Letters to the Editor

Apology needed 

On April 13, the Jewish Light published a cartoon by Steve Greenberg that suggested a “moral equivalence” between the 1968 execution of a Viet Cong officer by a South Vietnamese Police Chief and the shooting of a Palestinian terrorist by a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Underneath the two pictures, the cartoonist wrote “Much the Same.”

The following week, Jewish Light Publisher Larry Levin and Editor-in-Chief Ellen Futterman published a letter explaining why they thought the cartoon was appropriate.

Levin and Futterman claimed that the cartoon expressed a perspective about Israel that exists within the St. Louis Jewish community. In the words of the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.” The fact is that the Vietnamese incident represented a “summary execution” of a man in custody with his hands tied behind his back. By contrast, the incident with the Israeli soldier is still pending. The soldier has been taken into custody and will be put on trial by the military. His defense is that the terrorist, who had already tried to kill, had on a heavy coat and had not yet been secured or checked for explosives. The soldier and others have stated that his sudden movement made them believe he was about to trigger an explosive belt.

Levin and Futterman acknowledge that the presentation of the cartoon was “harsh,” as is often the nature of editorial cartooning. However, our objection isn’t that the cartoon was harsh or distasteful; rather, it is that the comparison of the two incidents was false and slanderous. The cartoon suggested that the shooting of the Palestinian terrorist was without reason, and condoned by the IDF. This could not be further from the truth.

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Unlike other armies, the IDF goes to extraordinary lengths to protect innocent life. Perpetrators of stabbings and other terrorist attacks are taken to Israeli hospitals, and treated. Additionally, the IDF takes extraordinary measures to protect civilian life. A UN study from 2011 showed “that the ratio of civilian to combatant deaths in Gaza was by far the lowest in any asymmetric conflict in the history of warfare.”

We would not expect the Light to endorse other false claims, such as Holocaust denial, even though there are those who believe it. As the voice of our Jewish community, our hope would be that the Light would lead and inform, rather than simply reflect false and prejudiced viewpoints — particularly where the homeland for the Jews is concerned. In a world of false information, a place to go for the truth is badly needed. Shouldn’t the Light be that place for our community?

The cartoon represented a demonization of the State of Israel based on false moral equivalence and false facts. It should never have been published in the Light. Rather than compound the problem by defending the egregious error, those who chose to run it owe our community an apology.

— Rabbi Yosef David • Rabbi Seth Gordon • Rabbi Yaakov Green • Rabbi Mike Rovinsky, Director of Jewish Student Union & Movitz Danforth Israel Scholars Program • Rabbi Moshe Shulman • Rabbi Ze’ev Smason • Rabbi Zalman Stein • Rabbi Max Weiman • Jewish Student Union  • Citizens for a Just and Lasting Peace in the Middle East • St Louis Friends of Israel  • Sandie Abrams • Hanna Amar • Meir Armoza • Rachel Armoza • Dustyn Arney • Rochelle Aronson • Judy Baker • Travis Baker • Jesse Barash • Carole Baskin • Jo Ann Black • Amy Cantor • Fran Cantor • Harvey Cantor • Mark Cantor • Matt Chase • CPT Sanford Cohen • Jen Cohen • Sarah Cohen • Ruth Cohn • Guy Dar • Orna Dar • Bonnie Davis • Shelley Dean • Revital Drory-Moore • Jenny Druxman • Velvel Druxman • Joel Ehrlich • Julie Eisenberg • Michael Fadlon • Teree Farbstein • Dr Susan Feigenbaum • Naomi Fishman • Norman Fishman • Kate Friedman • Alana Fulsom • Sabrina Fulsom • Burt Garland • Richard Gavatin • Alan Gerson • Jackie Gerson • Leora Gilboa • Shlomi Gilboa • Jeffrey Glaser • Joyce Glaser • Laurie Goldberg • Devy Goldenberg • Jerry Goldenberg • Rhonnie Goldfader • Stan Goldfader • David Goldmeier • Dr Laura Goldmeier • Traci Goldstein • Lisa Gottlieb-Cytron • Tony Granilo • Dr Morton Green • Marni Green • Sheilah Gross • Dani Haberer • Mali Haberer • Erez Haluf • Elie Harir • Jennifer Hartranft • Bernell Hawk • Elisheva Heit • Dewain Hiliard • Rob Hood • Dr Warren Isakow • Vicki Isakow • Guila Rachel Jacobsen • Dr Steve Kamenetzky • Amy Kanfer • Menashe Kattan • Shoshi Kattan • Rachel Katzman • Stuart Klamen, Director of the Bergson Group • Lizzy Kline • Svetlana Kogan • Cynthia Kramer • Dan Lefton • Galit Lev-Harir • Jason Lipsitz • Larry Lipsitz • Lisa Lipsitz • Robert Lipsitz • Marcia Lisker • Howard Loiterstein • Dr Sidney Machefsky • Kathy Machefsky • Rose March • Bruce Michelson • Ilanit Michelson • Rachel Miller • Alana Minoff • Ben Minoff • Mike Minoff • Sharon Minoff • Betti Minor • Yaron Moore • Dr Daniel Morgensztern • Marcela Morgensztern • Daniel Movitz • Galia Movitz • Milton Movitz, Past President, St Louis Jewish Light • Ephraim Mufson • Michelle Mufson • Sally Needle • Kimberly Nelson • Carlos Orozco • Lisa Patsios • Dr Jay Pepose • Edward Pernik • Ella Pernik • Dr A.N. Pierce • Jim Pollock • Avital Reznikov • Sandee Roberts • Michael Robins • Angie Rosenberg • Dr Daniel Rosenbluth • Marlene Rosengarten • Marvin Rosengarten • Dikla Roufa • David Rubin • Norma Rubin • Debby Schuman • Richard Senturia, ZOA – St Louis • Dr Harvey Serota • Dr Pearl Serota • Michael Shapiro • Ellen Siegel • Leah F Silberman-Bernstein • Irl Solomon • Myra Solomon • Linda Spitzer Gavatin • Tali Stadler • Ellen Stein • Nancy Stein • Alan Steinberg • Pamela Stock • Dan Swindell • Alan Taxman • Rachel Taxman • Ann Rose Tendler • Victor Tendler • Yael Treger, St Louis Shlicha • Jay Umansky • Peggy Umansky • Sigalit Vardi • Sara Wainberg • Laurie Walker • David Weinstein • Mark Weinstein • Rita Weinstein • Carla Weintraub • Leonard Weintraub • Janie Willman • Jenny Wolkowitz, Past President, St Louis Jewish Light • Patti Wolkowitz • Rich Wolkowitz • Richard Woolf • Mira Zilberg • Shmuel Zilberg