Letters to the Editor
The Vision of Medved
The arch of
Michael Medved's political beliefs
sounds even stranger when one realizes that he was co-chairman of the Vietnam War Moratorium demonstration in 1970, and helped engineer the campaign of liberal Congressman Ron Dellums. Medved's more recent tunnel vision of the right wing variety appears to be part of a need to explain the world in narrow terms, whether of the left from his early history, or the right of his current beliefs. Medved began his undergraduate studies at age 16, and appears to have developed a penchant for adolescent intellectual narrowness, which simply has not quit. Whatever the Voice might question rhetorically, Medved is no Allen Dershowitz, who is able to respect his opponents intellectually, even when he differs with them deeply. Medved and his generation of conservative vipers must surely know that there will be nowhere to hide, when the swamp is drained in 2008.
-- Ben Burrows, Elkins Park, PA
I am writing to disagree with you about
Ann Coulter is. I am a Jewish woman married to an Episcopalian.
I have heard for years comments such as those made by Ann Coulter spoken
sotto voce by Christians who don't realize that I am Jewish because of my Anglo-Saxon name.
My own brother-in-law, an Evangelical Christian, thinks I and my daughter, whom they love,
are destined for Hell. What she [Coulter] says out loud is only what most right wing,
orthodox Christians believe. Moreover, though I am sad that her ignorant form of character
assassination sells so many books, I have found that my moderate Christian friends think of her as a pariah.
I saw her interview and she was astounded that Danny Deutsch was offended by her words,
because she and other Christians really believe they have found the only way to salvation and
they want to export it to the Jews. "Because we love you!" I once heard a Roman Catholic priest
explain in a discussion about Jews vs. Christians. They don't understand why we think it is arrogant
and condescending to want to "help" us. This is a type of rigidity that does not respond to reason.
It is an emotional response that is irrational. Bringing this attitude out in the open might have
been a favor to Jews so that we can now discuss this issue openly with Christians and perhaps
someday bridge the great gulf between us.
-- Gail Dawson, Mt. Pleasant, SC
Wiesel is Right & Wrong
The Philadelphia Jewish Voice published on October 28 an important interview with Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.
Reporter Charles Smolover
asked him to comment on the fact that "some in the Jewish community are reluctant to touch this issue [congressional resolution on the Armenian Genocide] for fear of damaging Turkeys relationship with Israel."
Mr. Wiesels response: "I have been fighting for the right of the Armenian people to remember for years and years. How could I, who has fought all my life for Jewish remembrance, tell the Armenians they have no right to remember? But I understand the [Bush] administration's view. Fortunately, as a private citizen I dont have to worry about Turkeys response. But I do feel that had there been the word genocide in those days, what happened to the Armenians would have been called genocide. Everyone agrees there was mass murder, but the word came later. I believe the Armenians are the victims and, as a Jew, I should be on their side."
This is a very important and straightforward answer from someone of Mr. Wiesels moral stature. As an internationally-acclaimed personality, his pronouncements carry great weight. Despite the fact that the reporters question linked the recognition of the Armenian Genocide to possible damage to Israels relations with Turkey, Mr. Wiesel remained steadfast on the side of the truth.
Mr. Wiesel, however, was not as forceful back in 1982 when the Israeli Foreign Ministry, under pressure from the Turkish government, asked him to exclude Armenian scholars from an international conference on the Holocaust and Genocide that was to be held in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Faced with the dilemma of not wanting to eliminate Armenian participation or acceding to Israeli governments demands, Mr. Wiesel resigned as president of the conference. He explained that he chose to remove himself rather than challenge the Israeli governments demands, because he had to be mindful of the threat to Jewish lives in Turkey.
In recent years, Mr. Wiesel has been much more resolute in defense of the Armenian Genocide. In his introduction to the 1986 French edition of Franz Werfels Forty Days of Musa Dagh, he described the brutalities committed by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenian minority as "mass murders aimed at the extermination of a people in its entirety," and called the brutal killings "the first genocide of the 20th century."
On March 7, 2000, he joined 126 Holocaust scholars in signing a joint statement affirming that the Armenian Genocide was an incontestable historical fact and called on Western governments to likewise recognize it as such.
Earlier this year, he joined more than 50 other Nobel Laureates in signing a statement that recognized the Armenian Genocide.
On August 21, 2007 Abraham Foxman, the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, said he consulted Elie Wiesel before issuing a statement acknowledging for the first time that "the consequences" of the Armenian atrocities were "indeed tantamount to genocide. If the word genocide had existed then, they would have called it genocide."
Mr. Wiesel, however, leaves a lot to be desired in answering Philadelphia Jewish Voice reporters second question on whether "the Turks have an obligation to take some responsibility" for the Armenian Genocide.
Mr. Wiesel responded by saying: "No one is asking for the Turks to take responsibility. All the Armenians want is the right to remember. Seven generations separate us from the events that happened in World War I and nobody in his right mind would say that today's Turks are responsible for what happened. The Armenians dont want reparations; they dont even want an apology. They want the right to remember. The Turks would gain a lot if they simply acknowledged the reality of what happened. I have spoken with Turkish leaders at the highest level and their attitude about this issue is totally irrational except for one thing, which I do understand. They dont want to be compared to Hitler. But of course, nobody does."
Just about every single statement contained in the above paragraph is inaccurate. Contrary to Mr. Wiesels assertions, Armenians do not need anyones permission to remember or mourn their dead. Their right to remember has never been in question. It is also untrue that "seven generations separate us" from the era of the genocide. There are still surviving eyewitnesses of the Armenian Genocide. This writer is the grandson (third generation) of genocide survivors.
Regarding Turkish responsibility, while Armenians do not blame todays Turks for the killings, they do hold the Turkish state responsible for falsifying and denying the facts of the Armenian Genocide. Furthermore, Mr. Wiesel is wrong in asserting that "Armenians dont want reparations, they dont even want an apology. They want the right to remember." The fact is that Armenians do not really care whether Turks apologize for the killings or not. Armenians do insist, however, on obtaining adequate restitution for the enormous damages they suffered. Why is it that the victims of the Holocaust are entitled to reparations and Armenians are not? In contrast to the Jews, Armenians were uprooted from their ancestral homeland losing their property, cultural heritage as well as their lives. One has to agree, however, with Mr. Wiesels assertion that "the Turks would gain a lot if they simply acknowledged the reality of what happened." Yet, contrary to Mr. Wiesels expectations, and probably that of the Turkish government, there can be no reconciliation between Armenians and Turks without justice, which requires the return of the occupied lands and looted properties, and restitution for the 1.5 million murders.
Since the Philadelphia Jewish Voice describes Mr. Wiesel as an "outspoken advocate for justice," it is hoped that he would live up to that reputation in both the Jewish and Armenian cases. While Mr. Wiesel may not choose to be an advocate for Armenian demands, he should not misrepresent Armenians quest for justice!
Harut Sassounian, Publisher, The California Courier, Glendale, CA
Covering More Pennsylvanians
In an interview
about her book,
The Missing Class, Katherine Newman said, "They truly are one paycheck, one lost job, one divorce or one sick child away from falling below the poverty line." "They" are the near poor just far enough above the poverty line to miss qualifying for benefits, and just far enough below a living wage to make their lives extremely unstable.
Adding to their plight is the unrelenting decline in access to health care. This month, the Economic Policy Institute and the Center for Budget Priorities released a study that found a substantial rise in the number of uninsured people from 2000 to 2006. "A continued decline in those with employer-provided health insurance, along with a weakening of the health insurance safety net, will," the author
predicted, "undoubtedly leave more Americans without coverage and access to adequate health care.". Children of the missing class were especially hard hit, their coverage rates declined by 10.6 percentage points, from 54.6% to 44.0%.
The study, "The Erosion of Employment-Based Health Insurance:
More Working Families Left Uninsured," went on to show that Pennsylvania had the second largest decline in health insurance in the country. Nearly 500,000 Pennsylvanians lost their employment-based coverage in 5 years.
One bright spot in the study was Hawaii, the state with the highest rate of employer-provided coverage among workers. The report attributes the coverage rate of 70.9%, (far exceeding the national average of 55.0%) to Hawaii's mandate that requires employers to provide health insurance to their workers who work at least 20 hours per week.
At the moment, Pennsylvanians are fortunate to make the same choice Hawaii has made by supporting Cover All Pennsylvanians (CAP). The plan would expand our current employer based insurance system to more workers, while allowing business to offer quality insurance at an affordable price. CAP would be funded by increased taxes on tobacco and a 3% fair share payroll assessment only on companies that do not provide insurance (small business are excluded from an assessment initially).
This fall is the time to act. Our state representatives and senators need to hear from us to support health care legislation that will cover all Pennsylvanians.
-- Rosalind Spigel, Director, Philadelphia Jewish Labor Committee, Philadelphia, PA
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