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Letters week of April 19, 2007
Biased, Offensive Books Don't Deserve Praise!
In his review of Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov's new anti-intermarriage treatise, Dear Rabbi, Why Can't I Marry Her? (Books & Writers: "The Marriage Imbroglio," March 29), Robert Leiter says that Shemtov's "clearheaded explanations" for why Jews shouldn't intermarry "can hardly be refuted."
To the contrary, they can hardly be sustained.
To suggest, as Leiter does, that intermarried families can't "live happily ever after," and that the children of intermarried families won't stay Jewish even if they're raised that way is, simply put, a lie.
Thousands of happily intermarried couples would gladly refute the first claim -- as would thousands of divorced or unhappily married all-Jewish couples. The second claim totally lacks factual support. No one has done the kind of large-scale longitudinal study necessary to disprove -- or prove, for that matter -- that children raised Jewish grow up to be Jewish-identifying adults.
Leiter and Shemtov find it a positive sign that a Jewish man broke up with a Catholic woman who was willing to create a Jewish home and raise Jewish children, and possibly even convert, as if each partner's personal happiness is less important than the maintenance of Jewish purity.
Leiter says that Shemtov's book and Doron Kornbluth's 2003 Why Marry Jewish? are "perfect complements to one another." In his effusive praise for such biased, offensive works, he denigrates sincere converts, dignifies intolerance and supports attitudes that diminish the community.
Why Boycott Coca-Cola? Because Theft Is Theft!
James Caplan seems to imply that since "thousands of Egypt Jews were unjustly treated by Egypt after 1948" (Letters: "ZOA's Out of Line to Call for Boycott of Coca-Cola," April 5), it is unfair for only one family, whose property was stolen and now occupied by Coca-Cola, to seek compensation.
He misses the point.
The message of the Bigios' court case is that countries and companies should not get away with stealing Jewish property and benefiting from campaigns of anti-Semitism. If there is something to be done about it, it should be done.
ZOA was asked to participate on behalf of the Bigios by submitting an amicus brief proving that anti-Semitism is still rampant in Egypt, and thus impossible for the family to get a fair trial there.
The U.S. Supreme Court seems to agree. It recently sided with the Bigios and dismissed Coke's attempt to move the case to Egypt.
Few Jewish refugees of Arab countries have the opportunity to fight for restitution, and the Bigios' courage and fortitude should be hailed. After all, theft is theft.
Of course, we have not forgotten Coke's defiant decision to sell its soda in Israel in the face of an Arab boycott against them, but this doesn't give it the right to trample on the legitimate claim of a Jewish refugee and trespass on his property.
National vice president
Zionist Organization of America
Northern Irish Oppose Partition of Their Country
Jonathan Tobin makes errors of fact and of analysis in reference to Ireland (A Matter of Opinion: "Misleading Analogy Ignores History," April 5).
He errs when he states that the majority of the people of Ulster did not want to stay with Ireland. Ulster contained nine counties, not the six that the British have been occupying.
Tobin fails to mention that in the six-county elections last month, the parties that elected members of the Northern Ireland assembly, 45 percent of the first-choice votes went to the two parties that want to stay with United Kingdom; 41.4 percent went to the parties that want to be reunited with the republic.
Gerry Adams and other Sinn Fein, and even non-Sinn Fein Catholic leaders, continue to state openly that their goal is a united Ireland, as was the goal of Michael Collins.
The Irish constitution retained the right of the republic to the six counties. Military expediency dictated the terms of the 1922 treaty with Britain, not an acceptance of partition.
John A. Ryan
Insulting Play Didn't Merit Paper's Sponsorship
As a long-standing subscriber, I had tickets to "Caroline, or Change" now playing at the Arden Theater. I went to a performance with great anticipation, as the Arden usually provides outstanding theater. I was in for a thoroughly unpleasant surprise!
I am appalled that the Jewish Exponent -- or any other Jewish institution -- is sponsoring this production or supporting it in any way (Stars & Society: "Welcoming 'Caroline' to Philly," April 5). How it portrays Jews and Jewish life is more than disappointing; it is denigrating and disgusting.
The entire Jewish family is an ugly, stereotypical caricature of Jews and Jewish life. The characters are shown to be fools, out of touch with issues emerging around them and intensely concerned with money.
The Chanukah scene is painful to watch: It makes a mockery of the family and the holiday with inaccuracies and derogatory images of holiday celebration, topped off with a ridiculously out of place vaudevillian hora.
If the black characters in the show were portrayed in the same offensive manner, I would have attributed it to an attempt at parody. But this melodramatic and disparaging picture of Jewish life is instead juxtaposed with blacks who are strong, virtuous, intellectually aware and honest. This only serves to further underscore the superficiality, insensitivity, even stupidity of the Jews.
The Arden usually takes great pride in authenticating every detail in its productions. I am dismayed that it did not apply the same assiduousness to this one. The lack of depth in the portrayal of the Jews, the lack of sensibility and, more importantly, the meanness of spirit embodied in the portrayal as it stands are embarrassing and insulting.
Did anyone at the Exponent actually see the production before pledging Jewish communal support? I wonder.