Friday, November 28, 2008 | return to: letters



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Protest Mormon 'insulting behavior'

Thank you for calling attention to the appalling Mormon practice of posthumous baptism of Jews ("Mormon baptizing of Holocaust victims must stop," Nov. 14).

The Mormons have posthumously baptized more than just Holocaust victims, though those are surely the most egregious examples of their offensive practice. In fact, they have baptized hundreds of thousands of other Jews, from sources such as the book of the late Dr. Malcolm Stern, "First American Jewish Families," and any number of the microfilm records that they so kindly provide in their libraries. They have now taken to hiding those sources from all but Mormons with passwords to access their full records.

They have created false records which is a matter of great concern to Jewish genealogists, a feat which is very close to the physical destruction of Jewish cemeteries, to wipe out all traces of our Jewishness! They have also offended the Armenian Church, the Catholic Church, as well as Native American groups with this insulting behavior. It is time that we Jews stepped forward to protest around the country as have the LGBT groups. They show more courage of their convictions than we!

Rosanne Leeson | Los Altos

Playing politics

J Street, a left-wing Jewish lobbying group, ("J Street has the cash, but will it have an influence?" Nov. 14) proudly boasted on its Web site that it was pressure from their group that got Sarah Palin disinvited to a rally against Iranian President Ahmadinejad's visit to the U.N.

To many Jews, it seemed J Street cared more for partisan politics than standing up against those enemies who would annihilate Israel. The actions of J Street are nothing to be proud of. They are despicable.

Scott Abramson | San Mateo

Opening eyes to U.C. 'injustices'

Thank you for publishing the op-ed written on behalf of Tikvah ("Tikvah: victim of double standard at U.C.," Nov. 21). As a Jewish Zionist, I always support other Jewish students standing up for Israel, and especially at U.C. Berkeley, where I have personally witnessed the double standard mentioned in the article.

Currently the dean of students is trying to shut down Tikvah for protesting Norman Finkelstein, even though the majority of the Tikvah board was not present, and many non-members participated in the interruption. As Tikvah's response programming executive, I also have the authority to say that it was not an official Tikvah response.

After the fight Nov. 13, however, the dean explicitly told me that the protest Students for Justice in Palestine put on that night was not a planned SJP response; rather, it was a protest of individual members of SJP. With these false claims, he is trying to shut down Tikvah while allowing the SJP to escape unscathed.

Interestingly, more SJP members started the fight at the concert than Tikvah students interrupted Finkelstein. I hope the op-ed was read by many and opens eyes to the injustices taking place on this campus every day.

Jessica Felber | Berkeley

Double standard

At U.C. Berkeley, Students for Justice in Palestine can publicly accuse Israel of instigating another Holocaust, attempt to rip down a sign held up by Tikvah: Students for Israel in protest of an SJP event, verbally accost and curse at Jewish students, harass a student waving an Israeli flag, and host events that call for Israel's termination, all without being held accountable.

SJP can also, apparently, accuse Tikvah members of taking part in a physical altercation they were not part of in blatant hopes of removing the single pro-Israel voice this campus has in the ASUC Senate, John Moghtader.

On the other hand, when members of Tikvah and others determine it necessary to show the Berkeley community that Jewish students on campus will not stand for false allegations and threats made against Israel by Norman Finkelstein, we are immediately pressured to issue a letter of apology and make amends with SJP.

There is an undeniable double standard at U.C. Berkeley, of which every Jewish student is a victim. If I did not believe that Tikvah, the Zionist voice at Cal, has the ability to make a difference on this anti-Israel, anti-Jewish campus, I would not choose to attend this university.

Gabriella Dakteris | Berkeley

In praise of Tikvah

I have the highest admiration for the members of Tikvah, the U.C. student group which stood up for itself on the Berkeley campus on Nov. 13 ("Jewish, Arab students brawl during pro-Israel concert at U.C. Berkeley," Nov. 21).

The Palestinian students tried to provoke the Tikvah group by hanging a Palestinian flag on the balcony of a U.C. building directly above the DJ for a Tikvah dance. The Palestinian students did not have a permit, as required, for hanging their flag.

I am delighted that the Tikvah students did not have a "Ghetto Mentality" of keeping a low profile. They requested that the flag be removed and, when the Palestinian students refused, they removed it themselves. When Gabe Weiner, a Tikvah member, was hit, he responded by hitting back.

Jews have the responsibility to demand respect from other groups and they have the right to protect themselves when attacked. "Turning The Other Cheek" is asking for trouble. Groveling and cringing are not proper responses from a proud people.

Susanne (Sanne) DeWitt | Berkeley

A witch hunt

I am an executive in Tikvah: Students for Israel at U.C. Berkeley, and what we are currently witnessing on the part of the student body, in light of the campus fight on Nov. 13, smacks of a modern-day Dreyfus Affair (albeit on a smaller scale).

Academic Senator John Moghtader, the president of Tikvah, has been placed under fire by the campus community for his alleged involvement in the aforementioned scuffle to the point that his former political party, SQUELCH!, has publicly rid their ranks of him. This very allegation, that Moghtader took part in the fistfight, was publicly rescinded by the staff of the campus daily newspaper which had initially, in a carelessly researched article, propagated it.

Yet a recall process against Moghtader's post in the senate remains under way. Perhaps most tellingly, when I defended Moghtader's honor in front of the Senate (last week), it appeared that every one of the people who snapped their fingers in favor of the defense I gave were members of the pro-Israel contingent on this campus, with the rest of the room entirely silent.

I submit the possibility that we are simply witnessing a witch hunt against the pro-Israel movement on campus.

Ariel Kaplan | Berkeley


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