Letters the Week of July 30, 2009

Sestak Record Proves That He's an Israel Ally
In his cover story on Congressman Joe Sestak's probable run for the U.S. Senate ("Sestak Eyes Specter's Job, and Wants Jews to Help Him Win," July 23), reporter Bryan Schwartzman mischaracterized Sestak's appearance at Suburban Jewish Community Center-B'nai Aaron in April 2007.

Sestak came to the synagogue to explain why he accepted an invitation to speak before a local Muslim group. According to Schwartzman, " … one after another, audience members blasted his position."

I was at that meeting, and can report that while some vociferous audience members attempted to castigate and even to smear the freshman Congressman, others appreciated the courage and honesty that he displayed in facing his critics.

I have examined Sestak's positions on Israel, and know that he is utterly committed to its security. For example, he recently held talks with Gen. Pinchas Buchris, former head of the Israel Defense Force's main technology intelligence unit, on how U.S. Navy ships could help protect Israel from Iranian missile attacks.

Of course, there are those who warn that "anyone who cares about Jews and Israel should not be supporting Joe Sestak," but a close examination of his record reveals those voices are more interested in spreading fear than in trying to foster understanding.

Charles Smolover

Vet Troubled by Sestak's Relationship With CAIR

Your cover story regarding Congressman Joe Sestak's bid for the U.S. Senate omitted an important fact: The Council on American Islamic Relations event he spoke at in 2007 was a fundraising event for the organization ("Sestak Eyes Specter's Job, and Wants Jews to Help Him Win," July 23).

I was at a local Jewish War Veterans meeting earlier this year where Sestak was the guest speaker. He was informed that the FBI had announced it was cutting ties to CAIR over concerns about its link to Hamas.

Sestak was then asked by an audience member if he would speak at another fundraiser for CAIR with this fact in mind. He said that he would.

I am troubled by a candidate who would help raise money for a group that fails to condemn Hamas, which has gleefully killed and maimed scores of Jews and American citizens.

Sid Karp

They Stumbled Upon a 'Best Place on Earth'

Thank you for addressing the camp needs of children with differences. We learned through our own son's experience that what is, for most children, the best place on earth can be torture for children with special needs.

After watching three reputable area day camps fail our son — and with no option like Hill Top available — we made the difficult decision to send Adam to an overnight camp for children with special needs at the tender age of 7. There, we found Adam's "best place on earth" — a place where he is accepted, loved and honored.

We write to share the name of this very special place with other parents; it's Camp Northwood (www.nwood.com).

Rachel Ezekiel-Fishbein and Joel I. Fishbein
Elkins Park

Book About Armenians: It's Strictly Propaganda

Peter Balakian, the co-translator of Armenian Golgotha, which was reviewed in your July 23 issue (Speaking Volumes: "The Armenian Question"), is an English teacher playing at being a historian — and failing at it.

His sweeping generalizations — the stereotyping of evil Turks and angelic Armenians — reek of racism.

He is also insensitive to Turkish suffering at the hands of Armenian nationalists. He makes no mention, for instance, of the fact that Armenians took up arms against their own government, killed innocent Muslim — mostly Turkish — civilians in their armed revolts and terror campaigns, demanded territory and joined invading enemy armies.

Balakian's work is an attempt to whitewash Armenian war crimes by accentuating and exaggerating their suffering. Thus, it is more propagandistic than literary.

Ergün Kirlikovali
Irvine, Calif.



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