Proud to have Cindy Sheehan

In response to Ruth Pheffer’s March 3 letter regarding the Osher Marin JCC having Cindy Sheehan as our guest to discuss her book, we are proud to welcome people from all segments of our community to our center, including those who advocate various points of views on current issues.

In particular, Pheffer states that Sheehan’s financial backing comes from a “virulent anti-Semitic, anti-Israel Palestinian organization,” without naming the said organization. According to the extensive research we did prior to inviting Sheehan to speak at our JCC, as well as conversations with Jewish Community Relations Council staff and AIPAC, there is no evidence to support this assertion. There is plenty of evidence that it has been espoused and unsubstantiated by several politically conservative Web sites and talk shows.

The only connection we could find was that some American groups representing Palestinians came out on their own to the same peace rallies as Sheehan. Sheehan is financially supported by the nonprofit group Gold Star Families for Peace, which is made up of mothers whose sons have been killed in the Iraq War.

Judy Wolf-Bolton | San Rafael
acting executive director, Osher Marin JCC

Stop the genocide

Your March 24 editorial, other Jewish organizations, democratic countries and the United Nations all point to the long-standing genocide in Darfur. Yet nothing effective has been done to stop the genocide.

The Muslim rulers of Sudan are not going to respond to protests, rallies, call-in campaigns, strong condemnatory statements or economic sanctions. The only possible effective action at this late date, it seems to me, is military action by the United States. It appears we can’t depend on Europeans, NATO, or the United Nations.

Intensive bombing by air to destroy government buildings, military facilities, airfields, main roads, leaders’ homes and large businesses might stop the genocide, at least for a while.

It’s been about three years of genocide. How long must we wait for definitive U.S. military action? Are we serious about “never again”?

Edward Tamler | San Mateo

Join us for Darfur

Thank you for your recent coverage on the genocide in Darfur and the upcoming Bay Area events in April as part of the nationwide “Million Voices for Darfur Campaign.”

The March 24 article “All eyes are on Darfur” described three local events occurring in April. I want to clarify that the April 6 event at Congregation Emanu-El is not a fund-raiser (it is free) and not a concert (though there will be two music groups performing).

Michael Krasny will host the program, “Standing Against Genocide: This Time Darfur.” Salih Booker, executive director of Africa Action, will be the keynote speaker. Victims and survivors of the 20th-century genocides (Armenia, the Holocaust, Nanking, Cambodia, Bosnia and Rwanda), as well as a Darfuri, will share their experiences. Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir will perform, and a four-time Grammy nominee will sing with her band.

We will examine why civilized societies remain complacent in the face of genocides. We will also learn what we can do to help end the genocide in Darfur.

We hope yours readers will join us on 7 p.m. Thursday, April 6 at Emanu-El at what we expect to be a powerful and informative event.

Gayle Donsky | Mill Valley
San Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition

A fine role model

I commend you for your fine March 17 article “Pushing the boundaries: Transgender convert wins Haas Koshland award” by Alexandra J. Wall.

This excellent coverage of a fine role model in the Jewish community is inspiring and hopefully will encourage students to pursue higher Jewish studies and to study in Israel.

As president of Female-to-Male International of San Francisco, the oldest, largest organization serving the female-to-male community, I extend to you the appreciation of our organization and membership of your outstanding reporting of the life journey and the contributions to society of this exemplary transgender man.

Noach Dzmura is also my friend, and I am very gratified to see his story so sensitively and movingly portrayed. Thank you.

Rabbi Levi Alter | San Francisco
president, FTM International

Spread the truth

Linda Press Wulf (March 17 views) seems to be a very articulate writer. My only complaint is that her article was not in newspapers around the country through the Associated Press.

I also see letters to the editor wherein views are expressed that I wish were given attention by American readers at large, and not just the tiny community of Jews interested in and concerned with Jewish issues. Even CAMERA writers operate outside the normal channels of the U.S. press with “paid advertisements.”

Can anything be done to get the truth before the American public?

I am worried about Israel’s survival and continuing pain and persecution.

Pamela D. Kimball | Palo Alto

‘I was touched’

My response to the March 3 column “Can Iran’s president help find missing Jews?” by Robert Stevens: What a great article!

I was touched when I read the line, “We both had the same squint and intense look in our eyes.” I would be happy if this article could appear in many more newspapers and magazines.

Let people read it. Maybe those who don’t believe the Holocaust happened will change their minds and will double-think before saying something like that. Maybe they will learn something from this article. My very best wishes to Stevens on his success in his career. I wish him and all the Jews never know anything like the Holocaust.

Sofia Tsipis | San Francisco

‘Shockingly hostile’

Thinking of going to Europe, perhaps buying a Mercedes or other European car? Well, did you read this recently in a letter from the Jewish World Congress?

“Europe has become a shockingly hostile environment for Jews, with Denmark’s government funding a Nazi radio station, 24 percent of the Austrian population having said they would prefer to live in a country without Jews, and Jews in France victimized by a 500 percent surge in violence against them.

“Worldwide, physical assaults on Jewish people have nearly doubled, and synagogues, Holocaust memorials and Jewish cemeteries are continually being desecrated and destroyed.”

The United Nations continues to serve as a vehicle for the anti-Semitic rhetoric and action of Jewish enemies, insisting on demonizing Israel, allowing outrageous human-rights abuses by Arab leaders, and refusing to condemn anti-Semitic acts.

Herman Silverman | Walnut Creek

‘Far from reality’

I found the pessimistic discussion by the Conservative rabbis in the Jan. 20 cover story somewhat depressing but far removed from the reality we are experiencing at Temple Beth Abraham in Oakland.

I noticed that our rabbi, Mark Bloom, was not invited to be part of the round table. Perhaps this is because we are not experiencing the malaise of the Conservative movement described in the article.

During the past five years, we have seen more energy, enthusiasm and new members than at any time since what we call the “Schulweis era” in the ’50s and ’60s.

I am a past president of both our congregation and the Northern California Region of the United Synagogue, and I have never been more optimistic about our future. I don’t think changing our name is important; the key to the future of Conservative, Reform or Orthodox Judaism is simply in building strong communities like the ones here in Oakland.

Sid Shaffer | Oakland

Israel-bashing propaganda

Everybody who grew up in the Soviet Union remembers Lenin’s quotation: “For us the most important of the arts is cinema.” Films can be powerful weapons. Sometimes even highly sophisticated people don’t realize how ideology influences them through these moving images.

The call for a “balanced” approach in the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival choices doesn’t mean that obvious defamation should be allowed. Just imagine a film festival for Black History Month, where the half of all the movies are sympathetic to the Ku Klux Klan — would it be considered fairly “balanced?”

Yes, these slanderous pictures can be shown too, but with detailed critiques, and probably not during the Jewish Festival.

Also we should take in consideration the whole picture. Have you ever heard about a Palestinian festival with pro-Israel movies in its program? Our “balanced” approach in reality means “one-sided” (and it’s not our side). Can we just leave anti-Zionism to anti-Semites — they are pretty good at it.

If you’d like “to see other people’s views” on Israel, you have plenty of opportunities.

Do we have to spend our community’s donations (through the federation and other organizations) on Israel-bashing propaganda?

Elena Zusmanovich | San Francisco

A delight

Thank you so much for featuring the Mission Minyan here at the Women’s Building (March 17 cover story). We are delighted that the group meets here and has grown so much. As a community center we wish to make comfortable a wide range of groups and we are honored that the Mission Minyan has chosen this setting for its services.

We would also like to acknowledge the artists who painted the mural on our building: Juana Alicia, Miranda Bergman, Edythe Boone, Susan Kelk Cervantes, Meera Desai, Yvonne Littleton and Irene Perez.

Thank you again for the great write-up!

Tatjana Loh | San Francisco
development director, Women’s Building