Fear the Right, Not the Left
In her article last week, “Dare We Feel Safe In America,” Mrs. Kryksman argues that “the root of anti-Semitism today stems from the left and the anti-Semites with leadership positions in the Democratic Party.” Thus, she writes, she fears for the safety of Jews in this country.
I agree that some on the extreme left of the Democratic Party have voiced anti-Semitic tropes and rhetoric; these words should be opposed vociferously and publicly. However, they are not emblematic of mainstream American society or the Democratic Party as a whole.
Moreover, Mrs. Kryksman’s contention that Jews in this country should fear the progressive left as the harbinger of anti-Semitism and as a physical threat flies in the face of the facts. The Anti-Defamation League has documented a 73 percent rise in extremist-related murders during the last four years, with 39 of the 50 extremist killings tracked last year committed by white supremacists, confirming that most politically-motivated attacks are perpetrated by those with right-wing views.
The attack in the shul in Pittsburgh was not committed by someone on the left; it was committed by a right-winger who hates Jews. Similarly the person who attacked the two mosques in New Zealand, the man who slaughtered black worshippers in a church in South Carolina, and Anders Behring Breivik, who slaughtered 77 people in Norway in 2011 – they were all militant racists.
The people who marched in Charlottesville spouting anti-Semitic rants were also not left-leaning Democrats; they were right-wing neo-Nazis.
While there may be a reason to fear for our safety, the carnage and danger do not lie on the left despite their shrill, provocative, and hateful rhetoric. The salient danger lies on the right from those who are willing to use violence against those they perceive as “the other” – that is, those who are not white, male, and Christian.
Evie Falda, Ph.D.
Does anyone remember the story of the Muslim woman who was brought to a Jewish hospital in Israel with severe burns all over her body? She was admitted and treated. All turned out well for her, and she eventually returned home.
Not long after, she decided to return to the hospital. One would assume that she came to bring a bouquet of flowers to express her gratitude to the hospital staff, as is customary in a civilized society. But no. That former burn victim returned to the hospital that saved her life wearing an explosive belt. Will we ever learn our lesson?
Far Rockaway, NY
Why Must We Be ‘Recognized’?
It seems that Israel is the only country that has to appeal for “recognition.”
In 1981, Israel annexed the Golan Heights, but the international community did not “recognize” this fact and our State Department continued to call the area “Israeli-occupied” territory. Only since 2018 have the words been changed to “Israeli-controlled.” And this year, on Purim, President Trump “recognized” Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan. Israel is very grateful.
But I, as an American Jew, wonder why Israel’s facts on the ground – its very right to exist – have to be “recognized” in order to become reality. Why isn’t it sufficient that the facts are there because Israel recognizes them as such? Shouldn’t it be the right of every sovereign nation to determine its own realities?
Co-Executive Director, AFSI
New York, NY
Fantastic Isaac Asimov Article
Saul Jay Singer’s article last week, “Isaac Asimov’s Jewish ‘Foundation,'” was the most impressive piece I have ever read on the “Foundation Trilogy,” authored by one of the greatest science fiction writers I have ever read.
I consumed Asimov’s three-volume autobiography and recall arriving at a similar conclusion as Singer regarding Asimov’s stance on Israel – that “even brilliant minds and gifted writers can be misguided or malicious.” I wouldn’t necessarily say he was malicious, though.
Incidentally, I wrote a letter to Asimov pointing out that he spelled his Hebrew name incorrectly in his autobiography. Asimov was often uniquely arrogant in a self-effacing and amusing way, which was illustrated in his reply to me. He didn’t attempt to defend his error; rather, he conceded that even a person as brilliant as he could still occasionally err!
Rabbi Aaron I. Reichel, Esq.
New York, NY
Isaac Asimov: An Inspiration For Talmidei Chachamim
Isaac Asimov’s Foundation saga should serve as inspiration for every budding talmid chacham, as it did for me in my formative years.
Hari Seldon designed his Seldon Plan in analogous terms to our own Torah Sheba’al Peh. Just as every yeshiva bachur is expected to present a chiddush upon mastering a sugya, so too an aspiring Second Foundationeer is expected to solve a theoretical problem to attain full membership in the equivalent of the beis medrash.
I always considered the scientists of the First Foundation to represent the chachma and binah of the Jewish people that Devarim 4:6 guarantees will earn international respect when we keep the mitzvos. And it is the chachamim of the Second Foundation, the guardians of the Seldon Plan/ Torah Sheba’al Peh analogue, who unassumingly, and wisely, guide the entire enterprise.
Dr. Nisan Hershkowitz, DDS
Loved Your ‘Purim Press’
The “Purim Press” you published last week was pure genius.
The aspersions you cast on the conceits of the frum world were perfect. I know you probably offended many, but some frum conceits are really foolish: I am more frum that her, I am more frum than him… We are all Jews. Nothing more is required.
Incidentally, I looked for a subscription form in The Purim Press but found none. I wanted to subscribe to it.
Terrorists Are Not Acting Alone
Reader Avi Goldstein’s response to my letter last week seriously distorts what I wrote. I distinguished between innocent civilians and non-innocent civilians. I never advocated “wantonly target[ing] civilians,” as Goldstein implied.
Goldstein writes that he refuses “to accept the notion that we should tar an entire people with a pejorative brush.” This is a meaningless statement without context. When you have Palestinian leaders who financially support murderers’ families and name streets and buildings after murderers, and their citizens do not protest, then, yes, you can tar people with a pejorative brush.
Of course, comments about the Palestinians do not necessarily include every single Palestinian, just like the statement “People in America speak English” does not include every single American. Some Americans don’t speak English. But pointing out that there are exceptions to a rule is not “backtracking,” as Goldstein puts it. It’s called honesty.
Goldstein’s implication that there is a similarity between blanket condemnation of Palestinians and that of Jews is a little short on logic. Jews do not, in fact, control the banks, do not control the media, and do not use children’s blood to bake matzos. Palestinians, on the other hand, do produce a disproportionate number of terrorist-murderers, which is supported by their government and many families. That is not an empty blanket condemnation; it is a well-known, provable fact.
Must An Enemy Be Immoral?
Last week, letter writer Avi Goldstein wrote that he finds it “chilling” that I merely oppose ISIS (and Hamas) rather than “criticize” them. I simply will repeat the question I posed at the end of my letter two weeks ago, which Mr. Goldstein chose to ignore: Would he be incapable of opposing Hamas if it decided to stop targeting civilians and “only” killed IDF soldiers?
Mr. Goldstein apparently needs his enemies to be more immoral than he is for him to oppose them. I don’t. I am perfectly capable of wanting to live even if my enemy is not more immoral than I am. I don’t care if Hamas “only” kills men or kills women too. I hate them all the same because they are killing my people.
I apologize for repeating myself, but at this point I truly am curious if Mr. Goldstein would oppose ISIS and Hamas if they killed Jews in a more “respectable” manner.
In answer to another question I posed, Mr. Goldstein says it very well may have been immoral for England to carpet bomb Germany and the U.S. to drop the A-bomb on Japan. If Mr. Goldstein wishes to believe his grandparents’ generation – which supported these attacks – was less moral than he is, by all means. I feel very comfortable standing with that generation over this one.
In closing, I would remind Mr. Goldstein that wars are fought between collectives – a point the Maharal makes explicit in his commentary on the Shimon and Levi story. I would also remind him that Hashem rewards and punishes nations as collectives too, as we will read in the Haggadah in a few weeks.
No doubt, if Mr. Goldstein were G-d, he would never have punished “the Egyptians” since “the Egyptians” did nothing wrong according to him. Only individual Egyptians did.