Letters Week of Dec. 13, 2012


Praise for leaders of the Soviet Jewry movement, a word of caution about a new book on media bias and a plea to continue supporting youth travel to Israel.

All Praise to Leaders of Soviet Jewry Movement
During the intermission of an orchestra concert in 1979, Connie Smukler pressed me about going to the Soviet Union. I told her I was too involved in my business.
She quietly suggested that my response was similar to those of American Jews during the Holocaust. After stewing through the second half of the concert, I told my wife, Evelyn, that we had to go to visit the “refuseniks.” After indoctrination, we packed our bags with blue jeans, tape recorders and Hebrew texts, and off we went. Our itinerary included no ballets, operas or circuses, only visits to refuseniks who, upon hearing the magic words, “Connie and Joe Smukler,” opened their doors and their hearts. In retrospect, a third of a century later, it was the most meaningful trip of our lives. Later, we met our former refusenik friends in Israel and here, and we hired a bus for the march to Washington.
We’re indebted to the Smuklers, the Dishlers, the Brodskys and others for their inspirational dedication to this wonderful cause.
Ed Rosen | Bryn Mawr

Couple Honored for Making Israel Trips Possible
The Nov. 21 cover story “ ‘We Are All in This Together’ ” clearly shows the concern and pride Philadelphia parents have for their children who are currently in Israel.
For a young American experiencing air raid sirens and bomb shelters for the first time, this trip is sure to become a defining moment — an educational experience that teaches the harsh reality of hate. At the same time, it can stir determination, courage and resilience, traits that define the Israeli people.
Now more than ever, it’s important to inspire our youth to travel to Eretz Yisrael and we need adults to back the effort with both encouragement and financial support. That’s one of the reasons Kol Ami recently honored Stewart and Sally Eisenberg with our Tikkun Olam award. Remembering their own travel to the Jewish state, this charitable couple created the Kol Ami Discover Israel Fund, providing scholarships for our youths’ first trips to Israel.
David Hyman | President, Congregation Kol Ami

Book Has Heart in Right Place but Makes Mistakes
Lee Bender and Jerome Verlin’s book Pressing Israel: Media Bias from A-Z, which was written about in the Nov. 28 issue (“Two Activists Write Book on ‘Media Bias’ ”), has its heart in the right place but is wrong in some important respects. The authors say: “Speaking about Israel’s recent Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza, the media’s coverage was slightly more balanced” than it had been. Not so if you look at CNN and The New York Times. Both reported that Israel started the escalation by assassinating a Hamas leader. In fact, that assassination was a response to Hamas’ firing 100 rockets a day into Israel. That distortion makes Israel look like the bad guy, when it’s Hamas that’s the perpetrator.
I think that the authors are diverting people’s attention from what should be outrage at lies and distortions, by worrying about whether we call some place the West Bank or Judea and Samaria. The New York Times analysis calls it “occupation” by Israel, when Hamas is occupying Gaza and the Palestinian Authority has control over most of what most people know as the West Bank.
I would advise Bender, Verlin and Jewish organizations to worry about accuracy in what’s reported, because lies and distortions are rampant right here in America.
Morris Olitsky | Havertown


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