Ledger editorial is biased against Israel and Orthodox Jews
To the editor:
When I went to school, I was taught it’s important to know about the person speaking or writing, but ultimately one needs to judge the message. Similarly, when someone performs an action, it’s important to know about the actor but ultimately one needs to judge the action on its merits.
It’s distressing that the United States has become so divided that for eight years Republicans opposed many policies they would have otherwise embraced only because they were being implemented by President Obama, while today Democrats oppose many policies they would otherwise embrace only because they are being implemented by President Trump.
A year ago, the Senate unanimously, 90-0, affirmed the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, calling on our American government to finally move our embassy to Israel’s capital. Both Connecticut senators voted for that resolution. Yet, when the President actually did what they asked him to do, both were critical, saying it wasn’t the right time.
It appears that when there’s violence, it’s not the right time because it might make the situation worse, but when things are calm it’s not the right time because it might rock the boat. When there are negotiations, it’s not the right time because it might disrupt the negotiations, but when there aren’t negotiations it’s not the right time because it might make it more difficult to get the Palestinian Arabs to the negotiating table.
The Ledger, in its editorial “Iran, Jerusalem, Gaza, and Beitar Trump Yerushalayim” (June 1, 2018), argued that it wasn’t the right time because Hamas was going to use its annual “Nakba Day” riots to create a bad news day for Israel. Let’s face it: the Palestinian Arabs would have found an excuse for bloody riots whenever the embassy was moved.
The Ledger editorial referred to the decision to put up new signs at a consular annex in Jerusalem, rather than first building a full working embassy, as a different idea. It may have been different from what many expected, but it wasn’t a new idea. I heard Efraim Cohen, a career U.S. diplomat, suggest doing just that nearly two years ago at a talk at AACI (Americans and Canadians in Israel) in Netanya. It made sense then and it made sense when it was finally done, essentially that way, a few weeks ago.
Natick, Massachusetts and Netanya, Israel
To the editor:
While reading your latest editorial on Gaza, Trump and Zionism, I couldn’t but wonder at your co-joining the three into one intemperate rant. You belittle the effects of the Gaza riots on those Israelis living close to the border and your hatred of Trump – which is not uncommon – has colored your whole reporting on Israel.
But what I found particularly disturbing in an editorial filled with crudeness and lack of empathy was your obsession with Orthodox Jewry’s support of the State of Israel. Your views on Orthodoxy would seem antisemitic were they printed in a secular publication. All Jews should support Israel’s right to exist as a free, democratic country whether or not you support the present Israeli government. And your hatred of Trump should not cross over into the “if Trump does it, it’s bad” thinking. Many thinking people supported his pulling out of the Iran Deal and your blind criticism of anyone’s supporting that withdrawal is truly incomprehensible.
In short: a shameful editorial which denigrates Orthodox Jews and equates Zionism with Trumpism.
Elaine Albom Braffman, Esq.
To the editor:
The Connecticut Jewish Ledger holds a distinguished history and heritage as the voice of our Jewish community. Against this backdrop, last week’s editorial is particularly disappointing.
The editorial pays only passing lip service to the joy of the Jewish people in achieving tangible and visible reaffirmation of Jerusalem as our capital, implementing the express policy of the United States in the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, as unanimously reiterated by the Senate last year. While I have friends who oppose President Trump on myriad issues, they were almost all ecstatic about moving the embassy. The dedication ceremony, which I watched on television, was moving. Although I could nitpick and find minor fault with some of the speeches, that is not productive when the totality was magnificent and achieved the purpose.
Unfortunately, the editorial also did not adequately address the well-planned and orchestrated riots and attempted infiltration at the Gaza border. The riots and the embassy opening simultaneously because both were, for very different reasons, timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding. There was no other connection, although the media attempted to create one. Hamas changed its original March 30 talking points to attempt a connection. The media, gullible at best and unprincipled at worst, opportunistically seized upon that attempted link-age, as did your editorial.
In the real world – and not in Hamas’ fictionalized presentation – the riots and effort to overrun the border were unrelated to the embassy and were intended to breach the fence by force to enable armed Hamas terrorists to enter Israel and move toward Israeli towns and schools with the objective of killing as many Jews as possible and, as one Hamas leader directed his followers, to “tear out the hearts of the Jews.” While live fire was the last in a sequence of measures to be taken by the IDF, one can see how that could be necessary when confronting a mass of well more than 10,000 persons. Yet, only about 10 persons, likely hu-man shields, were killed on May 14, in addition to some 52 Hamas and Islamic Jihad members whose deaths were acknowledged by those terrorist groups. Thanks to the IDF, the Hamas’ and Islamic Jihad’s effort failed. Not content, however, to accept defeat, one or both terrorist groups began rocketing Israel the following week. A temporary cease fire was negotiated, but we can’t tell how long it will hold. Yet, your editorial said that there was “nothing earth-shaking about the Gaza confrontation.”
The tone and style of the editorial and the prejudice of the author were also troubling and even insulting. In my law practice, I compose briefs and motions in which I respect the reader, in my case the Court. I try not to insult the Court by using a flippant tone or snarky writing style. Yet, those two adjectives best describe the tone and style of the editorial, right down to irrelevancies – such as turnover in the Trump administration and the almost juvenile attempt to create a play on the words “Trump” and “triumphant.” Your readers deserve better and are entitled to feel insulted when subjects as majestic as the embassy move and as threatening as the border events. Finally, the editorial doesn’t even try to mask its author’s apparent hostility, bias and prejudice against Orthodox Jews, whom the author singles out. The editorial blames Orthodox Jews and Evangelical Protestants for whatever makes the author unhappy. However, neither group is monolithic nor the exclusive holder of certain views and positions. Many, many non-Orthodox Jews are equally supportive of the embassy move – and there are many Orthodox Jews, including certain Hasidic groups, who are not. Yet, the editorial equates Orthodox Jews with certain policies as if no one else supports those policies and as if all Orthodox Jews do. Such generalization and stereotyping go hand-in-hand with religious, racial and ethnic bias. We are a community and a people with a shared history and destiny. No one group of Jews should be singled out that way.
There is an old rhetorical question, “Is it good for the Jews?” Sadly, this editorial in a community organ like the Ledger is not.
Mark I. Fishman