Letters to the editor February 2

Letters to the editor February 2

No laments, please

I am writing in response to the “Slings and arrows” column in the Jan. 26 edition.

Rather than lament Mr. Lieberfeld’s essay, the paper could have published an open letter providing the information that he is apparently unable to obtain from the politically correct portion of the Jewish community within which he lives and that he is apparently too lazy to find on the Internet.

For starters, Jews aren’t a race.  I thought that nonsense went out with the Nazis. 

Second, so-called “Palestinians” aren’t a people.  They are indistinguishable from other Arabs.  Palestinians are nothing more than south Syrian Arabs living in Judea, Samaria or Gaza. 

Third, the two major “Palestinian” political organizations are Hamas and the PLO.  Hamas is part of the Muslim Brotherhood, which wants to re-establish the caliphate.  The PLO has spent decades telling its members (in Arabic) to kill Jews or drive them into the sea.  The “Palestinians” aren’t fighting for freedom or democracy.  They are fighting to establish sharia, under which Mr. Lieberfeld would be given the choices of converting to Islam, becoming a dhimmi, or being executed.  Perhaps he should be asked if he feels sorry for the KKK in its unequal struggle against the FBI. 

Something to think about is whether Mr. Lieberfeld’s understandings of Israel and Islam are very close to the understandings of President Obama.  If they are very close, wouldn’t President Obama also think that supporting the “Palestinians” is the moral thing to do?


James D. Silverman

Squirrel Hill

Join the conversation

The courageous conversation we took up at Rodef Shalom’s Town Hall Meeting Jan. 19, which was described on the front page of last week’s Chronicle (“Rodef Shalom ponders tough issues at town meeting,” Jan. 26) has been long overdue. 

The challenges each of our congregations and agencies must confront are not unique to any of us; we are all in this together and no one of us can solve for the enormity of these challenges alone.

Obviously, this means we must collaborate, which is more than inviting others to sign on to what any one of us is already doing.  After all, collaboration means to co-labor, to work together, and working together in this way will require our doing things differently than we have before.  Admittedly, change can be read as a synonym for loss, but so is change a necessary catalyst for realizing the promise we simply cannot achieve alone.  Only those too enamored of their own accomplishments (what Freud referred to as the “narcissism of our small differences”) to focus on what is in the best interests of our community-at-large fail to appreciate this truth.  This is why it is especially important that our community’s senior leadership actively focus on those we are here to serve rather than on who gets the credit for what any of us seeks to accomplish. 

If this notion resonates with you, but you are not sure where to begin, permit me to suggest that readers take up this conversation with their rabbi, lay congregational and agency leadership.  After all, for our local courageous conversations to gain purchase, we will need as many clear-eyed, community-minded folks around the table as possible.  Won’t you join us?


Rabbi Aaron B. Bisno

Point Breeze

(The author is the senior rabbi of Rodef Shalom Congregation.) 

Dialogue with Lieberfeld

Regarding the Jan. 26 editorial, “Slings and arrows,” your editorial reaction to Jesse Lieberfeld’s essay “Fighting a Forbidden Battle: How I Stopped Covering Up for a Hidden Wrong,” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jan. 15) was disappointing.  A young man said to his rabbi “I want to support Israel. But how can I when it lets its army commit so many killings?”  He received an unsatisfactory response from his rabbi, to wit, “It is a terrible thing, isn’t it?” he (his rabbi) said, “but there’s nothing we can do. It’s just a fact of life.”

This young man wants to understand why a country and people he is a part of and was raised to love and admire is doing these things.

As you very well know, he is not alone.  There are many good and patriotic Israelis and Jews who support Israel and ask the same questions every day.  Reach out and talk to him. Establish the dialogue that he is seeking.  He is part of the future of the Jewish people, whether you accept or reject him.  He has not “turned on the Jewish state” as you put it.  He has asked those who authoritatively represent the Jewish faith and Jewish political establishment to help him understand what he is seeing.  Do not dismiss him, saying “he is not the first, and he won’t be the last” to “turn on the Jewish state.”

The clear and present danger we see in both the United States and Israel is that groups that disagree with each other only listen to themselves (find a Democrat watching Fox News or find a Likud member reading materials from Rabbis for Human Rights).  When a young man like Jesse asks the other side (a role you cast yourself into, not him) to speak with him, and the other side turns him away with caustic, dismissive comments, how can Jesse and many others like him help but be disappointed?  He deserves our attention, not the back of our hand. Invite him in for a discussion of his and your views, now.

Mark Fichman


Too late for balance

I read Jesse Lieberfeld’s essay the day it appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It was honest and courageous.  The Jewish Chronicle’s response was neither.

I have spent a great deal of time in Israel; indeed, I am there now visiting our daughter and family on the kibbutz where they are members. And I can tell you that after more than 60 years of treating Israeli Arabs as second-class citizens and oppressing Palestinian Arabs, it is too late to tell your readers about Arabs in the Knesset or on soccer teams or the treatment of Jews in Arab lands. It is too late to extol the Jewish values that are taught in our synagogues.

And it is way too late to write about the need for balance. Balance would require this paper to editorialize for an end to the reduced appropriations for Israeli Arab towns and schools as compared to their Jewish counterparts, an end to Israeli laws that explicitly discriminate against non-Jews, and an end to the ongoing demolition of homes of Palestinians and Bedouins.

Jesse’s essay calls attention to a side of the equation that desperately needs attention. Your paper should do the same.


Michael Zigmond

Squirrel Hill