Letters Week of Nov. 8, 2007

Don't Forget Volunteers Who Fought for Israel!

Concerning Jonathan Tobin's column about a new film on Israel's War of Independence that includes fictional Americans fighting for the Jewish state (A Matter of Opinion: "Film Bombs in 'Jerusalem,' " Oct. 25), I'm a Machal veteran, one of the real American volunteers.
I fought from Feb. 2, 1948, until July 20, 1949, in the Negev Desert, and was twice wounded.
The contribution of Machal is not only forgotten by the Israelis, but is literally unknown by most American Jews.
The problem is compounded by the fact that most of us are in our 80s and in poor health.
In a few months, Israel will celebrate its 60th anniversary. I wonder if anyone will remember that without us, Israel might never have been created.
Robert R. Weiss
Boynton Beach, Fla.

Facts About Israel Need to Counter Its Detractors

Thanks for Jonathan Tobin's critical review of the film, "O Jerusalem" (A Matter of Opinion: "Film Bombs in 'Jerusalem,' " Oct. 25).
His discussion of what transpired at Deir Yassin is especially apt.
The book O Jerusalem, on which the film was supposedly based, tried hard to balance the portrayal of the events of 1947-48. It actually describes the story of Deir Yassin as a terrible, regrettable tragedy in which the loudspeaker-equipped car that was intended to warn the Arab villagers to get out of the way fell into a ditch, and other chaos and confusion led to the killings, rather than any original intent by the Irgun fighters to commit mass murder.
I regret how those who, like me, are Zionist supporters of a two-state solution must now defend Israel from calumnies put forward by the United Nations, by former President Jimmy Carter, by "Israel Lobby" authors John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, and by others who pretend that if only Israel would offer a fair deal, the conflict would be over.
We need to try to keep the facts clear. Reviews like this one help!
Jonathan Wolf
Evanston, Ill.

The Inhumane Treatment of Animals Is Not Kosher!

I would like to comment on the article on the Jewish take on animal rights (City & Suburb: "When It Comes to Animal Rights, Expert Says Jews Show Compassion," Oct. 25).
Certainly, the Jewish population overall is not inclined toward hunting, and our ethics and core beliefs lead many of us into working for change and enlightenment in many progressive movements.
However, there are areas that still require significant improvement, such as the custom of kapparot, the swinging of a live chicken over one's head to symbolize penitence prior to Yom Kippur.
There is nothing remotely humane about this, and it behooves us to evolve a better, kinder way to accomplish personal penitence.
More disturbing is the situation with AgriProcessors, the kosher meat-and-chicken processing plant in Iowa.
This plant had been documented by PETA as violating shechitah laws in various and gruesome ways (including ripping out the trachea of live cows, hardly a kosher necessity). Rabbis around the world condemned the gross cruelty that was occurring on a regular basis at AgriProcessors.
Distressingly, AgriProcessors continues to violate kosher and anti-cruelty laws.
This company is neither humane nor kosher in what it's doing to God's creatures and should not be patronized by any Jewish person who aspires to a higher ethic.
Arlene B. Steinberg

Singles Columnist: Out of Touch With Dating Reality

I could not agree more with Marsha Hyman, who wrote criticizing a Roy Gutterman "Single & Mingle" column (Letters: "'Postmenopausal Insult Deserves an Apology," Oct. 18).
I, too, have found him condescending, annoying, and a person with an inflated sense of self-importance. I am a married woman, but I read his column, as I do all columns in your newspaper.
Maybe there is a reason why this gentleman (and I'm not sure I should even use that term) is still single. He is so out of touch with reality.
Brina Dozor Segal
Beaver Falls

Distasteful Holocaust Book Title Isn't So Cute

Did the editors of the Jewish Exponent see the ad on Page 26 in your Oct. 25 issue promoting an appearance by an author at Barnes & Noble stores?
Did you even read the title of the book — My Parents Went Through the Holocaust and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt?
Is this the latest thing, where someone is being deliberately "politically incorrect?"
Is it supposed to evoke a smile? Is it supposed to be cute?
Didn't anyone at all think it was in very bad taste?
Richard M. Marcus

More Bar Than Mitzvah in 'Mazel Tov' Supplement

I am in the process of planning the Bar Mitzvah of my oldest child and turned to your "Mazel Tov" section (Supplement, Oct. 25) for insight.
Frankly, I was appalled.
Rather than focusing on helping families create a meaningful, joyous simcha, you encouraged "drama, excitement and razzle-dazzle," imploring parents to remember that "kids need more stimulation than they used to."
It's very hard not to get caught up in keeping up with the Steins, and even more to make the planning of this special event a teachable moment to help your child remember the real reason for celebrating.
The Jewish Exponent should be a voice of reason, not a marketing tool of the party planning industry or another source of pressure.
Rachel Ezekiel-Fishbein
Elkins Park



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