Letters to the editor March 15

Letters to the editor March 15

Better to apologize

Regarding the March 8 letter by Iris Samson and Sally Kalson, “Controversial cover explained”:

When my children were 3 or 4 years old, they took delight in saying, what seemed to them, dirty words. Some of the words were totally innocent and some were not.

It was up to me, as a parent, to explain to them the meaning and consequences of saying these words. Adults, however, and especially those who publish in writing, ought to search the meaning of what they write. Adults who use unbecoming language look silly and even worse, but never cute.

Another thing, one should learn in childhood — it is better to apologize than to explain your mistake as “very few complained.”

Hanita Kossowsky


Explanation not satisfactory

Sorry, but I do not find Iris Samson and Sally Kalson’s explanation for the cover of the Jewish Film Festival 2012 program in any way persuasive or adequate (“Controversial cover explained,” March 8).

To be sure, humor is indeed subjective, and I have no doubt that there were people who were amused.  (5-year-olds are amused by toilet talk, but that doesn’t mean that it is funny.) To be amused by the JFilm cover, at a minimum, people had to understand the Yiddish words — a limited audience when, in fact, the entire Pittsburgh community should be involved in the festival.  By the way, I also know of non-Jews who know that the words “goy” and “shiksa” are derogatory.

Furthermore, everyone to whom I talked, and you may be sure that it was a lot more than a handful, found the cover totally tasteless and offensive.

Thus it is a big mistake in a number of ways: One, it speaks to only a small portion of Pittsburghers and thereby limits the audience for the festival. Two, and even more important, it reflects negatively not only on the festival but on the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, which houses JFilm, and in fact on the Jewish community as a whole.

A glib response to community criticism, therefore, is surely not what is called for.


Elizabeth Stern


Gold column lauded

The Jewish Chronicle did a great service to our community in publishing Dore Gold’s March 1 essay, “Hatred: Coming soon to a campus near you.”

Gold’s focus on campus hatred and repudiation of Israel is valuable. He elucidates the issues and provides readers with some means of responding intelligently and accurately to the false claims and defamation that characterize current Israel-bashing activities on many college campuses.

The March 8 response to the Gold column, “Column, paper rapped” was an excellent example of some of the worst thinking that can be found within our community. The letter writers, Donsky, Reder and Zigmond, claim that concern over the designation of Israel’s treatment of its Arab citizens as “apartheid” is a quibble. What an outrage! Even South African Richard Goldstone, a harsh critic of Israel, has decried the application of the term “apartheid” in any way whatsoever to Israel’s social conduct and policy. Furthermore, the letter writers commit the egregious fault of moral equivalence when they suggest, there are “disturbing elements in both Israeli and Palestinian society.” One would think that Palestinian bombings and murders constitute something more than simply “a disturbing element.” There are no Israeli parallels to these ongoing crimes.

Ronald A. Brauner

Squirrel Hill

Israel can take it

In response to the March 8 letter, “Column, paper rapped,” castigating the Chronicle for publishing an article criticizing Anti-Apartheid Week on college campuses:

If the writers want to talk about what they refer to as Israel’s “occupation of the West Bank,” “blockade of Gaza” or “unequal treatment of Palestinians” then let’s try to have an honest, factual discussion.

In 1948 Israel invited all Arab inhabitants to become citizens. Those who participated, and now their descendents, enjoy full welfare and voting rights. They advocate through Arab representation in the Knesset. They are employed in Arab and Israeli businesses. They serve on the police force, in the army and sit as judges in the courts. Arab women have the right to vote and hold elective office. Arab citizens are cared for with respect and dignity alongside Jewish Israelis in hospitals and doctor’s offices. Almost 300,000 Arabs live in East Jerusalem, yet in a Washington Institute poll, conducted by Palestinians last fall, 39 percent stated they would prefer Israeli over Palestinian citizenship and 42 percent said they would try to move into Israel if a Palestinian state were recognized.

Regarding Gaza, if the writers consider that Gaza is blockaded by Israel then they must agree it is blockaded by Egypt too, which controls one of its borders. Yet Gazans use their independence to attack a neighboring sovereign state. Nevertheless, Israel continues to regularly provide Gaza with humanitarian aid. According to the United Nations, 4,000 to 5,000 truckloads of aid cross into Gaza monthly from Israel including food and medicine and Gazans regularly travel into Israel for medical care.

These are not characteristics of an apartheid state. The supporters of “Anti-Apartheid Week” are facilitating a vicious lie designed to de-legitimize Israel. If you value human rights, women’s rights, gay rights, environmental issues and democracy, then it is Israel you should support. You think “Israel can’t withstand even the slightest criticism?” If that were the case then the State of Israel would have folded years ago.

Jennifer Olbum

Squirrel Hill