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Letters week of Oct. 23, 2008
Put an End to 'Lashon Hara' About Candidates
Thank you for publishing Douglas Bloomfield's timely piece on the smears disseminated in our community against Sen. Barack Obama (Opinions: "Don't Fall for the Extreme Anti-Obama Smear Campaign," Oct. 2).
One of our confessional prayers on Yom Kippur is profoundly relevant at this moment: "for the sin we have committed against you in impurity of lips."
I am distressed to hear too many good people repeating slurs without the slightest basis in truth. My 9-year-old son came home from his Jewish day school saying, "Barack Obama hates Israel."
The facts: Obama's voting record is rated 100 percent on Israel by AIPAC; he has repeatedly stated that "Israel's security is sacrosanct," and that Iran must never be allowed to threaten Israel with nuclear weapons. I've heard elders say they "know" that Obama is a Muslim. It's not that there is anything wrong with being a Muslim, but, for the record, Obama is a committed Christian.
Our tradition teaches us that lashon hara, evil speech, kills three: the one who speaks, the one who listens, and the one about whom the untruths are told.
We Jews of all people know the toxic effect of slurs based in racism, ignorance or xenophobia. As we turn in repentance, we can start by refusing to listen to or repeating distorted claims about Obama or any other candidate, and by asking people repeating them to refrain from this disgraceful behavior. No matter how insecure we feel, I pray we will redouble our efforts to make critical decisions on facts, not fear.
Rabbi Dayle A. Friedman
Rabbis for Obama
Republicans, Not Obama, Are the Real Radicals
Judy Davidson's letter about the current presidential campaign was long on generalities and short on truths (Letters: "Abortion Concerns Shouldn't Trump Israel," Oct. 8).
Regrettably, we as a nation have lots of experience with the Republican Party as a result of these last eight years and, frankly, we have had enough. Do we really want a continuation of the failed Republican domestic and foreign policies of this presidency? I hope not.
As for worrying about the Obama-Biden left-wing agenda, what about the Republican right-wing agenda that we've been living with for the past eight years? I do not want public schools forced to teach intelligent design -- creationism -- as if it were a valid subject for science class. And I do not want a woman's right to choose extinguished.
So which party is really espousing the radical agenda -- the Democrats or the Republicans dominated by the Christian right?
As for Israel, Davidson claims that Republicans have been better friends to Israel than the Democrats. Where is the objective evidence to support that claim? But, more importantly, has the last eight years of President George W. Bush been good for Israel?
It is time for a change. I don't want the Christian right continuing to run this country. They've had eight years, and look at the mess we're in. Can we really afford to continue the status quo?
It's Political Censorship to Call for Ban on Ads
The comments of letter writers Stacey Mandel and Sherry Wolkoff auger an alarming prospect of blatant censorship in an Obama administration (Letters: "Why Would You Publish Ads Attacking Obama?" Oct. 2).
Calls for censorship of conservative-oriented talk radio programs, among other forums, have already been sounded on the record by House Speaker Pelosi and other national Democratic leaders.
Is it not high time that American Jewry finally shelves Franklin D. Roosevelt in his proper historical context, and focuses fairly and dispassionately upon current political realities?
Playing the Fear Card Breeds Hateful Acts
The McCain-Palin ad campaign is absolutely despicable.
Poll numbers for Barack Obama are rising steadily, no doubt a reflection of Americans' growing confidence he will deal best with the economic crisis.
John McCain's campaign planners are making one last ditch effort to reverse this trend. They are playing the fear card. And we all know, and remember, that the fear card can breed a hate that leads to despicable acts and events with the direst of consequences.
How About a Campaign for Civilized Discourse?
I can't remember a time in my life when there was more dirty stuff clouding the airwaves and choking the national discourse. It seems to me that people can hardly open their mouths to speak anymore without inhaling and exhaling noxious fumes.
I think I remember a time not so long ago when people who disagreed could still speak to one another respectfully. The infection seems to have spread uncontrollably in recent years.
Both sides of the aisle have been contaminated, and it seems that there are few voices anymore of objectivity, conciliation and non-partisanship.
What if the presidential race were not between one good candidate and his evil opponent? What if it were rather a debate between two decent and accomplished individuals who both had the country's best interests at heart, each desiring to do what is beneficial and right for Americans and the world, and each having a different perspective on how to effect the changes that the current situation demands?
I'm suggesting a new kind of campaign -- one that advocates civilized discourse, consciousness of common purpose, and basic courtesy and manners.
Judging favorably does not mean that we shouldn't use our judgment; we can be discerning without being demeaning. Speaking properly does not mean that we shouldn't make our voices heard; we can be responsible advocates while still being respectful neighbors.
Olmert Spoke the Painful Truth About Territory
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency article about an Israeli newspaper interview with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reported that he said that Israel should give up nearly all of the West Bank for peace with the Palestinians (Cover story: "Both Left and Right Blast Olmert on Parting Shots," Oct. 8)
The article went on to note all the negative criticisms of this from both the left and right, all of which no doubt were honestly issued. Yet, wouldn't it have been appropriate to also commend Olmert for speaking the painful truth?