Return of vigilantes
After a year’s respite the vigilantes of 2011 are back. In an ad (WJW, July 4, p33), something called “Citizens Opposed to Propaganda Masquerading as Art (COPMA)” condemns our local Federation for its annual allocation to the Washington DC Jewish Community Center because in 2014, the center’s Theater J plans to produce a play called The Admission, which COPMA claims “defames Israel.”
In contrast to two years ago, this time these protectors aren’t even waiting until the play is actually presented but are rather attacking its production a year in advance, as well as its Israeli author, whom they don’t even identify by name. The message is clear: Not only should Federation not indirectly support Theater J, but none of us should plan to attend the play and decide its merits for ourselves.
From both a personal and a communal standpoint, I resent being told by self-appointed censors what I can see or read. I would feel that way even about a speech or an article, but this case is worse, as it involves the art of drama, which is intended to stimulate thoughts and feelings. Wasn’t the establishment of the Jewish state supposed to enhance our security and reduce our fears about what others might say about us?
If these monitors don’t want to join us at Theater J, I would urge them to proceed South to the Tidal Basin, where they might contemplate the words of Thomas Jefferson: “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”
DANIEL MANN, Bethesda
Committed to Israel
Let me respond to Steve Weissman’s letter (“Slap in the face,” WJW, June 27) criticizing the ZOA for comparing Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) to Queen Esther. I currently serve on a number of boards and hold leadership positions with many pro-Israel organizations. I am also privileged to have voluntarily served Bachmann as both her finance chairman and campaign chairman in each of her last two campaigns. I have been politically involved for many years because there is simply no one in Washington more knowledgeable or passionately committed to protecting the safety and security of the state of Israel and the Jewish people. Often, despite negative political ramifications, she has courageously publicly criticized those when their actions and rhetoric towards Israel were anything less than totally supportive.
Mr. Weissman may disagree with her on other issues, but regarding her unrivaled support for Israel and the Jewish people, he is either extremely naive or grossly misinformed. I am confident Queen Esther would be proud and honored to be compared with Bachmann. And, she would certainly expect an apology to Mort Klein and the ZOA, a respected pro-Israel advocate of unquestionable character, who has admirably served for decades as executive director of the oldest and certainly one of the most important pro-Israel organizations in America.
JAMES L. POLLACK, Chicago
Like Queen Esther
Steve Weissman viciously attacked me, the Zionist Organization of America and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) for my introduction of this extraordinarily pro-Israel congresswoman as the Queen Esther of Congress at ZOA’s congressional luncheon, preceding our annual Israel Advocacy Day (“Slap in the Face, WJW, June 27).
But just like the beautiful Queen Esther, the beautiful Rep. Bachmann has done everything in her power to advance and protect Jewish interests. There is no one in Washington with greater passion, concern and commitment to the Jewish state’s safety, security and survival.
This core conviction dates back to her first trip to Israel to work on a kibbutz the day she graduated from high school in 1974. She has traveled to Israel numerous times, and makes time in her schedule to meet Israeli officials whenever they come to Washington. She is arguably the fiercest opponent of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, has criticized presidential appointees she fears could be detrimental to Israel and has repeatedly condemned radical Muslim groups for their anti-Semitism. She has even been challenged for publicly criticizing U.S. Mideast policy, when she believes it endangers the Jewish state.
Bachmann has been the keynote speaker for numerous pro-Israel groups. And even though she’s a Christian, she has even spent Yom Kippur praying in synagogue, as well as having celebrated other Jewish holidays. No wonder she has been profusely praised by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, Israeli U.N. Ambassador Ron Proser and former head of IDF intelligence, Gen. Amos Yadlin.
No Mr. Weissman, ZOA shouldn’t be apologizing for praising Rep. Michele Bachmann, you should be apologizing for your insulting and mean-spirited attack .
MORTON KLEIN, President, ZOA