Factory farmed pigs in pens so small they cannot turn around (Photo/Flickr-Farm Sanctuary CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Factory farmed pigs in pens so small they cannot turn around (Photo/Flickr-Farm Sanctuary CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Canary Mission is great; Dillers are great; vote no on Prop. 12; etc.

Canary Mission doing noble work

I was disappointed by Dan Pine’s article about the Canary Mission (“Canary Mission funding was ‘one-time grant,’ says S.F. Federation”). Although I am not affiliated with that group, I appreciate the work they do. The Federation and the Diller Family Foundation do not need to apologize for providing funding.

When one examines the Canary website, it shows that they document activities and statements made by those who make their list. Unlike Sen. Joe McCarthy’s list, Canary’s is transparent and documented.

As far as allegedly pro-Israel students at various campuses complaining that the Canary Mission makes pro-Israel advocacy more difficult, they reflect the sad trend of American Jews who have trouble defending Israel’s right to be strong and to defend herself. How does exposing biased and bigoted professors make it more difficult for them? It should make it easier to make their cases against the biases of various faculty members. If it makes them uncomfortable, it is because they are uncomfortable with confrontation. Israel’s enemies are not.

I realize that confronting anti-Israel faculty is not as fun as a falafel party, but if you are truly pro-Israel you accept the challenge and do not denigrate those who give you the tools to do so.

Gil Stein,

Dillers have made world a better place

I am writing relative to the “news” item you published relative to a gift to Canary Mission from the Diller Family Foundation (“Canary Mission funding was ‘one-time grant,’ says S.F. Federation”).

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a director of a Diller Foundation and my wife helped Helen Diller establish the Tikkun Olam program.

The gift you featured was a one-time gift made in 2016 and would no longer qualify to be made from a Federation supporting foundation.

More importantly, the essence of good journalism is to put a controversial item in perspective. This was done at best in a minimal fashion in the story.

Here is a partial list of how much the Dillers have contributed to make this community, this country, Israel and the world a better place.

The Diller family has contributed $1 billion to UCSF for cancer and other research, $50 million to Technion for Quantum Computing, $3 million to the new National Library of Israel and $5 million to endow the UC Berkeley Chair of Jewish Studies. Also, seed funding for and endowing of the first Israeli Rhodes Scholars, and funding for the new playgrounds at Civic Center, Dolores Park and JK Park; funds for the Global Jewish Diller Teen program and awards for Jewish teens who create outstanding volunteer service programs; and $36,000 annual Jewish Educator Awards for meritorious Jewish educators. In addition, Diller funds have been provided for the de Young Museum entrance and UC Santa Cruz Jewish Studies, and $7 million to the Mayo Clinic for research.

This extraordinary list of philanthropic endeavors is only a partial list, but I hope will put the one-time, less than 1 percent gift in perspective.

Richard Rosenberg,
San Francisco

Israel can bar anyone it wants

Israel faces the threat of annihilation every day. Liberal democracies are entitled to protect their own survival in ways they deem best. One minimally intrusive way of doing that is by barring the entry of a person deemed undesirable. Who that might be is up to their governments to decide, not some well-educated genius on the other side of the world. Israel is entitled to refuse entry to activists who visit the country to stir up trouble, or gather information they can use to stir up trouble.

The propaganda war has never stopped for over 70 years. Propagandists do incalculable damage. The glaring double standard against Israel has become the norm largely because of their destructive work. For example, the U.N. Human Rights Council is led by countries whose own human rights records are atrocious and who have themselves never been called to account. This is not a level playing field.

Murderous intent is unambiguous. Most Jews who live in the safety of the U.S. don’t offer their children up for mandatory military service or vote in Israel. The public hand-wringing about Israel by people at their keyboards on the other side of the world, who’ve never seen a shot fired in anger, is distasteful.

Desmond Tuck,
San Mateo

Appreciation for local writers

Thanks to Molly Daniels (“Nearly excised from Book of Life, I wrote my own chapter”) and to Sasha Cuttler (“S.F. must atone for treatment of black workers”) for two honest and very human meditations published as “Local Voices.” I’m so glad that almost all of J.’s content is locally written. Our community is enriched by the ongoing conversation that is J.

Note to Sasha: I believe that melecha, the word usually translated as “work,” has a defined meaning which does not include attending meetings, so I suspect that you did nothing unhalachic.

Note to Holly: L’chaim!

David L. Roth,

Federation organization mix-up

Your article about Andrew Kastner being named interim East Bay Federation contains a major misstatement. In it, you refer to “the Federation’s Jewish Community Foundation.” In reality, both the Federation (JFED) and the Foundation (TJCF) are separate 501(c)(3) organizations with separate boards of directors. More importantly, they have completely different business models and have achieved completely different levels of success.

TJCF is an extremely successful community foundation headed by Executive Director Lisa Tabak with (according to its most recent publicly available 990s) 10 supporting foundations and hundreds of donor-advised funds. Including supporting foundations, total assets exceed $100 million and total receipts exceed $20 million.

JFED is a local Jewish Federation with $4 million in assets and $6 million in gross receipts. Its annual campaign has been in decline for a decade, and it has eliminated its Israel Center (with all of its related programming) and its extremely successful East Bay Jewish Film Festival (now operating independently).

While JFED and TJCF adopted a joint logo and joint marketing techniques a number of years ago, they are as different as night and day. TJCF was formed as a distinct entity over 50 years ago and has continued to maintain its individual identity ever since, as well it should.

Andy Wasserman,

I’m voting ‘no’ on Prop 12

Like Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, I thought Proposition 12 was an animal protection initiative (“Prop 12: A sliver of freedom for factory-farmed animals”). Then I did some research. What I found was alarming, and I’m definitely voting no on Prop 12. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the egg industry have come up with this ballot initiative to reduce protections for egg-laying hens.

Friends of Animals (FoA): Proposition 12 would repeal our current hen-housing law to replace it with the guidelines of United Egg Producers. Proposition 12 would repeal … allow egg factories to give each hen only one square foot of cage or floor space. This cruel and unethical space allotment is an outright betrayal of farm animals and California voters.

stoptherottenegginitiative.orgMajor egg factory farms are descending upon California, banking on the passage of Proposition 12 (aka the Rotten Egg Initiative). The backers of this harmful initiative include United Egg Producers (the egg industry’s national trade association), egg factory farms, and a corrupted Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) … Together, they are waging a misinformation campaign about Prop 12, attempting to silence critics.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA): Beware! The new farmed-animal ballot initiative is being painted in rosy terms, but don’t be fooled. What it would actually do is allow farms to keep egg-laying hens in cages until 2022, at which time factory farms would still be able to confine uncaged hens to massive, crowded sheds with only 1 square foot of space per bird.

Rabbi Chaim Schneider,
Santa Cruz

Resetting the narrative

Writer Alix Wall tells us a Resetting the Table event helped an anonymous participant “understand for the first time why so many Palestinians could not accept Israel’s right to exist” (“Bridging American Jewish divide over Israel starts close to home”). Hmm. Has Resetting the Table thought about whether American Jews can accept Palestine’s right to exist? Wait! Palestine’s right to exist must never be questioned. Might that be the blind spot Rabbi Melissa Weintraub had in mind when she stated that “Most people are operating with a lot of blind spots on this conflict”?

Perhaps she is not familiar with what can happen if people actually do make a genuine effort to eliminate blind spots. Hussein Aboubakr Mansour is someone who did exactly that. He grew up in Egypt, was not exposed to the Zionist point of view, and wanted to understand what Zionism and Israel were all about. When he sought information on his own, at the Israeli Academic Center of Cairo, his family broke off contact with him and he was imprisoned.

He describes his experiences here.

Perhaps the American Jewish community is not where Resetting the Table needs to direct its efforts if it truly wants “to respond to the dilemmas that Israel faces.”

Julia Lutch,

Trump was right on Iran deal

Your article “Oakland author’s new book: Iran is more complicated than you think” completely misses the serious shortcomings of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (i.e., the “Iran deal”), specifically “lifting sanctions on Iran in return for various concessions, including inspections of its nuclear facilities.”

President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry originally promised that any negotiated agreement would contain provision for anytime, anywhere inspection.  However, the JCPOA provides for such inspections only at declared nuclear sites.   The inspection of other, i.e. undeclared, sites can occur only after a long process of notification and response between the various parties of the JCPOA and the Iranian regime.   This major loophole allows the regime to manipulate inspections so as to preclude the discovery of any materials related to a strategic nuclear program.   Congress should have voted down this or any agreement that failed to provide for the comprehensive anytime, anywhere inspections originally promised.

Additionally the Obama Administration failed to inform Congress that there were secret side deals between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Regime that put the inspection of military bases outside the scope of the JCPOA.   These separate agreements included allowing for self-inspect at the sensitive Parchin military complex near Tehran.

It is long-since time that J. should have been reporting more objectively on the JCPOA’s severe deficiencies.   This failure is fundamental.  Given the oft-repeated refrain, “Death to America, Death to Israel”, it may be existential.

President Trump was justified in taking us out of the JCPOA.  We should all support the president in this vital national security policy.

Steve Astrachan,
Pleasant Hill

Setting record straight on ‘tussle’ with professor

Your article about Erwin Chemerinsky noted his “tussle with the Zionist Organization of America in 2010 over the way the [UC Irvine] administration handled incidents of heckling of visiting Israeli speakers.” It was more than that. (“He made ‘The Case Against the Supreme Court’ long before Kavanaugh”).

Professor Chemerinsky publicly denied any anti-Semitism at Irvine, doing a great disservice to Jewish students. He either did not know about or ignored the evidence — that Jewish students had been physically threatened and assaulted; that anti-Semitic speakers routinely spoke in the center of the campus, viciously attacking Jews and comparing them to Nazis and to Satan; that a campus Holocaust memorial had been destroyed; and that swastikas had defaced campus property.

The campus environment was so hostile that at least twice, Rep. Brad Sherman wrote to Irvine’s then-chancellor, describing campus events as “appearing intended to … propagate the spread of anti-Semitism.”

When he came to Irvine, Chemerinsky had an important opportunity to talk with and listen to Jewish students and faculty and to carefully examine the evidence the ZOA had compiled about how Jewish students were being harassed and intimidated. He could have used his influential position to encourage the administration to finally acknowledge and address Jewish students’ complaints of feeling unwelcome and even unsafe. Instead, unfortunately, Chemerinsky gave the university a pass it didn’t deserve.

Susan B. Tuchman,
New York

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