Letters Week of June 12, 2008


The Blessings of Diversity Realized in One Boy's Life

The article, "Funny, You Don't Look Jewish: Panel Considers New Faces in the Crowd" (City & Suburb, May 29) struck a cord.

When our son, Casey (Meir) entered this world years ago, we realized that he had been born to a tiny minority group, a Sioux Jew.

He didn't look Jewish, but more like his cousins on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

He comes from rabbis in my family and in my husband's family, he comes from preachers and a Lakota chief. My family has physicians; my husband's has a medicine man. But that's enough about differences.

What is more important is what we have in common — we all come from tribes that were nomadic for generations, and both cultures have been decimated by "convert or die" mandates and out-and-out genocide.

Also, both the Lakota and Jews hold to their religious beliefs, cultures, language, and the value of family and of the generations, l'dor v'dor. Those common threads unite us all.

We blended cultures by including a smudging ceremony with his Bar Mitzvah.

By embracing his diversity, this young man, who may not look Jewish, was the boy in our temple that fathers asked to date their daughters.

Nona Safra McGaa 
Roswell, Ga. 

Don't Believe Everything You Read About Postville!

On the morning of May 12, the quiet peace of our bucolic little town of Postville, Iowa, was irrevocably shattered by an exaggerated projection of force. A federal hunt for illegal aliens was conducted by a military helicopter with a substantial ground force of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, as well as law-enforcement officials.

I served on City Council of Postville during the pivotal years from 2000 to 2003. I became the first Orthodox Jew to be elected to that position in a widely publicized special election. I own my own company and do not work for Agriprocessors.

During that time, I was the lead negotiator for Postville in a federal mediation with Agriprocessors. I found the owners, the Rubashkins, to be flexible and willing to work toward "win-win" solutions. They have proven to be good citizens and major supporters of community events.

Postville and its largest employer, Agriprocessors, have been sent reeling by the raid. A careful read of the warrants issued present a shocking image of horrific circumstances. In my opinion, many of the allegations are wild and surprisingly consistent with claims made by union organizers who have targeted the company.

The raid has reopened the door for hate groups, the union and a few opportunistic carpetbaggers who've made a cottage industry out of scandalizing Postville and Agriprocessors.

I am hopeful that as the truth comes out, the public will realize that there is more smoke than fire here, and that this should become a case study for our leaders of inadequate and failed policy regarding immigration.

Aaron Goldsmith 
Postville, Iowa 

Dangers of Authoritarian Rule All Too Apparent

It's hard not to agree with the observation that the West is losing the battle for freedom both abroad and among its own population (A Matter of Opinion: "Rediscovering the Will to Win," May 29).

Western intellectuals have long since replaced the concepts of freedom of speech, religion, individual rights and free economic policies with a demand for equality, along with the development of a powerful federal government designed to implement this fantasy.

As Jonathan Tobin points out, without the belief in the rightness of Western values, the immunity against the virus of Islamic extremism weakens.

Many on the left have bought into the magnification of weaknesses of the democratic form of government while ignoring or downgrading the weaknesses of authoritarian rule. Having lived under the protections of the former, they cannot conceive of the horrors of the latter.

Author and former Israeli minister Natan Sharansky knows the truth. If the rest of us don't learn it soon, we will pay the price for our naivete. The longer we wait, the bigger the price.

Steve Heitner 
Port Jefferson Station, N.Y. 

Defense of Our Identity Is Crucial to West's Survival

I enjoyed Jonathan Tobin's column about Natan Sharansky's latest book (A Matter of Opinion: "Rediscovering the Will to Win," May 29).

Of particular interest was his emphasis on maintaining one's identity in order to defend our society and culture from forces that would destroy it. My sense is that for the common person in the United States and Europe, there is a fairly strong self-identity and will to defend all that is dear to them, whatever the threat as long as they can perceive it.

And there's the rub. In many of our nations where we are increasingly led by liberals, we have a difficult time fathoming that our leaders have lost a strong sense of national and cultural identity, and thus abandoned our best interests.

In a day and age when religious and political extremists threaten Western nations, it is apparent enough whom to guard against.

We in the West want peace, mutual respect and freedom to reign throughout the world. And the vast majority of most common folk elsewhere deeply desire the same.

Sharansky's premise seems to be self-evident that only those with a strong self-identity will strive not only to help create such a world, but care enough about oneself, people and culture to be aware of and defend against threats at home and abroad.

Larry Diminyatz 
Nevada City, Calif.


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