Protesters attend a massive demonstration against proposed judicial reforms in front of the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, Feb. 13, 2023. (Photo/JTA-Amir Levy-Getty Images)
Protesters attend a massive demonstration against proposed judicial reforms in front of the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, Feb. 13, 2023. (Photo/JTA-Amir Levy-Getty Images)

Readers weigh in on democracy in Israel, antisemitism in America and more

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If you love Israel, speak up

This letter is a cry of the heart to all J. readers.

If 2,000 years of diaspora have taught us anything, it is that democracy is good for the Jews. How can it be, then, that in the Jewish state, of all places, democracy is at risk? How can it be that Jews rampaged through a Palestinian town a few weeks ago, burning cars, setting houses on fire, killing one and wounding dozens? How can it be that a government leader called for the town’s destruction? Or that another government leader demanded the firing of a police chief for not coming down hard enough on peaceful protesters? Or that that same leader considers a hero someone who massacred 29 people at prayer? Or that the government is attempting to ram through judicial “reforms” aimed at consolidating power?

Some Jewish activists don’t want to protest this government (“Why more American Jews aren’t protesting about Israel right now,” March 13) because they say that Israel already isn’t a democracy for the one and a half million Israeli citizens who are Palestinian Arab, not to mention several million more under military occupation. Some say we can’t afford to do anything because of rising antisemitism or the threat of the Iran-Saudi alliance. Some protest organizers don’t want to address the occupation, saying, “Let’s focus on the fight against the judicial reforms that will compromise the democracy Israel has been for 75 years; we can deal with the occupation later.”

But there is no later. The largest demonstration in Israel’s history to fight for democracy took place last Saturday night. Here in San Francisco, a few hundred mostly Israeli expats turned out for a rally on Sunday afternoon. There will be another demonstration on March 26. You can find details at

If you love Israel, if you love democracy, make your voices heard. If the American Jewish community rises up against the hatred, racism, sexism, homophobia and lust towards authoritarianism — things that dishonor our core Jewish values that elevate human life and dignity — perhaps Biden will feel empowered to confront Netanyahu, as well.

If not now, when?

Eleanor Shapiro, Ph.D.

Stop dissing our holidays

Berkeley High’s refusal to change the date for the graduation ceremony is not an isolated incident (“Berkeley High graduation on Shabbat despite years of pleas,” Feb. 27).

A local city (not Berkeley) scheduled a planning commission hearing for Erev Yom Kippur. When I asked that it be changed, I was advised Yom Kippur is not a holiday recognized by the city. The world cannot, and should not, stop on account of a religious holiday.

The attitude that our beliefs are a nuisance is but one more example of the attitude that our beliefs are not worthy of respect.

Steven Piser

Dissecting the frog analogy

It appears Rob Eshman, a contributing editor to the Forward, is the frog that is slowly trying to get out of the boiling water, and that is commendable (“Overhyping antisemitism? Maybe I’m the frog in slowly boiling water,” March 3).

However, in his focus on those fortunately relatively few violent attacks on Jews in America — however perverse and sometimes fatal that they are — Mr. Eshman ignores the much greater threat to Judaism in America: left-wing antisemitism that has enveloped much of American academia and American journalism.

If Mr. Eshman is going to get completely out of the boiling water, he must be prepared to confront the left-wing antisemites in American academia and journalism.

Until then, Mr. Eshman will continue to be blistered by that boiling water that he admits to being immersed in.

Richard Sherman
Margate, Fla.

Democracy in Israel? Ha!

I read with interest the story about the San Francisco rally against the new Israeli’s government’s effort to destroy its judicial system (“Jewish crowd braves rain to protest Israeli government,” Feb. 27).

I commend anyone who stands up for what they believe.

However, I take exception to the characterization of the Israeli government as a democracy.

Here is the Merriam-Webster definition of democracy: “Government by the people.” Notice it doesn’t say “some of the people.”

It says simply “the people.”

The dictionary further defines democracy as “the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinction or privileges.”

So I’m wondering how one can call Israel a democracy, when a group of people — Palestinian Israelis — have fewer rights than Jewish Israelis, and another group of people — Palestinians in the occupied territories — have even fewer rights.

Lois Pearlman

J. Readers

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