Our letters column for the Nov. 3 print edition.
Demographic info was incorrect
Why would J. publish the letter from Eliot Kenin with its unaccredited numbers and percentages without checking the facts? Talk about fake news. The data within that letter has no credibility whatsoever, and the author’s purpose, one supposes, is to make us feel pessimistic about Israel’s future.
The writer claims Arabs “make up roughly 20 percent of Israel’s citizenry and roughly 40 percent of Israel’s school children. Also, the birthrate among Israeli Arabs is considerably higher than it is among Israel’s Jews (with the exception of the ultra-Orthodox).”
Here are the facts: In Facts and Figures in the Education System (2013) published by the Israel Ministry of Education — the last year for which I could find accurate numbers — approximately 75 percent of children in the primary school system are Jewish and approximately 25 percent are non-Jews, which is almost exactly equal to the general population in Israel.
Furthermore, more telling and completely contrary to Kenin’s “facts” (and pessimism), the fertility rates of Jewish and Arab women were identical for the first time in Israeli history in 2015, according to figures released by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. Jewish and Arab women each had given birth to an average of 3.13 children, the report said. (The Jewish birthrate continues to climb while the non-Jewish birthrate continues to fall). This means, of course, that the future school population will be approximately equal to Israel’s Jewish and non-Jewish populations.
One of the great joys I have in visiting Israel (where I most recently spent Rosh Hashanah) is to see the multitude of children and pregnant women everywhere you turn. Israeli society values children more than just about any other Western society — certainly an optimistic view toward the future.
Finally, agreeing to disagree on Israel
Finally, some good news! The Zionism 3.0 conference in Palo Alto and the Alan Dershowitz talk in Berkeley showed us that respectful disagreement is still possible, and that people with different political views can still get a hearing in the Bay Area.
Thank you to everyone who made these events possible, and to J. for featuring them on its first two pages.
Dershowitz cartoon was ‘blood libel’
The unabashedly anti-Semitic cartoon published by UC Berkeley’s student newspaper, the Daily Californian, in response to professor Alan Dershowitz’s Oct. 11 speech, titled “The Liberal Case for Israel,” demonstrated unconscionable acceptance of, and a double standard toward, anti-Jewish bigotry.
The imagery alone — reminiscent of the Nazi-era tabloid Der Stürmer — was appallingly racist. Yet while UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ forcefully condemned it, no other UC administration official appears to have done so. Would there be the same muted reaction if another minority group besides Jews were attacked?
In 2012, a fact-finding study by the UC President’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion found that Jews at UC campuses were targeted with “language and imagery which they believe would not be tolerated by faculty and administration […] if similar themes and language were directed at other groups on campus.” This proves the point.
Second, although the Daily Cal’s editor-in-chief, Karim Doumar, eventually issued an apology and retraction (albeit nearly two weeks after the cartoon’s publication), he seemingly limited his apology to the cartoon’s imagery, which he said “distracted” from cartoonist Joel Mayorga’s message. The cartoonist, meanwhile, remains unrepentant.
Yet the underlying message was worse than the imagery.
Facts matter: Israel was attacked by its neighbors in wars of attempted genocide in 1948, 1967 and 1973, and Palestinian terrorists have deliberately murdered innocent Israeli athletes and coaches at the Olympics and Israeli children in their homes, schools, buses, discos and pizzerias. Despite this, Israel offered the Palestinians a state born in peace during talks in 2000, 2001 and 2008 — which the Palestinians rejected and responded to with more terrorism.
The cartoon’s message, portraying Israel deliberately murdering Palestinian innocents, was a blood libel, pure and simple.
(Note: The writer of this letter was a copy editor for the Daily Californian from 1994 to 1995 while enrolled in a post-graduate certificate program at UC Berkeley Extension.)
Stephen A. Silver,