The Jewish Chronicle often presents excellent articles, columns and editorials that address diversity and the need for people to have an understanding and sensitivity for others.
At times, though, it seems the Chronicle does not have the same sensitivity and respect for fellow Jews or Jews who choose to follow a greater adherence to Jewish Laws.
Up until now, as a long-term subscriber, I have held my pen back from criticizing the Chronicle for its all-too often jabs at the Orthodox community. But the cartoon on page 7 of the Oct. 31 issue of the Chronicle “Intermarriage Math” with its “dark side” angry portrayal of what I presume is a rabbi refusing to conduct an intermarriage service versus the smiling open handed (one again, I presume) rabbi willing to marry a man (Jewish) and a woman wearing a crucifix, crossed a line for me.
My angst is not related to the intermarriage debate, but the very negative and disrespectful cartoon image of a rabbi who is sticking to their conviction and desired path of Jewish observance. This is the type of editorial cartoon that divides our community. After all the persecution and anti-Semitism we as a people have suffered, the last thing we should do is slam each other with negative cartoon images that we would often see from the detractors and enemies of the Jewish people.
There are many warm, caring and dedicated Orthodox rabbis in our community, and the Chronicle should show a greater respect to them and their beliefs. We can and do debate and disagree on issues but let’s not show or encourage disrespect for each other.
(Editor’s note: The cartoonist, Steve Greenberg, in no way indicates what denomination to which the rabbi depicted belongs; he could more easily be a Conservative, unaffiliated or even Reform rabbi. Further, the open books on the couple’s laps suggest this is a prayer service, not a request to be married. That the couple is seated together also indicates this is not an Orthodox service. Instead of attacking one particular denomination, Greenberg is addressing all Jews, making a point about the need to make interfaith families feel welcomed. But it is not an attack on Orthodoxy.)
What have we learned?
After the Gulf war of the early ’90s, I heard it time and time again, it was the best opportunity for peace.
Arabs in the Middle East had access to CNN and saw how others around the world lived. They wanted a better life with homes, cars and a future for their children. If only there could be peace.
The Oslo peace accords were based on this premise, and I, too, was optimistic.
So it was with great surprise that I read in the Nov. 7 Chronicle about Colin Powell’s visit to Pittsburgh (“Powell: Middle East needs wealth, energy, education — not wars and violence,”) and his views that jobs, wealth and education were the solution to the problems and peace in the Middle East.
Is it because of jobs the Egyptians threw the Muslim Brotherhood out of office? Is it because of jobs Egyptians are killing Coptic Christians? Is it because of jobs Assad is killing his citizens in the streets? Is it because of jobs Iran is starving its citizens to pursue nuclear capabilities? Is it because of jobs the American ambassador was murdered in Libya? Is it because of jobs Hamas in Gaza would rather fire rockets into Israel than build a country?
The answer to these questions and more is no, no, no.
There are two consistent problems in the Middle East. One is the fighting for territorial control between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. The only thing the Sunnis and Shiites agree on, which is the second problem, is their hatred of Israel, Jews, Christians and Americans and their desire to rid the Middle East of them. Have we learned nothing in the last 20 years?
Stuart V. Pavilack
(The author is executive director of the Zionist Organization of America-Pittsburgh District.)