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Letters week of Aug. 23, 2007
Baffled by Biased Article Against Bush Veto Threat
The lead article in the Jewish Exponent titled "Bush Threat to Veto Children's Insurance Baffles Groups," from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency did not deal with the issues (Cover story, Aug. 9).
Only in the last paragraphs, at the bottom of page 18, does the writer mention some problems with the legislation.
He states that the law would gut Medicare Advantage and freeze funding for nursing care, thus affecting many Jewish agencies and individuals. However, there are many more problems with the legislation.
Funding is accomplished by a tobacco tax that triples the cigarette tax, which would not result in projected revenue. Retailers would not be able to pay the increased tax on inventory and would be forced out of business.
Taxes proposed and already applied on the imported tobacco products are in violation of the tariff prohibitions of the Central American Free Trade Agreement and the North American Trade Agreement. Our tax money would be wasted in federal court because of suits by affected treaty members. Children's health care should have more secure and certain funding than tobacco taxes.
The author of this article should have, at least, read the legislation and investigated the reasons for the pending presidential veto. Instead, he used the article to promote a bias against President Bush.
Burton A. Weiss
Many Conversions Done by Christian Saviours
The Jewish Exponent's story from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency falls into the trap of describing the late Cardinal Lustiger only in the context of his effort to promote Jewish Christian understanding (Cover story: "Lustiger: An Enigma to Interfaith World," Aug. 9).
There is a more important point about Jean-Marie Lustiger. Born Aaron Lustiger, he was only one of the many Jewish children given by their parents to French Catholics for temporary safe keeping. This was then taken as a great opportunity to convert Jewish children.
I survived this widespread thievery of Jewish children myself. I know that it was widespread because I learned, after the fact, that two of my cousins were converted to Catholicism while their parents, just like mine, went up in smoke.
Enemy of Our Enemy Not Always Our Friend
Jonathan Tobin's article articulated just what I've been feeling since first reading about the ridiculous arms sale to Saudi Arabia (A Matter of Opinion: " 'Realist Policy' Built on Sand," Aug. 2)
When will the United States learn that the enemy of my enemy is not always my friend. That is certainly one cliche that's blown apart by the insane reality of the Arab Middle East. The death of our only true democratic ally in the region, Israel, would signal the end of us as well.
Lexington Park, Md.
Knee-Jerk Opposition to Saudis Won't Help Anyone
Jonathan Tobin's knee-jerk opposition to the Bush administration's decision to sell more arms to Saudi Arabia raises more questions about his judgment -- as well as that of other critics of the sale, in and out of Congress -- than that of Bush (A Matter of Opinion: " 'Realist' Policy Built on Sand," Aug. 2). Israel cannot be America's only friend in the Middle East.
Nor should it be. This gesture sends a strong message to Iran and other extremist foes of the United States. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is right not to oppose this sale. Friends of Israel in this country should take note and act accordingly.
New York, N.Y.
Prejudicial JNF Land Sale Policy Has Got to Go
Thanks for publishing Erik Schechter's piece opposing the Jewish National Fund's discriminatory land sale policies (Opinions: "It's Time to Guarantee Land Equality for All of Israel's Citizens," Aug. 9).
Schechter's common sense plea for morality was in stark contrast to the Jewish Exponent's editorial on the subject ("Politically Correct Zionism Versus JNF," Aug. 2) and therefore a much needed reality check for your readers.
I hope Israel's government ignores voices like that of the Exponent and instead listens to the vast majority of American Jews -- represented by groups such as the Reform movement.
What's So Bad About Protest Via Petition?
I am one of the 83 historians who joined the recent petition by the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies urging the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to add material to its exhibits about the 1940s Holocaust rescue advocates known as the Bergson Group (Editorial: "Wanted: A Few Good History Lessons," Aug. 9).
I was surprised to read the reported statement made by my friend and colleague, Deborah Lipstadt, to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, in which she said of the Wyman Institute: "They sort of straddle the area between scholarship and activism." She also told the JTA, "I don't believe that you change things by petition."
What's wrong with changing things by petition? There's no rule that says historians have to stay in their ivory towers. Signing petitions doesn't diminish their scholarship -- it just shows that they care about what happens in the real world.
Two years ago, the Wyman Institute mobilized more than 600 scholars -- including me -- to sign a petition supporting Lipstadt when she clashed with C-Span. The network wanted to broadcast a speech by Holocaust-denier David Irving to "balance" a speech by Lipstadt.
She protested, and the Wyman Institute came to her defense -- leading to C-Span's decision to cancel the Irving speech. When we organized the petition supporting Lipstadt against C-Span, I don't recall anyone complaining we were "straddling the line between scholarship and activism."
On the contrary, I remember everyone being grateful that the Wyman Institute cared enough to get involved, at a time when too many other institutions and organizations were reluctant to do so.
Dr. Alex Grobman