Opinion

Readers React: American Jews are all too aware that hate still poses a grave threat

Funeral Service And Vigil Held For Lori Gilbert Kaye, Killed In Shooting At Poway Synagogue
Flowers and candles are left outside the funeral for Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was killed inside the Chabad of Poway synagogue.
(Mario Tama / Getty Images)

To the editor: As a 95-year-old Jew, I would love to accept the upbeat assessment about the support Jews have in America despite the April 27 attack on the synagogue in Poway, Calif. But the vicious attacks on minorities lately, including Jews, bring back memories of the not-too-distant past.

When I read about President Trump’s edicts on those fleeing their home countries so they can make a better life for them and their children in the United States, I am reminded of the 1930s, when a boatload of German Jews seeking safety in our country were turned away. All of the passengers were returned to Europe, where many of them were murdered in the Holocaust.

People who are ready to kill others out of hate are empowered by the likes of Trump and the groups that support him. It’s not just Jews who are at risk; just about anyone who has a different view of the world, people of different colors or ethnic backgrounds and even journalists also face danger.

We must all speak out against hate. When one minority suffers, all minorities are at risk.

June Sale, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Although Eshman paints an optimistic portrait of Jewish life in America, he fails to mention two of the greatest threats facing Jews, one internal, the other external.

The internal threat is Jewish secularism. According to a Pew Research Center study, 62% of American Jews say that being Jewish is “mainly a matter of ancestry and culture.” With that, “79% of married Jews of no religion have a spouse who is not Jewish,” and nearly 40% of “intermarried Jews who are raising children say they are not raising those children Jewish at all.”

An external danger is the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel permeating our universities. A 2016 study by the AMCHA Initiative found a strong correlation between anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses and the following: the presence of anti-Zionist student groups, the presence of faculty who have expressed public support for an academic boycott of Israel, and BDS activity on campus.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) spewing historically anti-Semitic tropes and the New York Times publishing an admittedly anti-Semitic cartoon post greater dangers than a few fringe neo-Nazis.

Jack Saltzberg, Valley Village

The writer is founder and president of the Israel Group.

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To the editor: My neighborhood is home to a well-known Jewish temple. The complex is on a large property enclosed by a tall iron fence that, although attractive, serves an obvious purpose.

Eshman may be correct that Jews have more allies than enemies in standing up to hate, but the sight in my neighborhood of a security guard carrying a conspicuous firearm is heartrending.

Babette Wilk, Valley Village

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To the editor: As a professor and student of Jewish history, I can list the many differences between the recent attacks on Jews in this country and the Crusades, the Inquisition, pogroms and the Holocaust. The number and ferocity of these attacks do not approach the heinousness of previous, systematic and institutional acts of anti-Semitism — except, of course, to the individual victims.

We have a saying in Judaism that can be paraphrased as this: If you save one life, it’s as if you’ve saved the entire world. Similarly, for the family and friends of Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who died in Poway, all historical comparisons are irrelevant.

Circumstances change, but Jews continue to be hunted down, even here, even now.

Michael Davidson, Altadena

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