July 21, 2006

Hospitality Watchdog Is A Labor Union Spin-off

In a July 7 opinion article, Jerome Epstein, Carl Sheingold and David Saperstein write that the Informed Meetings Exchange, or Inmex, is an “independent organization that provides objective information on working conditions within the hospitality industry” (“Check Out Working Conditions Before Checking In for Business”). Inmex is actually a spin-off organization from Unite Here, the labor union representing many hotel employees. These two organizations share office space and staff. Inmex was designed to further Unite Here’s larger strategy, which is to pressure hotels in contract negotiations this summer — hardly an objective information resource for meeting planners and association heads.

The hotel industry values its employees and customers and doesn’t want either group to suffer the consequences of cancelled events based on misleading information. We think it’s vitally important that Forward readers have all of the facts when planning their events. Meeting planners and association heads should not be misled by bad information from union leadership when fulfilling their important responsibilities and obligations.

I encourage them to visit the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s labor Web site. They can download a free copy of “Meeting in the Middle,” a brochure written to assist meeting planners and inform them of their rights and legal responsibilities, as well as those of the hotel, during upcoming labor negotiations.

Joseph McInerney


American Hotel & Lodging Association

Washington, D.C.

An American ‘J’accuse

Arts & Culture writer Ronald Schechter accurately and poignantly describes the deep seeds of antisemitism in France at the turn of the 19th century, as well as it’s implications for today (“The Ghosts of Alferd Dreyfus,” July 7).

Forward readers might be interested in an American version of Emile Zola’s, “J’accuse.” It was written by a friend of Abraham Cahan, Ernest Crosby. He was Leo Tolstoy’s leading advocate in the United States, as well as the great-great-grandson of William Floyd, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The poem, called “Dreyfus ‘Guilty,’” was written in 1902 and reflects the main thesis of Schechter’s article:

“Honor”, the child of forgeries and lies / “Glory,” a dream of all devouring hate / and carnage and revenge insatiate / “Patriotism”, the sum of vanities / These be the jewels, O France, thy rulers prize; / These be the principles for which they prate, / Bewitched by epithets that once were great, / But careless when the substance of them dies.

What do I hear? Is it the rising flood / of some new terror gathering in the night? / The sea breeze bears a sickening smell of blood, / and foaming redness mingles with the white.

O horror! Yet could less obliterate / The festering pool of Army, Church and State?

Sol Brodsky

Long Beach, N.Y.

Lieberman’s Primary

A July 14 article makes too much of Senator Joseph Lieberman’s Jewishness and too little of his self-exile from his Democratic constituency (“Liberal Assault on Joe Could Hurt Democrats in Other Senate Races”).

As Tip O’Neill famously stated, “All politics are local.” Lieberman has taken positions, on the war and on other issues, that outflank any other sitting Democrat in support of a historically unpopular president. His backing of the Iraq war goes well beyond that of any other Jewish Senate Democrat.

More to the point, it is completely out of step with the views of his Connecticut constituents. It is one thing for Democrats in Nebraska or Montana to position themselves as conservatives; it is another thing entirely in a state as blue as Connecticut.

Meanwhile, Lieberman’s loyalty to the Democratic Party is tenuous at best. He has filed papers to be placed on the ballot under the banner of the “Connecticut for Lieberman Party” — surely one of the most narrowly drawn parties in American political history. To suggest that Jewish Democrats should be defended if the party leadership refuses to provide their unqualified endorsement of a candidate who has thumbed his nose, in advance, at Connecticut Democratic voters is nonsensical.

This vote is not about Israel. It’s not about alienating Jewish voters. It is about whether Lieberman fairly represents his constituents.

Robert Forbes

New Haven, Conn.

Ravnet Leak a Shame

Surely the rabbi who broke Ravnet’s rule of strict confidentiality by providing information for a July 7 Schmooze article ought to be embarrassed by his or her behavior (“Buy Him a Subscription!”). For printing this drivel without so much as a byline, however, the Forward should be no less ashamed.

Rabbi Avi Friedman

Summit, N.J.

Humiliating Einstein

Why the need to try to humiliate the memory of one of the greatest scientists and humanitarians of the past 300 years (“Einstein’s Theory of Infidelity,” July 14)? Taking newspaper space to talk about Albert Einstein’s love life would be analogous to the following: Suppose it is proven from DNA analysis that Thomas Jefferson picked his nose in the Capitol, and left the deposit under one of the stately chairs. What would this have to do with Jefferson’s huge contribution to the establishment of our democratic form of government and to our country?

Instead, why not publish an article on Einstein’s contributions to science in the 20th century, or on his humanitarianism?

Mendel Sachs

Professor of Physics Emeritus

State University of New York, Buffalo

Williamsville, N.Y.

Provide Care to Falasha

A June 30 article reports that, “American Jewish philanthropic leaders are vowing to fight Israel’s recent decision to postpone a plan to increase the rate of Ethiopian immigration” (“Charities Protest Delay on Ethiopian Refugees”).

While this is a most worthy effort, it is worth noting that Ethiopian immigrants are ill prepared for life in Israel because for years the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee have refused to take responsibility for these future Israelis, and refused to provide humanitarian aid and “Israel ready” services to this population — guaranteeing that their aliya and absorption would result in enormous social and economic costs to Israeli society and Israeli taxpayers.

These same American Jewish philanthropic leaders must now step out from behind the reprehensible action of the Israeli government and at the same time as fighting that decision, take direct responsibility for the health, welfare and education of the Ethiopian Jews waiting to make aliya.

These same bureaucrats and American Jewish leaders go home each evening to a warm house, a soothing shower and a hot meal. They relax, go to the movies, spend Shabbat with their families — all as 20,000 Jews in Ethiopia live in dank, dark tin huts with no sanitation or running water and empty stomachs, separated for many years from family already in Israel.

There is no excuse for withholding funds for these Jews while the Israeli bureaucrats and government delay and delay and delay. What possible reason could there be to not provide food, education, decent housing and Hebrew language training while the bureaucrats bicker?

Enough already. Stop the finger-pointing and hypocrisy. This is a man-made disaster, not an act of God. American Jews must hold the Jewish Agency and the JDC accountable, and insist that they immediately take responsibility for the humanitarian, educational and Israel-ready services — regardless of whether the Israeli government lives up to its obligation and speeds up aliya.

Let absorption officials and leaders of the United Jewish Communities, federations and the JDC go with their children to Gondar and live for several years in dark, dank tin huts with dirt floors, no sanitation or running water, no cold drinks on steaming hot days and no food to feed their children. How long do you think it would take for there to be a massive mobilization to move the remaining members of the Ethiopian Jewish community to Israel?

As long as one Jewish child in Ethiopia goes to bed hungry, no Immigration Absorption official and no American Jewish leader should go to bed complacently.

Ricki Lieberman

New York, N.Y.

The writer worked with the Jewish communities of Addis Ababa and Gondar in Ethiopia and after their arrival in Israel.

Columbia no Backwater

I take exception to a June 30 article’s treatment of the capital of South Carolina (“Rabbi and Former Nun Settle Down in Miami”). Columbia is a decent size southern city, and has a vibrant Jewish community. It is not the “sleepy town” portrayed by the Forward.

May I politely point out to Forward readers that there are Jewish communities outside the metropolitan areas of New York and Boston that have been in existence since before America was established. In fact, for many years at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th, there were more Jews in Charleston, S.C., then there were in New York.

Richard Kronick

Charleston, S.C.

July 21, 2006


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July 21, 2006

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