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No pressure

Dana Bergen of Jewish Voice for Peace wrongly accused ADL of pressuring the Polish Consulate in New York to cancel a planned speech by professor Tony Judt (Nov. 3 letters).

Nothing could be further from the truth. ADL did not intimidate or pressure anyone. 

In no way did ADL urge or demand that the Polish consulate cancel the Oct. 3 event. Indeed, Polish consular officials have publicly made clear that the decision to cancel was theirs and theirs alone.

Instead of creating division by repeating false accusations and rumors, Bergen should have first checked out the facts. Finger pointing and scapegoating silences viewpoints. 

In contrast, the ADL must hear from a multitude of perspectives to effectively pursue our mission to oppose anti-Semitism. 

ADL does not believe in stifling freedom of speech on this issue or any other. Rather, we believe strongly that all views should be heard in our free society, and that the answer to offensive speech is to counter it — just as vigorously — with more speech. 

In short, ADL has always been a staunch defender of the First Amendment. People who value free speech rights have nothing to fear from our advocacy and a lot to gain.

Jonathan Bernstein | San Francisco
ADL regional director

Forfeited standing?

Dana Bergen is being disingenuous when she describes her organization, Jewish Voice for Peace (as well as anti-Israel academic Tony Judt), merely as “critical of Israeli policies” (Nov. 3 letters). 

In fact, JVP and Judt share the position of Arab rejectionist groups such as al-Awda that Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish state. 

JVP also co-sponsors events with the International Solidarity Movement, which functions as a support network for Hamas and Hezbollah. Their members are found at every anti-Israel demonstration standing with those who chant in favor of Nasrallah’s calls for genocide. 

Just as our Jewish community institutions will not allow “freedom of expression” for Jews for Jesus, they should continue to refuse to allow extremist anti-Zionist groups to spread their hatred of Israel within their walls. 

There is plenty of legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies within the Jewish community — from its own loyal citizens, as well as those abroad who support the Jewish state’s right to exist in the homeland of the Jewish people. JVP, however, has chosen to stand with those who support Israel’s destruction, and thereby forfeited any standing within our community. 

Michael Harris | San Rafael

Just imagine

It seems as if some Jews still think that the earth is flat (Oct. 27 j., “Eruv raises environmental fears”). An eruv as big as your thumb will enclose the whole world. It just takes  a little imagination and a knowledge that the earth is a sphere. 

Art Sobel | Los Altos Hills

Outrage and prayer

Roger White (Oct. 6 letters ) expresses outrage about a letter in which Justice Samuel Alito acknowledged he was thankful for prayers offered for him during his confirmation hearing.

Alito also said he felt such prayer was a “powerful and palpable force” for him.

This letter was read by James Dobson on his daily radio program “Focus on the Family.” 

Not only am I not outraged by this, I am surprised that White would complain about people praying for someone who was about to be put through a public wringer. Alito’s statement that he “will keep in mind the trust that has been placed in me” is encouraging, not frightening. 

I was listening the day that Dobson read Alito’s letter and was heartened, not alarmed.

White worries that Alito will only “discern the prayers of those who are Christians … and not Jews.” This is outrageous because Alito neither said nor intimated any such thing.   

Jews are not strangers to prayer, and our own prayerbook encourages prayers for leaders as well as for many other reasons.   

Please save your outrage for the many real problems Jews face and not the imagined one of prayer and the acknowledgement of its power.    

Catherine Sherman | Lafayette

Meds for seniors

Your Oct. 13 article “How to keep from losing money down the donut hole” was loaded with helpful information for seniors who are considering signing up for a prescription drug plan during the next enrollment period (Nov. 15-Dec. 31).

Missing from your story, however, was the fact that help is available to low-income seniors who could not afford their medication.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, over 3 million seniors nationwide who currently have no prescription coverage are likely eligible for low-income subsidies. Those who can qualify can immediately join a Medicare prescription drug plan without penalty or waiting.

To help people with lower incomes access these benefits, the Medicare Rx Access Network of California believes it is vital to reach every single person who is eligible for the subsidy. For more information on how to apply for a low-income subsidy, seniors can visit their local Social Security office or call 1 (800) 772-1213.

Please help us get the word out, so that every California senior who needs medication gets it.

Lorraine Cunningham | Sacramento

End of days?

I am always amazed when I see the letters in j. decrying Joe Lieberman’s fall from grace in the Democratic Party (Nov. 3).

That somehow Lieberman was the standard bearer for Jewish Democrats could not be further from the truth. There are several other Jewish Democrats in just the Senate, including California’s own senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.

Lieberman fell in with the wrong crowd by going along with President Bush’s wrong-headed view on Middle East policy.

We in the Jewish community must accept that the Republican Party has become dominated by evangelical Christians. Sure, they support a strong Israel, but their motives are not pure. The Christian evangelicals seek their messianic vision for a massive war in Israel.

It is the belief of our president that, in the very near future, Armageddon will occur, which will include that grand war.

Do we need to support a Republican Party constantly prodding Israel to make war to fulfill their End of Days predictions?

Israel is just a pawn in the End Game for many evangelical Republican leaders. That they are the enemy of our enemy does not make them our friends.

Brian Leubitz | San Francisco

A Catholic view

It’s insulting and journalistically irresponsible to allow filmmaker Amy Berg to play the anti-Semitism card in an attempt to deflect legitimate criticism of her highly biased movie, “Deliver Us From Evil” (Oct. 20 j.).

The movie ignores facts that demonstrate Cardinal Roger Mahony dealt decisively with abusive priests — kicking two out of ministry — when he had reports of such behavior.

Oliver O’Grady never told the cardinal he’d abused children. O’Grady lied to his bishop, just as he lied to the psychiatrist the church sent him to, and as he lied to his victims and their families.

Berg utterly ignores these facts because they undercut her thesis.

Am I now to be judged an anti-Semite because I, as a Catholic, am critical of her work and tactics?

How about the parents of the Irish schoolchildren upset with Berg for using their children’s images in her film after refusing permission to do so? Are they anti-Semites, too?

Your story’s wording has Berg agreeing that critics will mention her Jewishness. Does that mean the idea to float the anti-Semite balloon came from the writer as well as Berg?

I hope your readers know Catholics a lot better than is insinuated by this article.

Tod Tamberg | Los Angeles
archdiocese of L.A.