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Art or propaganda?

I recently attend an art opening at the RayKo Photo Center in San Francisco that includes photographs of the aftermath of the recent war in Lebanon by a Palestinian-Lebanese-American photographer, Najib Joe Hakim. He should have let his sometimes striking photographs speak for themselves.

Instead, he included a commentary which I found quite disturbing, such as equating Israeli bombing in a specific area to the bombing of the World Trade Center. There is a line one can cross from socially responsible art into propaganda, no matter how heartfelt.

Kevin Levine | San Francisco

The truth about Georgia and Israel

According to the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, a private consulting firm headed by retired Israeli military personnel, not the Israeli government as claimed in the letter from Edwin Bradley (Letters, Sept. 5), helped train the Georgian military. It behooves you to check the content of the letters you print.

Further, even if Israel did train and arm the military of a pro-Western fledgling democracy, it would be laudable and in no way reprehensible.

Charges of human rights violations against Georgia are one-sided and unfounded; they originate from leftists who miraculously find no human rights violations whatsoever in Russia’s military invasion. The same leftists habitually accuse Israel of human rights violations, while being silent on the rampant violations of the Palestinians and Arab countries.

Doron Schwarz | El Cerrito

Meeting challenges

As j. reported last week (“Fiscal fiasco,” Sept. 5), the state of California has cut the Jewish Home’s Medi-Cal reimbursement by 10 percent, approximately $4 million. When this is combined with the state’s prior year $1 million funding reduction, it is clear that the Home is facing serious financial challenges.

I want to assure everyone that the Home remains 100 percent committed to high-quality care for our residents; their welfare is always of paramount importance. The impact of such revenue losses is far-reaching and is simply not sustainable.

It’s clear that it’s not prudent to rely on the level, as well as the significant and unpredictable annual swings in state funding. We must diversify our service offerings to stabilize our financial performance. The Home’s Short Stay Rehabilitation Unit will help us achieve that objective. We have allocated 40 beds for patients requiring this level of care — less than 10 percent of the Home’s total bed count, not a majority of beds as was incorrectly reported by j.

The Jewish Home is at a major crossroads. We look forward to your continued support to meet the challenge of providing high-quality and cost-effective care to our community’s most vulnerable older adults.

Daniel R. Ruth | San Francisco

The Jewish Home of San Francisco

president and CEO

Caring for everyone

As chair of the Jewish Public Affairs Committee and vice president of Jewish Family and Children’s Services, I want to thank you for your article “Fiscal fiasco.” Anita Friedman asks the question, “What is the purpose of being Jewish if we don’t fulfill our central mission of caring for the poor? This is the essence of Jewish ethics.”

At JFCS and JPAC, there is another part of that answer. Part of the essence of caring for the poor and disadvantaged among us is fighting to make our voices heard for them. Some can’t speak the language, some are sick, some are homeless; children, families, who live right in our communities. Some are our own relatives who lived through unspeakable horrors as victims of the Nazi Genocide. Many are falling through the cracks into poverty.

Through JPAC, we are their advocates in Sacramento. Through JFCS, we have formed public issues committees all over the Bay Area to help by putting our issues in front of our representatives in the state and federal government.

Please know we are doing all we can, and we appreciate all the Jewish community does. We all have to work together on this.

Nancy Goldberg | Tiburon

JPAC chair

JFCS vice president

Stop attacks on Santa Cruz

A recent press release by the Zionist Organization of America attacks both U.C. Irvine and U.C. Santa Cruz for ongoing problems of anti-Semitism at both campuses. While I know little about Irvine, I know a lot about UCSC. I am extremely involved in the Santa Cruz Jewish community and currently serve as vice president of the board of UCSC Hillel.

UCSC, like many universities, has people on both sides with strong views on the Middle East. There is no ongoing pattern of anti-Semitism and to paint that picture is very destructive to Jewish life at UCSC and to the Santa Cruz Jewish community. There are a small group of individuals at UCSC that have been intent on exaggerating problems at UCSC and getting national exposure for their ideas.

What is true is that Santa Cruz is a great place to be Jewish, both on campus and in town. The campus has a vibrant Jewish studies program, very active Hillel and campus Chabad, and sends the largest number of students to Israel on Birthright trips of any U.C. campus. Painting a negative picture of Jewish life at UCSC can only dissuade Jewish students from attending UCSC and thus robs the university and the Santa Cruz community of their presence.

Aryeh Nanas | Aptos

Certifiably unkosher

The new PETA investigation exposing continued horrific animal abuse at Agriprocessors shows yet again why the Orthodox Union needs to unconditionally remove its hechsher (kosher certification) from this company. The scandal-ridden owners of Agriprocessors, the Rubashkins, have shown a complete disregard for both state and federal laws while making a mockery of Jewish laws and principles that should be protecting workers from exploitation and animals from unnecessary suffering. Their record of egregious violations in every area of their operations is shameful.

Agriprocessors has proven that it can’t be trusted. It is not surprising that Agriprocessors even deceived the team of 25 handpicked Orthodox rabbis (including two senior officials from the OU), who were flown in for a staged tour of the facility on July 31, 2008. The group obviously was not shown the cruel and illegal procedures that were caught on tape by PETA just two weeks later.

As long as the largest kosher certifier in the world, the OU, continues to put its hechsher on Agriprocessors products, despite all the lies, abuse and criminal activity, the entire kosher food industry will lose even more credibility.

Jayn Brotman | Cincinnati