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Letters for the week of Jan. 20, 2017

Steinberg is all in the family

I was greatly pleased that J. featured articles in its Jan. 13 issue celebrating the political achievements of Darrell Steinberg and the philanthropic achievements of the late Helen Diller.

I am not sure that J. or its readers know the connection between these two great persons. Darrell Steinberg, recently elected mayor of Sacramento, is the grandson of the late Edward Diller. The late Helen Diller, whose foundation recently contributed $500 million to UCSF, was the daughter-in-law of Clair Diller. Edward Diller and Clair Diller were brother and sister.

My mother, the late Sidy Bresler, was a first cousin of Edward and Clair. I am greatly honored that Darrell and Helen are family.

Theodore Bresler, Fremont


The art of Israel-bashing

Recently, while visiting the San Francisco area, I visited the Museum of Modern Art and the Contemporary Jewish Museum. The seventh floor of the MOMA had a pro- Palestinian, virulent anti-Israel exhibit. It featured letters by Palestinians and their descendants bitterly denouncing Israel for not allowing them entry into Israel, where their family resided prior to 1949. This exhibit was grossly one-sided, skewed and lacking historic context.

The following day I went to the Contemporary Jewish Museum. Despite the beautiful building and the welcoming and warm staff, I felt that they failed to fulfill their mission statement of preserving the cultural heritage of the Jewish people. Their main exhibit, “From Generation to Generation,” focused entirely on genocide and the universal nature of its impact. Jews in every generation face an attempt of annihilation. This exhibition was devoid of Jewish content and depth. It failed to address the values and beliefs that sustain us from generation to generation and allow us to grow and thrive despite the oppression and brutality that we face.

I appeal to the Jewish community of the Bay Area to fight the Israel-bashing in your midst and to put the Jewish back into the Contemporary Jewish Museum.

Miriam Bruch Moses, Staten Island, New York


Oppose ‘reckless choice’ of U.S. ambassador to Israel

With the selection of David Friedman as U.S. ambassador to Israel, President-elect Trump made a reckless choice and showed a dangerous indifference to the qualities needed in one of the most sensitive diplomatic posts in the world. The nominee has no diplomatic experience, and more significantly has shown a confrontative demeanor that appears demonstrably unsuited for the position.

By any standard or perspective, David Friedman holds extremist views, and his ideological commitment to the far-right national religious agenda in Israel should be a grave concern to a significant majority of American and Israeli Jews. As the president of American Friends of Beit El, a settlement lying well beyond the border of any serious proposal for a two-state solution, Mr. Friedman has actively endorsed continued Israeli settlement in the West Bank and has even gone so far as to endorse the annexation of some of that land. Actions such as these would be a nightmare for Israeli security, as well as running counter to U.S. regional interests.

In addition, his alignment with some of the most irresponsible charges and conspiracy theories, such as accusing President Obama of being anti-Semitic and calling supporters of J Street and progressive Jews as “far worse than Kapos,” again show he has neither the sound judgment or temperament for such a position.

As a lifelong supporter of Israel, I urge you to speak out against the nomination of David Friedman as U.S. ambassador to Israel by communicating your clear opposition to our respective senators, as well as by actively advocating in the community at large.

Don Raphael, San Francisco


Two states, greater danger

The call for a “two-state solution” has been touted widely as the best vehicle for a solution to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. What is rarely discussed are the potential problems that would almost certainly be faced if such a “solution” were to be implemented.

Without a doubt, that state would be ruled by either the impotent and corrupt Palestinian Authority, or more likely by Hamas with the support of its radical Islamist allies. The Palestinian factions have made clear that such a state would not be demilitarized and would most certainly have a fully armed military. It would certainly align itself with Iran and other radical Islamic groups.

The Palestinian factions have made clear Israeli forces would not have access to strategic locations such as the heights over looking the heartland of Israel, river crossings and mountain passes. Such a state would certainly be a haven for those who call for the destruction of Israel.

The overriding objective of too many of Israel’s enemies remains the destruction of Israel. As we have seen in recent days, that extends to denying the historic ties of the Jews to the land of Israel and Jerusalem.

Unless something extraordinary happens to change the reality on the ground, a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan River will not bring peace or stability to the Middle East. It would, in fact, bring with it an even greater danger.

John F. Rothmann, San Francisco


Giving land for peace puts Israel in jeopardy

Yes, there is a great formula, “exchange territories for peace.” But we have already seen such type of exchanges. Israel has given up territories such as Sinai, Gaza, etc. to its enemies. Does Israel have peace after that? Israel just jeopardizes itself further and further. To now return back to the borders of 1967 is an act of self-destruction.

Hamas does not recognize Israel at all. In case of war, it will be very difficult for Israel to defend itself within such borders, and who will help Israel at that time?

And after the demand to return back to the borders of 1967, it will be some other demands, such as to return back to the borders of 1949, and this will be the end of the country. Do we really want it?

Victor Safyan, San Francisco


There is no Palestine

I would like to thank J. for publishing Sheree Roth’s Dec. 23 letter to the editor in response to “Making strides: Israel studies flourishing at Cal,” Dec. 16. Not only is her statement concerning Jews being indigenous to the land of Israel correct, even Ariel Sharon writes about that continuity in his autobiography “Warrior.”

Unfortunately, Jewish continuity in “Palestine” — an exclusively Roman name used for the goal of destroying Jewish identity — has been interrupted by extremists seeking to murder Jews, whenever possible, within and outside the land of Israel. Sometimes they strike in the USA, other times in Europe, Baghdad, Medina, and they have even reached the Jewish community in Buenos Aires.

Most of the battles fought by our ancestors to liberate the ancestral part of the historical Jewish homeland from Syrian-Greek rule are what we celebrate on Hanukkah. Most of the battles of the Hasmoneans/Maccabees were fought in what is called the “West Bank,” also known as Judea and Samaria. Politics aside, the cradle of Jewish civilization is in Judea and Samaria (Beitar, Hebron, Beit El, Bethlehem, parts of Gaza, etc.) in addition to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Mordechai Pelta, San Francisco


Memories of Gene Wilder and ‘Willy Wonka Game’

I was reading J.’s year-end retrospective “Elie Wiesel among inspiring Jews who died in 2016” (Jan. 6) while the Oakland Raiders were being eliminated from the NFL playoffs, and it reminded me of a bizarre link between one of those inspiring Jews who we lost, actor Gene Wilder, and the Bay Area sports team.

Wilder’s film “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” was scheduled to make its television debut on NBC on Nov. 23, 1975, following a late Sunday game between the Oakland Raiders and Washington Redskins. However, a late Redskins rally sent the game into overtime, and deep into the time slot NBC had allotted for “Willy Wonka” on the East Coast. (This was entirely predictable, since two of Washington’s three previous games had also gone into overtime — a win against Dallas and a controversial loss to St. Louis.) NBC, which was famously criticized seven years earlier when it cut away from a Raiders-New York Jets game to show the movie “Heidi,” this time stuck with the football game (the Raiders eventually won, 26-23) and then showed “Willy Wonka” already in progress, skipping its first 40 minutes! This upset children and their beleaguered parents across the East Coast.

Incidentally, Washington’s head coach, George Allen, was married to a Sephardic Jewish woman from Tunisia named Etty, who hid her Jewish identity after her father was imprisoned by the Nazis during the German occupation of Tunis.

Unlike the “Heidi Game,” the “Willy Wonka Game” has been largely forgotten. Yet few if any sports events have ever disappointed so many young children. As a 6-year-old Redskins fan living in the Washington, D.C., area who was eagerly looking forward to seeing “Willy Wonka,” I was doubly devastated! NBC wisely rebroadcast the movie in its entirety a year later.

Stephen A. Silver, San Francisco

J. Staff