Letters, June 24, 2015


Ducking the truth
Nat Lewin has a flawed recollection of Washington Jewish Week’s reporting of the supposed nonkosher duck scandal at the old Moshe Dragon kosher Chinese restaurant more than 25 years ago (“A proud moment: When WJW refused to duck,” 85th Anniversary, WJW, June 4). His erred by saying that the WJW reported that a mashgiach for the Rabbinical Council of Greater Washington had discovered nonkosher ducks in the restaurant. Since Lewin wrote to praise WJW, let’s at least get the facts right and tell the story the paper told and what it might have reported with better analysis of the facts it had.

WJW reported that the mashgiach, Michael Mayer, found a receipt from a Chinese nonkosher butcher that said that the Vietnamese-Chinese owner of Moshe Dragon, Lenny Ung, had purchased roughly 700 pounds of duck, 1,000 pounds of beef and 1,000 pounds of chicken. WJW also reported that the council hired an accountant to help with its investigation.

WJW missed the significance of those absurdly high numbers. Looking at the duck alone — a case of duck weighs about 20 pounds and is about the size and shape of a sofa cushion (about 8 inches high when laid flat). Accordingly, if the Chinese butcher had indeed filled the order as listed on the receipt, there should have been 50 cases of duck. If stacked in one pile, the duck boxes would have towered 33 feet high. It is unbelievable that Mayer could find the receipt, but overlook that much duck.

The fact that the rabbis hired an accountant is a major clue to what may have really happened. A good forensic accountant might have looked at the receipt, the fact that food costs are typically lower for Chinese restaurants and Moshe Dragon’s earnings — and concluded that the receipt was a phony obtained to inflate food costs and lower the net earnings reported on its tax returns. In short, the accountant may have uncovered tax fraud involving no non-kosher duck except on paper.
Silver Spring


J Street works against
Israel and peace
It is well that you refer to J Street as a “self-described” pro-Israel, pro-peace group (“Five objectionable words,” WJW, June 4).

It seeks to remove language in fast-track trade legislation which discourages U.S. trading partners from engaging in boycotts, not only of Israel, but of businesses operating in Israeli-controlled territories. Thus, J Street works against Israel and peace.

As Rep. Peter Roskam reminds us (“Congress can fight the boycott Israel movement,” Voices, WJW, June 4), for example, a Dutch water supplier terminated its contract with an Israeli water company, Mekerot, because it also operated in the West Bank, after advice from the Dutch government.

But it also deeply misguided to seek removal of the territories language from the trade bill even if it just combatted boycotts of businesses solely operating in the West Bank. This is so because no matter how disappointed some of us may be in some current Israeli policies, only diplomacy between Israelis and Palestinians can eventually result in a lasting, peaceful resolution of the dispute.  A peaceful resolution is fostered neither by boycotts undertaken pursuant to a double-standard, no matter its geographic boundaries in this case, nor by attacking legislative efforts to combat such boycotts.

J Street’s position paper on BDS notes positively that some BDS advocates seek a boycott only of Israeli settlement products. It continues, “J Street, however, will not participate in targeted boycott or divestment initiatives.”

So, does J Street oppose boycotts by others of products made in the West Bank, or merely does not participate in such initiatives itself? Its position on trade legislation clearly enhances the opportunity for others to boycott Israeli and other companies operating in both Israel and the West Bank, and operating solely in the West bank, including by those who live there.

If J Street spent half as much time seeking the disarming of Hamas in Gaza as it does fulfilling its self-described role as blocking back for the Obama administration, it would make a real contribution to Israel and peace.

Love your fellow Jew
I normally don’t read letters to the editor, but one late Saturday evening I found myself just doing that. What surprised me was the, I think, totally unacceptable name calling by Jews toward other Jews. (Letters, WJW, June 11). I quote: “a bunch of brain-dead Jews” (“Did audience forget president’s past actions,” Harry Klapper), “a very bad Jew” (“Jeers for Pamela Geller,” Saul Edelman), and “biased pro-left approach” (“Elsner’s approach goes against interests of Israel,” Rosalind Feldman). More than 10 years ago, my wife and I became ardent supporters and joined Chabad, among other things because of their non-judgmental attitude and love for all Jews. Being myself a “biased” liberal, I have many stimulating discussions with my rabbi and much more conservative fellow congregants, who lovingly call me a “communist” — to which I reply they are all “right-wing extremists.” But we do this with our arms around each shoulder or while enjoying a good Scotch.

We would never write to the editor of a Jewish newspaper insulting other Jews. Case in point: My good friend, fellow congregant and fierce political adversary Boris Knizhnik, who on those same pages opinioned the correct Jewish response — compassion and love for your fellow Jew, no matter how distasteful or disgusting his/her previous actions. And please, refrain from using the word biased, because always remember while a conservative considers a liberal biased, at the same time a liberal knows for sure a conservative is totally biased.

Disrespectful discourse
Now I have just about seen everything: a Jew, writing in a Jewish publication  —who claims, no less, than to be a child of Holocaust survivors  — gleefully siding with Adolf Hitler on a controversial issue (“Hitler loved guns  — to use against his enemies,” Jack Leeb, Letters, WJW, June 11).

Whereas Gideon Donnelly (“Hitler was a fan of gun ownership,” Letters, WJW, May 21), for his part, proffered facts in the gun-control debate, Leeb opts to pursue snarky, spiteful, ad hominem
name-calling, i.e., bullying,  disrespectful  discourse which should have no place in a Jewish newspaper.
Epithets (“zany,” “preposterous,” “ignorance,” etc.) are not arguments.

In the words of Jeb Bush (Profiles in Character, 1996), “Society needs to relearn the art of public and private disapproval and how to make those who engage in undesirable behavior feel some sense of shame.”

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