Pro-Palestinian demonstrators march in the Resistance Contingent during the San Francisco Pride Parade in San Francisco, June 30, 2024. (Aaron Levy-Wolins/J. Staff)
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators march in the Resistance Contingent during the San Francisco Pride Parade in San Francisco, June 30, 2024. (Aaron Levy-Wolins/J. Staff)

Seniors need more time in JCC pool; Why I boycotted SF Pride; ‘Intellectual slovenliness’

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JCC’s pool hours

The warm-water pool at San Francisco’s JCC has been a mechaya (pleasure) for me. At 81, I am not able to exercise in the ways that I used to, and the pool has allowed me to keep my arms and legs working. But the class and camp schedules this summer have left me too little time for this: I am allowed 25 minutes each on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I can take an hour on Thursdays and 90 minutes on Fridays, which would work if they weren’t on consecutive days. 

This frustrates me and the other older folks who use the pool. In addition, after being first told that the summer schedule would last till July 31, we are now informed that it will go to the end of August.

I do not grieve the children’s time; it is part of the JCC’s purpose to teach them. But the JCC must come to understand that the older guys and gals are likewise their constituency. I very much hope to see a change in their outlook.

Gabriel Lampert
San Francisco

Emil Knopf was a mensch

Thank you for your obituary about Emil Knopf, whom I knew for many years. (“Emil Knopf, Holocaust survivor, Levi Strauss executive, community volunteer dies at 91,” July 5) His kindness was known to many of us, especially my now 37-year-old son, Elliot. When he was a baby, he was with me when I was the representative of the Jewish Bulletin (I was then news editor) at the Federation’s annual fair for community organizations. 

Emil Knopf with a Sinai Memorial Chapel hat on at Sinai’s Hanukkah outreach booth in San Francisco’s Union Square, 2022. Sinai was one of many Jewish organizations Knopf donated his time to over the years. (Courtesy)

Emil was the rep in the booth next to ours, representing one of the myriad organizations with which he was involved. When he saw that my son was wearing a pair of baby-sized Levi’s, he said he’d send me a limited edition Levi’s kippah for him to wear, which came a few days later in the mail. 

Many years later, Elliot still has and wears the kippah that Emil sent him, and I think of Emil every time he does.

Peggy Isaak Gluck
Foster City

Boycott SF Pride

I am writing as a queer Jewish American in support of the boycott of SF Pride (“Pro-Palestinian groups plan countermarch, boycott of SF Pride parade,” June 27). The “Queer and Trans March for Palestinian Liberation/No Pride in Genocide” was not a criticism of individual LGBTQ+ people in Israel; rather it was an action to address the policies and political structures responsible for committing an ongoing, decadeslong ethnic cleansing and genocide against Palestinians.

The current genocide being perpetrated in Gaza has been condemned internationally as a horrific violation of international human rights. The boycott of SF Pride emphasized that we cannot celebrate in the face of genocide and that we must question elected officials who will not even vote for a cease-fire, which is a bare minimum in forging a just path for Palestine.

Israel uses pinkwashing, presenting itself as LGBTQ+ friendly, in order to mask the atrocities of colonial-settler occupation. Pinkwashing is a propaganda tool that demonizes Palestinians. At the same time, U.S. policies are complicit in supporting the genocide as billions of tax dollars go to supplying weapons and military intelligence to Israel.

Those who marched under the banner of “No Pride in Genocide” remind people that Stonewall was an act of resistance and a rebellion, and that queer liberation is connected to Palestinian liberation. Queer Palestinians have demanded a boycott of Pride as long as SF Pride continues to stay silent about genocide, celebrates people and organizations complicit in the genocide and enables the increasing corporatization of Pride.

LGBTQ+ people who marched in the Queer and Trans March for Palestinian Liberation recognize that LGBTQ+ Palestinians are being murdered in Palestine as Palestinians. The march continued in the long tradition of queer resistance to all forms of oppression.

Carla Schick

Press Biden for more Title VI cases

J. is to be commended for its comprehensive coverage of the current anti-Israel hysteria in reaction to Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza. Nevertheless more attention must go to the respective and contrasting roles of the current and previous administrations’ response to anti-Jewish activities.

As reported, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has opened more than 110 “shared ancestry” investigations into these obviously abusive activities.

Unmentioned, however, is that it was President Donald Trump’s December 2019 executive order applying Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to antisemitism in educational institutions that led to these current investigations.

A demonstrator waves a Palestinian flag during a protest at UC Berkeley on May 7, 2024, against Israel’s attack on Rafah. (Aaron Levy-Wolins/J. Staff)

Conversely little or no attention is going to the seeming absence of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division under President Joe Biden during this time of widespread violations of the civil rights of so many Jewish students. The recent opening of an FBI investigation into the violence outside Congregation Adas Torah in Los Angeles in late June is a welcome development after months of official inactivity.

The Jewish community must press the Biden administration to initiate an ongoing, energetic and forceful DOJ response. The 14th Amendment of the Constitution prohibits the denial “to any person” of the “equal protection of the laws.” 

We must insist that the current administration perform its primary responsibility, which is to protect the public and, according to the Constitution, to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

Steve Astrachan
Pleasant Hill

‘Intellectual slovenliness’

When Rabbi David Wolpe resigned from the Harvard task force on antisemitism he wrote: “We are at a moment when the toxicity of intellectual slovenliness has been laid bare for all to see.” 

Intellectual slovenliness describes Oren Kroll-Zeldin’s comments to J. in a recent interview about his book “Unsettled.” (“‘Unsettled’: Meet the young activist Jews standing up for Palestine in USF professor’s new book,” June 27) He describes the young generation of Jews being “far removed from the Holocaust” and the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. 

Kroll-Zeldin is apparently unaware of the larger historical picture, part of which is described in the book “Palestine 1936” by Oren Kessler. The book describes the implacable resistance and violent actions by the Arab elites to any Jewish presence in Palestine in the 1930s. This was despite British efforts to create a situation, as WWII was closing in, that was restrictive of Jewish immigration and very favorable to the Arabs. 

Is Kroll-Zeldin aware of Hajj Amin Husseini, the most implacable of the Arab leaders? Husseini famously sided with Hitler during WWII because of Hitler’s promise to liquidate all the Jews if the Nazis were to gain control of Palestine. His enmity toward Jews sounds much like the current views of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad,\ and their supporters. Is Husseini the embodiment of the person that Kroll-Zeldin would want to lead their call for Palestine liberation?

Arthur Liberman
Palo Alto

Call for cease-fire misses the mark

Rabbi Irwin Keller’s guest column (“Why my synagogue stands for a cease-fire,” June 21) calling for a cease-fire as paramount is heartfelt but misses the mark. 

Hamas cannot be allowed to rule Gaza again, and any cease-fire that does not remove them from power will only lead to more death and destruction. The Israeli and the U.S. governments have stated this as a clear objective, but apparently, congregations and city councils passing cease-fire resolutions have shied away from this simple cogent demand. Jihadists intent on killing all Jews should not be considered moral equivalents to the Israeli military that is fighting for Israel’s existence.

Condemnations of Israel for death rates that cannot be confirmed, Hamas’ use of civilians to hide behind and use for propaganda, and the very real possibility that United Nations workers are Hamas operatives are clear injunctions against those who support a cease-fire that Hamas continues to reject.

Rather than issue resolutions that make rabbis feel good about their moral high ground, why not encourage action like joint congregation missions to Israel to learn and volunteer or raise contributions for the 200,000 displaced Israelis who are in limbo until a real cease-fire can be achieved? Truer Jewish values would be better for doing good for your people than for feeling good about yourself through lofty castigation.

Jeff Saperstein
Mill Valley

Pro-Hamas demonstrators

Regarding Kerry Hurwitz’s June 27 letter “Pro-Palestinian or anti-Israel,” the so called pro-Palestinian protesters are anti-Israel, which in effect is pro-Hamas  

Many of their slogans and signs are against Israel and Jews. The call for a cease-fire is what Hamas wants. Israel must continue the war until Hamas is destroyed and weakened, so it cannot attack Israel again. In May, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the demonstrators don’t know the history of the Mideast.  

The demonstrators are  misinformed or misled because the actions of Hamas are contrary to the ideals and morals of the college demonstrators. Muslims persecute not only Jews, also women, homosexuals, minorities and people with disabilities. Hamas has no regard for the lives of their own Palestinian people. 

Norman G. Licht
Palo Alto

Commandments in Hebrew

Regarding professor Robert Alter’s op-ed (“The Christian right wants schools to teach the Bible — but doesn’t understand what the Bible is about,” July 3) about the requirement to display the Ten Commandments in Louisiana — as we are all now newly minted “Originalists,” I would like to see the commandments posted in every classroom in their original Hebrew.

Gerry Feldman

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