Wrong! Jews are not safe in Hungary
This is a response to the letter in J. from Ildiko Pataki (“Jews are safe in Hungary,” July 10).
I am a Holocaust survivor and have lived in the U.S. for more than 63 years. For the last 40, I have spent months each year in Hungary. Consequently, I am familiar with the political-social situation there.
The Orbán government is not openly antisemitic but tolerates neo-Nazis, who can freely demonstrate in the cities and towns and frighten Jews, gypsies and gay persons at will.
There were numerous attacks on the streets of Budapest on Jews wearing a kippah. A few years ago, on a downtown street, the chief rabbi was insulted and slapped. No action was taken. During soccer matches, antisemitic posters are openly displayed.
One of the founders of the Fidesz party, and a close friend of Viktor Orbán, is Mr. Zsolt Bayer, an influential journalist who moderates a show on a government-owned TV station where antisemitic discussions are routine.
Finally, I wish to add that Ms. Pataki is a member of the so-called “Hungarian Diaspora Council,” a nationalist group established and supported by the Orbán government in Budapest with the aim to “defend the good name of Hungary.” Members lobby for the Orbán government by writing letters to newspaper editors to downplay Hungary’s institutionalized racism, antisemitism and homophobia.
CSU ethnic studies bill is off-base
As current and emeriti faculty in the California State University system from several campuses, we have been appalled by the systemic discrimination and hate underlined by both the murder of George Floyd but also by the murders of Jews at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and at Chabad of Poway.
We understand the need for the CSU to take on the issues of systemic discrimination and hate, but we are also agreed that the Weber bill (AB-1460) is not the path that the CSU or community colleges should be taking. (Editor’s note: The bill would require ethnic studies courses on all CSU campuses, and impose an ethnic studies requirement for undergraduate graduation.)
We have three issues with the AB-1460.
The first issue is the legislative intrusion in college curriculum which is controlled by the faculty and trustees of the CSU. It does not matter whether the intrusion is from the left or the right, as this bill is a direct attack on institutional academic freedom and academic control of curriculum.
The second issue is that the Weber bill codifies into law the discriminatory practice of excluding Jewish studies from ethnic studies. In the recent controversy over the K-12 Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, it became evident that faculty from ethnic studies programs in the CSU system, among others, were responsible for inserting virulently anti-Israel, pro-BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) material into this proposed curriculum.
If AB-1460 is the requirement CSU ends up with, there will be no safeguards to prevent ethnic studies programs at CSU from fielding a set of courses where these perspectives dominate. Chancellor Timothy White’s graduation requirement proposal would enable such safeguards to be put into place.
Finally, at the very moment that the CSU is suffering under both Coved-19 and diminished revenue, we are being told by the Legislature to provide a significant level of funding for their intrusive legislation.
We commend Chancellor White and our colleagues from the statewide CSU Academic Senate for their thoughtful, pragmatic and responsible solution to the issues of race, antisemitism, hate and discrimination and their attention to how we as educators can respond to these scourges. We also hope that Gov. Gavin Newsom will see fit to veto the Weber bill.
Samuel M. Edelman
Hallandale Beach, Florida
Co-signed by six past or current CSU faculty
Regarding the need (or not) for a new “Fiddler” (“We simply do not need another ’Fiddler on the Roof,’” July 8), I must point out one important exception: There is a truly remarkable documentary in circulation, “Miracle of Miracles,” produced by Patti Kenner, that explains the origins and multiple incarnations of “Fiddler” in cinematic form. It’s so moving, so memorable, it should not be missed.
So, yes, skip the “Fiddler Redux,” but run, don’t walk, to see this Warner documentary! (It’s available for rent online.) You will never forget it.
And isn’t that the point of “Fiddler on the Roof”? To never forget…
‘Fake news’ in J.
In what purported to be a news story about the discovery of spray-painted SS Nazi bolts found in San Francisco (“SS Nazi bolts found scrawled in S.F. neighborhood,” July 2), the writer included a comment made by S.F. Supervisor Dean Preston that Donald Trump was a “white nationalist” responsible for “normalizing” this kind of hate across the country.
This is clearly the kind of reporting that is responsible for normalizing hate against Donald Trump, who has been the most pro-Israel president we have ever had.
Where is the evidence for this unsubstantiated statement, which was included in the news piece as if it was obviously factual, and required no evidence? That is the kind of biased reporting that has become acceptable, and belongs in the category of fake news.
Kushner is no ‘celebrity’
Donald Trump told us exactly who he was when he came down the escalator in 2016 and attacked Mexicans as rapists and murderers. Anyone who supported him knew what they were getting. When the history of this period is written, the powerful people who supported Trump will be condemned as collaborators and enablers of this, our worst president ever.
Which is why, when I saw Jared Kushner in J.’s “Celebrity Jews” column (“Jared to the rescue,” July 8), my stomach turned.
When there is a “Criminal Jews” column, you can feature Kushner, Mnuchin, Cohen, Miller and the rest of Trump’s evil henchmen. Until then, please do not rub our noses in the disgrace that these people bring down on all of us.
‘Then they came for me’
There is a famous quotation belonging to the German theologian and pastor Martin Niemöller: “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”
In various versions, it relates to the Germans’ complicity in the crimes against humanity committed by the Nazis.
Nowadays American Jews are doing just the opposite.
They immediately jump into actions, in mass, on the side of those who are perceived as oppressed ones in a given moment. No other points deserve consideration.
Borders with Mexico are closed — Jews are marching for open borders, although legal immigration has definite merits from many viewpoints.
Muslim ban is initiated — Jews march against it, although the ban relates only to six countries with very questionable immigration track records, and a similar ban existed during the Obama administration.
Black Lives Matter is back on the streets and Jews are among the movement’s most enthusiastic advocates, unconditionally supporting BLM, although its platform includes never-rescinded, extremely antisemitic language.
But at the end, as on college campuses, these groups (Latinos, Muslims, African Americans) do not step up to support Jews in resisting antisemitism.
And thus, strangely enough, both Niemöller’s silence (as a bystander) and Jewish activism (on behalf of others) leave Jews alone in the fight against antisemitism, puzzled by the eternal question: “Why?”
‘Raw deal’ onus is on Palestinians
I agree with letter-writer Eli Chanoff (“As for Palestinian rights …” July 10) that the Palestinians are getting a raw deal. But it is their own leaders who are persecuting them, not Israel.
Even before the U.N. approved the Partition Plan in 1947, Arab leaders promoted the use of violence against the Jewish community in Palestine and against the Jews living in the Muslim countries of the Middle East and North Africa. Between 400,000 and 700,000 Arabs ultimately fled Arab-initiated violence aimed at preventing Israel’s rebirth in the Jews’ ancestral homeland. In the first three decades following Israel’s 1948 declaration of independence, 1 million Jews were thrust from their homes in Muslim countries.
Israel absorbed and uplifted some 800,000 Mizrachi Jews, whose descendants comprise the majority of Israel’s current Jewish population. The Mizrachi Jews were integrated into Israeli society while Israel was also rehabilitating Holocaust survivors, recovering from damage inflicted by Arab armies, and dealing with terrorist incursions from land illegally occupied by Egypt and Jordan between 1948 and 1967.
In contrast, the Arab League told its member nations to deny citizenship to the Arabs who had fled and to their descendants. The number of these “Palestine refugees” (UNRWA designation) has grown to 5.5 million. They are the only refugee group which passes the status from one generation to another, in perpetuity, and the only one allowed (forced?) to demand that being given the homes they claim their parents, grandparents and/or great-grandparents lost decades ago is the only acceptable solution to their plight.
In 1993, Israel did what no Muslim country was ever willing to do — gave the Palestinians the chance to rule themselves. And the rulers, sadly, abused their power.
They enriched themselves by embezzling funds donated for their people’s benefit and diverted humanitarian aid to fruitless attempts to drive the Jews out of Israel.
Palestinian suffering will end only when their leaders stop trying to destroy the nation-state of the Jews and, instead, work on building a state in which the people they govern (including those who have been trapped in refugee limbo) can become productive citizens.
Toby F. Block