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Letters Week of Nov. 16, 2006
Web Group Stands Guilty as Charged on Speech
Jonathan Tobin wrote again about the danger to the Democratic Party from MoveOn.org (A Matter of Opinion: "Democrats Must Decide," Nov. 2).
The group was defended in the same issue of the Jewish Exponent in a full-page advertisement sponsored by the Jewish Funds for Justice.
MoveOn.org knowingly allows its Action Forum to serve as a platform not only for anti-Semitic propaganda, but also hate speech directed at Catholics, evangelical Christians and African-Americans.
Its Action Forum featured a blood libel that said the Talmud commands Jews to "slaughter" non-Jews.
Jewish Funds for Justice, the Anti-Defamation League and the National Jewish Democratic Council were provided with proof that MoveOn.org lied about not knowing about the hate speech until mid-August, and also about removing it when it was "discovered."
The site's own Frequently Asked Questions page says in two places that MoveOn.org monitors the forum regularly, and that each comment -- including by implication the hate speech -- was read twice.
In fact, dozens of hate-speech examples were harvested from the Action Forum on or after Sept. 17 -- more than two weeks after MoveOn.org said they had been removed.
It's disappointing that the ADL failed to confront the group right after its cover-up was exposed. That has given the group the legitimacy and moral cover it needed to perpetuate the lie that it knew nothing of such speech on its site.
William A. Levinson
GOP's Jewish Campaign: Just a Dirty Trick!
The Republican campaign directed at the Jewish community was based on the premise that the Democrats and the Democratic Party have not been supportive of Israel.
Yet nothing could be farther from the truth.
From the very beginning -- in 1948, when a Democratic President Harry S. Truman was the first international leader to officially recognize the new nation -- to the present time, Democratic leaders and their party have stressed the importance of Israel.
They have continually urged Congress to support Israel in every way, in peace time and during Israel's many difficult forays with her neighbors.
They have always pointed out the benefit of this relationship to the United States in the fields of academia, technology and medical research.
Shame on the Republican Party for trying to paint the Democrats as anti-Israel!
Look in your own backyard to see which party really stood in the way many times.
American Jews will not be fooled by such dirty tricks!
Conference Cancellation: It's a Rabbinical Disgrace!
Israel's chief rabbi's office convened a rabbinical conference scheduled for Nov. 7-8 to discuss how Jewish law deals with agunot -- women whose husbands refuse to grant a get (Religion & Ethics: "Women Bemoan Canceled Conference," Nov. 9).
On the agenda were potential halachic solutions and financial, religious and legal sanctions to impose on recalcitrant husbands.
This was an historic opportunity because it was the first time the issue would be addressed by rabbis with the political power and intellectual prestige to advocate changes.
On Nov. 2, the conference was canceled by Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar. He succumbed to pressure from rabbis who objected to this effort to improve the circumstances of women.
A central teaching of Judaism is the commandment to take special care of the widow and orphan. In fact, the misuse of halachah today has created a class of people whose status is, at best, on par with widows and orphans, and, at worse, significantly more dire.
These are agunot who often are required to grant significant financial and custody concessions in exchange for a get; who are forced to appear before incompetent or corrupt religious courts; and who bankrupt their families to pay for lawyers, even when they are the victims of abuse.
Can anyone imagine a discussion of any other religious topic being silenced in this contemptible way?
It's time for the Orthodox community to demand better.
We must remind our leaders to use halachah in the way it was originally intended -- as an ethical force to protect those in need and prevent the abuse of women by men in stronger positions.
Finally, we must not be afraid to call the cancellation of this conference what it is -- a chilul Hashem, "a desecration of the holy name."
Audrey Axelrod Trachtman
Agunah Task Force
New York, N.Y.
Protect Civilians on Both Sides of the Border
Hamas continues to fire rockets and kill Israeli civilians, while Israel apologizes for firing back and killing Gaza civilians. And the world condemns Israel while ignoring what Hamas does.
What is wrong with this picture? I have the answer. Israel should state unequivocally up front that they are responding to Hamas attacks upon Israeli territory and civilians, and will do so without concern for anyone in Gaza while these attacks on Israel continue.
Therefore, if Hamas and the world want to have Gaza's civilians unhurt, they should stop attacking Israel and its civilians.
If they do attack, then everyone in Gaza is an enemy, and hence, a fair target.
It's way past the time to put the blame upon the aggressor, Hamas, and the onus for civilian deaths where it belongs, also on Hamas.
Rockaway Township, N.J.