Sigismund Danielewicz, seen here ca. 1884, was a Jewish union organizer representing seamen and barbers. (Photo/Courtesy UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library)
Sigismund Danielewicz, seen here ca. 1884, was a Jewish union organizer representing seamen and barbers. (Photo/Courtesy UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library)

‘Hitler’ review missed point; Recall was a joke; Vile exit from Afghanistan; etc.


A great summer in Israel

I would like to thank you for the wonderful coverage on the TJJ Action summer program in Israel run by Akiva Naiman (”Sightseeing? Sure. But this teen trip to Israel was much more,” Aug. 27). What these kids did and the transformation is incredible. Thank you for covering this beautiful piece on Modern Orthodoxy and a love of Israel.

Daphna Ross
Oakland


Jews, Zionists and MLK

The J. editorial board was correct with its Aug. 19 editorial headlined “Work remains to build a more inclusive Jewish community.”

The J. editorial board, in focusing on Jews of color, referenced Martin Luther King Jr. In that regard, it must be remembered that Dr. King, with great wisdom and prescience at Harvard shortly before his death, said, “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews; you’re talking antisemitism.”

Further, at Memphis in March 1968, Dr. King said, “Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality.”

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (left) and Martin Luther King (center) marching in Selma, Alabama
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (left) and Martin Luther King (center) marching in Selma, Alabama

Nothing represents the inclusivity of Jews of color with Judaism more than Dr. King’s embrace of the Tanakh’s 4,000-year-old foundational narrative of the Jewish people’s return to Zion.

Richard Sherman
Margate, Florida


‘Hitler’ review missed point

I was initially excited to read Michael Fox’s Aug. 10 review “The Meaning of ‘Hitler’ is obvious and elusive — and worrying.” Excited because I saw the film in August when it was one of the more than 50 films in the annual San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. I thought it was the most important film in the festival.

But I was disappointed because I think Mr. Fox missed the most important, takeaway idea of the film.

Christian- and also Muslim-dominated cultures have never fully accepted Jews as equal partners because their holy books and their religions leaders have always othered and blamed Jews when bad things happened.

That’s why the followers of Hitler could get away with pointing to Jews, as well as homosexuals and Gypsies, as scapegoats for Germany’s economic problems. Everyday Germans were too afraid to stand up for the other when their own lives were in danger. The fortunate ones, on all sides, were those who escaped when leaving was still possible.

As we can see today, the same thing is happening. Millions are desperately fleeing the deadly dangers in their homelands and again are not welcomed in other lands. Whether it’s religion, sexual, disease, racial or the effects of global warming, fear of the other raises the level of trauma in everyone and decreases the level of trust, making it much harder to get problems solved.

Is there a better way?

How about trying more compassionate listening, empathy and non-violent communication?

Siva Heiman
San Mateo


The recall — what a joke

California’s process for gubernatorial recall elections needs to be reformed immediately. And here’s why.

Any completely unqualified attention seeker with $4,000 for the candidate‘s filing fee can be the largest state in the union’s next governor, so long as they survive the Battle Royale runoff, where dozens of depressingly dimwitted dolts compete to be California’s last political comic standing.

There was no need to win a democratic majority of the vote if you were one of this year’s 46 ridiculous replacement candidates. After all, Hollywood action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger received only 48.6 percent of the vote when he replaced Gov. Gray Davis after the successful recall vote in 2003.

Governor Gaving Newsom encourages a crowd to vote against the recall effort targeting him, Aug. 2021. (Photo/Forward-Justin Sullivan-Getty Images)
Governor Gaving Newsom encourages a crowd to vote against the recall effort targeting him, Aug. 2021. (Photo/Forward-Justin Sullivan-Getty Images)

As I write this before the vote, Gov. Gavin Newsom could be recalled and replaced by a Republican who gets maybe half of Schwarzenegger’s percentage. Gov. Larry Elder? I hope not. The only thing hosting a right-wing radio show qualifies loser Larry for is admittance to a local insane asylum in L.A. when Newsom survives the recall.

For California’s sake, we must change the recall law to ensure that this is the final curtain call for the crazy clown car of recall candidates circus that has made a silly situation stupid! (And we Californians are paying $276 million for this malarkey?!)

In addition to eliminating the clown car of recall candidates, the recall provision should be reformed so that if a future governor is recalled by the voters, the sitting lieutenant governor becomes the next governor.

Jake Pickering
Arcata


Sigismund deserves better

I was more than gratified to see Gabriel Greschler’s article on Sigismund Danielewicz (“The S.F. Jewish labor organizer who stood up to AAPI hate in 1885 — and got booed,” Sept. 8).

His is a name that really does need to be pulled out of history’s closet every once in a while, so that more people will become aware of the greatness he almost aspired to.

As Greschler noted, Danielewicz was “a labor organizer who was the rare San Francisco Jew to speak out against anti-Chinese racism in the 19th century …” but sadly his voice continued for many years to be a lone one.

A number of us hold him dear to our hearts.
As professor Alexander Saxton once opined, “He might have had ships, and high schools — even union halls — named for him, except that he chose to stand for the principle of inter-racial equality.”

Maybe, one day, we will get to name something for Sigismund Danielewicz.

Jeremy Frankel
San Francisco


Afghanistan exit was vile

Your Sept. 2 Rosh Hashanah editorial on welcoming the New Year in difficult times (“We can each do our part to make 5782 a ‘Shanah tovah!’) fundamentally compromised itself with its gratuitous white-wash of the serious foreign policy disaster that was our departure from Afghanistan: “Turning to the tragedy in Afghanistan, it’s too late, and not helpful, to complain about whether the exit and evacuation could have been handled better. That’s over now.”

Really?

The failure to coordinate with or even inform our allies (whose forces were in Afghanistan to assist us) of our decision to pull out has created serious rifts in our vital relationships with them. If we must ever again call on them for help, they are unlikely to have forgotten this fundamental breach of faith.

Afghan refugees' luggage sits at the Torrejon de Ardoz air base in Madrid, Spain, Aug. 24, 2021. (Photo/JTA-Jesus Hellin-Europa Press via Getty Images)
Afghan refugees’ luggage sits at the Torrejon de Ardoz air base in Madrid, Spain, Aug. 24, 2021. (Photo/JTA-Jesus Hellin-Europa Press via Getty Images)

Then there is the matter of military equipment abandoned in the field to the Taliban. While an accurate estimate of the total dollar value is difficult to come by, the list of military items now in enemy hands is staggering. It includes pistols, assault rifles, artillery pieces, Blackhawk helicopters and Cessna AC-208 strike aircraft. We can safely assume that these weapons will not only substantially build up the Taliban’s military capacity, but also fall into the hands of our (and Israel’s) other adversaries — adversaries who are now emboldened.

The rise of the Taliban to power poses potential security threats to Jewish communities around the world. The 9/11 Commission Report explained that when Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda were planning the 9/11 attacks, Taliban founder and chief Mullah Omar “preferred for al-Qaeda to attack Jews, not necessarily the United States.”

Hopefully good statecraft can, if not reverse, at least mitigate the problems that follow from our departure. But this process in a democracy must start with accountability for those who made such dangerously mistaken decisions.

Steve Astrachan
Pleasant Hill

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