Letters to the editor July 28

Letters to the editor July 28

Maximizing chances for success

Your recent article on teacher retention in Jewish day schools (“Mentor support equals teacher retention in Pittsburgh,” July 14) made some excellent points, and helps raise awareness of how important mentoring and other forms of support are for the success of new teachers.

As you noted, we at Pardes have worked hard to follow up with the graduates of the Pardes Educators Program — which is funded by the AVI CHAI Foundation — to try to maximize their chances for success in the classroom.

What was regrettably omitted in the article was that none of our support for new teachers would be possible without the generosity and help of the Jim Joseph Foundation, who are our partners in this effort.

David I. Bernstein


(The author is the dean of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies.)

Anti-Boycott law supported

[Regarding] Israel’s new anti-boycott law … after careful examination, the ZOA strongly sympathizes with its passage, as it helps protect Israel’s security and economic interests.

We must understand that Israel is under an existential threat. Israel is enduring an organized worldwide campaign to boycott, divest from and sanction the Jewish state. Israel is also watching with deep concern as its neighbors are undergoing dramatic change, which could bring even more radical Islamist, anti-Israel governments into power.

The ZOA believes that American Jewish organizations should be conspicuously cognizant of the fact that enemies of Israel are using the words of Jewish organizations against this boycott to promote their own external boycott, delegitimization and sanction efforts against Israel.

We, in America, thankfully do not have to worry about these kinds of threats. When other countries have felt these types of substantial threats they have frequently gone so far as to have invoked martial law, suspending certain rights that citizens normally enjoyed.

Remember, even the U.S. anti-boycott laws written to protect Israel from the Arab League and other Moslem countries are much stronger than this Israeli law.

Morton A. Klein

New York, N.Y.

(The author is the national president of the Zionist Organization of America.)

Paper assailed for printing letter

The language in Dan Wiseman’s letter (“Far-left Jews act anti-American,” July 14) was outrageous, offensive and completely discreditable. The tenor of his letter stands in stark contrast to the respectful and dignified manner with which President Obama treats those with whom he disagrees. It is one thing to disagree with a person or a policy decision; it is another to perpetuate lies and use hateful language to incite people’s emotions.

Rather than simply trashing the president, maybe he could give very specific examples as to how he would achieve “limited government” and how he would “limit entitlement programs.”

I disagree entirely with Mr. Wiseman’s position. Many others do, too. But that’s not the point. Free speech is a fundamental value and Mr. Wiseman is entitled to express his opinion. But The Jewish Chronicle, which purports to be, and ought to be, an important and serious voice in our community, is not obligated to reprint every venomous screed that crosses its desk. I think it is awful that The Jewish Chronicle made an editorial decision to publish this hate-filled letter.

Andee Lowenstein

Squirrel Hill

Iran helps Assad suppress uprising

Since the beginning of the protest wave against Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria, Iran has backed Damascus and assisted it in both the security and propaganda aspects of its violent repression of the protests.

Tehran charges that Syria is the victim of an attempt by the West, led by the United States, to overthrow the Assad regime, under cover of the “Arab Spring.”

At the same time, Iran sees the “Arab Spring” or, as it calls it, the “Islamic awakening,” as a golden opportunity to export Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution to the changing Arab world. Yet with the turmoil in Syria, Iran now finds itself confronting a real possibility of losing one of its most important allies.

The fall of the Assad regime would likely undermine the resistance camp and break the continuity of the “Shiite crescent” stretching from Iran through Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Reports have emerged about elements of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’s (IRGC’s) Al-Quds Force (responsible for subversion and special operations outside of Iran), advisers from Iran’s domestic Law Enforcement Services, as well as Hezbollah men working throughout Syria to help Assad repress the popular protests.

Iran also apparently provided Syria with advanced eavesdropping equipment, which enables the identification of activists who converse by phone or use social networks on the Internet.

Damascus occupies a pivotal point between the old Middle Eastern order and the new order that Iran is seeking to shape in keeping with its worldview. Syria’s special status in opposing a Pax Americana and having good relations with the two past superpowers of the Middle East — Turkey and Iran — is what give it a key role in the region and perhaps explains (in part) the West’s reluctance to take a clear position, instead preferring a wait-and-see attitude toward the ongoing violent repression in Syria.

The departure of Assad, and coming on the heels of Saddam Hussein’s downfall, would likely herald the end of the era of Arab nationalism and facilitate the formation of a new Arab and/or Islamic identity. In the shadow of the growing assertiveness of (Shiite) Iran and (Sunni) Turkey, both of which seek a great-power role, the Arab world finds itself divided and lacking any guiding paradigm as the old order falls apart.

Michael Segall


(The author is an expert on strategic issues with a focus on Iran, terrorism, and the Middle East and a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.)