, we
are also experiencing a crisis of authority at home.
You are and perhaps always have been the upright man in the Senate, and to people of
integrity you personify the conscience of our government. All the way back to the UN days you have fearlessly asserted the right stand on all the issues that came before that ‘August’ but amoral body.
Now we have before us a Munich-style, debased fawning before the ersatz Hitler, and hear
shouts for the dismantling of the Jewish state on an installment plan, euphemistically called the
peace process. The names of the actors have changed, yet the script, but for minor variations,
remains the same.
To date we have not heard a strong protest from the Senate against this partition-of-Israel
policy. There is even talk about stationing foreign troops in Judea, Samaria and Gaza to protect the ‘Palestinian’ Arabs. Who would protect the Jews is of no concern to those who demand a king’s ransom for giving Israel a stay of execution. For the way that the PLO wants to settle the problem is to make all these areas Judenrein (free of Jews), the way the Nazis did before the Holocaust. The ‘Palestinian’ nationality canard is accepted sine qua non.
To aggravate matters, the present Israeli government bartered Israeli control and, by implication, sovereignty over integral parts of the Jewish homeland. One of those parts, Jericho, is not only a gateway to all of Israel but is an integral part of Jewish ancestral patrimony dating back to its conquest by Joshua. It was reported that they did this to get ‘Israeli-Palestinian Arab votes’ needed to assure themselves the election. Some say that the U.S. pressured Israel to make sweeping concessions at its own expense. To a student of history, this is the most sordid ‘shweinerei’ ever contrived, surpassing Munich in its suicidal cynicism.
Dear Senator Moynihan, I know that I share the sentiment of countless thousands of fellow
Americans when I appeal to you for leadership to assert the truth, to condemn the perfidious lies which are given credence to disinherit the Jewish people and to put them in ghettos in their own Homeland. A protest must originate somewhere where truth and justice have not been wholly scorned and jettisoned overboard. For as long as people like you occupy the halls of a lawful and just government, there is hope that evil and evildoers will get no sanction.
Just as Zola and Piccard were chosen by Providence as men worthy to intervene in the Dreyfus process because they were revolted by the injustice unfolding before them, so too history awaits men of integrity to protest the injustice being done to a nation that has come to personify Dreyfus among the nations.
It is the fervent hope of all of us who feel overwhelmed by the continuous flow of falsehoods
and libel being hurled at Israel by the corrupt UN, and by all the voices seeking to convince one and all that Israel should be sacrificed for the sake of ‘peace now,’ that you speak out. For you have already demonstrated that you can see through the maze of lies and the sophistry that embellishes their true intent. Therefore we need your clarion call to expose this unbelievable assault on the truth and the charade to disinherit the Jewish people.
With this plea, which comes from the depth of my heart, I wish you continued success in championing the right course even when the integrity of our many democratic institutions has reached a low ‘water mark’ and is in great need of a moral boost. Often, one man can make a difference and save that which was, and always should be, right and noble about us.
A Reply To A Righteous Man
Dear Mr. Topas,
I thank you – as all supporters of the State of Israel must – for your eloquent and heartfelt
letter published in The Jewish Press on March 25, 1994. Israel has survived the many challenges to its very existence because of the extraordinary abilities of its citizens, but also because of its loyal and passionate friends abroad. It surely needs that support today.
The future and the safety of the State of Israel has been and continues to be a concern of both Jews and non-Jews outside of Israel because we believe in the right of Jews to live in their
historic homeland and admire the Israeli commitment to peace and democracy. Israel’s friends have fought – occasionally against great odds, especially during the long struggle with totalitarianism – to prevent outside forces from imposing solutions on Israel. We have always
believed and continue to believe that as a sister democracy committed to achieving a just and
lasting peace with its neighbors, Israel deserves our vigorous support against the daunting odds it faces.
Thus, when the obscene lie was advanced by the Soviet Union and its Arab allies that Zionism
was a form of racism, the United States stood with Israel and fought until the odious Resolution 3379 was repealed. Likewise, when the Security Council has considered endorsing the Palestinian position on Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem, I have consistently and emphatically urged the United States to veto those resolutions. It was a deep disappointment that this administration chose to ignore both the letter to President Clinton which Senator Connie Mack and I drafted – and which 83 senators signed – and the unanimous Senate
resolution that I sponsored along with cosponsors Alfonse D’Amato and Hank Brown urging the United States to veto the resolution. We wanted the United States to veto this resolution (which described Jerusalem as ‘occupied’ territory) to make clear that we will not tolerate outside intervention on this crucial issue.
Israel is a democracy committed to peace. On the eve of the 15th anniversary of the historic
peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, it is worth remembering that Israeli leaders in governments led by both major parties have proven many times over that they are committed to peace and to Israel’s security. Israel deserves and should have the support of the United States – I will fight to see that it does – as it continues to seek a secure and lasting peace on terms which are negotiated by and acceptable to Israel – and not imposed by any outside party.
Together, you and I and indeed all of Israel’s friends and supporters must continue to fight this
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY)
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