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March 6, 2009

Israel’s Electoral House Isn’t ‘Divided’

Aaron David Miller writes that, following the Israeli elections, “we have a divided and dysfunctional Israeli house” (“Scrambled Electoral Eggs,” February 20).

How is this so?

Israel’s elections produced 65 seats for the right-of-center parties, against a mere 44 seats for the left-of-center parties. This suggests that around 60% of the Jewish vote went to right-of-center parties, against 40% to the left-of-center ones.

Even adding to the left the 11 seats won by Arab parties, which are unlikely to be part of any conceivable coalition, the balance between the right and the left reflected a 54%-to-46% split. This is more decisive than President Obama’s recent margin of victory over John McCain (52.9%-to-45.7%).

Would Miller have said Israel was “divided and dysfunctional” if the 65-to-44 Knesset split favored the left?

Morton A. Klein
National President
Zionist Organization of America
New York, N.Y.

Turning a Page? Or More of the Same?

Leonard Fein’s February 20 article “America Turns a Page, and Israel, Well…” argues that America, by electing Obama as president, can now breathe pure oxygen because this is a distinct break with the past. He then chastises Israel for remaining mired in old politics. Our new president is very charismatic and has great verbal skills, and this has enthralled many like Fein.

But actions speak louder than words, and so far Obama has chosen old retread Democrats like Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, George Mitchell, Rahm Emanuel and Susan Rice and tried to choose Bill Richardson and Tom Daschle for key roles in his administration.

He has also signed a “stimulus” bill into law, which we all hope will spur the economy. However, in the past such government spending has failed to do this. All we know for certain is that this new law contains many political payoffs for Democrats and their supporters. This is not change. It is the same old politics.

Sandor Shuch
Phoenix, Ariz.

Food Co-op Isn’t ‘Mulling’ a Boycott

As a Park Slope Food Coop member for nearly six years, I’ve heard tons of rumors and complaints about the place. But your February 27 article “Food Fight: Brooklyn Co-op Mulls Israel Ban” made a mountain out of a molehill and has created strife nobody needs and nobody wants.

Simply put, there is no “mulling” or “proposal” connected to a ban of Israeli products in the Park Slope Food Coop. In this case, one member attended one meeting and aired an opinion. Aside from generating a few letters to the co-op newsletter, it has not resulted in any action.

But the damage done by your article is beyond belief. Other media sources have picked up on this. And in other blogs people like me — heck, including me — have had to explain repeatedly that there is no proposal for a ban.

For the record, I will say this: Every few years someone stands up at a meeting and suggests some Israeli product ban. True. And nothing has ever come of this at any point.

The Park Slope Food Coop is far more reasonable and honest than some would like to think. And you know why I like it? It’s the only place in my life where there is a true cross-section of New York City that includes Orthodox Jews working side-by-side with atheists, secular Jews, religious Christians, blacks, whites, Asians, elderly, rich, poor, disabled, etc.

Jack Szwergold
Brooklyn, N.Y.

The Forward has been journalistically irresponsible in its portrayal of the Park Slope Food Coop in the article “Food Fight: Brooklyn Co-op Mulls Israel Ban.” In addition, it has been Jewishly irresponsible in spreading a bad name.

Given the co-op’s governance process, the headline should have been “Co-op Member Suggests Israel Boycott During Open Forum.”

Barbara Mazor
Brooklyn, N.Y.

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