Week of Sept. 23, 2009

Podhoretz editorial

At the end of the editorial “Is the Neocon Right?” [Sept. 9], the writer states that “the peace process did not advance one iota” during the tenure of President George W. Bush. This is untrue. During this time, Israel withdrew from Gaza, trying to start an era of peace. Many Israelis and Americans hoped that the Palestinians would begin building their own state. Unfortunately, the Palestinians dashed these hopes by launching missiles into southern Israel, thus confirming what the Israeli conservatives predicted. To claim that the Bush Administration handed Israel a “blank check” and did not advance the “peace process” is wrong. Israel demonstrated that it was willing to withdraw troops, stop checkpoints, and negotiate anywhere with the Palestinians. The Palestinians made no reciprocal gestures.

Furthermore, the same statement, “the peace process did not advance one iota,” can be made about the presidency of Bill Clinton. During that administration, the most frequent foreign visitor was Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat. After the failure of the peace process, the second intifada was launched, killing many Israelis.In spite of good intentions of both liberals and conservatives, there is no peace for Israel. The cause is not the involvement or lack of involvement of the United States. The problem is that the Palestinians want to destroy Israel, not build their own state. Until this reality is addressed, it does not matter who is president of the United States.

Laura GoldmeierCreve Coeur

Your recent comments about Norman Podhoretz’s positions were somewhat disappointing [Sept. 9]. It is one thing for an individual to follow the prophetic injunctions to pursue justice, feed the poor and welcome the stranger, and quite another to trust government to do this.

In today’s real world, the so-called “liberal” movements have distinguished themselves as unfailing supporters of Palestinian causes to the extent that the Jewish State is condemned for taking defensive or retaliatory action to some of the most gruesome crimes perpetrated against it.

The current “liberal” administration asks Israel to freeze settlements totally and unilaterally, including Jerusalem. There is not even a scintilla of Arab reciprocity that would encourage Israel to take any conciliatory steps. And I am not even talking about the hostile environment of Israel’s neighbors and allies, their educational systems, religious fanaticism, death cults and potential nuclear armament.

Some of us, especially Holocaust survivors, view Israel as the ultimate guarantee of Jewish survival as a people. Liberal governments, especially the current administration, do not inspire any degree of confidence to further this development.

Godofredo Herzog, MD

Longboat Key, Fla.

Schnucks crucifix

Regarding L. Weinstock’s letter, (Sept. 9) I was quite taken aback, and share the writer’s indignation to know there is a very large and very prominent crucifix over the customer service desk in the new Schnucks Culinaria store downtown. I took Weinstock’s advice and called the Schnucks Consumer Affairs department and was given the phone number of the store. I then proceeded to call the store, and talked to the manager. Much to my surprise, the manager turned out to be a warm, kind, courteous, man — an Army veteran — who told me he has worked for Schnucks for 40 years, in 16 different locations, and although he had displayed the crucifix in other stores, he had had no major problems, although he did admit there had been a few complaints.

Also, as indicated in Weinstock’s letter, he told me that Schnucks Markets, Inc. supported his decision, and I might add that this included the owners of the supermarket chain-the Schnuck family.

I explained to him that although it’s a privately owned store, and the display is certainly not illegal, nevertheless, it’s a store which disseminates products and services to the public, and any such religious display is not only improper but shows a gross lack of sensitivity to people of other religions, although many might be hesitant to object publicly.

He told me his reasons for displaying the crucifix were two-fold — that he is a man of God, and a man of peace and this was his way of showing it. I explained that I too, a Jew, was a man of God, and prayed for peace, beliefs that typified the overwhelming population of the citizens in the U.S., but that the crucifix can be interpreted as the store promoting and endorsing a certain religion and that such a display might convey to many that only Christians are welcome.

He explained to me that this couldn’t be further from the truth, and that his purpose was not to offend anybody, and that, in fact, he has many Jewish friends, including a prominent family in the Jewish community.

After a lengthy discussion, and repeating my objections several times, I knew I wasn’t going to change his mind, and we ended our conversation on a friendly note, in essence, agreeing to disagree.

I realized then that, if any action were to be taken, I would have to speak to a higher authority, so I called the corporate office, and asked to speak to one of the owners. None was available, so I left a message.

Early the next morning I got a call from the manager, who informed me that he had thought a lot about what I had said, and that he was going to put up a Star of David next to the crucifix, and was going to call the home office to tell them of his intentions. I thanked him for his kind, noble thought, but told him he was only going to exacerbate the problem by doing so.

Now, patrons to the store might think that only Christians and Jews were welcome, by the perceived endorsement now, of not just one, but two religions. I explained to him again, that no religious display of any kind — regardless of the religion — should be displayed, but again he was adamant.

In the meantime, I have called the corporate office a couple of more times and left messages for the owner to call me back — with no response as of yet.

Schnucks’ corporate phone number is 314-994-9900. Perhaps, someone else might want to call, who will hopefully have better luck.

Gene Carton


Letter prompts rebuttal

I am shocked by the hatred Steven Finkel displays for his own people in his letter to the editor. I recently watched the movie Defiance, a moving and powerful story of Jews in Belarus during the Holocaust, who came together from different backgrounds and formed a community against all odds to survive in the forest.

They found a way to survive and still be Jews. If our ancestors also found a way to survive and still be Jews, I am grateful and if that meant assimilation then who are we to judge, we who safely live pretty comfortable lives today? I challenge Mr. Finkel –what might he have done to save his family and keep them safe?

Today we are Reform Jews who are as Jewish to the core as you are. We have found our own way to embrace the spirituality and customs of our faith within a modern world. Those choices are between us and God, not between us and Mr. Finkel.

And for the record, the Reform Rabbis in my synagogue and the general community are among the finest, most spiritual, learned and giving people I know.

It is unconscionable for Jews to turn against Jews. We have enough people who hate us. We need to be a community, every one of us. On this, our High Holy days, our time of reflection, I wish you all Shana Tova — may you be inscribed in the Book of Life.

Irene Newman

Creve Coeur