Letters 1/9


AU on board
American University has joined the list of universities mentioned in your Jan. 2 edition (“ASA or not ASA? That is the question”) as opposing the ASA resolution boycotting Israeli academic institutions. The text of the statement issued by AU’s president and provost may
be found at: http://www.american.edu/president/announcements/December-26-2013.cfm
Director, Jewish Studies Program
American University

Deeply moved
I was deeply moved by your article “Remembering a South African ‘Joseph’ ” (WJW, Dec. 12) and the accompanying photo.
Your staff added an additional tribute to a great man and deepened his legacy to world peace. I have not read any other article nor heard any radio news report about this significant aspect of Nelson Mandela’s life.
Revitz House, Rockville

Linguistic faults
The coverage of Professor Steven Cohen’s recent survey of nearly 2000 alumni of the Labor Zionist youth movement Habonim Dror North America was a source of pride, confirming what we have understood to be our achievements over the past 80 years (“Camp alumni study reveals high levels of Jewish engagement,” Camp & School Guide, WJW, Dec. 19).
However, there were two linguistic faults in your coverage:
1. Habonim Dror is described as “a socialist, Zionist youth movement.” Labor Zionism has always been a pluralistic and multifaceted movement, including everybody from Marxist socialists to social democrats like me. The Israeli Labor movement and its Diaspora counterparts have been known only by the nouns “labor” and “workers,” for example, Histadrut Haovdim, Mapai, and now Avodah in Israel and Poale Zion and Labor Zionist Alliance (recently changed to Ameinu) in North America. The only correct description of our youth movement Habonim Dror is the Labor Zionist youth movement in the United States and Canada.
2. The statement that “Habonim Dror is Hebrew for “The Builders of Freedom” is totally erroneous. The two names have no more of a linguistic connection than do Hewlett-Pakard. Habonim does mean builders, while Dror means not freedom but liberty (as in “Proclaim liberty”). The two names evolved from the merger in the 1980s of two similar youth movements but are otherwise unconnected.
Despite those flaws the coverage of
the Cohen report itself was accurate and
gratifying. We alumni consider it the anti-Pew.
DANIEL MANN, past president of Ameinu

Silly stereotypes
In his letter, “Peter in Neverland” (Letters, WJW, Dec. 26), Howard Sachs falls into silly stereotypes of “leftists,” and as usual when people get hung up on stereotypes, he gets rather loose with the facts. He states “Leftism is the value system of leaders like Neville Chamberlain… .”  Really?! Chamberlain was the leader of the Conservative Party. In 1940, he was deposed when the Liberal and Labour Parties joined with some more progressive Conservatives in refusing a “unity government,” because his policies had failed, and thankfully, replaced him with a more “leftist” Conservative called Winston Churchill. Similarly, in the U.S., it was the “leftists” Roosevelt and other Democrats who fought the conservative isolationists to support the Allies.
In dealing with Iran, the president and the leading figures in his administration are completely aware that we cannot blindly trust the new leaders of Iran just because they are more “friendly” than the lunatic Ahmadinejad, and they always speak with appropriate caution about the negotiations. However, when a radical regime suddenly sounds more reasonable, it is worthwhile to engage it, to challenge it to prove it is more reasonable. 
At present, we have daily inspections while we continue negotiations. It was this administration’s careful coordination with, and cajoling of, the rest of the world to impose tighter sanctions that is widely credited with getting the Iranians to the table. 
Also, in same issue, WJW highlights the efforts in Congress — by a coalition of liberals and conservatives — to strengthen sanctions if necessary. I strongly support our “leftist” Sen. Ben Cardin, who says: “We want to give diplomacy a chance to take root … but we must be prepared to test Iran’s sincerity to comply … . Iran’s track record gives us good reason to have new and stronger sanctions at the ready.”
Sounds completely sensible and realistic to me.

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  1. Thanks for your comment Mr. Goldberg. I stand by my assessment. As you noted I used the phrase “leftist values.” Not everyone on the left ascribes to the entire value system of Leftism but I strongly believe there is such a value system nonetheless. It has almost nothing to do with American values. Our President holds its core values deeply. Most Jews do as well. In terms of foreign policy I think Leftism is based on intense naiveté about human evil; it is based on moral relativism; it is based on the core trinity of class/race and gender; it is based on the notion that all cultures are essentially equivalent. Its why we and the world is in great danger having a Democratic Party and President holding such values. Its what gives us the outreach to Islamic fascists. Its what gives us the handshakes and bows to tyrants. Its what gives us the distain showed toward the good like Israel and our other allies. You keep supporting this system. Its your right. What you’ll get is a nuclear bomb in the hands of Islamofascists and darkness unleashed on the world. I find such a value system shameful. Thank you: Howard Sachs/Chevy Chase


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