Letters | Feb. 7, 2019


Marchers’ signs leave a bitter taste
Did anyone notice that most of the red, black and white signs in a cover photo from the latest Women’s March — including the one with the red fist coming out of a Jewish star — are in the same format and color as those used by the Marxist/anarchist Antifa for the past several years (“Some march for, others against, Women’s March,” Jan. 24)?

I don’t know whether this is purely a coincidence, but this photo could have been published to show Antifa demonstrations and riots in Ferguson, Mo., Berkeley, Calif., Portland, Ore., and Seattle. All that would need to change are the words, with the Jewish star made into a plan Communist red star.

Somebody seriously goofed up on choosing to make these type of signs. For those of us who have been covering demonstrations since the last ’60’s, it is a reminder of the anti-Israel signs of assorted Marxist, pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist groups that were common in anti-Israel demonstrations around the United States. Somebody should have done their homework and known better than to design “Jewish Women March for Justice” signs that looked like those who have marched against Israel.

Arlington, Va.


Shanghai ghetto has a fascinating history

I thoroughly enjoyed the description of the Chinese ghetto, Hongkou, during World War II (“Jewish Museum exhibit tells the story of Shanghai’s Hongkou Ghetto,” Jan. 31). However, the author neglected to talk about the pressure that the Nazi “partners” tried to exert on the Japanese treatment of their refugee residents.

The Japanese were ambivalent while the Nazis wanted to impose harsh treatment. There was no reason for them to be hostile. Also, they still had the history of the Kaiser’s attitude toward the “yellow peril” during World War I to remind them of their suspicion, i.e. making Asia Minor for Asians only. Fortunately for the Jewish refugees, their presence became an embarrassment to the Nazis, but they were able to survive, albeit under poorer conditions.

There were many successful and brilliant minds that incubated in this tight environment, such as Laurence Tribe, a Carter-era Treasury secretary, the artist Peter Max, etc.

Silver Spring

Let’s put a premium on sensitivity

Thank you for covering the great work of Operation Understanding DC (OUDC), and its talented director, Yolanda Savage-Narva (“Her job is to bring black and Jewish teens together,” Jan. 31). For years, the “Black-Jewish relationship” seemed to be two separate minority groups united in many common causes. Yet like Savage-Wilson and some OUDC participants, there have long been Black Jews and other Jews of color in America; their growing visibility is a blessing for us all.

OUDC educates people toward greater sensitivity and solidarity. As such, it’s worth reiterating that while Savage-Narva generously shared her own story of coming to Judaism, that background is hers to tell, not ours to solicit.

When we ask people of color even well-meaning questions about background — questions we’d never ask of European-appearing folks in Jewish spaces — we “otherize” those Jews of color and make their experience in the Jewish world more difficult. For their sake and that of the Jewish future, I hope we welcome everyone in our pews with “Shabbat Shalom,” irrespective of skin tone.

May we all restrain our curiosity, so as to honor the fullness of the Divine image within everyone.


Here’s another Zionist site to visit in Israel

Moshe Phillips column about alternative tourist sites in Israel provided a wealth of information (“Places to visit in Israel in 2019 if you really want to learn,” Jan. 24). I would like to add one more item for those interested in the contributions of Joseph Trumpeldor and Ze’ev Jabotinsky: the Beit Hagdudim Museum, or Jewish Legion Museum.

Located in Moshav Avichail just north of Netanya, the story of the Jewish Battalion’s volunteers — the first to fight on Jewish soil since the time of the Bar Kokhba revolt — is explored. Jews from the Diaspora joined the British Army to fight for the Land of Israel. They wore a Magen David patch on their uniforms and practically designed the base on which the Israel Defense Forces were later established.

Among those Hebrew warriors were central figures in the history of the Jewish settlement: David Ben-Gurion, Joseph Trumpeldor, Ze’ev Jabotinsky and my grandfather, Harry Cohen.

Arlington, Va.

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