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Letters to the Editor

Wednesday, September 1st, 2004

Liberal Logic

Doesn’t the liberal view of the world seem so alien? A genocidal madman like Saddam Hussein is beaten and captured, yet liberals are calling for George Bush’s head. Huh? Islamic terrorists blow up busloads of Jewish children and liberals vilify the Israelis and sympathize with the Arabs. This obsession with moral equivalence is so perverse it cannot succeed; it’s just a fabricated reality based on illusion and denial.

Ken Ostroff
Boca Raton, FL




Spiritual Kinship

Once again, this time thanks to Sen. Sam Brownback (“Standing Steadfast With Israel,” op-ed, July 30) we see that Torah Jews have more in common with the Christian Right here in America than we do with our assimilated liberal brethren, who, according to every poll and study, are overwhelmingly in favor of gay ‘rights,’ abortion on demand, situational morality, etc.

In addition, no group in America is as irreligious as our Jewish people, who consistently rank behind every other ethnic and religious demographic in terms of attendance at religious services, belief in God, and knowledge of the Bible.

Personally, I would feel more at home with a Bible-believing Christian like Sam Brownback as my neighbor than a liberal Jew who thinks that religion is outdated and that one must follow the editorial line of The New York Times in order to be a cultured and intelligent human being.

Tova Michaels
New York, NY




Questionable Claim?

In the My Machberes column of July 30, Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum wrote that the great Yonason ben Uziel promised that whoever prayed at his tomb (at a place called Amuka in Eretz Yisroel, according to the article) for a match, would have their wish granted within a year.

It should be noted that the renowned librarian and scholar Rabbi Meir Wunder (author of Meorei Galicia encyclopedia, among other works), did a study some years ago and discovered that belief in the powers of prayer at that site was non-existent until it was concocted by a tour company circa 1953-5713 (cited by Rav Nosson Kaminetsky in Making of a Godol, volume I, book one, p. 688-9). Therefore I think people should not be overly taken with that claim.

If individuals do choose to pray there, presumably they are not committing a very overwhelming transgression. However, we should at least be careful not to get their hopes up too high by promising results within a year, when they may later be dashed, with the people possibly suffering great disappointment and letdown if their match takes somewhat longer to appear.

Also, it is known that many people have prayed there and remained single for a long time afterward. How does that make Yonason ben Uziel look? Hopefully not, chas v’sholom, like someone who is not reliable. Therefore I think that people should be careful with regard to repeating such tales. Our Torah is a Toras Emes and we should stay away from claims that have no basis in our tradition, no matter how tempting they may seem.

Boruch M. Selevan
Brooklyn, NY



More On Menachem Av

In a letter to the editor in the July 30 issue, Rabbi Marshall Gisser criticized my Expounding the Torah column of July 16 in which I wrote that Menachem Av means we console Hashem; he writes that we cannot console Hashem, nor can we ascribe any human emotions to Him. He is the Creator and we are the created, and He needs nothing from us.

Certainly, we cannot attribute any physical features and human emotions to Hashem. Yet, we find a deep, intricate and innate relationship between Jews and Hashem. As such, the service of Am Yisrael in tefilla, Torah and mitzvos is connected with Hashem. When I wrote about the meaning of Menachem Av, I said that it means we console the Av, our Father in Heaven.

Our Sages tell us (Berachos 3a) that Hashem is saddened by our exile, as He declares, “Woe unto the Father – Hashem – who exiled His children among the non-Jews.” Therefore we may – and should – console Hashem, kavyachol.

The galus haShechina – the exile of the Shechina – is a prevalent term in the Talmud and midrash. Thus the Talmud teaches (Megillah 29a), Come and see how precious Jews are before Hashem. For, wherever the Jews went into exile, the Shechina went [along], to Egypt, to Babylon, etc. As such, the exile has an effect on Hashem; Rashi notes (Devarim 30:3) that Hashem, in the Torah, wrote a redemption for Himself. Also, it is written (Vayikra 16:16), ”Who dwells with them in their impurity.”

With reference to the connection between a son and his father, the Talmud states (Shavuos 48a), ”The power of the son is better than the power of the father.” It’s better, yet the son’s power stems from the father’s power.

Every feature here evolves from its spiritual roots Above. In all Jewish souls here there is vested the Essence of Hashem, as Tanya states (Ch. 2) ”Every Jewish soul is part of Hashem from Above.” As such, Jews have the power of a son (Devarim 14:1) and we are thus able to console Hashem.

This is similar to the Talmudic story (Bava Metzia 59b) which describes Hashem as saying, “My children, you have been victorious over Me!”

The Shaloh (Ten Maamaros 29a) clarifies the Mishnah (Avos 6:11): ‘All that Hashem created in His world, He created solely for His glory.” For Hashem created the world in a way that our service is for the need of Hashem, and He gains pleasure when His will is fulfilled. Thus the Talmud cites Hashem’s words to Am Yisrael (Berachos 6a): “You have made Me a significant entity in the world.” As is written in Nach (Job 14:15), ”For the work of Your hands (i.e., the human beings) You desire.”

May we continue to serve Hashem and may He redeem us – and Himself – from galus, with the speedy advent of Moshiach.

Rabbi Abraham Stone
Brooklyn, NY




The Left’s Hate-America Obsession

Avi Davis’s July 16 op-ed article (“Liberal Smarts – Or Lack Thereof?”) perfectly captures the breathtaking combination of arrogance and ignorance that is the Politically Correct Liberalism of today, particularly on our college campuses.

Were they alive, old-style liberal patriots such as FDR, JFK, Hubert Humphrey or Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson would doubtless be appalled by the blatant anti-American venom spewed by the likes of Nicholas de Genova, the Columbia University professor who at a spring 2003 “anti-war” rally there called for “a million Mogadishus” to defeat “the U.S. war machine.”

But I think Mr. Davis errs on the side of charity when he attributes this phenomenon to merely “an inability to appreciate that the rules of war have changed” and to not yet being “capable of comprehending” the threat that Islamofascism poses to our way of life.

Yes, they are, as he said, grounded in “the dialectics of the Cold War” – and therein lies the problem. Many of these people came of age, politically, during the tumultuous Vietnam War era. They were indoctrinated by Marxist-oriented professors who taught them that America was a fundamentally evil country founded by slaveholders and made great by greedy land-grabbers, robber barons, environmental polluters and military imperialists. Brutal Soviet despots and Third World dictators and killers who defied Evil America were romanticized and presented as wise, benevolent champions of “equality” and “peace.”

Every flaw in the American system was mercilessly picked apart and every abuse in the systems of our enemies whitewashed and rationalized away. Many of that generation’s young brainwashees stayed on campus, first as grad students, then as adjunct instructors and, years later, as full faculty members; they in turn taught this “tradition” to their pupils, some of whom also became today’s teachers of Mr. Davis and his probably much less-discerning fellow students.

Having imbibed this toxic brew for decades, is it any wonder that although we now fight a very different enemy, many U.S. “academics” – and through their influence, our media and popular culture – still reflexively cast America’s leaders (particularly Republican ones) not merely as perhaps mistaken on a particular policy, but as wicked, devious conspirators and manipulators who always pursue wrong-minded, evil policies.

Just as they cheered the Communist victory in Vietnam in 1975 following our withdrawal, they nodded approvingly when Evil America was humiliated by Ayatollah Khomeini’s followers during the 444-day U.S. Embassy takeover and hostage crisis as payback for our support for the deposed Shah. They thought it equally just when Osama bin Laden’s air pirates murdered 3,000 Americans on 9/11 as payback for our troop presence in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East, our support of Israel, and our role as the world’s un-Islamic “Great Satan.”

To these people, we have always been the bad guys – and, apparently, always will be.

Paul Deckelman
Far Rockaway, NY



The Democrats And Their Convention

Ominous Date

Anyone who grows up in the Jewish community comes to know people whose perspective on life can be distilled into the question they ask about any event or occurrence: Is it good for the Jews or is it not good for Jews?

Last week the Democratic Party opened its national convention on the night of Tisha b’Av. How can anything that starts on Tisha b’Av be good for the Jews? History is full of troubles that started for Jews on that date – the return of the spies who told Moshe that Israel was no good, the destruction of the Temples, the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, the start of World War I. Might there not be a message from Hashem here?

(One also has ask the following: If there were an official day of mourning in the African American community that commemorated the historical suffering of black people, would the Democratic Party dare convene a convention on the evening of its observance?)

Still don’t get the message? What about the lack of any mention of the importance of Israel as an ally and friend of the United States by the presidential nominee, Mr. Kerry? Or the presence of Al Sharpton up front and center stage? While there are many good people within the Democratic Party who are very helpful and very good to the Jewish community, these questions and others warrant serious consideration.

Heshey Jacob
New York, NY



Not Your Father’s Democratic Party

I am an American Jew, and I am voting for George Bush, but more precisely against the Democratic Party. My reasons:

1. Bush has had the courage to repeatedly defy the United Nations and to give Ariel Sharon the leeway he needs, both tacitly and explicitly, to take whatever action Sharon deems necessary to defend Israel. As recently as last week Sharon was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that while the U.S. will press Iran to get rid of its nuclear weapons, it will not do the same to Israel, because America (read: George Bush) understands Israel’s special situation.

2. The Democratic Party is no longer my home, as it was for my parents and grandparents. The Zionist views and Jewish concerns of my family have not changed over the past 40 years; it is the Democratic Party that has undergone a stupefying transformation.

Look at the speakers who received thunderous applause at last week’s Democratic convention: Al Sharpton, Jimmy Carter and Jesse Jackson. Beyond the convention, look at some other very recent events that disclose much about the soul of the modern Democratic Party, if we Jews have the courage and objectivity to regard them squarely:

a. Several weeks ago, Democratic voters in a primary in Virginia renominated one of the most unabashed Israel bashers in the House of Representatives, James Moran.

b. Earlier this summer, the House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning the International Court’s decision declaring Israel’s security fence illegal. Forty-five Congressmen opposed the House resolution and supported the Court’s outrageous decision. Forty of them were Democrats.

c. David Brooks, in his July 26 column in The New York Times, quotes Michael Moore - who was honored with a seat in the presidential box at the Democratic convention – as saying, in discussing the epicenters of evil in the world, “It’s all part of the same ball of wax, right? The oil companies, Israel, Halliburton.”

The Democratic Party’s drift away from Jewish interests didn’t begin just yesterday; harbingers of it were visible here and there years ago. Today, however, the evidence has mounted to such a high level that it’s obvious to all except those who refuse to see it.

To those American Jews who are capable of looking at the facts without blinking, it is obvious that the future of Israel and, yes, possibly American Jewry itself is safer in the trust of George Bush and Tom DeLay than in the hands of Kerry, Sharpton, Carter, and Jesse Jackson.

Bernard Braginsky
Staten Island, NY

None Dare Call It Treason

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2003

Controversial pundit Ann Coulter’s best-selling book Treason has raised the ire of liberals, and not a few conservatives, who feel she wields too broad a brush in painting Americans on the left side of the political divide as unpatriotic – even, as the title implies, treasonous.

Coulter’s critics have a point, of course; her over-the-top generalizing makes it difficult if not impossible to take the book seriously (a far more judicious – and better-written – treatment of the subject is Mona Charen’s Useful Idiots). But whatever degree of sympathy one might feel for liberals traumatized by Ms. Coulter’s barbed prose dissipates rather quickly when one considers the way liberals have insisted on talking about the war in Iraq and its aftermath.

It’s not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing with the administration’s decision to go to war, or of approving or disapproving of how the U.S. is handling the rebuilding of Iraq. Rather, it’s the castigation of President Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft in language far stronger than many liberals ever employed against Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein.

It’s the shamelessly cheerful reception given any bit of news that seems to cast the slightest bit of doubt on anything the administration may have said or done in the war on terror and the invasion of Iraq.

It’s Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, whose “Editor’s Letter” in front of the magazine has become a monthly shout-out to his fellow Bushphobes, trilling in the August issue that “The war in Iraq is not a minor scandal; it may well prove to be the biggest scandal in American politics in the last hundred years. And although the Bush administration may feel it has gotten away with its phony war up to now, deceit on this level always catches up to you.”

It’s Representative Richard Gephardt, one of the Nine Ninnies desperately seeking the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination (and whose ill-fated 1988 presidential run is best remembered for the disclosure that he dyed his eyebrows so that they’d show up better on television) bellowing nonsensically at a recent campaign appearance that “George Bush has left us less safe and less secure than we were four years ago.”

It’s Sen. Edward Kennedy, who, after a briefing in which the former chief UN weapons inspector who’s now heading the search for Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction said that ‘solid progress’ is being made in that search, vociferated to reporters that “It’s looking more and more like a case of mass deception.” (Kennedy, as the Wall Street Journal caustically noted, “was referring to Bush, not Saddam.”)

It’s all the liberal writers, artists, actors and activists whose reflexive Blame America First mentality, fully operative even after thousands of their countrymen were murdered on 9/11, has been amply documented.

It’s all the liberals and leftists (including Jane Fonda, Ed Asner, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Kurt Vonnegut, Spike Lee, Art Spiegelman, Alice Walker and Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Ben Cohen) who signed the outrageous two-page ad placed in The New York Times by the organization Not In Our Name, an ad that is still up on the group’s website as its “statement of conscience” and which reads, in part: “…we call on all Americans to RESIST the war and repression that has been loosed on the world by the Bush administration….In our name, the Bush administration…not only attacked Afghanistan but arrogated to itself and its allies the right to rain down military force anywhere and at any time. The brutal repercussions have been felt from the Philippines to Palestine, where Israeli tanks and bulldozers have left a terrible trail of death and destruction.”

It’s all the liberal and left-wing demonstrators who marched in all those mass rallies during the months leading up to the Iraq war and loudly denounced the leaders of their country as warmongers and war criminals even as they hoisted signs and banners proclaiming death to Israel and devotion to Palestinian terrorists.

It’s all the smug know-nothings on the Left who think that merely labeling George Bush an idiot somehow makes him one, just as they and their ideological forbears sought to cut off any semblance of debate by mocking the intellects of Eisenhower and Reagan, two presidents whose esteem among historians has only grown with the passage of time.

(The actor James Woods, one of the few Hollywood celebrities who openly refuse to follow the liberal party line, recounted on the liberal website Salon.com a conversation he had with a typical Tinseltown tinhead.

(“I sat with somebody who was once the president of a studio,” said Woods, “and we were having dinner and he said, “George Bush is an utter moron.” And I said, “Oh, on what do you base that assertion?” And he said, “Well, he’s just a moron.” And I said, “Can you give an example?” And he said, “Well, there’s a lot of examples.” And I said, “Well, I’m not asking you for 300, I’m asking you for one.” And he sputtered for about ten minutes and he couldn’t think of one…”)

All of which brings us to Pete Hamill, who in a recent Daily News column took palpable pleasure in rubbing readers’ faces in his admiration for France, precisely because that country had been so staunchly opposed to the war in Iraq.

Hamill’s fraternal feelings for the French, he informed us, have only been magnified by “the yahoo chorus of France-bashers, acting as if they speak for all Americans,” and he described in great detail how he looked forward to visiting Paris as “a way of saying yes to America, and no to the yahoos.”

Presumably, the Americans Hamill speaks for are those found on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and in such leftist university enclaves as Berkeley, Ann Arbor and Amherst. Hamill may have mellowed some over the years, but he has a long history of viewing his country through mud-covered glasses (all the while portraying himself as something of a throwback to the simple loyalties and right-wrong ethos of 1950′s Brooklyn).

In fact, back in 1968, immediately following the assassination of Sen. Robert Kennedy, Hamill wrote a column so mindlessly anti-American it’s worth citing thirty-five years later as a proof-text of how times and events may change, but not the unbecoming ease with which too many on the Left trash the nation they claim to love.

Describing the scene in the Los Angeles hotel where Kennedy was celebrating his victory in the California Democratic primary, Hamill introduces us to the assassin, one Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, like so: “Then a pimply messenger arrived from the secret filthy heart of America.”

Got that? A Palestinian who’d lived on the margins of American society since his arrival in the U.S. becomes, in the fever swamps of Hamill’s imagination, a stand-in for everything Hamill and his generation despised about America.

In case his readers missed his drift, Hamill elaborated a little further on in the column, his words dripping with scorn for his yahoo country men: “We knew then that America had struck again. In this slimy little indoor alley in the back of a gaudy ballroom, in this shabby reality behind the glittering facade, Americans were doing what they do best: killing and dying…”

Again, one can only marvel as a master of his craft turns reality on its head and transforms the act of an immigrant ne’er-do-well into an act of collective murder committed by an entire country.

But Hamill was hardly finished, hoarding his venom for an all-purpose, one-sided indictment of the purported sins of a country he obviously viewed with such disdain it’s a wonder he didn’t vamoose to Paris right then and there:

“Kennedy’s death,” he wrote, “would mean nothing. It was just another digit in the great historical pageant that includes the slaughter of Indians, the plundering of Mexico, the enslavement of black people, the humiliation of Puerto Ricans….While Kennedy’s life was ebbing out of him, Americans were dropping bombs and flaming jelly on Orientals.”

Oh, Hamill did make a perfunctory acknowledgment that “the kid I saw shoot Kennedy was from Jordan,” but, predictably, still assigned the real blame to America; after all, the gun was American and the city where the murder occurred was not only American but was run by a man – Sam Yorty – who, it happens, was despised by the Left of his day nearly as fiercely as George W. Bush is despised by the Left of ours.

Whether the year is 1968 or 2003, America apparently is just too tempting and convenient a whipping boy for our home-grown Left – our critical but patriotic Left, or so they tell us.

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/none-dare-call-it-treason/2003/09/03/

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