Letters the Week of April 2, 2015


Bus Ad Battle Deflects Focus From Real Culprits

There is a preventable tragedy unfolding. The Exponent reports that one group seeks to launch anti-Islamic ads on Philadelphia buses. (Headlines, “Interfaith Coalition to Counter Anti-Islamic Ads on SEPTA,” March 19) Another group condemns this as “irresponsible speech.” The tragedy is that these groups are fighting each other instead of uniting to fight a common enemy.

In a major speech 14 years ago, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, then president of the Union for Reform Judaism, declared that “Islamic radicalism is the Nazism of our day.” Why would the America Freedom Defense Initiative (sponsors of the ads) and the Interfaith Center of Philadelphia not unite to fight the “Nazism of our day?” Should not all Jews, Christians and moderate Muslims (or all Muslims) unite in this fight?

It is time to set aside personal rivalries, political correctness and partisan politics to put an end to the “Nazism of our day.” Leaders must lead, and shame on them if they do not. We all must remember the words “NEVER AGAIN” and take them seriously.

David E. Edman | Radnor

New Year Needs a New Hillel

While I respect the passion and convictions of the Swarthmore College students who voted to transform their Hillel International affiliate into the unaffiliated group Swarthmore Kehilah, I think it is urgent that Hillel International work to set up a new Hillel chapter at Swarthmore for the 2015-2016 school year.

It certainly cannot be taken for granted that an anti-Hillel majority opinion will remain so with a new influx of freshmen and an exodus of seniors. Even if it does, those students who want to be part of a campus Hillel should have that opportunity. It is disappointing that dialogue, which I deeply believe in as a longtime Philadelphia state legislator, failed this time to prevent the split.

 It would also be wise for Main Line synagogues to increase their outreach to students attending the Swarthmore campus. That campus should not become a hotbed of anti-Israel sentiment. There has always been a strain of anti-Zionism in American Jewish political thought, but it has never been representative of American Jewish political opinion.

Mark B. Cohen | Northeast Philadelphia

Focus on What’s Important

In the weeks leading up to Israeli elections, I was astonished by all the handwringing in the pages of the Jewish Exponent — outright fear that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would singlehandedly scuttle the longstanding relationship between Israel and the United States, embarrassment and anger that he “snubbed” or “insulted” President Barack Obama by criticizing the Iran deal before Congress.

Likewise, there was not enough coverage of the Iran nuclear deal. At the beginning of the process, the stated objective was to prevent Iran from getting the bomb. Now the objective seems to be delaying Iran’s nuclear program, contradicting five United Nations resolutions. And not one word about the discovery of a secret nuclear facility built deep underground at Fodor.

We must make informed choices. Otherwise it becomes just another emotional argument based on one’s political leanings. Nothing could be more irresponsible at this time in history.

Jay S. Polis | Philadelphia



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