Letters: Politics and MAS


Who’s a Jew?

Has the Jewish Exponent decided to renew the debate over who is a Jew? It seems that way, judging from the letters you published on May 30. The most blatant example is Howard Brooks saying “Jewish Republican is an oxymoron.” Wow! Does that mean Jewish Republicans should be excommunicated? There are so few of us Jews in the world, less than one in 500 people. Brooks would apparently excommunicate one-fourth of all American Jews.

Morris Olitsky | Havertown

Muddled Facts

I don’t think that Judaism is Republican or Democratic in nature — it goes back much further than either — but some of the statements in recent letters betray an astonishing level of ignorance.

One letter states that Republicans prevented Jews from escaping the Holocaust, whereas, in fact, the Roosevelt administration (Democrats) was in power for the entire period.

Another letter suggests that halacha requires liberal abortion laws and a single-payer health care system; one can only imagine the creative interpretation required to reach such conclusions.

People have a right to express their opinions on Jewish or other subjects. But if facts are twisted so far to meet contemporary political goals, is it any wonder our community is in demographic trouble?

Michael A. Livingston | Cheltenham

Whither True Zionism?

How intriguing — and embarrassing.

Of all the famous American Jews who attended the ZOA-linked Keeyuma/Carmelia camp in Vermont (“Remembering Herman Wouk — and Summer Camp,” May 30) — Arthur Miller, Norman Lear, Moss Hart, Paul Goodman, Andrew Goodman, Bob Treuhaft and especially the Orthodox Herman Wouk — not a single one ever wound up making aliyah.

Exactly what was the nature of the Zionism taught at that camp?

Stephen Arkan | Wilkes-Barre

When Democracy Loses

The problem with allowing “the democratically elected leaders” of a country to make any decisions (let alone those involving national security — see Ronnie Breslow’s letter in the May 23 Exponent) occurs when those leaders may be guilty of criminal activity, dishonesty and certainly of making decisions that many deem inconsistent with national security and other policy issues.

Were it not for the dishonesty, scare tactics and supposed help from President Donald Trump, it is likely that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would not have been reelected, and new and more likely to succeed paths to peace could have been initiated in Israel. When “my country, right or wrong” becomes the rule with respect to governance, then darkness will replace light, and democracy will begin to fade.

Democracy also loses when unsupported claims are made about Jewish values being conservative rather than democratic (Jerry Stern’s letter, same issue). One need only look at recent decisions of the Supreme Court, as well as the actions and votes of Republican legislatures and the rhetoric and actions of our Republican president, to see that the claims about Jewish values being more at home with conservative beliefs to be totally baseless.

Frank L. Friedman | Philadelphia

More Questions Than Answers

The article (“MAS Philadelphia Responds to Controversy,” May 23) offers a faint apology by the Muslim community and creates more questions than explanations. The excuse seems to be that the hate material was ill-suited for children.

Was it any better for adults? Who created it? Where was it printed and distributed? Is it the party line of the Muslim American Society? Why was it in quantity in the mosque? Why does the material exist to begin with?

Is the apology forthcoming at all sincere or merely because the umma (“community”) got caught with it? Is chopping off heads in Jerusalem ever a proper topic?

The Israelis have been claiming for years that the Arab bloc, Sunnis and Shiites, America’s supposed friends and allies alike have used United Nations money to print and distribute the exact material found in schools and mosques through Gaza, the West Bank and even in Israel.

Needless to say, you can’t find any material like its counterpart anywhere near a synagogue anywhere in the world. Is it any wonder that a peaceful two-state solution seems so hard to reach?

Bart Banks | Blue Bell


  1. Jewish values are neither conservative nor liberal, neither Democratic nor Republican. The sad fact is that there are no “Jewish values” anymore; rather, there is an amorphous salad of disparate disconnected opinions

    Some think abortion right up to birth and beyond, free health care, Trump derangement syndrome, open borders, radical environmentalism are all right there clearly written in the Bible, but so far nobody can show me where.

    Not too long ago, I thought all Jews saw supporting Israel’s survival as a Jewish value, but even that is no longer true. The fact is you can no longer demand obeisance to any belief from your fellow Jews, regardless of how important it is to you. Politics has become so toxic so deranged, so malignant and emotional that just the fact that we disagree on almost any topic sends some of us into a fury.

    Here’s the bottom line: There are people out there who want us all dead, liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican, and your opinions on anything won’t change their minds. Lets agree to disagree without being disagreeable.

  2. Frank L. Friedman is concerned about allowing democratically elected leaders to make decisions, since those decisions don’t agree with his beliefs. Mr. Friedman, the leader you’re referring to, Benjamin Netanyahu, wasn’t elected to agree with you, but rather to represent the people of his country. He’s been in that position for more than 10 years, so he must be doing his job pretty well, at least in the view of his voters. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that both Netanyahu and Trump are being attacked by their left wing using the criminal system as a weapon in order to short circuit the will of the electorate. If you want to defeat them, do it at the ballot box not by phony charges of criminality.

  3. Mr. Livingston makes the following ‘am- ha-‘aretz observation: “Another letter suggests that halacha requires liberal abortion laws and a single-payer health care system; one can only imagine the creative interpretation required to reach such conclusions.”

    The author of that position is Israel-based Rabbi Alan Yuter, who has multiple Orthodox rabbinic ordinations, including from the Chief Rabbi of Israel. Also, such is the existing practice in the state of Israel.
    Judaism values knowledge above all. The “ignorance” which Livingston decries begins with him.


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