Propaganda at SFSU

The director of Hillel at San Francisco State University stated that the anti-Israeli, anti-Semitic demonstration at SFSU was just “routine” (Sept. 15 j.). He was right.

If big posters of Palestinian infants slaughtered by Jews at the stage of SFSU Plaza is “routine,” if smearing-Israel speeches broadcast through loudspeakers condemning bloodthirsty Jews for “massacres” at Jenin and Kana is “routine,” and those messages are routinely unanswered, it means Hillel, JCRC and ADL failed Israel and Jewish students badly.

Some 27,000 students cross University Plaza at least two to three times per day. Even if they watched the Sept. 12 rally 5 to 10 minutes, Arab anti-Semitic propaganda achieved an outstanding exposure.

Both Hillel and JCRC knew about the planned propaganda action. They didn’t move.

Due to Jewish inactivity on campus and the galut ghetto mentality of professional Jews, every year thousands of American and international students graduate from SFSU as Israeli-haters and anti-Semites.

Don’t forget, these become voters in the USA and even leaders in other countries.

I doubt that in the course of their lives they will rebuild the image of Jews and Israel received in the educational institution called San Francisco State University.

Tatiana Menaker | San Francsico


Regarding Janet Silver Ghent’s Sept. 8 column, “Breaking down walls at a peace conference made me more human,” I would think that, in general, rather than getting into a discussion of a “biblical” context to the current conflict, we will have more luck building bridges with pro-peace Palestinians by stressing the “secular” principle of self-determination.

The vast majority of the Jewish community has always been committed to this principle — for both the Jewish and Palestinian people.

The concept of self-determination has also gained popularity within the Palestinian community — at least since the West Bank and Gaza fell under Israeli control (prior to that, sadly, the predominant view throughout the Arab world was that no Jewish state be permitted at all).

The principle of self-determination is also the basis of the two-state solution (and the primary reason the United Nations voted to partition Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state in 1947).

Dave Rosenblitt | Mountain View

Voices drowned out

I participated at the weekend Janet Silver Ghent described in “Jews, Arabs break down barriers at Tawonga Retreat” (Sept. 8 j.).

For me, the weekend was problematic because I didn’t hear a fair representation of different viewpoints. I believe the mainstream Israel and mainstream American Jewish community were insufficiently expressed.

When I pointed this out, the response was that they recognized the “right wing” wasn’t equally represented. When did a position supportive of Israel become a “right-wing” issue?

I’d hoped to hear moderate Arab voices that would empower other moderate voices. I heard a couple of articulate, loving, moderate Arab voices, but, in my discussion groups, they were drowned out.

I did hear, however, intense criticism of Israel from the tiny minority of the American Jewish community that became the majority voice at the weekend and, of course, from much of the Arab community.

In my view, this type of experiment only works when everyone leaves having learned something new about “the other.”

Since Israel’s viewpoint wasn’t presented with much depth, I’d consider this a significant flaw. And the criticisms of Israel empowered the less-than-moderate Arab community and gave a distorted picture to the teen community present. Very dangerous indeed.

Laurel Rest | San Francisco

Not kosher?

I found it quite humorous that Rabbi Yosef Langer and Ronnie Lott were talking “pigskin” at the recent Jewish Sports Hall of Fame inaugural induction banquet (Sept. 15 j.).

Arnold Bedak | South San Francisco

Humanity at stake

Rosh Hashanah reminds us of God’s creation of the world. Hence, it is an excellent time to consider the planet’s environment and steps toward reducing environmental threats.

When God created the world, He was able to say, “It is very good” (Genesis 1:31). Everything was in harmony as God had planned, the waters were clean and the air was pure. But what must God think about the world today, when, for example, the rain He provided to nourish our crops is often acid rain, species of plants and animals are rapidly becoming extinct, and the climatic conditions that He designed to meet our needs are threatened by global warming?

Jews are mandated to be shomrei adamah, guardians of the earth (Genesis 2:15). Hence, it is essential that Jews take an active role in applying our eternal, sacred values in struggles to move our imperiled planet to a sustainable path.

So at the start of a new year, we should seek to reduce our environmental impact by, for example, using recycled paper, eating less meat, driving our cars less and using more fuel-efficient light bulbs and other items. The fate of humanity is at stake.

Richard H. Schwartz |

Staten Island, N.Y.

How to blow shofar

I wish to take issue with a part of Steven Friedman’s excellent Sept. 26, 2003 interview that I just read. In it, Rabbi Henry Shreibman talked about the sounding of the shofar.

I am an 81-year-old hornist who was still playing principle at age 80. I moved to third horn, and am still a member of the Coachella Valley Symphony. I was the ba’al tekiah at West Suburban Temple Har Zion in River Forest, Ill., for many years, and am now ba’al tekiah at Congregation Beth Shalom in Bermuda Dunes, Calif.

I disagree with Shreibman’s suggestion of blowing from the center of the lips. The majority of shofar blowers place the shofar away from center. The reason for this is one’s lips are thinner at the sides, and the aperture of the shofar is small.

I’ve never known a shofar blower that has to use his hand to keep the air from escaping from the side of his mouth.

Also, though a tight upper lip may work for the rabbi, to get a beautiful, relaxed tone, the lower lip should be the tighter one with the air sealing pressure mainly on it.

Herbert Mazer | Palm Desert

What’s in a label?

In your recent funny joke, “The Rabbi’s Hat,” the father calls the hapless son (who thought that chateau was hat in French and therefore bet on the wrong horse) a shlemazel. But the father was wrong. The son was not a shlemazel but a shlemiel.

As Leo Rosten illustrates so well in his delightful book “The Joys of Yiddish,” shlemiel is the one that carries a bowl of soup, stumbles and spills it. The shlemazel is the one in whose lap he spills the soup.

But there is a third party, namely the “shmo” (also called something else but not printable in a family newspaper). He is the one that pushes the shlemiel.

Gerardo Joffe | San Francisco

Offensive cartoon?

I was offended to see the poor taste in a cartoon that you chose to print Sept. 15. Seeing something about renting binoculars for seats at High Holy Day services was just ugly. I felt like someone slapped me in the face.

Lenore Diamond Kostelnik | Santa Rosa

Award cited

In response to “AJCommittee elects new officers” in the Sept. 15 j., I must point out that Amy Levinson Sosnick has been elected as treasurer of the S.F. Bay Area chapter, Northern California region, American Jewish Committee. 

The article omitted that at the chapter’s 61st annual meeting, Sosnick was awarded the prestigious Lloyd Sankowich Award for outstanding leadership. She was honored for the dedication and leadership she demonstrated as a chair of the nationally award-winning AJC leadership institute as well as serving on numerous chapter committees. We congratulate her on her award and new role as an officer of the chapter.

Kelly Ramot | San Francisco
associate director, AJCommittee

Not an ambassador

Joe Eskenazi is a terrific journalist and an all-round great guy, but even he goofs every now and then.

He was incorrect when, in the Sept. 8 issue, he referred to Afif Safieh as a Palestinian ambassador. Safieh’s correct title is representative of the Palestinian National Authority to the United States.

Eskenazi does not have more authority than government officials have to elevate diplomatic status of foreign representatives.

Stephen H. Olson | San Francisco

Yes to cluster bombs

The issue of criticizing Israel for using cluster bombs is outrageous. The U.S. military uses them.

Why doesn’t Sen. Dianne Feinstein try and restrict our military then from using cluster munitions, too? She won’t.

Moreover, these munitions — as sick as it is for them to inflict death on innocent life — are critical when fighting Hezbollah because their guerilla fighters are very well camouflaged into the landscape of Southern Lebanon, along with their rocket launchers.

So, if you want to do Hezbollah a favor, then restrict Israel’s use of the clusters.

Mordechai Pelta | San Francisco

‘Reckless Hezbollah’

The suffering following Israeli retaliation for Hezbollah provocations underscores the irrational recklessness of Hezbollah.

Despite admitting its miscalculation in Lebanon, Hezbollah refuses to release the kidnapped soldiers and touts its survival as a great victory. For them, limited Israeli retaliation signals weakness, but a realistic response constitutes “war crimes.”

If the IDF response was “disproportionate,” explain how Spain would react to offensive militarization of their French border. Would Venezuelans ignore massive weapons caches in tunnels under its Colombia frontier? Would France permit Germany to target it with weapons-laden drone aircraft, land-to-sea missiles? When Chechen “rebels” kidnapped schoolchildren on its border, did it employ “disproportionate” force?

Nasrallah offers to swap the Israeli solders for Lebanese prisoners, including Samir Kuntar, the monster who murdered a father and crushed his daughter’s skull during a 1986 terror mission in Israel.

Those vilifying Israel’s military response to continual rocket attacks from the north and south should explain how they would negotiate in good faith with Hezbollah, Hamas or Iran.

David Goldstein | Berkeley

‘Preposterous’ idea?

FLAME’s recent advertisement in j. — “Myths About the Israeli-Arab Conflict” — declares “The Palestinians, along with most other Arabs and Moslems, are single-mindedly focused on the destruction of Israel, to ‘wipe it off the map.'” This broad conclusion is not supported by evidence in FLAME’s advertorial, or elsewhere.

There are about 6 million Palestinians living in the former British Mandate of Palestine, and several million more elsewhere. There are about a quarter of a billion Arabs and about a billion Muslims in the world.

Most of the world’s Muslims get up in the morning and go to work, or to school, or raise their families, or some combination of these, and for these people, concerns about Israel are just not very important compared to working to provide food, clothing, shelter, education and hopes for a better future for their children.

In this light, FLAME’s bald assertion is preposterous.

In history, we Jews have been victimized many times by blanket assertions about us. A key lesson from the Holocaust is the danger of making blanket assertions about other groups of people. Shame on FLAME.

Joel Rubinstein | San Francisco

Column enjoyed

I enjoyed reading the recent column by Rachel Sarah about her discovery of the I-thou concept and her experience with the redwood trees. I have been a lifelong tree lover who loves to hug, photograph and create collages with trees and other forces of nature.

Helena Foster | Oakland