Letters: Dialogue with NAACP, Questionable Terminology, and Trump and Israel


Dialogue Better Than Threats
It is probably not the province of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia to threaten the local NAACP to break off relations if it does not remove its leader, Minister Rodney Muhammad, due to his anti-Semitic postings on Facebook (“Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia Will No Longer Work With Local NAACP,” Aug. 6).

Threats are poor persuaders. The minister has issued a hollow apology, which is reminiscent of a boy who was forced to drive a nail into a wall when he misbehaved. When he did something good he was allowed to remove the nail but, of course, the hole remained. Although Muhammad’s apology removes the nail, the hole, anti-Semitism, remains.

Greater harm to NAACP/Jewish relations could be created by a parting of ways, since dialogue and interaction are better weapons than silence. This could be one individual’s misguided action. The time for possible separation would be if this proves not to be the case.

Ralph D. Bloch | Jenkintown

Paper Used Questionable Terminology, No. 1
I read your article about the death of Gunter Hauer (“Holocaust Survivor Gunter Hauer Dies at 101,” Aug. 13). It prompted me to write to you. I left Germany on Aug. 11, 1939, along with my mother and two sisters.

My father’s factory had been destroyed on Kristallnacht, Nov. 9, 1938, and it took that long to arrange visas to emigrate to the United States. My father’s number was not called, and he boarded the ship with us but he had to leave us when we arrived in England.

We never considered ourselves Holocaust survivors. That is a very special group of people who suffered when they were taken to the camps. We are known as Holocaust escapees. It is not correct to use the term “survivor.” Many people had to go to Shanghai, and I know that quite a few friends of my parents were not able to enter the United States because of the quota system which was in effect in 1939.

I am grateful that Hauer was able to live a long and productive life. There are so few left of us that can continue to tell the story. Again, as escapees, and not survivors of the camps.

Renate Elgart | Elkins Park

Paper Used Questionable Terminology, No. 2
Re: “Russian American Jews in Philadelphia Join Global Walk to Israel,” Aug. 13: I resent this name. Same as “Mexican American” and others. Would it not be more appropriate as “American Jews from Russia”?

More than 50 years ago, when I came to the U.S. as an immigrant, we all tried hard to become “Americans.” Today, it seems some immigrants want to be defined by where they came from, rather than what they should become. (Maybe the media likes the above definition.)

No one is suggesting abandoning one’s cultural or religious heritage, but let’s leave the original country behind because, after all, that’s why they elected to leave and come here.

Harry Scherzer | Eagleville

Op-Ed Ignores Trump’s Actions in Favor of Israel
In Burt Siegel’s column (“Black-Jewish Relations in Philadelphia: Then and Now,” Aug. 6), he cites “numerous reports” of President Trump’s allegedly anti-Semitic comments.

He neglects to recognize that President Trump has done the following: moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, closed the PLO/PA office in Washington, D.C., stopped funding the PA, stopped funding UNRWA, stood up for Israel in the UN, re-started investigations into college campus anti-Semitism, and issued an executive order including anti-Semitism under Title VI.

Whatever Trump’s alleged utterances, they are far outweighed by his actions in favor of Israel. He has done far more to aid Israel than any of his predecessors, especially his feckless predecessor who shamefully abandoned Israel to hostile votes in the UN. Siegel’s comments should remind us that actions indeed speak louder than words, and that we should look to facts rather than unsupported innuendo.

Stephen A. Shalet | West Chester


  1. The belief that Donald Trump is an anti-Semite is so absurd that it shouldn’t need to be rebutted. The fact that it does speaks to the democratic left’s use of the Nazi technique that repeating a lie repeated over gives it the aura of truth. For the record, I’m not calling these democrats Nazi’s, there’s only one group that deserves that term, but I am saying they’re not above using some of the Nazi’s tactics to advance their agenda. Burt Siegal’s statements calling Trump an anti-Semite simply continues democrats practice of calling any Republican presidential candidate a Jew-hater. What this does in the words of Elie Weisel, a holocaust survivor, is ” drain the holocaust of it’s meaning.”


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