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Repression wins

Once again the forces of repression have won out against the forces of freedom with the cancellation of speaker Nonie Darwish at Brown University.

I thought that freedom of speech was an inherent right in this country. The freedom to hear and debate ideas in the open is one of the things that has made our country great, and what people the world over are losing their lives trying to attain for their own countries.

All voices should be heard — people Muslims don’t want to hear, and people that Jews don’t want to hear.

The problem lies with those who don’t want to spare the time to learn the issues in order to understand what they are hearing and to make some free speech of their own. It’s so much easier to just call for the cancellation of a speaker or avoid attending. But do we really want to give away this important right so easily?

If Brown can host Palestinian Awareness Week sponsored by the parents of Rachel Corrie, of Palestinian-led ISM fame, then surely they should also welcome Darwish, who speaks out in defense of Jews and Israel.

Sheree Roth | Palo Alto

No killing

Regarding Rachel Sarah’s Nov 17 column, we as a society and individually always have choices on how we treat the “other.” But does “other” only mean other humans or could it include cats and dogs and spiders and moths? 

I am a romantic, a man, have children and work as a volunteer with inner city teenagers. Supporting or teaching the killing of anything does not enter my mind (particularly to children, and definitely not at the beginning of a relationship).  

I read Sarah’s column regularly and enjoy following her search for the one, the beshert, but I was upset by her nonchalant acceptance her male friend’s teaching her child how to kill (even a moth). It just did not seem the right thing for him to do at this wonderful moment. 

Next time he is over, after she and he address both their feelings about the sanctity of life for all living creations, he might show her child how to harmlessly capture the moth or spider, delight in its uniqueness — and if she cannot live with it, toss it outside so it is free to experience the fullness of life as she, he and her child desire.

Lawrence Dorfman | Menlo Park

‘Borat’ metaphor

Tom Tugend’s Nov. 10 story about “Borat” mentions that most viewers miss the biggest joke — that Sacha Cohen speaks in Hebrew part of the time.  Actually, Tom and reviewers I have read also missed the main point of Cohen’s film — the depth of anti-Semitism in the world. 

The sequence on “The Running of the Jew,” a metaphor for the brutal running of the bulls in Spain, is a bitter reminder of how intense the hatred of Jews is throughout the world, and especially Russia. 

That sequence and the one where Cohen and his sidekick check into a bed-and-breakfast run by kind old Jews is another example of the way he shows his audience how anti-Semitism, fed by fear and ignorance, leads to paranoia.  

Cohen is telling Jews in the audience to wake up, anti-Semitism is pervasive, real, and isall around you. 

Rhoda Curtis | Berkeley

‘The only hope’

James D. Besser’s dismissive manner toward those he disagrees with, such as Benjamin Netanyahu, is typical of Jewish and non-Jewish liberals (“Ramping up the anti-Iran rhetoric may hurt the cause,” Nov. 6 j. Views).

He refers to Netanyahu as “a politician with an agenda.” He goes on to say that a “likely motive” for President Bush’s rhetoric is for “forestalling new diplomacy with Iran.” He mentions Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s statements about wiping Israel off the face of the earth, denying the Holocaust, etc., but concludes that mentioning them may do more harm than good.

The basic thrust is that the Iranian government and other Islamic fascists are just like us and can be dealt with diplomatically. He ignores the fact that we are not dealing with rational people.

Ahmadinejad believes he is on a divine mission, the world is going to end in about two years, and the Holocaust is a myth. Rhetoric, harsh or pleasant, will not change anything the Iranians do or do not do. Talking to them will only prolong the situation.

The world community needs to implement tough economic sanctions on Iran. That’s the only hope short of military action, which no sane person wants.

Howard Epstein | San Francisco
vice chair, S.F. Republican Party

A disservice?

I am writing to correct misinformation contained in the Nov. 17 JTA article “Sandinista rise in recent election worries Nicaraguan Jews.”

Author Brian Harris states that all Nicaragua’s Jews went into exile shortly after the Sandinistas overthrew the Somoza dictatorship, implying that anti-Semitism was the reason. But Harris fails to ask why they left, or to state that hundreds wealthy Nicaraguans left the country during this period, as did those with ties to the Somoza regime.

Harris claims no Jews resided in Nicaragua during the Sandinista rule, failing to mention that Herty Lewites, a Jewish Nicaraguan mentioned elsewhere in the article, not only resided in Nicaragua during the 1980s but was the mayor of Managua.

I also lived in Nicaragua during that time, as did many other Jewish volunteers from the United States and other parts of the world. The most well known of us was Ben Linder, son of a Jewish Holocaust survivor who was murdered by the U.S.-backed Contras in 1987.

I’m sure there is anti-Semitism in Nicaragua, as there is in any country, though I never encountered any. The JTA does a disservice to the fight against anti-Semitism by printing charges based on innuendo and inaccuracies.

Terry Fletcher | Berkeley

Deafening silence

On Nov. 17, some 156 of 169 member-nations of the U.N. General Assembly (92 percent) — including all European Union members — called on Israel to cease military operations in Gaza. The international community clearly stated that the right of self-defense, intrinsic to any nation, is denied to Israel (read “Jews”).

Since Israel completely withdrew from Gaza in August 2005, Palestinians have launched more than 1,000 Kassam rockets — intended to murder and cause terror — into Israel. There was no United Nations’ condemnation of the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinian Authority-Hamas government openly espouses the genocidal mass-murder of every Jew in Israel — liberal appeasers, right wing, religious and secular.

Yet there is no U.N. condemnation.

Hezbollah states its goal to be the mass-murder of every Jew on earth. If Israel were just another of the dozens of Moslem countries where internecine war and murder, inequality for women, and lack of freedom of speech exists, the world would have no interest.

The American Jewish press must proclaim the reality of growing, worldwide anti-Semitism, which seeks no compromise and no appeasement. The silence of the 1930s cannot afford to be repeated.

If we do not act in our own best interest and defense, who will?

Fred Korr | Oakland

High hubris?

Your editors hit an all-time hubris-high in your Nov. 24 editorial.

They say that they are “troubled” by a leaked Peace Now report, which claims that some land in Israeli settlements may be owned by Palestinians. This offends the editors deeply.

However, they conveniently ignore the fact that Peace Now has a track record of embracing Arafat’s and Hamas’ mouthpieces with welcoming arms. But they do admit that tracing ownership in that area enters a tangle of blind alleys and fraudulent documents. 

In blandly accepting the unproven credibility of the Peace Now slander, the editors offer cover to Israel’s enemies and detractors. Undeterred by absence of evidence, they issue arrogant instructions to Israel to shape up and stop being ethically challenged, or, they piously intone, the nation will lose its “collective soul.”

The hubris in that barely disguised fatwa is staggering.

Had they just blatantly labeled Israel a den of thieves or a cabal of Shylocks, they could not have fashioned more propagandistic mayhem than they did. Their self-righteous lament about moral high ground simply feeds the tarnishing. 

Ernest H. Weiner | San Francisco
executive director
American Jewish Committee Northern California


Lies, lies, lies

“Whose Land Is It Anyway?” (Nov. 24 j. editorial) takes Israeli West Bank settlements to task, enthusiastically it seems.

The editor speaks of “Torah ethics” to be applied to “friend and foe alike.”

Peace Now alleges that 40 percent of settlements lands are on privately owned Palestinian Land.

Kfar Darom in Gaza was Jewish owned land. I suppose the editor espoused abandonment of that land, purchased by a Jewish man, to the Kassam launch crews.

Arab Muslims are unabashed enemies of all Jewish people. We owe them nothing. Let the murderous brutal misogynist backward-looking deviants beg forgiveness from the survivors of victims of their century-long murder-fest.

They are a people who have lied to the world and lied to themselves for a long time. They now believe their own lies.

After they have atoned, perhaps we can reach some form of agreement with them.

Ira Berkowitz | Emeryville