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Letters week of Sept. 23, 2010
Where Are All the Voices Raised in Protest?
The Roma of France are being deported, and the European Union has raised a protest citing how it is a violation of international law.
But if there are any voices that should speak the loudest, it should be Jewish ones.
Yet what do the numerous Holocaust and human-rights advocates have to say?
How hollow are the criers of "never forget!"
Article Manages to Soften History Far Too Much
Dr. Philip A. Cunningham's Sept. 16 opinion piece, "John Paul II, Lower Manhattan and the Power of Religious Symbolism," softens history too much.
The Carmelite nuns at Auschwitz pointedly ignored a solemn 1987 agreement between European Jewish leaders and Catholic cardinals that the convent -- in a building used by the Nazis to store Zyklon-B pellets -- should be vacated.
When Rabbi Avi Weiss of Riverdale, N.Y., led six of us over the convent's fence in July 1989 for a peaceful protest, it was by then five months after the nuns were to have left.
Yet the workmen who violently assaulted us at the nuns' behest were expanding the convent by one-third.
Only in 1993 -- four years later, when the controversy was still simmering -- did Pope John Paul II very belatedly order the nuns to move.
New York, N.Y.
Nice Article, Though You Didn't Identify Relatives
I thoroughly enjoyed your recent article about the Philadelphia Jewish Archives, "Out Comes New Calendar Depicting 'Collective Community Memory,' " (City & Suburb, Sept. 9), with a focus on letters and mementos in its collections about people who have lived in the Greater Philadelphia area.
Most touching for me was to see my mother featured in the article.
My mother, Zelda Rabinowitz Meranze, was a longtime supporter of the Jewish Exponent and an ardent believer in the importance of history, especially history associated with individuals who contribute to society but do not in their lifetime reach prominence.
The Jewish Archives is special in many ways, especially as a repository in which the stories of those who are not rich and famous can be preserved.
My only regret was that there was no identification on the black-and-white cover photograph showing my aunt, Clara Rabinowitz, on the left side and my mother on the right.
The time was circa 1910, and my mother was perhaps 5; my aunt around 10.
My aunt did become a prominent psychologist and social activist in New York, and my mother partnered with my father to help grow the labor movement here in Philadelphia.
Julie Meranze Levitt
Vice president, Philadelphia Jewish Archives
United States: It's Hardly Islamophobic These Days
The article "Groups Step Up Efforts to Combat Bigotry" (Sept. 16) implies that a wave of Islamophobia is sweeping America -- and American Jews. Americans are not Islamophobic, but they are finally recognizing the threat from Islamic extremists
When moderate Muslims, who believe in tolerance of differences and the values of multiculturalism, separate themselves from the fundamentalists and join in opposition to terror, they will be easier to recognize.
Those who remember can't help noticing the similarities today with Germany in the 1930s: the rise to power of a small minority of fanatics, theories of superiority and world domination, suppression of dissent with fatal force, the silence of those who disagree, along with lots of rabid anti-Semitism.
As with Germany in the 1930s, the fanatics are clear in their intentions, but no one wants to believe they really mean it.
The concern we are seeing today is not Islamophobia, but self-preservation, especially as far as the Jews are concerned. Would that we had recognized it 75 years ago.