Letters week of April 26, 2007

No Jewish Welcome for Illegal Immigrants!

Concerning your April 5 editorial about immigration, Americans do indeed "Welcome the Stranger."

We are a country of strangers. Our parents and grandparents came to America from foreign countries, worked hard and built up this country, and they were welcomed here.

The difference is that they came legally.

How can you condone immigrants — from whatever country — if they sneak in over fences or through tunnels?

If I sneaked into a movie theater without paying and was found out, wouldn't I be made to buy a ticket if I wanted to stay — or be thrown out?

If you break the law, you pay the price.

My point is this: Welcome the stranger — the legal one. If you come in otherwise, you're not welcome!
Anne S. Engel

Why Place a 'Hechsher' on an Illegal Practice?

In your article on the new tzedek hechsher being considered by the Conservative movement ("New Hechsher to Consider Ethics Associated With the Workplace," April 12), you write: "Another conundrum is just how deep certifiers would be asked to dig."

The article notes that undocumented immigrants comprise a large portion of the workforce in the industry.

I respectfully suggest that the conundrum is why any certifying body would consider issuing any kind of ethical certification to a company that employs undocumented immigrants in violation of U.S. law.
Aron Davidson
Mount Laurel, N.J.

Hello, People: It's Time for a Reality Check!

Recent letters chastising Jonathan Tobin's positions on Iraq and Israel are astonishingly naive in their inability to discern the big picture.

Florence Cohen thinks that by leaving Iraq and declining any military option against Iran, we will "close the books" on the conflict (Letters: "Time to Bring the Troops Home From Costly War," April 12).

Joe Magid wants to make sure that while deploring terrorist hatred, we not forget how bad Israel's "illegal Jewish settlements" are (Letters: "Don't Lump Together Policy and Propaganda," April 12). You wonder whether he feels "Jewish" is a synonym for "illegal?"

Larry Snyder chides columnist Charles Krauthammer (quoted by Tobin) for pointing "to an endless conflict between two peoples" — in other words, kill the messenger — and touts voices of moderation in Jerusalem and Ramallah (Letters: "We, Too, Were Strangers in a Strange Land," April 12).

Ramallah? Does anybody bother to read MEMRI's translations of the Arab media?

It's time for a reality check, folks! The people defending themselves against Islamic radicals are not the problem.

The problem is all of this hand-wringing that reduces our ability to fight genocidal terrorists viewing the destruction of our civilization as a sacred tenet of Islamic faith.

Focusing outrage on our own perceived deficiencies in the context of jihad against the West will only strengthen those who wish us harm.
Mitchell Kaltz

Have We Forgotten What It's Like to Be Hated?

The Commission on American Islamic Relations serves the same function as the Anti-Defamation League served when my grandparents arrived from Russia (Editorial: "Two Fail Leadership Test on Terrorism," April 12).

That CAIR exists to normalize Islam in America and protect its co-religionists from discrimination is the strength of America. Jews forget too soon about lobbying to wear a kipah in public, receive kosher food in jail, or work in the corporate world and teach in the Ivy League.

Do not deny the rights of Muslims and CAIR. We should rejoice that mainline politicians like Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak and Gov. Ed Rendell spoke at their banquet.

To deny to CAIR what we and other Americans gained from civil rights in this country demeans Jews.

Shame on the new McCarthyism your editorial demonstrates. Muslim terrorists are not under every bed waiting to be routed out by self-appointed Jewish terror mavens.
Lois Swartz

Group's Efforts Saved Many During Holocaust

Thank you for Jonathan Tobin's thoughtful take on "The Accomplices," the new play by Bernard Weinraub (A Matter of Opinion: "Who Were the Real 'Accomplices?' " April 12).

But he ignores a vast historical record when he writes, "As much as we may sympathize with the dilemma of World War II-era American Jewry, history's verdict on their failure is not in question."

This is not so. Most American Jews and their leaders were actively engaged in trying to rescue and sustain European Jewry from the outbreak of the war until its end.

American Jews of all stripes donated more than $60 million (equal to more than $700 million today) during the war for the express purpose of rescue. By far the largest and most active rescue organization was the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. The Joint's sole purpose during the war was to try to save Europe's Jews.

It's efforts — funded by donations to the United Jewish Appeal — were well-known at the time. Indeed, an Aug. 7, 1942 editorial in the Jewish Exponent praised the JDC's spending.

By the time Peter Bergson, the protagonist of Mr. Weinraub's play, began lobbying for rescue the following year, the Joint had already helped more than 140,000 Jews escape Europe, and had provided food and medicine annually to 1 million others still trapped there.

The differences between Bergson and Rabbi Stephen Wise were over tactics and politics, not over whether Jews should be rescued. It's far from clear that attacking President Roosevelt early on would have saved more Jewish lives, although it's an extremely easy argument to make in hindsight.

In the face of the worst disaster ever to befall the Jewish people, American organizations never gave up the fight.

Is it fair to tag them as failures when they succeeded in saving so many?
Laurence Zuckerman
New York, N.Y.


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