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March 28, 2003

Bush, Not Doves, Has Betrayed ‘Our Side’

I disagree with the notion that there are, when push comes to shove, only two sides to the current conflict between the United States and Iraq, and that “George Bush is leading our side” (“Our Side,” March 21).

I deplore the policies of Saddam Hussein. However, I do not believe that Saddam’s actions give President Bush the right to order a preemptive military strike at this time. Congress has not declared war. In the absence of such a declaration, Bush’s actions are unconstitutional. The president’s policies, moreover, undermine the United Nations and international law, and set a dangerous precedent for other countries, as well as for future presidents.

The Forward suggests that a new era began on September 11, 2001, and that the attack on Iraq is a result of the dawning of this new era. It is certainly true that the United States has an obligation to track down all those responsible for the September 11 attacks. But there is no reason to believe, on the basis of publicly available information, that the Iraqi government was responsible for those events. The links between Saddam’s regime and Al Qaeda are apparently not especially strong at this time. The current military campaign, however, may well help the Al Qaeda network rather than harm it by inflaming Muslims around the world.

I have not forgotten “which side we are on” — it is, I believe, the side which advocates war only as a last resort. Unfortunately, this is not the side which Bush is leading.

Jack Jacobs

Vice President

Forward Association

New York, N.Y.

(These views are the writer’s own.)

Rabbi Opens Window Into Orthodox World

Lawrence Grossman’s insightful look into Rabbi Nathan Kamenetsky’s “Making of a Godol” takes us into the inner circles of the ultra-Orthodox, and lets the rest of us see clearly the battle lines between an Orthodoxy from which too many Jews have fled (“Book Banned by Ultra-Orthodox Brings ‘Torah Personality’ to Life,” March 14).

Will it matter to the ultra-Orthodox, or only to secular Jews? I honor Kamenetsky for his desire to honor his father, and in doing so, share his history with the rest of us as a way of redeeming his own respect for his Jewish roots. Whether we are swayed by his arguments, we can still take pride in one man’s wish to see as clearly as possible the challenges faced by one faction within the ultra-Orthodox world.

If one is to remain within the fold, whatever label such a person chooses, the truth cannot be allowed to evaporate, no matter who insists it must.

Nathan Adler

Rome, Ga.

Moran’s Words Meant To Rouse Community

Though the claim by Democratic Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia that Jews were pushing the United States into war with Iraq can be twisted to mean that America is being controlled by the “Elders of Zion,” I hear in them a clear and necessary indictment of the Jewish community as a whole for not speaking out about the immorality of this war (“Congressman Apologizes for Blaming War Push on Jews,” March 14).

Jews have remained shamefully silent, probably because they think this war will be “good for the Jews” — that is, good for Israel. In this, I believe, we are deeply deluded.

President Bush does not care about Israel or the Jewish people except to the extent that they serve his interests. His respect for them religiously is predicated on his deeply held belief that they are God’s chosen people who, nevertheless, must eventually accept Jesus.

A man who cruelly enforces the death penalty, who recklessly allows the environment to be polluted and destroyed, who values human life so little that he talks of people as targets — this man is not aligned with any of the ethical values of our rabbis and sages. The quicker American Jewry wakes up to this and uses its considerable clout to block his bellicose policies and unbridled greed, the better it will be for everyone — including Jews.

Mark Klempner

Monteverde, Costa Rica

Your editorial on Rep. Jim Moran said it all (“Blabber,” March 14).

I contacted the Democratic National Committee, both of New York’s Democratic senators and Democratic leaders in Congress demanding a stronger condemnation of Moran’s vile remarks. At the very least, Democratic leaders should have called for Moran’s resignation or pledged not to support him if he runs for re-election.

I have been a member of the Democratic Party for nearly 42 years. After the leadership’s weak reaction to Moran’s remarks, I have decided to no longer be a member of the Democratic Party.

Malcolm Peskoff

Suffern, N.Y.

Rep. Jim Moran had the temerity to state the truth: American Jews are indeed a pivotal force pushing us inexorably toward war. Douglas Feith, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz — who can deny that Jewish neoconservatives are shaping American foreign policy?

Frank Messmann

Falmouth, Mass.

Jews controlling governments, Jews conspiring to expand the power of Israel, leaders and politicians bowing to Jews’ every whim — the idea that a member of the House of Representatives would think these thoughts and put them into words is sickening and appalling.

Rep. Jim Moran, like Republican Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, has a long history of adhering to outdated and prejudicial thinking, only seeing the worst in an American minority. He does not deserve a seat in our nation’s government.

Jay Freilich

Albany, N.Y.

Article Uses Fish Story To Hook New Square

The March 14 article on New Square’s talking fish offered a good read for those in our community (“Fishy Story Tests Chasidic Town’s Beliefs”).

But it seems the Forward itself derived the most enjoyment from the story, for it offered yet another opportunity to take a shot at the ultra-Orthodox community of New Square, N.Y. Once again, the Forward felt the need to remind the world of the involvement of several community members in the embezzlement of federal funds.

It would be a miraculous story indeed were the Forward to pen a few positive words about the ultra-Orthodox community.

Manny Apteiker

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Did the fish speak in Ashkenazic or Sephardic Hebrew? I would think Ashkenazic, if only because gefilte fish is an Eastern European dish — but then again, who knows about the migratory paths of the carp?

I thought that the reporter should have put the talking carp into a cultural context, explaining the ways different groups receive religious communications. Christians have received messages in grand style. The Emperor Constantine sees a cross in the heavens with the phrase “in this sign you shall conquer” before he faces Attila. Mary appears to several girls in a grotto. There is a shroud in Turin that allegedly has an imprint of Jesus’ face. Churches have weepy statues and images of Jesus and Mary, and they are seen on walls and windows of buildings.

Do Jews get a talkative Torah or a mumbling mezuzah? No. We get talking food. What does it all mean?

Finally, the carp said he was sent to earth to heal. Even altruists have to live, so it would seem natural to ask if the fish asked for a stipend — a carpe diem, so to speak.

Franklin Marcus

Silver Spring, Md.

By writing that “The Skver chasidim believed in the parting of the seas and the sun standing still… why not a talking fish?”, the Forward implies that we Orthodox Jews believe in the parting of the seas based on the claim of one or a few people, just like the fish story.

In actuality, we don’t believe in the parting of the seas. We know it — just as we know any other event in history. We know it because it is based on a series of events witnessed by multitudes of people and passed down to later generations by learned people.

Mordechai Mezei

Via e-mail

Talking carps are indeed unusual. We were particularly distressed that the carp with the re-incarnated soul of the Canadian chasid got lost and misplaced in a pile of fish that was later sold. What a short and tragic re-incarnation for that poor chasid.

But frankly, we weren’t too impressed by the story because we have a sweet little dog who is probably a re-incarnated soul of a sweet little chazan. The dog, who is called Little Bear, has a mellifluous voice that accompanies opera arias.

The dog clearly prefers chazanut and Josef Rosenblatt’s recordings, though. When the music plays, Little Bear sits very still, cocks an ear and raising its nose high, emits soulful tones that are always on key.

We take very good care of the dog, feed it properly, walk it. We would never let Little Bear get lost among all the other dogs. And we would never let it jump into a barrel of fish.

Ken Schoen and Jane Trigere

South Deerfield, Mass.

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