Letters, the Week of Feb. 25, 2016


Readers discuss past opinion pieces and Jewish Exponent articles.

Doubling Down on Double Standard
As a college professor, I was disappointed by some significant omissions in Noah Beck’s description (Opinion, Feb. 18) of a couple of recent cases that show, he claims, that college campuses celebrate anti-Israel speech and persecute those who defend Israel.
Beck suggests that Connecticut College professor Andrew Pessin’s only sin was “defending Israel” and that accusations that he had made racist remarks were “libelous” and “politically motivated.”
Perhaps it would have been useful to also give some details about what Pessin actually posted on Facebook. He wrote that “the situation in Gaza” was like “a rabid pit bull chained in a cage” whose human “keeps the thing in the cage, but being kind-hearted or something regularly feeds it, waters it, takes care of its health needs, etc.” It goes on. To his credit, Pessin offered an apology for his comments and any hurt they may have caused, along with an unconvincing explanation that he was referring to Hamas’ leaders as rabid dogs, not all Gazans.
If a college professor, or anyone else, had written that the leadership of the Israeli government or the IDF had behaved in the Gaza war like “a rabid pit bull,” Beck would be leading a chorus of protest that such language is dehumanizing and anti-Semitic. Why is it so hard to see that others might object to this kind of language being applied to Palestinians?
Stuart Z. Charmé | Professor of Religion, Rutgers University-Camden
Another View of Scalia
I’m sorry to disagree with Nathan Lewin’s Opinion piece, “My Memories of Justice Scalia” (Feb. 18), but Antonin Scalia caused a great deal of suffering to many people with his hard-hearted attitude robed in Constitutional purity.  He was often condescending, desperately wanted to overturn Roe v. Wade and made amazingly inappropriate comments about minorities and gays.
I do not view Scalia as a man of kindness or goodness. Being a bon vivant and an opera lover does not qualify for praise or compensate for cruelty, and it doesn’t make him a great judge, either. I do not mourn his passing. As Mark Twain once said, “I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying that I approved of it.”
Arlene Steinberg | Philadelphia
A New Day for Day Schools
I read with interest Joshua Runyan’s article regarding MichaelSteinhardt’s renewed focus on Jewish day schools (“The Man Behind Birthright Turns His Attention Toward Day Schools,” Feb. 17).
Steinhardt accurately states that “less than 10 percent of non-Orthodox children go to day schools.” He further asserts that, in light of this statistic, “proponents of day schools should be reflecting on how to expand day school education to a much wider group of people.”
I couldn’t agree more. As influential funders such as Steinhardt and the Avi Chai Foundation, which recently announced the formation of a new Jewish day school organization, seek to make Jewish day school education a priority, it is critical to bring disability inclusion into the discussion. We, as a Jewish community, have the unique opportunity to take a fresh look at inclusion. Together, let’s insist that disability inclusion become a serious priority when it comes to widening the reach of Jewish day schools. After all, our day school communities are only as strong as their ability to include all learners.
Dori Frumin Kirshner | Executive Director, Matan 


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