Fighting hate with censorship
Several recent J. letter writers supported Trump’s executive order extending the Title VI antidiscrimination law by pointing to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitic speech (Jan. 10). All three of these writers made the crucial and dangerous error of blurring the line between speech and action. Racist speech, much as we despise it, is protected; it must be fought with righteous speech, not censorship (or in this case, Department of Education defunding). Racist action is illegal.
The 1964 Title VI Act protected groups from being discriminated against on the “perception of shared race, ethnicity or national origin.” As one letter writer pointed out, the George W. Bush Department of Education and the Barack Obama Department of Justice extended these protections to religious minorities, i.e., Jews as well as Muslims and Sikhs. The key here is the proscription against discriminatory actions. What Trump’s executive order does is extend the proscription to speech that is deemed unacceptable.
Dershowitz betrays the Jews
I was always proud of the fact that I came from the same Brooklyn neighborhood and went to the same college as professor and criminal defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz. If Jewish history teaches us anything, it is that the deprivation of civil liberties always paved the way for authoritarian and fascist countries to oppress and murder of Jews.
Recognizing that our constitutional freedoms are the bulwark against oppression, like Dershowitz, I enlisted in the battle as a criminal defense attorney. For 36 years I defended the least powerful in rather unpopular circumstances, knowing it must be done to preserve our freedoms.
Unlike Dershowitz, however, I could never lend my soul to a position that justifies authoritarian rule, the nature of which has historically, and in our time, led to the oppression and the murder of Jews. Dershowitz’s constitutional argument in defense of Trump at the Senate impeachment proceedings, by his own admission, sits on the fringe and is shared by very few. What’s worse, Dershowitz’s argument serves as a justification for authoritarian rule by a president.
Dershowitz’s defense of Trump is not only an embarrassment — a shanda fur die goy — but represents a threat to the very protections that have kept Jews safe. I feel betrayed by this person I once looked up to with pride.
Mark P. Cohen
Israel, stay strong
Kudos to Martin Wasserman (“U.S. policy on Israeli settlements is the right call,” Jan. 10). I agree wholeheartedly that the liberals are just fooling themselves by thinking Israel should relent. The Arab nations thrive on the weakness of their enemies, and that is explicitly how they see Israel, as an enemy. There is no consideration for accommodation or compromise, only winning in order not to lose face. Sad, but any peace whatsoever can only be maintained by a strong Israel, acting as a deterrent to war actions.
Using Kobe’s death to hate
The tragic helicopter crash which killed Kobe Bryant has given rise to a bizarre claim that illustrates how far some anti-Semites will go to “prove” their point. Eduardo Salim Sad, an Argentine journalist from that country’s state-run public television station, tweeted “Sikorsky S76 helicopter, of Jewish surname, kills Kobe Bryant.”
I’ve heard some asinine anti-Semitic remarks before, but this one really leaves an impression. After Mr. Sad experienced a backlash to his comments, he deleted the tweet and claimed someone hacked his Twitter account to harm him. Well, I don’t know about that, but Mr. Sad has previously blamed Zionists and Jews for various bad acts, so his denial warrants skepticism.
Rather than admonishing Mr. Sad, I would encourage all anti-Semites to continue speaking their piece in public. That way, people who don’t suffer from this peculiar mental illness will be able to better understand the lengths to which some in the media will go in order to propagate the oldest hatred. At least we will then know who you are.
Food choices have consequences
I was excited to see the opinion piece by Liore Milgrom-Gartner, “Noah adapted to an earthly catastrophe; now it’s our turn” (Dec. 16). I was disappointed that California Interfaith Power & Light refuses to address food choices, something we all are able to make two, three, four times a day, every single day.
I grew up in San Francisco (b. 1960). The proclamation “You’re either part of the problem or the solution” made a huge impression. I have since learned the choices we make about what we eat and how it’s grown are the most significant personal decisions we can make, period. I reference Paul Hawkens’ book “Drawdown” (available for free at drawdown.org) where I was shocked to see that “high-income economies waste the most food … up to 35 percent.”
Regarding plant-rich diets, a vegan kitchen is essentially kosher, in spirit if not by regulation. In an organic or vegan diet, all do better — people (consumers and workers), animals, the environment. We impact farm labor directly by choosing organic vs. pesticide-laden foods. Supporting CSAs or farmers markets is another way to lessen the transportation cost of food (buy in season, not imported from Chile or China), ensure local agricultural land remains agricultural and prevent worker exposure to chemicals and related negative health impacts.
Just remember, Eden was vegan.
He brought excitement to NFL
Four days before the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Green Bay Packers 37-20 in the NFC Championship Game to advance to Super Bowl LIV, Steve Sabol, the longtime president of NFL Films (who died in 2012 at age 69), was elected to join his father, NFL Films founder Ed Sabol, in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Sabol’s enshrinement will bring the hall’s Jewish contingent to 10, including Sid Luckman, Ron Mix, Sid Gillman, Al Davis, Marv Levy, Benny Friedman, Andre Tippett and Ron Wolf.
Sabol not only preserved history on film but helped create a mythology for the NFL. His colorful writing (“frozen tundra”; “the autumn wind is a pirate”), spoken in the rich baritone of narrators John Facenda and Harry Kalas, and accompanied by the stirring music of Sam Spence’s “Journey to the Moon,” Craig Palmer’s “Energy” and Tom Hedden’s “75 Seasons Suite,” not only immortalized pro football’s greatest moments, but elevated its enduring images to high art and its greatest games to epic drama.
When your heart races watching highlights of Dwight Clark ascending into the Candlestick Park sky to catch the Joe Montana pass that defeats Dallas 28-27 in the 1981 NFC Championship Game and sends the 49ers to Super Bowl XVI, or John Riggins grimacing as he runs 43 yards down the Pasadena Rose Bowl sideline for Washington’s game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl XVII a year later, or John Frank and Harris Barton making key plays during the 49ers’ game-winning drive in Super Bowl XXIII, or Steve Young’s deep spiral pass soaring in slow motion into the arms of Jerry Rice for a score in Super Bowl XXIX, you notice the fingerprints of NFL Films’ visionary auteur. His enshrinement in the hallowed halls of Canton is long overdue.
Stephen A. Silver