Letters, June 18, 2015


Freundel sentence was appropriate
Rodney Brooks’ letter (“Freundel sentence out of proportion,” Letters, WJW, May 28) says the experienced D.C. Superior Court judge sentenced too lengthy an incarceration to Rabbi Barry Freundel.  Brooks refers to sentencing data available from pbs.org.  I checked the pbs.org reference. As a practical matter, the data is based on a lot of factors, primarily how strong the witnesses and evidence are presented against accused criminals.  Although my experience has been representing victims of medical malpractice, as a young lawyer we were all required to represent accused defendants who could not afford to hire lawyers and before there was an adequate public defender system.  I recall defending an accused rapist where the assistant U.S. attorney wanted a 20-year plea-bargain.  It was only during the trial that I was able to break down the government’s witnesses so that prosecutors agreed to take a plea of less than three years toward the end of the trial.  The mishmash of final judgments and final sentencing in the pbs.org report is in no way applicable to a clear-cut admission as in the Freundel case.  He admitted to a huge volume of horrific crimes and the judge cut some slack, realizing that many of the victims did not want to put their names out to the whole world.  The court did well and hopefully taught a lesson.  The sentence was right on track.

Passport ruling shows anti-Semitism
In Zivotofsky v. Kerry, the Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, held unconstitutional Congress’ effort to allow dual citizens the right to declare on their U.S. passports and other consular documents that Jerusalem is in Israel (“Supreme Court strikes down Israel passport law,” WJW, June 11). In the words of Justice Clarence Thomas, concurring and dissenting in part, “[it] is the undisputed position of the United States that Jerusalem is not a part of Israel.” Without regard to the arcane analyses of executive versus congressional powers, this decision serves a profoundly useful purpose: It strips the emperor of his clothes. No longer can the State Department hide its anti-Semitic policy of refusing to recognize Jerusalem as a part of Israel in its never-read Foreign Affairs Manual. And make no mistake, anyone who denies the centrality of Jerusalem to the State of Israel deliberately ignores 3,000 years of Jewish history, law and soul. To vigorously pursue the national policy that Jerusalem is not part of Israel is to challenge the right of Israel to exist. Yes, Europe’s crescendo of anti-Semitism is much more virulent and visible, but the State Department’s policy — from Truman through Obama — is no less destructive. No president can maintain the policy that Jerusalem is not part of Israel, yet insist that he or she is a Jew at heart.

Show appears to have flaw
A new musical just opened at the Teatro Hispano GALA (“European, Argentine cultures and music fuse in new show,” WJW, June 11).

This work of fiction is based on a composite of many true-life stories of the seduction of Jewish girls and young women from low-income shtetls in Poland and Ukraine.


These girls were lured into coming to Argentina under the promise of marriage to respectable Jewish men, or perhaps of working as mothers’ helpers in Jewish homes. But soon after leaving the protective environment of their shtetls, they were [forced] into prostitution. The traffickers were prosperous Jewish men, who acted under the benevolent watch of local authorities in Argentina.

Although the musical does a meritorious job describing the living conditions both in Poland and in Buenos Aires, it is based on a serious distortion. In the play, it is the girl’s mother who knowingly sells her daughter to Schlomo (“the man from Buenos Aires”) for a large stack of cash, against the wishes of the daughter.

A lot has been written about this tragic and shameful past. Historians in Argentina have dealt with it at length. Well-known Jewish writers, such as Isaac Bashevis Singer and Sholem Aleichem, have written stories. I am rather familiar with the literature. Nowhere have I read about mothers who knowingly sold their daughters to traffickers.  If I am right, the false premise of the play is a major flaw.

It slanders the Jewish community of Argentina.

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