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Letters week of Feb. 8. 2007

February 8, 2007
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When Foxman Talks, the the Whole World Listens

Having been present with Abe Foxman at recent meetings with Pope Benedict XVI, French President Jacques Chirac and Italian Prime Minister Romani Prodi, I can vouch for Jonathan Tobin's statement (A Matter of Opinion: "Out of Focus on Foxman," Jan. 18) that "when Foxman speaks, the mainstream media and government officials generally listen."

Joseph Smukler
Chair, International Affairs
Anti-Defamation League
Philadelphia



We Still Need Foxman to 'Shrei Gevalt' About Hate

Thanks to Jonathan Tobin for his defense of Abe Foxman (A Matter of Opinion: "Out of Focus on Foxman," Jan. 11).

I read the Times magazine article he referenced, and Tobin accurately expressed my feelings of anger, even outrage.

I first met Abe in fifth grade, and we were schoolmates and friends for many years. I trust his instincts and his concerns for Jews all over the world.

May he continue to shrei gevalt as long as there is cause to do so!
Rochelle Mogilner
New York, N.Y.



ADL Head Should Be Held to a Higher Standard

Jonathan Tobin makes an interesting argument about Abraham Foxman (A Matter of Opinion: "Out of Focus on Foxman," Jan. 18).

Because of his stands on issues such as gun control, affirmative action, school choice and campus free-speech restrictions, Foxman is a menace to civil liberties. But since he is against anti-Semitism, Tobin claims that he should not be criticized.

How about writer Dennis Prager, whom Tobin criticized a few weeks earlier because of his stand on a Muslim congressman taking his oath of office on a Koran? When he speaks ignorantly, does he get the same pass that Foxman does? Apparently not.

We should hold Foxman to a higher standard. He is a spokesman for the Jewish community, and officially represents us.

Prager merely expresses his opinion.
Yaakov Watkins
Denver



'Little Old Ladies': Less to Fear From the Dems

In a way, Jonathan Tobin's warning that earmark reform endangers social spending is a compliment to the credibility of the Democrats' 100 Hours Agenda (A Matter of Opinion: "Be Careful What You Wish For," Jan. 25).

Leviticus prescribes injunctions and commandments about fair weights and measures, and about open and fair dealing. Indeed, the use of visible fair weights for purchased goods was one of the reforms that Jews helped institutionalize for world culture. The parasha Yitro bespeaks us further to provide open and fair judgments in enforcement of laws.

Earmarking, while not unheard of prior to George Bush, was taken to such heights in the past Republican-controlled Congress that a regular appropriation was not passed for three years. Democratic lawmakers were not just outvoted in conference committees on earmarked continuing resolutions; they were excluded from the conferences entirely.

Democrats could have used the same procedures against their Republican opposition, but they chose Torah over self-interest.

Little old ladies have less to fear from Democrats than they do from the fiscal butchery of the Bush tax cuts, from the unethical pandering to the insurance and drug companies of the Bush Medicare plan, and from the drive-by hemhorrage of the Iraq war.
Ben Burrows
Elkins Park



We Can All Help Reduce Dependency on Oil

Douglas M. Bloomfield's essay made some very important points regarding the need for all of us to try to improve our government's energy policies (Opinions: "America's Top Problem? Our Exhaustive Dependence on Oil!" Jan. 25).

However, we can each make a difference in our own lives. By altering some of our habits just a bit, we can use less oil, and also influence others to do the same.

For example, rather than driving to the store or to work, consider walking, biking, carpooling or using public transportation.

When buying a car, look for one with better fuel efficiency, like the new hybrids out there.

Also keep in mind that plastics are made from petroleum, and try to cut down on the use of disposable tableware.

If we each do our part, we can have a positive effect on our environment and reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources.
Susan Moses
Philadelphia



Who Speaks for the Jews? Mort Klein Is the Man!

Morton Klein has spent decades defending the Jewish people and Israel without regard for personal gain and, especially, the easy comfort of being a murmuring voice within the pack (A Matter of Opinion: "Who Will Speak for the Jews?" Feb. 1).

Mort and the Zionist Organization of America, of which I am a board member, regularly publish critiques of developments and policies from or about Israel. Sometimes, those analyses make others uncomfortable, but Mort has been proven right over and over again on positions no one else even wanted to hear, much less publicly agree with.

That speaks volumes not only about him, but about those who fear to follow his lead.

It certainly does not diminish his importance as a leader.

On many occasions, people within the U.S. government have confided to me that Mort is the best defense Israel has, and that he is the "conscience of Congress."

Some years ago, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) told me face to face that he credits Mort with his own Senate re-election in a very tough battle in 1992.

American Jewish leaders, as well as those in Israel, frequently consult with Mort -- though some may not publicly admit as much.

Those of us who love Israel should count ourselves lucky that he has the courage to remain on the front lines, defending our people, despite personal assaults, many of which come from behind.

I am proud to call Morton Klein a lifelong friend.
Bart Blatstein
President
Jewish Publishing Group


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