Philadelphia Jewish Voice

September 2006

Special Dossier: Echoes of War
• How To Support Israel 
• Arithmetic of Pain 
• Staging Qana
• Garaway 
• Major Ro'i Klein 
• Peoria 

Top Stories
• 30 Years to Entebbe
Forgotten Liberators
• Witness To A  Witness
• Change Of Command: JWB
• Gerlach Support Questioned
• Expression of Religion 
• Letters to the Editor

• The Main Line Eruv
• Folkshlep
• Jewish Relief Agency
• Clinton in Narberth
• Bob Casey Fundraiser
• Kol Ami Finds Home
• Har Sinai Buys Site
• Candidate Comedy

In Their Own Words
• The Interview

Networking Central
• Ameinu

Living Judaism
• The Point Of Judaism

•  The Point Of An Eruv

Raising A Mensch
• First Day Of School

• Preventing Cancer

The Kosher Table
• Restaurant Magazine

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Letters to the Editor

Oh Ricky, you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind!

Senator Rick Santorum has taken to calling his Democratic opponent by a diminutive normally reserved for family members and close friends. His obvious goal is to diminish his opponent's stature by using a childish nickname.

The only reasons that this is not disturbing is that a) it is right out of the Republican playbook of personal attacks and b) it demonstrates the utter lack of substance in Santorum's pitiful quest for recognition under the Guaranteed Employment Act for Incumbents.

-- Dr. Kenneth J. Gorelick, Newtown Square, PA

Was Jewish Policy Center Panel Partisan?

You should have done some fact checking before publishing "Not In My Synagogue". Ira Forman resurrects an inaccurate Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) report about the Jewish Policy Center program, another issues oriented organization, that took place at Har Zion Synagogue in suburban Philadelphia two years ago merely reflects the inability of Forman to tell truth from fiction.

Over 900 people attended that marvelous program. It was open to all, regardless of party affiliation, and they heard Conservative Jewish leaders like Michael Medved, Dennis Prager, John Podhoretz, David Horowitz and Daniel Pipes. There were flyers posted all over the synagogue, which was rented by the way, stating that the synagogue does not share the views of the JPC. Har Zion's leaders were fully briefed as to the nature of the program as well as the participants. If anyone misrepresented himself or herself it was the Rabbi and the then Synagogue President after the event to the JTA!

Forman's suggesting that Senator Rick Santorum has a dismal record on issues of importance to the Jewish community is equally inaccurate. He has consistently been a leader on matters of great importance like the Syria Accountability Act, The Iran Freedom and Support Act, and the Workplace Religious Freedom Act. He has lead the effort to combat Anti-Semitism not only around the world but also on U.S. college campuses. The Democratic candidate for the Senate in Pennsylvania holds similar positions to Rick Santorum on "issues of choice".

The Philadelphia Jewish Voice by publishing Ira Forman's op-ed, offered its readers a distorted view of several significant events held by two important Jewish policy organizations, the Middle East Forum and the Jewish Policy Center, in a political attack on the record of Senator Santorum on issues critical to the Jewish community.

-- Myles H. Tanenbaum and Steven L. Friedman, Co-chairmen Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC)

Response by author:

It is Tanenbaum and Friedman who need some fact checking assistance. Tanenbaum and Friedman say that the JTA story on partisan activity by the Jewish Policy Center (JPC) was "inaccurate" but they provide no evidence of this. One attendee told JTA that "It was billed as a non-partisan event and it became a Kerry-bashing, George Bush pep rally."

They ask us to believe him that this "marvelous program" was certainly not partisan even though the synagogue Rabbi told the JTA that " the panelists were promoting the Republican Party and demonizing the Democrats." They reply to charges by numerous attendees by writing that the Rabbi of the synagogue and the Synagogue President were not telling us the truth. They do not even attempt to answer the charges by attendees in other synagogues when they complained to a JTA reporter about similar JPC "dog and pony shows" in other cities.

My experience with JTA is that if they print something that is factually incorrect, they willingly print a correction. To my knowledge the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) never wrote the editors of JTA to point out any factual errors after the story was published in October 2004. In fact JTA tried to contact the major participants in these RJC events, the ultra conservative author David Horowitz and the conservative talk show personality Michael Medved, so they could give their side of the story. Strangely enough Mr. Horowitz and Mr. Medved declined to answer these charges of partisanship. However, now here comes Mr Tanenbaum and Mr. Friedman of the RJC, nearly two years later, to complain that the numerous people who criticized the event were not telling the truth.

I wonder who we should believe?

-- Ira Forman, Executive Director, National Jewish Democratic Council

Frank Talk About Franking

I am outraged at having received yet another (my fourth! I hear others have received at least 5) campaign piece mailed at tax payer expense by Jim Gerlach.

I have taken the time to scan the House rules on franked mail and they is quite clear on the following points:

  1. Franked mass mailings within 90 days of an election by Members listed on the ballot is prohibited. Today is 85 days prior to the election. Even if today's piece was mailed on the 90th or even the 91st day prior to the election and the very strictest of readings of the letter of the law was not violated, the spirit is undoubtedly in tatters. 
  2. Illegal franked mail by Jim Gerlach "In any frankable mailing, the size on print type in which a Member's name appears is limited to not more than 1/4" in height, except for the masthead where it may measure not more than 1/2 inch." Gerlach's staff is 0 for 2 on this item.
  3. "Mail matter which contains any logo, masthead design, slogan, or photograph which is a facsimile of any matter contained in a Member's campaign literature is not frankable." I am going to have to challenge you and your estimable band of reporters to collect up his campaign material and judge for yourselves on this one. Even if the exact same items don't match up, you'd be hard pressed to see the layout and not shout campaign literature!

-- Joe Magid, Wynnewood, PA

As Curt Weldon's constituent I have written and called him many times with requests that he address issues that concerned me and many of my friends. He never responded. Now that he is finally in a real fight to retain his seat, he has communicated. Well, not exactly a response to my questions, but generic answers to questions that I have not posed.

The Republican Party has sent a very expensive glossy piece of literature, paid for by our taxes, with our postage.

His opponent, Joe Sestak, a Navy Admiral, has answered my questions about his plans, when he is elected to Congress. His answers are direct and clear and are paid for by his own campaign.

Why should taxpayers pay the expenses of a costly campaign.

-- Barbara Blum, West Chester, PA

Especially In My Synagogue

The premise of Mr. Forman's recent article titled "Not In My Synagogue", that the Republicans are playing political games in the Jewish community, is silly. Lawyers practice law; and politicians engage in politics. How would Mr. Forman describe Mr. Casey's decision to accept only one offer so far to debate his opponent on national TV, scheduling his "Meet The Press" debut for Labor Day weekend when 90% of the Jewish population is on vacation.

The important part of Mr. Forman's article is his concluding statement that Rick Santorum has a dismal record on almost every issue important to Pennsylvania Jews. I disagree. When Pennsylvania Jews step into the voting booth on November 7, 2006, they will have to choose between Bob Casey, Jr. and Rick Santorum, and I hope they will choose our incumbent Senator for the following reasons:

  1. Social Issues. Casey, like Santorum, is pro-life and a social conservative. I could not support Santorum if I felt that he was seeking to impose his religious views on the rest of us. From a social policy point of view, there is little to nothing gained from a Jewish vote for Casey.
  2. Israel. Israel has no better friend in the US Senate than Rick Santorum. Beyond being "pro-Israel" (as Casey is described), Santorum is a leader on issues critical to Israel. He was the sponsor, along with Senator Barbara Boxer, of the Syria Accountability Act of 2003, signed into law in 2004. He introduced the Iran Freedom and Support Act of 2005. He will continue to use his seniority and position of leadership to provide critical support for Israel.
  3. Foreign Policy. The problems faced by Israel are a subset of the global issue of our time: the fight against Islamofacism. We cannot afford to fail to connect the dots between the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and their state sponsors, Syria and Iran. It is all part of the same problem. On July 20, 2006, Santorum delivered a landmark speech to the National Press Club, stating that "Islamic fascism is the great test of this generation." Santorum is one of the few politicians who understand that this is not a war on terror; it is a war against radical Islam. Bob Casey fails to make this connection; his public positions on National Security are all about the war on terror. 
  4.  Arlen Specter. Senator Specter is doing terrific work today as the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee: upholding privacy rights under the Constitution, protecting the separation of government powers, challenging the Administration as appropriate, and so forth. Two years ago, Specter was seriously challenged in his primary race by Rep. Pat Toomey. Santorum strongly supported Specter despite the political risk and cost. Today, Specter cites Rick Santorum as the main reason for his re-election to the Senate. 
It's OK to respectfully disagree, and I'm thankful that we have the freedom to do so in this country. I'm also thankful that Rick Santorum is my US Senator and for the reasons cited above, Pennsylvania's Jewish community will want to keep it that way. 

-- David E. Edman, Radnor, PA

Response by author:

I am afraid it is David Edman's arguments which are silly. In the United States we have laws which prohibit tax deductible, not for profit institutions to engage in partisan political activities. The IRS has in the past revoked the tax status of institutions that violate these laws. Senator Santorum has put some of our Jewish institutions at risk by including them in events which are clearly related to his re-election efforts.

Mr. Edman is also sure that Rick Santorum is in sync with the Jewish community on the issues. No objective analysis of the issues would support Mr. Edman's conclusion. Let's just review a few areas where the vast majority of the Jewish community (reference the annual opinion polls of the American Jewish Committee) is diametrically opposed to the Santorum position:

  1. Hate Crime Legislation. Santorum has been quoted as saying "do not be afraid to be intolerant." [Culture of Life World Youth Day Speech, 7-22-02]. He has also voted against expanding hate crimes legislation.
  2. Keeping Prescription Drugs Affordable. Santorum has to voted protect drug maker profits and against allowing the federal government to negotiate prices on prescription drugs for seniors.
  3. Family Planning. Santorum has stated that "I'm not a believer in birth control. I don't think it works. I think it's harmful to women." He also believes that states should have the right to ban birth control.
  4. Intelligent Design. In 2002 Santorum wrote, "intelligent design is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes." More recently, after intelligent design has been thoroughly discredited in Pennsylvania, he has flip flopped and now says only that it should be taught in science classes but not ruling out that it could taught in other public school classes.
  5. The Environment. Santorum voted for, and was one of the leaders in passing, an amendment in the Senate to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. He has a 5% lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters.
  6. Right to Privacy. "There is no constitutionally based right to privacy, [Santorum]. says, arguing that it is a phony legal concoction foisted on the country by liberal judges."
  7.  Separation of Church and State. Santorum has been an opponent of the separation of church and state. He has said that faith-based social service providers that are funded with government dollars should in fact be permitted to proselytize by reading religious passages from the Bible while providing those government funded services.

There are numerous other areas where the Senator is out of step with American Jews even in the area of foreign policy, where Santorum is always proclaiming that he is a great a supporter of Israel.

Mr. Edam may wish that Rick Santorum was more popular with Jewish voters but he can't escape the facts. In 2000 when Santorum was easily re-elected, he was soundly beaten in the Jewish community. This year where he consistently trails Bob Casey by double digits among all voters, he is likely to be beaten by Jewish voters by an even greater margin.

-- Ira Forman, Executive Director, National Jewish Democratic Council

The Philadelphia Jewish Voice welcomes the submission of articles and letters to the editor  editor @ Please include name, address and phone number for identification purposes.  We cannot publish every submission we receive. We also reserve the right to edit submissions for length, clarity, grammar, accuracy, and style, though we will never intentionally distort the author's intent.