Dog In The Fight (I)

   Reader Yaakov Fromer writes (letters, March 16): “Whether Turkey did or did not commit genocide nearly a hundred years ago is no concern of ours – we have no dog in that fight.”
   I would respond that as Jews – a people who have suffered tremendously at the brutal hands of our various persecutors while the rest of the world looked on without comment – we ought to hold a unique understanding for the suffering of one people at the hands of another. That Turkey refuses to recognize the terrible crimes of its past should be as morally offensive to us as if the German government of today were to do the same.
   Genocide, past or present, cannot be met with silence. To do so would make a sham out of the phrase “Never Again” – as if it were only a self-interested goal and not an incontrovertible moral principle. The world was silent as we suffered – please, let us not repeat its mistakes.

Daniel Hagler

Bronx, NY


Dog In The Fight (II)

   Mr. Fromer, your insensitivity to the sufferings of the Armenian people is reprehensible, and it terrifies me to think that others who are not Jewish might assume your callousness is shared by other religious Jews. It certainly is not!
   Did you know that the Nazis based their genocide of our people on what Turkey did to the Armenians? In fact, Hitler (may his name and memory be blotted out) used the example of the Armenian massacre to justify why he should be allowed (by his generals) to carry out his insane plans.
   To give just one example: Hitler got his idea for the gas chambers from the Turkish practice of shoving Armenians into caves, covering the entrance with brush and trees, and setting them afire, so the men, women and children inside would die of smoke inhalation.
   Turkey denies it committed genocide against the Armenian people, just as Shoah deniers claim the death camps never existed and six million Jews were not murdered. We Jews know better than anyone what genocide is, and when it happens to others we must be the first to stand up and condemn it, no matter who the guilty party is, even (maybe even especially) if they appear to be our friends.
   You say that we as Jews “have no dog in that fight.” Actually, we do. Anytime any group of people is slaughtered because of what they are or what they believe, we as Jews have a dog in the fight – if we have any kind of decency and humanity at all.
   If you feel that we as Jews should not speak out in defense of the innocent men, women and children ruthlessly tortured and murdered by the government of Turkey, does that mean gentiles do not need to speak out against the genocide that was carried out against our own people from 1939 to 1945 by Germany? Perhaps they, too, should think they “have no dog in that fight.”

Chana Rovinsky

Philadelphia, PA


Storm Warning
   The storm clouds of expulsion and destruction are on the horizon, yet nothing is being done to prepare. Many people talk about getting rid of the evil Olmert government once the Winograd Commission releases its findings. Have we learned nothing from the Sharon debacle?
   Just as Sharon sought to divert attention from his legal problems with the destruction of Jewish life in Gaza, you can bet that Olmert, right before the Winograd report is released, will accept the Saudi plan for the destruction and uprooting of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. He will, insanely, be viewed as great peacemaker and will thus stay in power. The ultimate destruction (God forbid) will commence.
   The storm is approaching. If we’re not ready, the storm will wash all away. Just ask the former Jewish residents of Gaza.

Ken Abrams

Margate, NJ


Play Ball
   Re the new baseball league in Israel (Baseball Insider column, March 9):
   What is more integral to the American Jewish experience than baseball? Nothing. My own grandfather in the twilight of his life would enjoy a baseball game on television when nothing else even mattered. As a young man and a new hard-working immigrant, baseball was my grandfather’s sole mode of recreation. This type of story is shared by many.

   To think that we will have a league of our own in a place that is so dear to our hearts makes me literally choke up with positive emotion. Personally, I cannot thank enough the people who are pulling this off for the benefit of our two beloveds – Israel and baseball.

   The Middle East will change in a very positive way come June 24.

Jonathan R. Klein

Encino, California


Misappropriated Funds
   I am appalled at the tremendous misappropriation of personal funds that I see in the frum community. To spend thousands and thousands of dollars on weekends and Yomim Tovim – while we are losing so many souls to the public schools – is tragic.
   We are facing such a terrible crisis now with our Jewish children. Please consider all expenditures, large and small, and transfer them instead to the saving of Jewish souls. In this merit may the Geulah soon come.

Rabbi Rick Probstein

(Via E-Mail)



The Politics Of Ben-Gurion University


Illiberal Liberals
      Allyson Rowen Taylor (“BGU President Disses Overseas Donors,” op-ed, March 16) deserves our thanks for providing some of the details of the leftist leanings of Israeli universities, in this case Ben-Gurion University. It is incongruous that those who claim to be ”liberal” would curtail the exposure of students to a broad education and a variety of opinions instead of a system that teaches intolerance for the viewpoints of others.
      Apparently, those who stifle academic freedom fear that their own attitudes and prejudices might be challenged. As a former educator I firmly believe in the saying that “he/she who dares to teach must never cease to learn.”

Chana Givon

(Via E-Mail)


‘Den Of Radicalism’

      I wanted to congratulate you on running Allyson Rowen Taylor‘s piece, which I thought was one of the best recent cases of investigative journalism in the American Jewish media.

      If anything, Taylor did not go far enough. Ben-Gurion University has become a den of radicalism and anti-Israel activism. If that sounds like an exaggeration, just consider the case of Dr. Neve Gordon, a lecturer in political science at BGU whose articles regularly appear on Holocaust denier and neo-Nazi websites.
      Alan Dershowitz, the law professor and author who certainly is no right-winger, wrote in the Jerusalem Post on November 8, 2006: “It is my opinion that Neve Gordon has gotten into bed with neo-Nazis, Holocaust justice deniers, and anti-Semites. He is a despicable example of a self-hating Jew and a self-hating Israeli.

      Professor Carmi, the president of BGU, has dismissed concerns raised by Gordon’s critics, saying that Israeli students are mature enough to cope with Gordon’s views.

Don Levine

Passaic, NJ


‘Diss’ – Short For Distortion
      The outlandish fairytale by Allyson Rowen Taylor is chock full of gross distortion and false innuendo. It is an inflammatory political and personal attack against Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, its faculty and new president, and ultimately Israel itself.
      First, I question Taylor’s motivation and the authenticity of her authorship. The article she references from Academia was published in Hebrew. Taylor doesn’t speak Hebrew. And her phraseology is eerily similar to another BGU slanderer convicted of libel in Israel. Whoever “translated” chose to twist BGU President Rivka Carmi’s words, juxtaposing quotes and commentary to alter situations described in the Hebrew article.
      For example, the original article described Prof. Carmi shaking hands with students demonstrating on behalf of Holocaust survivors, not anti-occupation supporters! Also, Carmi is asked, “If, under the threat of a cancelled donation, can a donor dictate the limits of academic freedom?” Her answer: “Unfortunately, this potential exists.” That simple reply was instead twisted by Taylor into a sensational falsehood and attack on overseas donors, but Carmi made no such remarks.
      Furthermore, Taylor’s reference to Carmi’s support for boycotts of “Israeli” universities “under extreme circumstances” is a gross misrepresentation. The question was, “Would you consider a situation where you would agree with a boycott of any institution?” (The word “Israeli” doesn’t appear.) Prof. Carmi’s thoughtful reply was only in cases when crimes against humanity are committed, citing an incident that occurred in Teheran.
      BGU’s faculty and student body reflect the diverse ethnicity, religious orientation, socio-economic status, and ideology that are representative of Israel. There are faculty from the left and the right and everything in between.
      Taylor’s group, StandWithUs, believes that any criticism of Israel is unacceptable, treasonous and anti-Zionist. It’s very easy to lob criticism from a cozy Los Angeles home while posturing as a holier-than-thou Zionist. How could anyone who chooses to make his home in Israel, raise a family there, and serve with distinction in the IDF call for Israel’s annihilation? It defies logic and is a preposterous, ignorant claim.
      It’s impossible to refute every distortion and misquoted remark in the space that I have been allotted. I hope those who can read Hebrew will read the actual article.
      More than any other university, BGU captures the pioneering Zionist spirit that so exemplified Israel’s founders. Its faculty, staff and students are fulfilling David Ben-Gurion’s vision to develop the Negev and secure Israel’s future.
   Articles like Taylor’s threaten this vision. Her time and mine would be much better spent fighting Israel’s real enemies.

Carol D. Saal


American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev 

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