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Letters week of June 5, 2008
Praise for the Students Who Stood Up to Hatred
I arrived at the [email protected] parade on the Parkway at the same moment that students of Barrack Hebrew Academy (formerly Akiba Hebrew Academy) were passing the "small group of black-clad demonstrators protesting the existence of the State of Israel" (Editorial: "Hate for Israel Can't Rain on Our Parade," May 22).
The students stopped, faced them and began to sing "Hatikvah" in loud protesting voices, some with upraised fists.
As I joined in the singing, I noticed that one of the demonstrators -- a girl not much older than the marching students -- began to cry uncontrollably.
I concluded that she wept because she was being confronted with the disapproval of her peers, and because she was being publicly reproached for her untenable posturing.
The students response is a model for how we all must respond to individuals, groups and states that call for the destruction of the Jewish state.
We should not merely find comfort in the concept of free speech; we must also turn to face them and bring them to inner-doubt and self-reproach for their hateful assertions.
Labor Committee Urges Boycott of Agriprocessors
The Jewish Labor Committee has opposed the employment practices of Agriprocessors, Inc., since we were first informed of them two years ago (Nation & World: "Ex-Agriprocessors Workers Detail Abuse in Wake of Raid," May 29).
In reviewing the complaints of Agriprocessors employees -- many of whom are undocumented workers -- the JLC determined that there is a clear pattern of employer negligence and even lawlessness.
The JLC has also learned that Agriprocessors is waging a campaign of intimidation against harassment and against workers who have expressed an interest in exercising their right to union representation.
The recent federal raid at Agriprocessors only buttresses the conviction shared by many undocumented workers that our government is not only indifferent to worker abuse, but works in collusion with management to penalize workers who challenge it.
The Jewish community shares a common conviction that all workers -- regardless of their immigration status -- must be free to exercise their legal rights and challenge employer abuses. Our belief is grounded in the collective memory of the gross exploitation of Jewish immigrants by employers, who exploited and robbed them of their right to dignity in the workplace.
For this reason, we call on Agriprocessors to live up to the responsibilities of corporate citizenship, end its campaign of worker abuse and respect the rights of its employees, including their legal right to union representation.
Until then, we urge consumers of kosher-meat products coming from this plant to seek other alternatives.
Jewish Labor Committee
Saber-Rattling on Iran Will Lead to Another War
The Bush administration and its surrogates keep making increasingly incendiary comments about Iran (A Matter of Opinion: "Finding Appeasers in the Mirror," May 22).
It's bad enough that President Bush dragged this country into a war of choice, which has left Americans less secure than we were before 9/11. Now, the president is rattling his saber at Iran.
We cannot afford war against Iran when we are dangerously close to losing the war against global warming.
The recession inspired by the war in Iraq will only get worse with another war.
In Iraq, we have more than 4,000 dead American troops, not to mention the thousands more who are injured and will need medical care for the rest of their lives.
Current estimates put the cost of the Iraq war at 3 trillion dollars, with no end in sight. And all we get from this administration is the possibility of yet another war with Iran.
Remember: Force Ended the Cuban Missile Crisis
Concerning the controversy over who is or is not an "appeaser" (A Matter of Opinion: "Finding Appeasers in the Mirror," May 22), twice I have heard Sen. Barack Obama state that President John F. Kennedy negotiated with Soviet leader Nikita Kruschev to end the Cuban missile crisis.
I am amazed that not one media outlet reported how incorrect and naive that statement was. JFK never dealt with -- let alone negotiated directly with -- the Russian.
Talk was conducted by letter or by staff. The crisis was averted when Kennedy was alerted that two Soviet cargo ships had left Russia, with missiles, headed to Cuba.
Kennedy then ordered our Navy to block passage to Cuba. He ordered the ships to stop, be boarded, and any and all missiles be destroyed. The Soviets insisted that they would not allow their ships to be boarded.
When it seemed that the ships would not stop and continued on to Cuba, JFK ordered our ships to halt their attempt to run the blockade -- and to shoot to kill, if necessary.
The two Soviet ships turned around and went back to Russia. A member of his team then said to Kennedy, "Sir, Mr. Kruschev just blinked."
Someone should remind Sen. Obama that U.S. history decisively proved that it was not negotiation that ended the crisis, but American power.
Sidney R. Goldstein
Arabs Sympathize With Terrorists, Not Israel
While no doubt well-intentioned, the sentiments expressed by Ami Hahshon and Mohammed Darawashe of the Abraham Fund approaches the problem of Israeli Arabs from the wrong end of the equation (Opinions: "Secure Jewish State Means One Thing -- Equality for Arabs," May 22).
While Israeli society is far from perfect, widespread Arab rejection of Israel as a Jewish state makes the complaints about inequality off the mark.
Israeli Arabs still have more freedom than anyone living in the 22 states in the region where Arabs are a majority. In those countries, Jews have no civil rights, let alone equality.