Letters to the Editor: 7/7/10

Letters to the Editor

Obama and the Middle East

Facts are stubborn things but that does not appear to stop Rabbi Randy Fleisher from using platitudes (“intelligence,” “inclusiveness” and “values”) to describe his reasons for supporting President Obama (Letter, June 23). For those of us who view the current President through the eyes of historical precedent (think Jimmy Carter), it would be interesting to hear the rabbi explain, among many other offenses:

• Obama’s refusal to have a photograph taken with Netanyahu

• The reason that the President put building construction in Jerusalem on the table in a stunning public rebuke of Israel’s sovereign rights

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• The 4 percent approval rating he has among the people who know Israel best (the Israelis).

Perhaps the rabbi should spend more time and effort considering the plight of the people of Sderot or the displaced Israelis from Gaza rather than the plight of the Palestinians whose current state of affairs has occurred thanks to Hamas and Fatah.

As has been stated more eloquently by others, if Hamas gave up its arms, there would be peace. If Israel gave up her arms, the Jewish state would be annihilated.

Paul Hauptman, St. Louis

Letter provokes responses

[In response to a letter from Norman Pressman, June 30.] It is not my intention to change anyone’s mind about who or what causes anti-Semitism. Nor do I seek to justify racist behavior in any form or place. But a few facts bearing on Mr. Pressman’s opinions are worth noting.

First, the Emmanuel school is actually two schools – one for non-religious/non-Orthodox students and the other for Orthodox students. Secondly, the case to which Mr. Pressman refers was brought by a single Sephardi father who did not even live in the Emmanuel district, whose child had no religious affiliation and who pressed several anti-religious organizations to take the case to the Supreme court.

The object of Mr. Pressman’s scorn and disapproval is the religious school, which has a student body that is 30 percent Sephardi and, I believe, a Sephardic vice principal. The child was denied admission to the religous school due to lack of religious standing, not race. Even in the United States, religious schools can define themselves. I hope the Mr. Pressmans of the world consider how their words and actions, no matter how well- or ill-informed, stoke the ignorance and hatreds that plague this world.

Hesh Lyons, Creve Coeur

To refer to the largely-Haredi Mea Shearim area as “a growing cancer” is beyond the pale, and evokes the rhetorical style of classic anti-Semitism of the 19th and 20th centuries who referred to Jews using such epithets. So does Norman Pressman’s faulting Jews for being “the cause of anti-Semitism.” Indeed, anti-Semites of many historical and contemporary varieties have made, and continue to make, precisely Pressman’s argument – “blaming the victim” for their own loathsome hatred. To blame Jews for anti-Semitism is in itself anti-Semitic. Unlike Pressman, the rest of us who understand the evil of anti-Semitism know that it is never, ever justified. The facts that Pressman is a Jew and that he directs his venom at only specific groups of Jews do not make his repulsive words any more palatable. Fortunately, neither Pressman nor his hateful diatribes represent the “mainstream” of the Jewish community, as he would have us believe. It is deeply disappointing that the Jewish Light would once again give a platform to the divisive rantings of this known rabble-rouser. Such views, which cross the line of acceptable discourse, have no place in a publication which prides itself as “the newspaper of the St. Louis Jewish community.”

Matthew Chase, University City