Letters the Week of January 16, 2014


Why Won’t Obama Budge on Pollard?

President Barack Obama, once again, seems to show his arrogance by refusing to grant clemency to Jonathon Pollard (Editorial: “Time to Free Pollard,” Jan. 9) after 28 years in prison for giving classified information to Israel, one of our closest allies.

Though many of our major government officials at the time of his arrest, including the head of the FBI, the CIA, former secretary of state and former national security adviser, have all requested Pollard’s release, our president refuses to budge. Could this be his way of trying to appease some of Israel’s Arab neighbors who don’t seem to be very happy with his administration?

Perhaps someone in the president’s inner circle should remind him that our government has been spying on Israel and many other countries for years.

Frank Brodsky, Wynnewood

Clergy Support Iran Negotiations

Months before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and J Street began struggling to pass or oppose a congressional bill for imposing new sanctions on Iran that the White House fears would put the world on the road to war (Headlines: “Casey, Toomey Support New Iran Sanctions Bill,” Jan. 9), 120 rabbis and other Jewish clergy signed a statement, “Step by Step Toward Shalom with Iran.” It supports negotiations to put in place tough surveillance to prevent Iran from possessing nuclear weapons while ending Western isolation of and sanctions against Iran.

The statement also urges Iran to affirm Israel’s legitimacy, and urges Israel to support the ongoing negotiations and end hostile acts and statements toward Iran. Initiated by the Shalom Center, it was praised and placed in the Congressional Record on Jan. 10 by U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.). She also urged the signers to call their senators to oppose the “dangerous” sanctions bill.

The rabbis’ statement revitalizes a Jewish outlook that is rooted in Jewish wisdom, such as the command, “Seek peace and pursue it.” (Psalms 34:14).

Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Director, Shalom Center

Confusion Leads to Scapegoating

The anti-Semitism of the present, as well as that of the past, shares scapegoating as its causal agent. Ben Cohen, in his opinion piece (“Anti-Semitism Links Boycott of Israel to ‘Quenelle,’ ” Jan. 9), suggests that the highbrow anti-Israel movement at our universities and the brutish Nazi-style movement of the streets have more in common than we want to admit. I agree.

The anti-Israel arguments of the radical leftists at the universities is little more than anti-Semitism hiding behind a desire for “justice” for the Palestinians. In these radicals’ utopian imaginations, Palestinian suffering must have some human cause, and what better cause than those rich, powerful Israelis?

The brutish Nazi-style movement as represented by the French “quenelle” has its origins in the cultural destruction taking hold in modern-day Europe. The breakdown of the family, religion and civilized norms along with high unemployment rates presents the need to blame someone for the chaos. What better cause than those rich, powerful Jews?

What both the academic boycott of Israel and the French quenelle share is a confused view of reality. Confusion inevitably leads to scapegoating the Jews.

Steve Heitner, Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.



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