Letter to the editor,
How to fight anti-Semitism: I went to a talk at the MJCC Book Festival by Bari Weiss, who spoke on this subject. The following night I went to The 57th Fighter Group Restaurant in Chamblee, which has a World War II theme, for dancing. Noticing a large swastika hanging on the wall, I was surprised. While I normally would have kept quiet, Weiss’s talk inspired me to contact the restaurant. I sent a message explaining why the swastika was offensive, its meaning and the feeling it left me with. Without response, I followed up with a call. A woman called me back and explained that removing the swastika would be “erasing part of history that we don’t want to do.” She went on to say, “everyone has thin skin these days” and they “want people who want to respect history coming to their restaurant.” She said they even rent the venue out for bar mitzvahs and they just cover the flag for the events, and no one complains. I tried to liken it to the Confederate memorials that are changing, to say that we can respect history without sustaining the feelings of hatred and fear that were present at the time. Nothing worked until I said I would have to share her response with my community and let others know. Then she listened and shared that she dated a guy with a swastika tattooed on his back and she even tried to tell him that it had lost its original meaning of harmony, which he claimed it represented, and you can’t change a symbol. We talked more, and she thanked me for educating her and said she would talk to the owners. It felt like there might be victory. Today, I got a note that read: I have spoken with the owner regarding your concerns. While we understand the Nazi flag may be offensive to some, especially if they are directly affected, it more importantly represents a victory over Nazi Germany. Most people who visit our restaurant understand its significance and view it as a reminder of a victory over tyranny.
Our entire restaurant is filled with such memorabilia and it is respected and honored by our patrons.
Happy holidays. Be well.
I’m hoping our community can take a stand. I’m pleased to share more, to generate various ideas for how to use this incident for good or help in any other way.
Thanks for being our voice!
Julie Rosenberg, Atlanta
Letter to the editor,
Dear Oy Vey,
My response to Lynn would have been blunter than yours, but I am an old school professor and not a rebbetzin. I would have responded to Lynn as follows:
Your answer should be “Hineni,” here I am! Your one day off from work can change so many days for both the participants and their future clients. Think of their needs, not your own. Some suggestions: A first time full-day workshop is a LOT of work. Allow 40 hours prep for each hour of presentation.
Work with the program planners and try to cut your commitment back to YOUR two strongest points if feasible, depending on what is meant by “workshop.”
Don’t fly in just for the day. Ask if the organization has machers who have frequent flyer miles to use for a hotel room.
Walk in well-rested, not exhausted from a three-hour trip just to get on the plane at 6 a.m.
At the end of your presentation you should have:
1. The satisfaction of knowing you’re valued and have shared your experience with others,
2. New contacts for your professional and personal growth,
3. A “go-anywhere,” good but improvable presentation on your thumb drive.
I wish you well in all that you undertake,
Julian Yudelson, Atlanta
Letter to the editor,
Of course, Thomas Pickering sees little hope for the Middle East. His statements indicate that he holds Israel and the Palestinians equally responsible for the lack of progress toward peace, and he also feels that President Trump should not make any changes in the current (stalemated) situation.
Does Mr. Pickering think that Jordan’s 19-year, illegal occupation of eastern Jerusalem somehow gives legitimacy to the Palestinian demand that Jerusalem become the capital of the future Palestinian state? Does he not know that Jordan ethnically cleansed areas under its control of their Jewish population and also destroyed synagogues and desecrated Jewish cemeteries? Does he not know that, following the Six Day War, Israel graciously allowed Jordanian religious authorities to maintain control over the mosques on the Temple Mount, and that Palestinians have used that vantage point to attack Jews praying at the Western Wall, located at the base of Judaism’s holiest site?
Both Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas flatly rejected Israeli proposals for a Palestinian state on essentially all of the disputed land, even with the possibility of shared governance in parts of Jerusalem. No Palestinian leader contacted Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss details of his vision of a demilitarized Palestinian state co-existing peacefully with the nation-state of the Jews. Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza was reciprocated by thousands of missiles being fired at Israeli population centers, the digging of tunnels under Israel to facilitate the abduction and murder of Israelis, and incendiary devices being floated into Israel to set crops ablaze. Yet, Mr. Pickering tells us Israel has stopped making peace proposals before noting that the Palestinians have announced that they will never again negotiate directly with Israel.
I’m glad that Mr. Pickering realizes that a One State solution would mean the end of the Jewish state. However, he doesn’t specify whether he thinks such a state would be, as anti-Zionists claim, “a state of all its people.” Surely, Mr. Pickering knows that Palestinians have been raised in societies in which people who murder Jews are highly honored and richly rewarded. Jews would be second-class citizens in a Muslim-majority state, if they were tolerated at all. And it is the Palestinians’ anti-Jewish animus, not Jewish communities on a few percent of the disputed land, that is the barrier to the implementation of the Two State solution.
Jewish businesses which employ both Israeli and Palestinian workers, and serve both Israeli and Palestinian consumers, should be lauded as a first step toward Two States for Two Peoples, a Palestinian state and a Jewish state, with members of minority groups having full civil rights in their state of residence (just as non-Jews already have full civil rights in Israel).
Mr. Pickering is abetting the intransigence of the Palestinian leaders. There will be no progress toward peace until the Palestinian leadership stops prioritizing the destruction of Israel over building a future for the Palestinian people, including those who claim descent from Arabs who fled Arab-initiated wars against the Jews and the Jewish state.
Toby F. Block, Atlanta