Environmentalist and former Member of Knesset Alon Tal at a May 7 rally in Sunnyvale against Israel's proposed judicial reform organized by the Israeli expat group UnXeptable. (Photo/Galit Lipsitz Goldenthal)
Environmentalist and former Member of Knesset Alon Tal at a May 7 rally in Sunnyvale against Israel's proposed judicial reform organized by the Israeli expat group UnXeptable. (Photo/Galit Lipsitz Goldenthal)

Erasing history in Florida; UnXeptable’s true colors; Just say no to white flour

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Erasing history in Florida

Florida’s Department of Education recently censored the publication of two books on the Holocaust, and reportedly did not approve any new texts on the Holocaust this year (“Florida rejects Holocaust education textbooks in clampdown on ‘woke’ instruction,” May 11, JTA).

The department does not give reasons for the censorship, but one can imagine that they do not meet the standards of the “Stop the Woke Act,” established by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

In Florida’s desire to meet the standards of this act — one of its tenets being that children should not feel guilt or shame in relation to historical events — the state has a litmus test that strips the human element from education.

Yes, Mr. DeSantis, the world should recognize from a young age the horrendous nature of the Holocaust. And sometimes there is shame in truth.

Students from a young age should not be sheltered from the truth. As the famous saying goes: “Those who are ignorant of history are bound to repeat it.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a Jerusalem Post conference at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem on April 27, 2023. (Photo/JTA-Yonatan Sindel-Flash90)
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a Jerusalem Post conference at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem on April 27, 2023. (Photo/JTA-Yonatan Sindel-Flash90)

Mr. DeSantis wants the Trump base that doesn’t want to be told that their racial hatred is not justified. His educational policy seeks to erase collective memory of moral conscience. He wants to anesthetize the masses to human compassion and sanitize history to serve his ends.

He is as bad as Trump, but perhaps worse: The man has studied history and knows how to erase it.

He isn’t only creating false realities, he seeks to destroy a collective consciousness.

He is the next step in America’s Totalitarian Temptation to embrace fascists that whitewash history for racial purity.

We are watching the emergence of Ron DeSantis and the spreading of the banality of evil (“For Jewish Republicans, DeSantis enters race with bona fides — and baggage,” May 22, online).

Bruce Farrell Rosen
San Francisco


UnXeptable’s true colors

I am writing in regard to the May 10 article “Alon Tal, former MK and Israeli environmentalism pioneer, has strong words for Israel today.”

It is hardly objective to deem UnXeptable “a pro-democracy movement based in Israel” when it mainly consists of irreligious left-wingers who have left Israel (many permanently) and are stalking horses and a screen for the White House’s attempt to overthrow a democratically elected Israeli government.

Yaakov Nurik
Benicia


Chabad covers Incline, too

Thank you for your article about Lake Tahoe Jews in the recent issue of J. (“Tahoe’s ’mountain Jews’ like to pray and play in the snow,” May 12).

My wife, Susan, and I now live in Sparks, Nevada, after living in Danville for 29 years. We’ve also had a house in Truckee for more than 40 years, where we spend considerable time.

Your article was informative. However, you omitted mention of the Chabad presence in Incline Village, Nevada on Lake Tahoe’s north shore.

You did mention Rabbi Mordey and Shaina Richler in South Lake Tahoe, but you omitted Rabbi Mendel and Sara Cunin of Reno-based Chabad of Northern Nevada, who also conduct services and Jewish activities in Incline.

Merritt and Sue Weisinger
Sparks, Nevada


Bid adieu to white flour

As a newly resubscribed reader, I don’t have any recent familiarity with J.

I did notice the inclusion of “all-purpose” white flour in a recipe (“This tangy tart uses dairy and honey for Shavuot,” May 18), and wished to comment that as a multi-decades-long, from-scratch cook and baker who values nutritiousness and deliciousness equally, I stopped using white flour the day I discovered white whole wheat flour years ago — a decision for which neither husband nor guests have ever reproached me.

I discarded all “white” ingredients and never looked back.

Who knows. Perhaps I may even be able to credit my blessed longevity to that and/or my longtime adherence to organic foods, which increased to 99% during the pandemic and, so far, post-pandemic.

Serena Jutkovitz Bardell
San Francisco


Judicial reform and ‘wisdom’

It’s time to reframe the debate over Israel’s judicial reform toward a reasonable middle ground and step away from the destructive polarization that has exacerbated divisions both here and in Israel.

Some Israeli reservists have even threatened to refuse to report for duty, an extraordinary development anywhere, let alone in a nation facing existential threat. Israel’s adversaries are paying attention. So should we.

Opponents of the reform often — rightly, in my view — cite the override provision which would allow a simple majority of the Knesset to nullify Supreme Court rulings. This concern is legitimate.

Israelis protest against the government’s planned judicial overhaul, outside the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, March 27, 2023. (Photo/JTA-Jamal Awad-Flash90)
Israelis protest against the government’s planned judicial overhaul, outside the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, March 27, 2023. (Photo/JTA-Jamal Awad-Flash90)

However, rhetorical excesses — such as “democracy is good for the Jews” (“If you love Israel, speak up,” March 15) and the Knesset’s attempt to “undermine the sanctity of an independent judiciary” (“Wrecking judicial sanctity,” April 26) in letters to the editor in J. — fail to recognize that Israel’s judicial structure is severely problematic and itself compromises democratic governance.

Consider the following: As there is no requirement for standing to initiate litigation, anyone can start a legal process that could potentially have a major impact on Israeli society. This failing is augmented by the court’s practice of ruling on policy issues, properly the province of the political leadership, and its use of a subjective “reasonableness” standard in reaching decisions.

Then there is the Israeli attorney general, who is not part of the elected government but can deny governmental departments the right of representation in legal disputes.

All this lends toward judicial anarchy. Clearly, reform is needed.

Let’s hope that the Israeli polity, where such issues must be resolved, can muster the wisdom and strength to achieve real reform without eviscerating the Supreme Court’s legitimate role.

The best that those of us outside of Israel can do is to try to better our own understanding and pursue a more informed and reasoned dialogue. Remember that the first rule of ethics is “Do no harm.”

Steve Astrachan
Pleasant Hill

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