October 9, 2009

Letters

Published September 30, 2009, issue of October 09, 2009.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Defending Democracy In Honduras

The rule of law and democracy must be restored in Honduras (“Jewish Groups Take Sides in Honduran Strife,” October 2).

Rep. Howard Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is correct in his statement that, regardless of how we view a deposed leader, coups d’etat are unacceptable and the United States should oppose such actions.

American Jewish World Service is particularly concerned about the impact the recent coup is having on civil society in Honduras. We partner closely with a number of grassroots organizations working to alleviate the profound poverty that exists in communities throughout the country. We are receiving reports of daily arrests and assaults as well as numerous reports of murder and torture of individuals who oppose Roberto Micheletti, the head of the de facto regime. Many of our colleagues in Honduras fear for their lives and the safety of their families, especially since Micheletti recently declared a 45-day suspension of constitutional guarantees and ordered a shutdown of major opposition media outlets.

We urge the Jewish community to stand alongside Honduran civil society and the international community in condemning the coup regime’s abuses and in calling for a return to democracy in that country.

Ruth W. Messinger
President
American Jewish World Service
New York, N.Y.


Pensions Firm Didn’t Divest From Company

Contrary to your September 25 article “Palestinian-Led Movement to Boycott Israel Is Gaining Support,” TIAA-CREF did not sell our holdings in Africa-Israel Investments Ltd. after receiving a letter from some investors on September 11 urging a boycott of the company.

We have not owned shares in Africa-Israel since June, when they were sold automatically after Africa-Israel fell out of an emerging markets index tracked by one of our accounts. We are not divesting from holdings in Israel, and continue to invest in companies there and around the world.

Brian Browdie
Vice President, Corporate Communications
TIAA-CREF
New York, N.Y.


The Truth About Italy And the Holocaust

In her September 25 interview with the Forward, Elizabeth Bettina rightly seeks to honor the courage and humanity of those who went against the mainstream and helped Jews during the Nazi-Fascist persecutions (“In Italy, ‘Bad Times, Good People’”).

The interview, however, omits essential historical facts and misrepresents the context in which this happened. We wish to correct the record, not only as a matter of accuracy, but also out of respect to both the Jewish victims of Fascist persecution and the bravery of those who helped Jews.

For instance, regarding Italian Jews, Bettina incorrectly states that “the racial laws took away many of their civil liberties… but they were not deported.” Meanwhile, your interviewer is wrong to assert that “Mussolini, Hitler’s strongest ally in the war, refused to help carry out the extermination of the Jews.”

In fact, in 1938 foreign-born Jews residing in Italy were stripped of their citizenship and asked to leave, and Italian Jews were deprived of the most fundamental civil and human rights. Italian Jews found themselves trapped and forced into very difficult life conditions. Some 3,000 Jews who were able to leave fled the country.

Mussolini imposed the census of the Jews first in 1930, following the “Patti Lateranensi” (the 1929 agreement between the Kingdom of Italy represented by Mussolini and the Vatican), and then in 1938 with the promulgation of the racial laws and the establishment of the Ministry of the Race. The registry of the Jews enabled the persecution that brought the isolation, spoliation, arrest and final deportation to Auschwitz of 8,600 Jews starting in October 1943, of whom few survived. As documented by 60 years of research of the Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation in Milan and mostly available online (www.cdec.it), almost half of the arrests were carried out by the Italian police and with the help of Italian informants.

It is also inaccurate to state that Italy fell under German occupation following the uprising of Italians against Mussolini. Mussolini was removed from power by King Vittorio Emanuele III, and, in September 1943, founded the Italian Social Republic in the north of Italy. Mussolini was followed by hundreds of thousands of Italians who efficiently carried out the anti-Jewish policies of the republic. Between 1943 and 1945 Fossoli (near Modena) functioned as transit camp to Auschwitz, and a death camp was established in downtown Trieste.

This kind of misrepresentation of history offends the memory of all the men, women and children who were murdered in the extermination camps, and of those who risked their lives to save their neighbors. And it ultimately compromises our ability to understand the past.

Natalia Indrimi
Executive Director
Centro Primo Levi
New York, N.Y.

The letter is co-signed by six members of the Centro Primo Levi’s board of directors.


On Maternity Leave, America May Be Alone

Your September 18 editorial “Family Values” states: “But this is America, one of only two industrialized nations in the world without paid maternity leave (the other is Australia).”

Your statement about Australia will no longer be true as of January 1, 2011. The Australian government has announced that it will introduce a comprehensive paid parental leave scheme for new parents who are the primary care-givers of a child born or adopted on or after that date.

Starting January 1, 2011, the United States will be the only industrialized nation in the world without paid maternity leave unless Congress passes legislation to provide for such leave effective before then.

Sonia Pressman Fuentes
Sarasota, Fla.

The writer is a co-founder the National Organization for Women.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • In the six years since Dothan launched its relocation program, 8 families have made the jump — but will they stay? We went there to find out:
  • "Jewish Israelis and West Bank Palestinians are witnessing — and living — two very different wars." Naomi Zeveloff's first on-the-ground dispatch from Israel:
  • This deserves a whistle: Lauren Bacall's stylish wardrobe is getting its own museum exhibit at Fashion Institute of Technology.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.