January 14, 2005

Unintelligent Designs

In his December 24 opinion column (“A Former Atheist Gives Us a Reason To Believe”), David Klinghoffer refers to “Intelligent Design” as “an alternative scientific theory that seeks to explain how the complex features of living organisms arose.”

Unfortunately, this has recently become an all-too-common mistake. “Intelligent Design,” a rebranded version of the more familiar “Creationism” is many things. Science it is not.

A more accurate description might be: A decades-old political movement that seeks to break down the wall between church and state in America by introducing religion into science class.

Sholom Sandalow

Skokie, Ill.

AJWS Seeks Partners

The sentiments in your tsunami editorial (“Cataclysm and Imagination,” January 7) were very powerful and deeply heartfelt. Indeed, we need to encourage and channel human compassion not only for the victims of the tsunami but also to the many people around the world suffering the worst consequences of poverty, hunger, war, illness and oppression. And you are quite right that the federation community in the United States should respond to such world crises and use their considerable fund-raising skill to encourage their communities to give generously.

When they do step in to collect funds, however, they should not reinvent the wheel and create imitation infrastructures for the disbursement of these monies. They should partner with American Jewish World Service, which has the connections and the groups on the ground, the highest possible ratings for a philanthropy, tough systems for accountability and the honor of representing the Jewish community at the grass-roots level in more than 35 countries in the developing world.

We are delighted that the Forward recognized our work, though after 20 years of work and the distribution of more than $20 million, we are surely not an “upstart” organization, but an organization with the expertise to provide international development and emergency relief on a nonsectarian basis that has been recognized internationally and by the president of the United States.

Ruth Messinger

President

American Jewish World Service

New York, N.Y.

No Time for Hysteria

Rather than a “Time for Heresy,” as the December 31 editorial with this title claims is called for, what we need is a time for common sense, which is lacking in the editorial.

Contrary to the Forward’s assumptions, the sky is not falling in for American Jews or for American-Israeli relations. Issues between Diaspora Jewry and Israel require continuing and evolving discussion, but there is no crisis in these relations or in American support, both public and governmental, for Israel.

American Jews should continue to be proud of their role in American society and in their support for strong U.S.-Israel relations. There is no need to be defensive about these matters or to advocate fundamental changes in the way we do business. This is common sense, based on the real situation, rather than hysterical emotionalism.

Abraham H. Foxman

National Director

Anti-Defamation League

New York, N.Y.

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January 14, 2005

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