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A Peek At The Mailbag


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The Monitor’s column of Jan. 21 (“That Old-Time Religion”) brought howls of indignation from several self-identified liberals, none more entertaining than Elaine Jacobowitz from somewhere in New Jersey. Ms. Jacobowitz took great offense at the Monitor’s quoting from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1945 Inaugural address, specifically its references to God and faith.

The Monitor’s point was that there was a time in America when Democrats weren’t put off by religion or embarrassed by religious values (not coincidentally, it was a time when Democrats regularly won national elections). But to someone like Ms. Jacobowitz, it is the highest blasphemy merely to place the name of a fuhrer-in-waiting like George Bush in any proximity to that of FDR.

“That dopey Texas cowboy who can’t even pronounce ‘nuclear’ correctly uses religious terminology to stir up the Bible Belt yahoos,” writes Ms. Jacobowitz, ever the inclusive and understanding liberal. “FDR, on the other hand, was a man of deep devotion to his country, his God and his family – a man who saved democracy and whose compassion dwarfs anything Bush has in his cold Republican heart.”

The Monitor would never dispute FDR’s patriotism, and his relationship with his Creator is not something anyone can discuss with any certainty this side of eternity. As for his devotion to family, this was a man who had a number of extra-marital affairs and who according to even friendly historians (see Doris Kearns Goodwin’s No Ordinary Time) had several mistresses living in the White House during his tenure.

Ms. Jacobowitz may swoon over FDR’s alleged compassion, but it was nowhere in evidence when it came to Jews, and if it had been a Republican president whose administration had reacted to the Holocaust in the manner of Roosevelt and his administration, that Republican’s name would rightly be a curse word among Jews like Ms. Jacobowitz.

(By the way, why don’t liberals ever get exercised over the inability of Jimmy Carter – who happens to have a background in nuclear engineering – to properly pronounce the word nuclear?)

About the Monitor’s awarding the first Henry Schwarzschild Award for Most Offensive Remark By a Jew in the Public Spotlight to Uri Avnery (Feb. 18) reader Yocheved Amster writes: “Good choice, but I would have given it to Shimon Peres for his statement following Israel’s assassination of Hamas founder Sheikh Yassin last year.

“A lot of attention was focused on British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw’s remark that Israel had killed an old man in a wheelchair, but not too many people realize that Peres reacted to the Yassin killing by stating: ‘We must look terrible … for killing an old religious leader in a wheelchair coming out of a mosque…. I never thought they would dare to go through with it…. Had I been a member of the government I would have voted against this … only by assassinating the reasons for terrorism can we assassinate terrorism.’ ”

The Monitor’s depiction of Ariel Sharon as a political cross-dresser (“Just Call Him Roxie LaRue,” Feb. 11) drew a favorable response from Mr. H.J.: “One of the funniest things I’ve read in years. Just the thought of Sharon prancing about as you described it made me laugh out loud. But then I felt awful about it, because what’s happening in Israel is sad – not so much the disengagement plan itself, about which I have mixed feelings, but the dictatorial way Sharon has gone about ramming his plan through.”

The Roxie LaRue column was not appreciated in the least by reader M.B., who says he’s an Orthodox clinical psychiatrist offended that the Monitor would so much as imply there’s anything shameful about cross-dressing.

“Your column,” he writes, “stigmatizes a large number of individuals who choose to live out, at no harm to themselves and others, a need that if ignored or repressed would quite possibly have harmful psychological effects.”

That’s all very nicely said, Doc, but surely as an Orthodox psychiatrist you’re aware of the biblical prohibition against wearing clothing identified with the opposite sex. An enlightened liberal like our friend Ms. Jacobowitz might laugh at such an admonition, but at least she never claimed to be Orthodox .

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About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press.


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It’s certainly been a while, hasn’t it? And yet it seems like the conversation was never really interrupted, as I’ve enjoyed, in the three and a half months since this column last appeared, many an interesting exchange, via e-mail and phone, with some very intelligent readers.

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