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Letters week of June 28, 2007
Name the Names of Those Doing Business With Iran
In your editorial, you wrote about what individuals can do to encourage Iran to become responsible (Editorial: "The Squeeze on Iran Starts Here at Home," June 14).
Rather than wait for the international community to act, the Jewish Exponent suggests that we "urge the state legislature to adopt a measure forcing state-run pension funds to divest from all companies doing business with Iran and other terror-supporting states."
State Rep. Josh Shapiro has a good package of such bills pending, and we should urge all legislators to support them. Unfortunately, State Rep. Babette Josephs is pushing her own, less stringent bill as a political power play, thus jeopardizing the chances for any bill to pass.
Still, the Exponent should do more. Why not name names -- publicly identify companies that do business with Iran and other state sponsors of terror -- so that we can express our displeasure to them in our capacities as consumers and investors?
The Issue's Palestinian Hate, Not Israeli Distrust
Gershon Baskin believes that poll figures showing that a solid majority of Israelis do not trust the Palestinians to agree to a peace agreement with Israel is an obstacle to peace (Opinions: "Possibilities of Peace, Under Certain Conditions," June 14).
That the Israeli public is right not to trust Palestinians is not an idea that seems to occur to him, because he goes on to suggest that although "research on the Palestinian side has yet to be conducted, similar results would be found" on the Palestinian side.
There's no mystery about Palestinian attitudes toward Israel. A February 2006 Near East Consulting poll found that 75 percent of Palestinians oppose its existence.
A September 2006 poll indicated that more than two-thirds of Palestinian Arabs (67 percent) oppose Hamas recognizing Israel. Another September 2006 poll found that 61 percent of Palestinians support terrorist attacks upon Israeli civilians. Also, a July 2006 poll found that 60 percent of Palestinians support the ongoing barrage of rocket attacks upon Israel from northern Gaza, and 68 percent approve of the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers.
These figures and others like them suggest that hatred, incitement to murder, suicide bombing and religious extremism fostered unremittingly by the Palestinian Authority's media, mosques, schools and youth camps determine Palestinian attitudes toward Israel, not fear and distrust.
Board of Directors
Greater Philadelphia District
Zionist Organization of America
Michelstadt Memories --of a Victim and a Pear
Silke Schmidt's article on the Jewish heritage of Michelstadt, Germany, a small town in the forest about 50 miles south of Frankfurt, brought back many memories (Travel & Leisure: "A Pear to Go With That Frankfurt?" June 14).
My grandmother, Bertha Joseph Sondheimer, grew up in Michelstadt, and maintained a regular correspondence with family and childhood friends in her beloved hometown for more than 40 years.
As the Nazi noose tightened, the correspondence from her widowed sister (my great-aunt), Hedwig Joseph Jakobi, stopped. When my father arrived in Darmstadt as a member of the U.S. Army's IX Engineering Command at the war's end, he traveled to Aunt Hedwig's home, where he learned from her neighbors that she had been deported to Theresienstadt several years earlier at the age of 73.
My sister and I recently discovered through Yad Vashem that she died at Auschwitz. She was transported and murdered just before the International Red Cross came to inspect Theresienstadt.
My grandmother proudly told us that the grandson of Michelstadt's Seckel Loeb Wormser (the Baal Shem of Michelstadt) had been Hedvig's and her childhood teacher.
But a footnote: When I read of Seckel Loeb Wormser's discovery of the Seckel pear, I did some cursory research that indicated that Pennsylvania German farmers are credited with the Seckel pear discovery. I saw no mention of Rabbi Wormser.
Oxford Circle Man Spoke Up for Raoul Wallenberg
If you look carefully at the electric post in the photo on Page 100 of the Jewish Exponent's 120th-anniversary issue ("120 Years of Jewish Life in Philadelphia," June 19), you will see that it's dedicated to Raoul Wallenberg.
Jacob Riiz, himself a prisoner of the Gulag ( standing in the photo), promoted the cause of this righteous gentile, rescuer of thousand of Jews -- arrested by the Soviets in the early 1960s -- well before the major Jewish organizations did.
Oxford Circle was the home of Riiz's Holocaust and Genocide Museum, located in his basement.
A Father's Work Helped the Community Flourish
How delighted I was to thumb through the pages of the 120th-anniversary special section and find a picture of my father's (Victor Freedman) business, Carole Packing Distributors, on Page 32.
I sent that photo to the Philadelphia Jewish Archives a few years ago, along with some interesting historical tidbits. In the 17th century, that very same building was the popular Blue Anchor Tavern, a favorite watering hole for Philadelphia's early settlers. None other than the illustrious William Penn frequented the inn on numerous occasions.
That photo now hangs on a wall in my kitchen. If I look carefully, I can see Dad.
I, of course, am the Carole in Carole Packing Distributors, an honor given to me when I was born.
When I look at this picture, I'm reminded of the long hours he put in through blistering summers and frigid winters to give my brother and me the opportunities that have allowed us to become successful Jewish Americans.
As one of many Jewish entrepreneurs, he helped Philadelphia grow.
Thanks for including him.
Carole M. Rachlin
Fort Myers, Fla.