Standing ovation a historic moment

Jews, whether supportive of or opposed to Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress on March 3, should consider the symbolism of the Israeli prime minister’s address.

If one’s grandparents or great-grandparents were told, decades ago, that a Jew from a country called Israel would obtain a standing ovation from a joint session of Congress, would they have believed it?

Richard S. Colman   |   Orinda


‘Vile’ insult

President Obama hectors senators not to be influenced on Iran legislation by those he refers to as the “donor” class. And why do I not hear one word of outrage from my fellow Hebrews about this vile insult to Jews?

Scott Abramson   |   San Mateo


‘Useful idiots,’ indeed

It was very distressing to see the interview (and cover photo!) of professor Daniel Boyarin in the March 13 issue (“Daniel Boyarin: Talmudist, feminist, Israel critic, Berkeley iconoclast).

At a time that the very existence of Israel is challenged by Iran on the verge of nuclear weapons, a hostile American president and growing BDS movements on campus, did you really think it appropriate to showcase this anti-Zionist scholar?

Does he grasp the irony of sitting under a Palestinian flag as he pushes feminist and gay rights agenda? Does he believe that a state of Palestine would protect such rights — or his own freedom to practice Jewish scholarship?

Lenin spoke of “useful idiots.” I’m afraid he nailed it.

Please, J. — a little more discretion in the future.

David L. Levine, M.D.   |   San Francisco


Protocol eclipses real threat: Iran

Too much attention has been paid to the protocol of the congressional invitation for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech and the letter to Iran by 47 senators, instead of to the content of these warnings about Iran.

The proposed U.S.-Iran agreement is for 10 years, which is too short, would not stop Iran from getting atomic weapons and does not even try to stop Iran from developing ICBMs, which could reach the U.S.

Iran is increasing its control in Syria, Libya, Yemen, Lebanon and Gaza. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations agree with the warnings about Iran. Netanyahu has said the Iranian threat is against U.S. security and Israel survival.

Norman G. Licht   |   San Carlos


Black lawmakers got it wrong

Some African American lawmakers see President Obama as “a black president.” I see him as “the president.”

In “Black lawmakers support Israel, not Netanyahu speech” by JTA’s Ron Kampeas (March 13), the author hits the nail on the head when he states: “An impression among some [black lawmakers is] that the invitation to Netanyahu was a sign of disrespect for the first black president of the United States.”

I want to remind J. readers, Rep. John Lewis and these African American lawmakers of dialogue in the 1967 movie “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” Dr. John Wade Prentice Jr. (Sidney Poitier), talking to his father, says: “You think of yourself as a colored man; I think of myself as a man.”

All these offended lawmakers! What distressed them was the Boehner invitation, not so much Netanyahu’s speech. If they, like me, thought of Mr. Obama as “the president,” they would not have skipped the speech.

It is sad that for so many, President Obama is “black” first and foremost. It diminishes his presidency and weakens his policies, and that is not Mr. Netanyahu’s fault.

Sofia Shtil   |   Fremont


Politics aside, Netanyahu is right

You can be on either side of the political spectrum, but you cannot disagree with the facts that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented to Congress:

1. Having tens of thousands of centrifuges, Iran will pursue building a nuclear bomb — if not now, then in 10 years once the agreement is not in place.

2. Iran wants to dominate in the world of Islamic terrorism; it’s why it’s fighting with ISIS.

3. Iran is taking control of Iraq and many other Muslim countries around the world.

4. Iran has repeated many times that its goal is the destruction of Israel.

5. Just a few days ago, Iran unveiled new Soumar long-range cruise missiles that could extend Iran’s strike to Europe and beyond. The missiles are not defensive anymore …

Eugene Vosko   |   South San Francisco


A fight for equality at East Bay film fest

I have been attending the East Bay Jewish Film Festival for many years. I will not return.

Every year, we need to scramble for seats that don’t leave us bleary-eyed with a stiff neck from sitting up close. Last night was actually painful to my eyes. The more moneyed folks get to sit in the prime seats (probably half of the seats there). 

I understand that you depend on donations to support the festival. But does this mean that the others are shoved aside and treated like poor cousins? The arrangement is demeaning and obnoxious.

Isn’t there a better way to draw donors? If one were donating in the true spirit of generosity, he/she would not expect to be treated better at someone else’s expense.

Naomi Karlin   |   Oakland


Politicization of campuses is a wrong turn

In response to the March 13 article “Stanford professors take stand against divestment”: The politicization of American campuses does not bode well for the future of a courteous exchange of ideas aimed at enhancing our knowledge and understanding of history.

“The proponents of divestment against Israel know well that Stanford is not going to divest from Israel,” professor Steven Zipperstein said. “The actual goal is certainly not the stated goal.”

The goal is the normalization on American campuses of the idea that the existence of Israel, the tiny and only Jewish state, is not to be tolerated. A Stanford faculty “alternative statement” notes that “undertaking or endorsing the divestment activities” actually “undermine(s) efforts” for an Israeli-Palestinian compromise.

Perhaps the student senate’s attention might usefully be directed against the Palestinian incitement to hate that renders compromise impossible.

Julia Lutch   |   Davis