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October 6, 2006

What Does Allen Teach Us? The Forward editorializes, “We’ve seen a steady stream of public figures — Madeleine Albright, John Kerry, Tom Stoppard — confronted as adults with the hidden truth of their origins, and forced to absorb it in the glare of public attention. Most respond with thoughtfulness and grace. [George] Allen responded with bluster and lies. That surely teaches us something” (“Curious, George,” September 22).

What, exactly, does “that” surely teach us? To be thoughtful and graceful, or to be wary and careful? Being thoughtful and graceful did not elect Kerry, nor did Albright see any public advantage to her Jewishness, really. As a term diplomat, she knew the advantages of being a member of the “right” faith, however political it and her decision were during her time as a senior political person.

Robert Arnow Beersheva, Israel

Reflecting on Repentance A September 29 editorial on the arrival of September is right on the money (“Repentance and Regret”).

I remember years ago, when I was the vice president for public relations at a very large hospital in Louisiana. A physician, beloved by everyone he met, died suddenly, leaving a young wife and children.

I had to write something about this man, even though I did not know him well. I quoted Irving Berlin, who wrote a song about his first wife. They had spent their honeymoon in Havana. She died a month after their honeymoon.

Berlin wrote the song “Always” in her memory. The first line is, “I’ll be loving you always, with a love that’s true, always.”

Stephen Folkson Oakland Gardens (Queens), N.Y.

While I personally do not share the negative tone put forth in an editorial for this holiest of seasons, I do agree with the underlying message of “Repentance and Regret.” However, I am upset that the Forward could not resist the opportunity to share its political observations with readers.

It is true that we are not perfect, and we do all come short of our lofty aspirations each year, but to use this editorial to suggest that we are not safer because of our reaction to terrorism and are not more prosperous because of lower taxes completely undermines an otherwise well-timed and well-written editorial about our human condition.

Each of us has enough sins and shortcomings to address this season without throwing our political positions, whatever they may be, into the mix. It is my hope that we as a people, and the Forward as a paper, can still separate the personal from the political this time of the year.

David Lewis Nashville, Tenn.

Acknowledge Left’s Bias Rep. Howard Berman’s September 29 opinion article overlooks glaring evidence of not merely anti-Israel bias, but also antisemitism in the left wing of the Democratic Party (“GOP Slanders Dems With ‘Anti-Israel’ Ads”). An official bulletin says that “neoconservatives” — often a thinly-disguised euphemism for Jews — cannot distinguish America’s interests from Israel.’s Action Forum, which was recently shut down because of a rapidly spreading scandal, was very open in accusing Jews of divided loyalties, manipulating the United States into wars for Israel’s benefit, not serving in our armed forces, and controlling the media.

Although not as prevalent, the Action Forum also directed hate speech at Christians and African Americans. As an example, black soldiers were smeared as potential mutineers who should be disarmed and segregated. Plentiful conspiracy theories accused the Bush administration and Jewish real estate developers of blowing up the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

William Levinson Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Jewish GIs Served Bravely A September 22 review of my book “Saving the Jews: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Holocaust” accurately depicts the quarrel I have — along with many prominent scholars of the Roosevelt administration, including Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Richard Breitman, William Rubinstein and others — with the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies and its constant refrain that Americans showed nothing but callous disregard for Hitler’s victims (“New Book Incites Scholarly Fracas”).

Wyman writes, “The Nazis were the murderers but we were the all too passive accomplices.” And Wyman Council member Monty Penkower wrote that the United States and all other nations were “accomplices to history’s most monstrous crime.” I profoundly disagree with the notion that Americans were indifferent to the fate of European Jewry.

In June 1939, for example, the Roosevelt administration and American Jews saved the passengers on the S.S. St. Louis from going back to Germany and that two-thirds of them survived the Holocaust, which no one could have foreseen in June 1939. And the bombing of Auschwitz was opposed by the overwhelming majority of Jews at the time because it meant killing Jews in the camps, which would have been contrary to rabbinic law. No Jewish group of any consequence ever asked Roosevelt or his administration to bomb Auschwitz, and the World Jewish Congress and the Jewish Agency Executive in Palestine opposed it.

Unlike the Wymanists, I found that American Jews during World War II were patriotic, brave and proud to be Jews — not cowards who, as one Wyman Council member put it, “could not stand up proudly… his natural posture was bowed and bent.” The Jewish American war veterans I know do not fit the Wymanist description.

Robert Rosen Charleston, S.C.

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