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Letters week of April 2,2009

April 2, 2009
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Claims Not True About Intelligence Pick's Defeat

In his opinion piece ("The Freeman Defeat: It Turned Out to Be an Inside Job," March 19), Douglas Bloomfield said that certain unnamed Jewish groups claimed credit for Charles "Chas" W. Freeman's withdrawal from his appointment as National Intelligence head. The writer also said that these groups used the issue as a stick with which to beat a president they regard as hostile to Israel.

This is untrue. Freeman's Chinese and Saudi ties, as well as his conflicts of interest, are what sank the appointment.

As one of only two Jewish groups that publicly opposed Freeman's nomination, the Zionist Organization of America repeatedly pointed to these ties and conflicts, not merely Freeman's malicious and vitriolic statements about Israel.

In letters to various papers, ZOA exposed Freeman's repeated false claim that he had only described, not supported, the official Chinese attitude toward its 1989 repression of pro-democracy forces. (In fact, he welcomed such repression and expressed the view that it should have happened sooner.)

And though ZOA has expressed concerns with Obama's Mideast policy -- and will continue to do so as we see fit -- as far as Freeman was concerned, our only mention of the president was our call upon him to rescind Freeman's appointment.
Michael Goldblatt
Huntingdon Valley Chairman, Board of directors
Zionist Organization of America

This Pesach, Let's Work to Break Bonds of Poverty

One of the themes of the Passover holiday is the journey from need and confinement to abundance and freedom.

In the midst of reliving the Jewish journey to freedom at our seders, we remind ourselves of the numerous ways in which we continue to be enslaved.

For example, how are we as a community enslaved by poverty? And how are we enslaved as a society and as a country?

In its "Jewish Community Budget Letter," the Jewish Council for Public Affairs has underscored the need for investment in quality, affordable and accessible health care, new funding for child-nutrition programs and initial funding for the National Housing Trust Fund.

The Jewish Labor Committee was one of more than 100 national and local Jewish organizations to sign on to this letter. In addition, the JLC strongly believes the best path out of poverty is a good-paying job, and for that reason, we also support the Employee Free Choice Act.

While we remain enslaved by modern-day plagues, we can all travel the road to freedom, and let our leaders know that we have a communal responsibility to relieve the bitter reality of poverty.
Rabbi Marjorie Berman
Rabbi Carl Choper
Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann
Rabbi Linda Holtzman
Jeff Hornstein

President Philadelphia Jewish Labor Committee

Why Did Reporter Stress Differences Between Jews?

I'm responding to two articles -- the first about Stern Hebrew High School's move into the former Akiba Hebrew Academy building, and the other an interview with Rabbi Shmuel Jablon, the principal of Torah Academy, both of which appeared on March 19.

I was amazed at the reporter's emphasis on the various branches of Judaism: "Orthodox" Jewry, "Modern Orthodox," those that do not "identify with the Modern Orthodox label." I then read the interview with Rabbi Jablon, where he specifically identifies the "type of dress" favored by "ultra-Orthodox" groups.

Ideological difference within Jewish communities is nothing new. Neither is it a bad thing. In fact, a healthy, thriving community is one that offers a variety of choices.

But perhaps we have more to gain -- and are stronger as a community -- by focusing on what we have in common, rather than where we differ.

While you choose to point out our differences using labels and dress, one thing history has certainly taught us is that the rest of the world does not.

To them, we are simply Jewish. And they are right.
Monique Wallace
Merion Station

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