Letters Week of Sep. 27, 2007

Money Spent on Museum: A Tragic Loss for the Area

With all due respect to George M. Ross and Ronald Rubin, Jonathan Tobin is correct on this point: a Jewish museum is one of the last things the community needs (Letters: "Museum Speaks of Past, Present and Future," Sept. 20).

This project has diverted precious funds that might have gone directly to support Jewish day schools into an institution which, in the long run, will have an insignificant impact on the efforts to perpetuate — and educate — the Jewish community. A four-hour visit, or a few hours on the museum's Web site, will not have the weight of six or 12 years of education at a Jewish day school.

The community was not crying out for this museum. Imagine what kind of school the Jewish community could have built with $100 million.

Instead, the Philadelphia Jewish community opted for a vanity project. Museums may provide important services, but they do not make anyone more religious or more Jewish.

It's only with graduates of a religious education infused into a standard school curriculum that the community will survive. The museum may educate, but its exhibits won't penetrate students in the way that continuing and repeated exposure over years to Torah, Jewish rituals, traditions, history, culture and values can.

The money spent on this museum is a tragic loss for the Jewish community, with so much spent on what will turn out to be the illusion of a serious contribution to the perpetuation of Jewish life.
Ronald Kaiserman

There's Nothing Wrong With Discussing a 'Lobby'

While I understand that Jonathan Tobin recognized Michael Smerconish's past support for Israel, I don't know why he views him as one who sympathizes with theorists who seek to "demonize the Jews" when he is merely calling for discussion (A Matter of Opinion: " 'Lobby' Lies Make a Comeback," Sept. 13).

If you want to criticize someone, criticize the creators of the thesis for whatever reasons you disagree with them; however, to criticize someone who understands the thesis of the book and wants to consider it a discussion-starter seems outlandish and irresponsible.

Rather than criticizing Smerconish, we should be working to persuade him on the value of the Israel lobby.

Let's face it: He loves America first, as do I and many other Jews. He's simply opening a conversation.

What's the harm in contemplating all sides? Why keep the Israel lobby such a secret?

I am hard-pressed to find how this book demonizes Jews.
Brian Weiner

Photo Placement Next to 'Lobby' Headline Misleads

Concerning Jonathan Tobin's column that mentioned my commentary in The Philadelphia Inquirer (A Matter of Opinion: " 'Lobby' Lies Make a Comeback: New Version of Anti-Israel Screed Gaining Unlikely Allies," Sept. 13), how dare you run that headline next to my photograph.

How absolutely misleading!
Michael Smerconish

Smerconish Falls Into Author's Misleading Trap

Michael Smerconish should understand the history of anti-Semitism and how it has led to heightened sensitivity toward publications perceived as biased against Jews (A Matter of Opinion: " 'Lobby' Lies Make a Comeback," Sept. 13).

This is what he fails to grasp, and his exasperation with the Exponent as expressed on his radio program isn't helping.

Stephen M. Walt and John J. Mearsheimer have written a book whose title and major theme suggest excessive Jewish influence, a charge made for centuries. They have also been insensitive to the Jewish community's response, which is based on a history of atrocities often instigated by polemical, anti-Semitic writings.

It's been suggested that they sought this response as a trap to validate their ideas that any charges raised against Israel wind up "labeling" a person as as an anti-Semite. In fact, it is the focus on a cabal that has been the principal cause of that response. Smerconish has fallen into the same trap.

A work like Walt and Mearsheimer's Lobby is not an appropriate mechanism to "open discussion" on the relationship between the United States and Israel. They destroyed their credibility by their tendentious tone and numerous errors.

Such errors in scientific research would lead to charges of research fraud.
Scot Silverstein

Which Is Doing More Harm, AIPAC or Iran?

Douglas Bloomfield writes as if he seems to think that Iran poses less of a threat to Israel than does the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or those strident voices in the White House and Congress who are using Israel to push for war (Opinions: "Who Will Take the Blame for the Next 'Inevitable' War?" Aug. 30).

One of us is living in an alternative universe.

Bloomfield should think about the following: Was it AIPAC or Iran that has been the biggest supporter of terrorism for the past 30 years?

Was it AIPAC or Iran that has continually threatened to wipe Israel off the map?

Is it AIPAC or Iran that is funding Palestinians who shoot missiles daily at Israeli cities?

Was it AIPAC or Iran that trained, funded and sent revolutionary guards to help Hezbollah attack Israeli cities, and kidnap and kill Israeli soldiers less than a year ago?

Why has Bloomfield's hatred of AIPAC and Mr. Bush caused him to distort reality?
Steve Heitner
Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.

St. Joe's Among Schools Fighting Against Boycott

I was heartened to see the article about the petition that condemns the British academic boycott of Israel (City & Suburb: "Colleges Join Petition Rebuking Brit Boycott," Aug. 30).

Saint Joseph's University was also a signatory. I was disappointed that it wasn't included in the list of local schools.

Social justice and academic freedom are at the heart of our Jesuit mission; we are proud to be part of this effort.
Dr. Nancy Ruth Fox
Associate dean College of Arts & Sciences
Saint Joseph's University



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