Film fest protest

Valentine’s Day may or may not have been good for the Jews but we won’t know till June: Feb. 14 was the final day for submission of entries into the 2006 San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.

The question is: Can it get worse than last year?

In 2005, at all four venues, I found anger over film choices, balance, the increasing hostility towards Judaism and Israel, and the overwhelming politicization of the festival.

“What can you do?” people would say.

I’m not sure, but I do know two things: that I am sick of feeling blamed and ashamed of being a Jew and a supporter of Israel, and this by a Jewish organization; and I very much want to continue participating in the Sukkot-Passover-Shavuot-film festival continuum of Jewish life in the Bay Area.

So I’m expressing this distress in writing now to the management and financial supporters listed on the film festival’s Web site before they make their final choices. I’m asking for a balanced program that is uplifting and takes the politically radical position of sharing some good news about Judaism and Israel.

I encourage you to do the same.

Karen G. R. Roekard | Berkeley

Llots of llaughs

I love the Feb. 10 j. news item about the Israel Defense Forces using llamas to carry heavy loads. They should be named Lama and Lama Lo (Hebrew for “why” and “why not”).

Lauren Helfand | Alameda

Destructive tendencies

The Muslim anti-cartoon rioters are offended because they want to be offended, because they’re looking for reasons to be offended, and because they’re looking for excuses to commit acts of violence and destruction.

Most Muslim societies educate their people to hate non-Muslims, and to believe that they have the right to rule over non-Muslims by force. When they are unable to achieve this domination, they have feelings of rage and humiliation, which can only be alleviated by acts of bloodthirsty revenge.

The rioters claim that they’re defending something holy. But rage and bloodlust are distinguishing characteristics not of those who serve the Lord, but of those who serve that “other fellow.”

Martin Wasserman | Sunnyvale


Regarding your Feb. 10 articles about Muslims rioting due to the Danish cartoon showing a bomb on the head of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, it seems to me the burning and destruction of embassies and buildings as a response by some Muslims simply gives credence to the point of the cartoonist that Islam has been hijacked by extremist, violent radicals.

Morton A. Klein | New York
president, Zionist Organization of America


Surprised? You shouldn’t be, unless you have somehow managed to confuse your cerebral machinations with the pathological preferences of the Palestinian electorate.

If you had been sampling polls coming out of Gaza, Hamas’ electoral triumph would not have come as a surprise.

For example, a March 21, 2005 poll conducted by the Am-Najah National University found that between 90 percent and 95 percent of the responders endorsed Hamas’ position on key issues such as Jerusalem, the right of return and the complete dismemberment of all settlements beyond the Armistice Lines of 1948.

In another poll, 75 percent of the Palestinians believed that Hamas should be represented in any governing coalition.

In a more recent poll, 73 percent of the Palestinians thought that peace with Israel was either an enduring impossibility or a very distant possibility.

For more than a decade, we have been told that only a thin, fractious minority, “the enemies of peace,” were opposed to recognition and reconciliation with Israel. Now that we know that thin minority is actually a fat minority, we are told that a vote for Hamas was really a vote against corruption — nothing more.

It seems that we have gone from denial to obfuscation.

Mitchell Finkel | Silver Spring, Md.

‘The right thing’

A recent article in NewsBalance pointed out that some people are concerned that free and fair elections in Palestine brought to power Hamas, a radical Islamic party the United States considers a terrorist group.

I have heard it said that this might be a future problem in other countries like Iraq as well. That is not a reason to change course and abandon democracy or our friends in Iraq.

We have had elections in this country that I was not happy about, and they eventually work themselves out. Winston Churchill said Americans always do the right thing after they have tried everything else. I think the rest of the world will do the same.

Robert Parkhurst | Redwood City

The wrong horse

I applaud the recent comments by Condoleezza Rice, George Bush and many European leaders to withdraw funding and diplomatic backing for the Palestinian Authority as long as the authority is tainted by Hamas’ unacceptable policies.

By placing Hamas in control, the Palestinians have indeed exercised their democratic rights, but with those rights come responsibilities, and I fear this lesson is lost on the Palestinian population who have once again bet on the wrong horse.

Israel’s strategic posture toward the Palestinians was rightly that the authority should disarm the terrorist organizations in their midst, in order to meet their obligations under the “road map.” With Hamas’ victory, now the terrorists themselves are in control of the authority. I wonder how Israel’s defense policy will be affected as a result. Probably very little.

Asking Hamas to change its charter and give up terrorism is like asking a zebra to shed its stripes. It would not surprise me if Israel used ample self-defense justifications to continue to target Hamas despite its electoral triumph in the recent Palestinian elections. In the meantime, the prospects for peace appear dim indeed.

Steve Lipman | Foster City

Defying stereotypes

Thank you, j., for Jennifer Liss’ recent cover story “Jews in Blue.”

I myself am a proud Jewish deputy sheriff.

These police officers defy law enforcement stereotypes, and the story serves to highlight the shortage of police officers from Jewish backgrounds.

Police officers are in an honorable profession. In addition to the personal benefits of having high job satisfaction and practicing traditional Jewish values of helping those in need, the job offers solid civil service benefits and early retirement.

Very few jobs around offer to a recent college grad a six-figure salary, full medical benefits and sometimes three to four days off a week. Education and foreign languages are valued highly in Bay Area police departments, with many seeking college graduates.

Parents, please don’t discourage your children from exploring law-enforcement careers, and take time to visit a local police department or an administration of justice office at your local college. Shomrim, a national organization for Jewish police officers and other safety professionals, is also a good source of information.

Vadim Rotberg | San Francisco

‘An abomination’

Contrary to Bob Numerof’s recent letter, homosexuality is not an issue to accept in Judaism as OK.

Whether it’s PC or not, homosexuality is wrong, and an abomination. It’s not acceptable in any form in Judaism as an alternative Jewish lifestyle.

We all have instinctual desires (some more than others), as do animals, except God gave people the ability to control them.

Jewish obligations include to keep kosher, observe Shabbat, learn Torah, pray daily, give charity, not steal (even a penny), be kind to animals, don’t intermarry, don’t murder, don’t mix wool with linen, no adultery or bestiality, no homosexuality, etc. That’s God’s design in Creation.

“Loving a fellow Jew as yourself” is also a mitzvah, regardless of their level of religiousness or practice. Nevertheless, we can never justify, accept, promote, encourage, or apologize (as does j. and the misguided Reform and Conservative movements) for the behavior of a fellow Jew when he or she goes against God, as if it were OK.

This includes homosexuality and intermarriage as well. But in no way should it or does it stop us from loving or accepting a fellow Jew, especially since none of us are 100 percent righteous.

Aaron Seruya | San Francisco

Welcome or not?

I repeatedly read Molly Miller-Davidson’s Jan. 27 letter regarding Rabbi Lawrence Raphael’s guest column on interfaith families at Sherith Israel, and I’m confused.

Raphael supported welcoming interfaith couples. Yet Miller-Davidson states that the Reform movement “is embarrassing interfaith couples” by pushing them away.

My wife and I have belonged to a Reform synagogue in San Antonio (Temple Beth-El) and in San Francisco (Sherith Israel) for most of the past 35 years. My wife is not Jewish, but we’ve been warmly accepted. In fact, my wife’s storytelling has become a featured part of Sherith Israel’s tashlich ceremony on Rosh Hashanah.

Moreover, Rabbi Eric Yoffe’s sermon at the Union of Reform Judaism’s biennial in Houston last November reiterated the Reform movement’s welcoming of interfaith couples.

Perhaps an explanation is in order.

David Perlstein | San Francisco

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.