‘Despicable film’

I just saw “Girl from Auschwitz” at the Mill Valley Film Festival. The movie’s point is what its star, Cordelia Edwardson, perceives as injustice done to Palestinians by Israelis, apparently based partially on her perspective as a death camp survivor (or better said, collaborator).

This movie presents half-truths and a terribly unfair parallelism of events. The result is nauseous.

The movie blatantly juxtaposes authentic clips of Auschwitz (e.g., bulldozing thousands of corpses into mass graves) with scenes of Israeli soldiers trying to prevent a suicide bombing of Israeli citizens.

This is phony journalism, a sacrilegious abuse of the memory of millions of Jews killed in camps.

It’s ludicrous to draw parallels between death camps and bulldozing of houses, building a wall to prevent infiltration, and making Palestinians stand in line at checkpoints.

Furthermore, there was no attempt to report these actions as in response to attacks targeting Israeli citizens, causing thousands of deaths and injuries.

True, Israeli armed forces have made mistakes, sometimes fatal ones, during the intifada. But comparing their actions to the leaders of German death camps is outrageous. I am amazed that the Mill Valley Film Festival presented such a despicable film, especially without discussion.

Rabbi Gideon Sorokin | Tiburon

‘Master propagandist’?

Norman Finklestein, noted anti-Israel author, spoke in Berkeley on Oct. 6, sponsored by the Middle East Children’s Alliance on his book tour of his new book “Beyond Chutzpah.” The two-hour lecture was delivered to an enthusiastic audience of over 400.

Finklestein’s new book is a major slam at Alan Dershowitz’s “The Case For Israel” and “Chutzpah.” Finklestein claims that Joan Peters’ book “From Time Immemorial” is a total fraud, and that Dershowitz shamelessly plagiarized from Peters’ book for “The Case For Israel” — but he did not give even one example of plagiarized material.

Finklestein is a master propagandist. He claimed that there is no anti-Semitism in the United States or Europe, and that there is no documentation for anti-Semitic activity at university campuses, including Columbia. His proof was that Jews had done phenomenally well in the United States.

He acknowledged the Holocaust but sneeringly stated that “every year there are more Holocaust survivors than the year before” a fact which he says “is patently absurd.” The audience, on cue, laughed heartily at that statement. Further, Finklestein insists that Jews and Israelis use the Holocaust to justify human rights violations against the Palestinians. The audience gave him a standing ovation.

Sanne DeWitt | Berkeley

‘A red herring’

We’re perpetually at sword’s point with the Islamic world because we’re trying to shove our version of feminism down their throats. Given our 50 percent-plus divorce rate, very low marriage formations and the majority of children now born out of wedlock, no wonder feminism’s a “no sale” in the Islamic world.

The Israeli-Arab conflict is a red herring. The problem would resolve in a heartbeat if we genuinely respected Muslim family and social customs. Because Israel does, there’s no terrorism from its million plus Arab citizens.

Jewish and an ardent Zionist, I have been following the Israeli press for decades. I can’t recall a single instance in which the government, absent a military or security issue, interfered in a purely internal Muslim family matter.

Mark Klein, M.D. | Oakland

‘Ticking time bombs’

Marcia Freedman (Aug. 26 letters) asks important questions of those opposed to a two-state solution. Although I support that solution, I have questions for her and j. readers who reflexively blame Israel.

If by December Hamas continues to fire rockets at Sderot and other civilian communities (as they already have), and terrorists continue to send human bombs to murder Israelis (as they already have), and Palestinians leaders continue to talk about driving the Jews out of all of Palestine (as they do on a daily basis), and Mahmoud Abbas continues to offer the excuse that he’s too weak to move against the terrorists, will these critics of Israel admit there are two parties to this conflict and that Palestinians have the responsibility to look within themselves and alter their behavior?

Or will these readers continue to ignore how Palestinian violence not only harms Israelis but is devastating to the establishment of a civil Palestinian society?

And will these readers continue to ignore that the primary responsibility of government is to protect its citizenry, and if the authority refuses to dismantle terror groups, Israel must act by completing its security barrier and dealing with what it believes are ticking time bombs?

Josh Baker | San Francisco

What’s in a stat?

Richard Israel’s Sept. 2 letter, which is a veiled attempt to invalidate nontraditional parent families, begins with a quibble as to how many children are raised in such families. Whether the correct number is 75 percent or 44 percent, the number of children is substantial, certainly enough for statistically valid research to have taken place.

His claim that “highly regarded research” contradicting psychologist Peggy Drexler’s research is meaningless without a complete review of the literature. This he did not attempt. Thus there may be as many studies supporting Drexler’s figure as USA Today reporter Haya Nasser’s. Any of them may or may not have been well-designed.

Also meaningless is his quoting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report that finds a correlation between fatherlessness and various tragedies.

Fatherlessness cannot be established as a cause unless all other factors are corrected for, such as income level, education level, family history of drug and alcohol abuse, and many more.

Israel assumes that the factor he chooses is causal, when in fact separating and assessing the results of a single factor in human affairs is a serious scientific challenge.

Nina Wouk | Menlo Park

‘Economic myopia’

Rob Reiner, the filmmaker-activist, is described in your Oct. 7 article about him as “an unabashed champion of liberal causes.” Unfortunately, one of Reiner’s major political stances has made him an opponent of a crucial liberal cause: job creation.

Reiner, until political pressure in 2004 forced him to stop, advocated putting a measure on the California ballot that would have levied a 55 percent increase in property taxes on commercial real estate. The funds generated from the measure would have gone to education.

The problem with Reiner’s position is that increased property taxes on businesses would have forced employers to avoid or leave California, cut payrolls, lay off workers or close down completely.

The legacy of progressive leaders in America, such as Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Bill Clinton, and Edmund G. (Pat) Brown, has been the creation of massive numbers of new jobs. During Clinton’s presidency, for example, America generated 22 million new jobs.

Reiner needs to understand that increasing property taxes on businesses will cause job destruction and shrink the tax base. His economic myopia will, ironically, wreck his goal of creating a more just and compassionate society.

Richard S. Colman | Orinda

‘Patronizing’ talk?

In a Sept. 30 article on eco-kashrut (“More than milchik and fleishik”), I am misquoted in ways that are very disturbing.

The journalist quotes me as labeling the people at the Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living as “carnivores.” I said no such thing. When specifically asked whether Reutlinger was moving toward vegetarianism, I responded that many of the people at Reutlinger eat meat.

Further, I was asked about recycling. I have worked on developing the ecological sensibilities in the Jewish world, but I did not suggest that somehow I had started this program or that it had never happened before I got there.

These may seem like minor issues, but the way that the author put these quotes together made it sound as if I was disrespectful to my own community, whom I deeply love and respect. I do not like the kind of paternalistic put-downish talk about seniors that these misquotes seemed to represent. Not only are they not my sentiments, but I work constantly to challenge anyone who acts or talks in a patronizing way toward residents in a senior facility.

Rabbi Debora Kohn | Danville

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