Bus display hijacked MLK Jr. Day

As a synagogue-raised black Jew, I was embarrassed and appalled by the actions of Jerusalem Connection International and Israeli Action Committee of the East Bay. What nerve they had to display bus No. 19 on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day in San Francisco.

These organizations had the chutzpah to hijack the only federally recognized day celebrating the achievements of an African American with their display of bus No. 19. Why not another day?

As a scholar of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I attended the San Francisco viewing of bus No. 19. The above-mentioned organizations imposed themselves on the King rally in total disregard for the feelings of African Americans.

Moreover, the only aggression I saw at the display of bus No. 19 was that of a Jewish man driving around the Civic Center in his black Mustang screaming “killers” to peaceful supporters of the Palestinian cause.

Must I remind you that King was an advocate of non-violence?

J.’s Jan. 14 edition ponders the fate of the black-Jewish alliance. Perhaps monocular Jews should look within. Such arrogant actions on the heels of the recent j. article are fantastically ironic.

Ilana Kaufman | Oakland

Where were leaders?

I would like to ask our community leaders and organizations a question. Where were they on Jan. 17 when bus No. 19, which was blown up by a suicide bomber in Jerusalem on Jan. 29, 2004, was on display in San Francisco? Why didn’t they come and show support to the victims of this terrorist act?

It was very disappointing to me and those who attended the display not to see the leaders and representatives of the major Jewish organizations in San Francisco joining them there to show solidarity with the victims.

Emil Knopf | San Francisco

Focus on the positive

Allyson Taylor, in a Jan. 14 letter, expresses concern that the Jewish community did not “stand together in solidarity against global terrorism” in the showing of Jerusalem bus No. 19. Yehuda Sherman, in a Jan. 21 letter, criticizes Jewish organizations for being “absent” at the rally.

I think rather than perverse, Jews are diverse.

Let’s recognize the positive aspects. The Rally Against Global Terrorism was a creative, cooperative, grassroots program that was successful in conveying its message. Congratulations to the organizers, led by Sanne DeWitt in Berkeley and Daniel Kliman in San Francisco.

In the Bay Area there were many Israel action committees and other organizations that supported the rally. Many people attended. There were some anti-Israel protesters there, and there were Israel supporters who opposed the protesters.

The rally program included one Indian, two Christians, an Arab, black Gospel singers and an Indian orchestra, each representing their organization.

The Jewish community hopefully learned a lesson: The rally was successful but more could have been accomplished by a broader widespread support.

Norman Licht | San Carlos

Why show scuffle?

Thank you for your excellent Jan. 21 article about the Rally Against Global Terrorism which was held in Berkeley.

I am disappointed, however, that you chose to show a picture of a scuffle by some demonstrators who had no right to be there in the first place.

You also failed to mention that the rally was produced and sponsored by the Israel Action Committee of the East Bay, of which I am the chairman.

Sanne DeWitt | Berkeley

Special needs aid

I read with great interest your Jan. 14 article “South Bay teens building rapport with special needs children.” It penetrated my very being because I’m a person with special needs.

I salute Nechama Levin for having the courage to start an organization that embraces children with special needs and gets them involved with normal teens which leads to friendships.

Many moons ago I was the benefactor of a similar concept of menschkeit. It was at the Brandeis Institute in Los Angeles. A man who was a husband extended himself in friendship, which resulted in an ongoing connection, which enriched both our lives.

This kind of approach of getting able-bodied teenagers to volunteer with special needs youngsters has my highest regards. It has much merit for everyone.

Susan Cohen | San Jose

Practicing intolerance

Now that the “holiday season” is gone, a few reflections are needed:

We have practiced the opposite of what we preach. While we espouse tolerance, we practice intolerance.

The “holiday season” is not that — it’s the Christmas season.

Our well-meaning but shortsighted minority has displayed an uncharacteristic intolerance, if not hostility, toward that majority. What other group demeans Christmas traditions as has Hollywood, the ACLU, ADL and the liberal, elite media?

I thought we learned our lesson with our opposition to “The Passion of the Christ.” All we did was stir up resentment and cause more ticket sales. The film fomented a backlash and a greater suspicion of our religion and people.

Face it, most opposition to public displays of religious symbols, even our own, comes from those who are indifferent to and alienated from any religion, those insecure with any religious adherence: atheists, assimilated, secularists.

We who are secure in ourselves, our beliefs and practices, can easily withstand Christmas cards, merry Christmas, “Silent Night” in school, menorahs and Ten Commandments in the public square and God in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Perhaps by next year we will have learned the lesson of tolerance and freedom of religion.

Howard J. Leavitt | Riverside

Circumcision role

I read Michal Lev Ram’s Jan. 21 column about circumcision. She raised an interesting perspective. But I would like to add that there is a role in circumcision for “girls.” It comes as a mother. The baby boy about to be circumcised comes from a woman’s body. The mother is also very much a part of the act of circumcision.

First, women are part of the decision to allow our sons to have a circumcision. Second, since the brit occurs so soon after the baby comes from the mother’s womb — nine months after complete oneness with the child — the mother still feels very much a physical connection to the child at the time of circumcision.

And finally, it is the mother who comforts the child right after the brit by providing milk, once again reaffirming the physical connection of the mother and son.

I would not have thought of this before having two sons myself. But now I have a better feeling that I am not left out of the commandment, and, believe me, it is not easy being a “girl” when your son is to be circumcised.

Maddy Chaleff | Palo Alto

letters policy

j. the Jewish news weekly welcomes letters to the editor, preferably typewritten. Letters must not exceed 200 words and must be dated and signed with current address and daytime telephone number. j. also reserves the right to edit letters. The deadline is noon Monday for any given week’s publication. Letters should be sent by e-mail to [email protected] or by mail to j., 225 Bush St., Suite 1480, San Francisco, CA 94104.