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June 6, 2008

What Zechariah Foresaw

Yehezkel Dror’s May 23 opinion article was spot on target (“When Survival of the Jewish People Is at Stake, There’s No Place for Morals”). He correctly maintains that “if the threat is sufficiently grave, the use of weapons of mass destruction by Israel would be justified if likely to be necessary for assuring the state’s survival, the bitter price of a large number of killed innocent civilians not withstanding.”

Dror foresees what the Prophet Zechariah foresaw: “On that day I will make the leaders of Judah like a firepot in a woodpile, like a flaming torch among sheaves. They will consume right and left all the surrounding peoples, but Jerusalem will remain intact in her place” (Zechariah 14:6).

When this conflagration occurs, Christian Zionists will be standing with their Jewish elder brothers.

Reverend James Hutchens
The Jerusalem Connection International
Washington, D.C.

Question Rabbis’ Ethics

I found the headline to a May 23 article about the recent raid at the AgriProcessors plant to be somewhat beside the point (“Raid on Kosher Slaughterhouse Sparks Fears of Meat Shortage”). Rather than focus on the reduced production at a plant that was raided, the Forward ought to have focused on the real story.

Thanks to employing so many illegal immigrants, the Rubashkin family that owns AgriProcessors increased its profits by underpaying half of the company’s workers and neglecting to pay employer contributions to retirement, Social Security, Medicare and healthcare. Evidently, the high cost of the products produced by the Rubashkin family has little to do with the cost of labor — generally the largest line item in any business budget — and more to do with profiting from illegal business practices and price gouging.

That not a single one of the rabbis responsible for the oversight of kashrut at AgriProcessors came forward and spoke out on behalf of the illegal labor practices calls into question the ethics of those paid to supervise the plant. Evidently, bleeding people to death with obscenely low pay is fine so long as the animals whom they kill don’t suffer.

I’d rather have a ham sandwich than keep kosher on the backs of illegal immigrants. The Torah does not command us to eat meat, it commands us to keep kashrut.

P.D. Lesko
Ann Arbor, Mich.

Rescind Name Change

I am sure I am not the only alumnus of Akiba Hebrew Academy who objects to the renaming of the school, an act that reflects poorly on traditional Jewish values (“Jewish Newspaper Accused of Kowtowing,” May 16). The apparent linkage of the philanthropic pledge with the school’s move to the Philadelphia federation’s campus calls into question the propriety of the name change.

Is a gift that is attached to a quid pro quo really a gift? There is no honor in disavowing our elders, and the entire Philadelphia community ought to be embarrassed by this episode. I know I am not alone in my protest because at least one Facebook group on this topic has already registered 182 members. This letter, in fact, expresses not only my sentiments, but those of 26 fellow Akiba alumni with whom I have been in contact.

The trustees of the school should return the $5 million gift from Leonard Barrack and cancel the renaming of the school. The leadership of the Philadelphia federation would do well to consider the harm that has been done to their institution — and to the community at large — by an approach that treats communal assets as the proper plaything of major donors.

Daniel Kaplan
Chicago, Ill.

The alumni of the former Akiba Hebrew Academy in Philadelphia should have sung praises to a $5 million donor. I have been active in Jewish educational institutions for many years, and my experience has been that alumni make a lot of noise but give very little money.

It takes money — and lots of it — to keep schools open. Did the Akiba alumni offer to give $5 million — or even a much smaller amount — so the school name could remain Akiba Hebrew Academy?

Hy Arbesfeld
New York, N.Y.

Stand by China Boycott

It saddened me to read that the Orthodox Union and several other Jewish organizations have publicly denounced the 200 rabbis and communal leaders who urged Jews to boycott the Olympics in China (“Proposed Olympic Boycott Sparks Debate Among Jewish Groups,” May 16).

There is more than enough reason to urge such a boycott. From China’s support for the genocide-perpetrating regime in Sudan, to its persecution of the people of Tibet, to its friendly attitude toward Hamas, to the missiles it has given to Iran and Syria, the Chinese are behaving in ways that no Jew should ignore.

This is not just a matter of morality, it’s also one of self-interest. I am sure the leaders of the O.U. have relatives who live in Israel. How would they feel if Syria were to fire one of those Chinese-supplied missiles into their relatives’ neighborhood? Will the O.U. leaders then admit they were wrong to keep silent about China giving missiles to Israel’s enemies?

Stuart Erdheim
Las Vegas, Nev.

Support Ex-Aipac Hands

The American Jewish Committee’s public stance in support of the two indicted former staffers at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee was inexplicably missing from a May 30 article (“Lawyer of Accused Ex-Aipac Official Says Community Forsaking Its Own”).

The AJCommittee has made public statements raising concern over the government’s prosecution. We have criticized the Justice Department’s case and its foot-dragging by noting that “Steven Rosen and Keith Weisman are entitled to their day in court to explain their actions and be given every opportunity to rebut allegations that they illegally passed on classified information in violation of the 1917 Espionage Act — a statute never before used to prosecute private citizens.” We also have called upon the government to rethink the prosecution and “reevaluate the basis for its charges.”

We have spoken out — and will continue to speak out — on behalf of the defendants. We will not be silent on this case.

Jeffrey Sinensky
General Counsel
American Jewish Committee
New York, N.Y.




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