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Letters week of Sept. 11, 2008
No Mistaking Candidate's Stand on Abortion Rights
Your subhead, "She Backs Abortion," which appeared on page 20 in the article on Sarah Palin's nomination as the Republican candidate for vice president (Cover story: "Palin File: Thin on Community Connection," Sept. 4) was extremely misleading.
Gov. Palin opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest. Her views are extreme and to the right of most American Jews. She also seeks to have creationism taught in public schools alongside evolution. As mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, she even tried to ban books from her city's public library.
As election day draws near, we Jews need to base our decisions on facts, not misrepresentations of the truth.
Editor's Note: The writer is correct. The subhead was misleading, and we apologize.
Palin Policy on Sex Ed Sets a Poor Example
We are told that Sarah Palin's pregnant, unwed daughter is not a political issue, but a private family matter. That would make sense if Palin had not vehemently opposed sex education in Alaska's public schools (Cover story: "Palin File: Thin on Community Connection," Sept. 4).
According to a report issued by the CDC in March 2008, one out of four adolescent girls are infected with STDs. More than 3 million carry the human papiloma virus. There is no cure for HPV and, once infected, a woman's chances of getting cervical cancer are greatly increased. This public epidemic is costing our healthcare system $15 billion a year.
If elected vice president, Palin's campaign to take sex education out of schools will affect children in every state. She will leave it to "hockey moms," like herself, to have "the talk."
If Palin's chat with her daughter about the birds and bees is an example, I think our schools do a better job.
Not All Jews Disagree With Palin on Abortion
There's a misconception that the Jewish community speaks as a monolith on one particular issue.
This issue was labeled by Ira Foxman of the National Democratic Jewish Committee as "women's reproductive freedom" (Cover story: "Palin File: Thin on Community Connection," Sept. 4).
Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is in step with halachah when she backs abortion in cases where a woman's life is at risk.
She's much closer to Jewish law in opposing abortion than the "abortion-on-demand" chorus that claims to speak for all Jews.
Judaism, which enforces kashrut to spare animals needless suffering and requires that the mother bird be shooed from the nest before her eggs are taken, surely cannot be commandeered to support late-term and partial-birth abortions of fetuses at an stage when they would have a good chance, if permitted birth, to survive outside the womb.
This is not morally acceptable to many Jews and the attempts to silence such opinions by Jewish leaders speaks poorly of us to the general American community.
It is particularly disturbing that the people who lost 1.5 million children to the Holocaust only 60 years ago and well know the value of human life would present themselves as the greatest proponents of abortion in this country.
Jeffrey I. Zimmerman
Everybody Appears to Be Jewish in Election Years
Jonathan Tobin's column referred to the fact that, in the last presidential election, "just about everyone running for president, except George W. Bush, was producing a Jewish relative" (A Matter of Opinion: "Comedy Central Ethnic Pandering," Sept. 4).
Since reading Tobin's piece, I've read reports that Michelle Obama has a cousin who's a rabbi at a black Hebrew congregation in Chicago.
Everyone seems to have some Jewish connection. I, for one, would like to see the pandering cease on all fronts.
Candidates Illustrate Success of Immigration
Your article, "Two Women Set to Battle it Out to Represent the 13th District" (People & Politics, Aug. 14), discussed the race between Rep. Allyson Schwartz and Marina Kats.
As stated, Marina Kats is a member of HIAS and Council Migration Service of Philadelphia's board and has made valuable contributions to our organization.
HIAS and Council, a non-profit, non-partisan organization, continues its work of the past 126 years of representing immigrants, resettling refugees and reuniting families, providing legal and social services to the foreign-born and their families. HIAS and Council has joined national HIAS and other organizations in advocating for fair refugee and immigration policies consistent with Jewish values. This includes providing a pathway for immigrants to legalize as part of comprehensive immigration reform.
Marina Kats, a Jewish woman from the former Soviet Union who emigrated as a teenager, learned English and went on to law school, founding a very successful law firm.
Allyson Schwartz, the daughter of a German-Jewish refugee, went from health and child welfare administration to become a member of Congress.
Both candidates' achievements are a testament to the ability of immigrants to become leaders and successful public figures. We will continue to work for politics that strengthen our country as we "welcome the stranger."
President of the Board
HIAS and Council
Doing Justice to This Film Is No Easy Feat for Critic
Kudos to Michael Elkin on his well-wrought review of "Elegy," which is based on a Philip Roth novel (Arts & Entertainment: "Kepesh's Complaints?" Aug. 21).
He does justice to all parties, while not overly summarizing the film. The latter is a rare feat for a critic; the former is a rare feat for those who cover Roth, the "bard of Newark."