Letters to the editor: Nov. 22, 2017

Moving event on Jewish refugees

Nov. 30 is Memorial Day in Israel, marking the expulsion of 850,000 Jews from Arab lands in the 1940s and 1950s. Because Jews had resided in some of those lands, such as Persia (Iran) and Babylonia (Iraq) for thousands of years, many were very established and successful. Almost all these Jewish refugees were required to leave with virtually nothing, and their lands and businesses were nationalized. These Jews would have had nowhere to go if it were not for the creation of the State of Israel.

My family and I recently were privileged to attend a wonderful event at Nusach Hari B’nai Zion jointly sponsored by the St. Louis Friends of Israel and Christians United for Israel (CUFI). At the event, 15 new short films were previewed, each profiling a Jewish refugee from an Arab land. The films will ultimately be posted in series on Facebook, with a goal of maximum circulation, as I understand it. In each film, the refugee, now in his/her 70s or older, or in some cases a child of that refugee, describes what life was like before expulsion and what it meant to be forced to leave behind his/her home and everything the family had built over the years.

The reason for this letter, and what I believe is the most important unifying theme of all 15 profiles, is that in none of the refugees in these films referred to himself/herself as a victim. In every case, these Jewish refugees, now successful authors, doctors, artists, etc., discussed the importance of resettling as soon as possible in their new home, starting over with a new life and setting about, as soon as possible, achieving the essential task of “making a contribution” to the world. 


Mere words are insufficient to convey to you how moving and inspiring it was to witness these life stories. I hope that readers will look for them on social media and, when they see them, they will share them with others. 

Norma Yabeta Rubin, University City

Column resonates with reader

Regarding Ellen Futterman’s Nov. 8 News & Schmooze column (“Letter from my Dad to his speaks movingly across the decades”), I wish to thank Ms. Futterman for sharing a poignant, heartfelt, anecdotal moment in a letter her dad sent to his dad (her grandfather) when her father enlisted in the Navy during World War II.

The love, devotion and compassion her dad had for his father was so compelling and overwhelming that, I hope it will inspire other sons to pay tribute to their dads in a similar fashion. 

Ms. Futterman’s love and pride for her dad is obvious, and I must say, it filled me with envy and jealously, as at an early age I was the product of a broken home and never really got to know my father. The interaction between us was practically nonexistent throughout his lifetime. 

No doubt, Ms. Futterman is a lucky and blessed person to have experienced firsthand all of the joys and happiness that her father brought to his family – the abundance of caring, sharing, thoughtfulness and mostly the love that he bestowed upon them, the same enduring love I’m sure that his father bestowed upon him. 

That said, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention one piece of advice my father gave me that I’ll always remember. He told me that the most precious thing a person can leave behind when he or she dies is a good name.

After having read Ms. Futterman’s beautiful story, it’s plain to see that both her dad and his father personified and exemplified that notion in spades.

Gene Carton, Olivette

Jewish Voice for Peace responds to editorial

Last week, the Jewish Light (Editorial, “ ‘Peace’ Protest Falls Flat”) criticized Jewish Voice for Peace without substantively addressing any of the reasons our organization objects to ADL-sponsored exchanges between St. Louis area police and Israeli military, police and intelligence agencies.

Racist policing is a daily reality in both Israel and St. Louis. In Israel, Palestinians passing through Israeli military checkpoints must endure arbitrary detention, harassment, humiliation and even death at the hands of the Israel Defense Forces. Meanwhile, those who look white go by undisturbed. Palestinians are tear-gassed, shot at with deadly canisters at close range, subjected to targeted assassinations – often with impunity – by the IDF and settlers in the occupied West Bank. Racial profiling is built into the very structure of Israeli society and daily reinforced by military rule. 

We ask: What kind of attitudes would you expect to come from a training involving these forces, agencies and institutions?

The editorial states that “it’s hard to ignore evidence that black men in the United States are too often targeted and killed by white police officers, with little if any recourse in the courts.” We agree. 

Equally hard to ignore is that Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza are too often killed by Israeli police and military, with little if any recourse to due process of law. They are subject to military courts, administrative detention without trial, extrajudicial killings and the unequal application of criminal law on the basis of nationality. 

In contrast, Jewish settlers receive the benefits of civilian law and courts. The justice system in its totality is de jure segregated and explicitly biased. Palestinians charged with crimes before military tribunals have a nearly 100 percent conviction rate.

The editorial refers to Israeli security forces’ techniques for achieving “better ways to combat those who want to disrupt and destroy society.” We more accurately call their techniques a methodology for maintaining the tenuous status quo of an openly racist system which grants privileges to Jews at the expense of Palestinians. 

In its editorial, the Light approvingly cites (ADL regional director) Karen Aroesty’s characterization of our group as “demonizing” Israel. To “demonize” implies an unjustified, unfair or arbitrary attempt to malign or falsify for the express purpose of malicious distortion. 

We are describing, detailing and chronicling actual practices undertaken in Israel and between Israel and the United States, which is qualitatively and definitionally different than demonization. The critique that anybody detailing actual practices in Israel is undertaking “demonization” ironically admits to the troubling nature of these practices themselves.”

Stephanie Aria, Anna Baltzer, Michael Berg, Rachel Brown and Marlene Schuman, St. Louis Jewish Voice for Peace