Different kinds of bigots

A well-known 20th-century rabbi once remarked, “One of the great problems with Americans is that — being a decent people — they assume that everyone else is equally decent.” A corollary of the decency axiom is that if there are any bad apples in some group of people, there’s an equal and opposite bad on the part of another group of people.

 Thus we see j. editor Sue Fishkoff’s column (“Kids playing [way too realistically] with guns, June 21) equating gun-toting bigots’ kids killing imaginary Palestinian terrorists at an Israeli target range with 100,000-plus gun-toting bigots-in-training in Gaza.

Never mind that the school curriculum and children’s broadcast media in Gaza and the West Bank teach that 100 percent of Israel is stolen Palestine. Never mind that Hamas and Fatah also teach the great glory of suicide martyrdom in Jew-killing operations, as we can observe at palwatch.org or memri.org. For as long as there is at least one Jew who teaches a kid violence against Arabs, then who are we to criticize the Palestinian “summer camps” without an equal and opposite mea culpa? Makes sense to me!

Jay Jaffe   |   Concord


‘Faux moral equivalence’

It is vital for liberal Jews to find moral equivalence, however false, between what the Palestinians do and what the Israelis do. Equating shooting targets of “terrorists” with a culture that socializes and inculcates its children to kill Jews because they are Jews is both stupid and reprehensible.

When are the Fishkoffs of the world going to draw a distinction between those who teach their children to defend themselves and those who come to slaughter them? Israel does not use its schools and its media to inculcate its children, as Hamas does, into a culture of hate with blowing themselves up among a large group of innocents as being the highest moral, patriotic and religious achievement. Jihad is the apex, the pinnacle, the peak of Islam, radical imams preach. When have you heard such hate spewed from the pulpit of a synagogue?

Go to any firing range in America, and you’ll see targets of “bad guys.” But putting holes in paper targets doesn’t mean we are imbued with an ideology that impels us to want to go out and kill real people. But put around those shooters a bunch of coaches spewing nationalist venom and hatred, and you have a very different scenario.

Too bad Fishkoff is unable to understand the difference. But once the liberal mind finds a faux moral equivalence, parsing nuances seems to be several standard deviations of intelligence beyond their comprehension.

Abraham Miller   |   Walnut Creek


Shocked over firing

It is with great shock and sadness that I learned that Michal Kohane is no longer the Israel Center director of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation.

I read that she was possibly fired following publication of her opinion piece “40 Plus and Screwed: More on Less Young Adult Engagement” on eJewishPhilanthropy.com, expressing her frustration at the over-emphasis of our greater community with young adults engagement at the expense of more integrated, all-age programming.

As an active volunteer with the Israel Center, I can’t begin to express how wrong this is. Michal is one of the most dedicated people in the Jewish community, including, of course, its young adults, and the conversation she raises is long overdue.

In addition, as an Israeli American, I’d like to hear directly from the federation’s CEO regarding JCF plans for Israel-related programming and services in this area.

Ella Luria   |   Sacramento


Disingenuous screed

“Sadly, Conservative Judaism’s lead ship is sinking fast” (June 21) is another anti-USCJ screed from Rabbi Menachem Creditor, disingenuous in both title and tone. He uses the cudgel of his apparent pet program of Koach — which, worthy as it may be, never reached more than a small proportion of Jewish college students and an even smaller number of campuses — to predict the demise of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

It is unlikely that anyone attending college west of the Rockies ever heard of Koach, much less took part in their activities. Rabbi Creditor implies that the decision to suspend (not abolish) Koach from the latest USCJ budget means that it is abandoning its future, which is simply false. Current priorities are directing resources to innovative learning programs covering all age groups, using state-of-the art pedagogy and technological platforms.

Rabbi Creditor does not acknowledge the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and staff, expending thousands of hours over the past several years to transform USCJ to meet the needs and challenges of 21st century Conservative Judaism.

These efforts have included many of his rabbinic colleagues. Their devotion to the values and future of Jewish life is at least as steadfast as what Rabbi Creditor claims for himself. These efforts are ongoing and will occasionally displease partisans of one program or another, but we deserve better than sanctimonious rejectionism overlaid with a big dose of schadenfreude.

Frank Kurtz   |   San Francisco

Chair, USCJ Northern Pacific Region


Two-group solution?

I applaud Rabbi Menachem Creditor’s opinion piece. Though I understand financial realities, the Koach decision does seem to be a sign of more difficult cuts to come. Perhaps now would be a time for a courageous move to begin conversations with USCJ and the Union for Reform Judaism to explore areas of collaboration.

We have far more similarities than differences, and perhaps we could explore how we could learn and grow from a discovery of what binds us together vs. what the differences are. My hope is that one day it could eventually lead to a merger.

Michael Liepman   |   Lafayette

Temple Isaiah, Executive Director