Letters to the Editor: Trump and Bannon, Ramadan's Collective Iftar, 'Virtuous' Jews

Letters to the Editor
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Letters to the Editor

Trump, Bannon are pro-Israel
In response to “Progressive Democratic senator blasts Zionist Organization of America for praising Bannon” (June 11)

The title of the JTA article [appearing in Haaretz] is absolutely inaccurate and misleading. Senator Sherrod Brown never “scolded” the Zionist Organization of America. He made no negative statement about ZOA. At the ZOA luncheon, Brown merely voiced his erroneous opinions that the Trump administration and Steven Bannon are anti-Semitic. But ZOA has repeatedly stated and shown the overwhelming evidence that President Trump and Bannon are pro-Israel, fight anti-Semitism and regularly praise the Jewish people. If they were anti-Semitic, especially I – as a child of Holocaust survivors and an activist in the civil rights movement – would be leading the fight against them.

Morton A. Klein
President, ZOA

Ramadan’s collective ‘iftar’

Iftar is the name for the evening meal with which Muslims break their daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan. A professor of anthropology at Ohio State University, Joy McCorriston, was the first person in central Ohio to organize a Christian-hosted, collective iftar event for the local Muslim community. That was right after 9/11 terror attack and her church, St. James Episcopal of Columbus, has since been hosting such an event every year. I remember receiving message 17 years ago from Dr. Asma Mobin-Uddin, a Muslim leader, encouraging local Muslims to attend the event at the St. James church. She explained that it “is an opportunity for non-Muslims to meet Muslims on a one-to-one basis, which helps break the stereotypes that Muslims face every day.” To me as a Muslim, that meant recognition and respect.

President Thomas Jefferson held a sunset dinner with an envoy from Tunisia, Sidi Soliman Mellimelli, on Dec. 9, 1805. That meal is considered the first White House iftar.  Jefferson believed in celebration of all world religions. Like Prof. McCorriston, he had a healthy admiration for the Muslim faith. He even taught himself Arabic using the Koran.

When Keith Ellison made history in 2006 after becoming the first Muslim member of Congress, he used the Koran once owned by Jefferson while taking his oath in Minnesota.

President John Adams praised the prophet Mohammed as one of the of the great “inquirers after truth.” It was reported that President Benjamin Franklin once declared: “Even if the mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism (a term once used to describe Islam) to us, he would find a pulpit at his service.” President George Washington also welcomed Muslims to come work for him at Mount Vernon.

America does not need to spend millions of dollars on PR campaigns via Al Jazeera or other satellite networks in the Middle East to promote a positive image. Acts of respect and good-will gestures like that of St. James will win the hearts and minds of Muslims in America and abroad. 

As a wise man once said, “respect makes friends out of enemies and disrespect turns friends into enemies.” At a time when other countries are banning burqas, hijabs, halal butcher shops and the building of minarets, America continues to uphold religious freedom for Muslims by showing them tolerance and treating them with fairness and respect.

Mahmoud El-Yousseph 
Westerville, Ohio 

Criminal ‘virtuous’ Jews
In response to “Israel to pay religious families to host secular guests for Shabbat dinner” (June 10)

It seems that each day our country becomes more and more embroiled in converting everybody to Orthodox Jewish beliefs and customs, and is now offering to pay families to do so in their homes and their enclosed society. Perhaps if these “virtuous” Jews would educate themselves, enter the work force, earn a respectable living, and do more than produce children to be supported by the state instead of by [their] caring, self-sustaining parents – we would have a better, purer, more respectable society, not one composed of those who believe everything is coming to them and everybody else has to pay for it.

Why not offer secular families the same privilege? Ask them to invite Orthodox people to their homes to learn about other ways of observing Judaism, which include educating themselves in the core subjects, science, math, languages, literature, art, not to mention recognition of the rights of others, justice, freedom, and the responsibility to give and not just receive ־ to serve in the army or do civil service – to help others and not bury them in ancient history without understanding the role it plays in the modern world.

Something must be done to correct the direction this country is taking, otherwise it will lose those who contribute to its survival academically, economically, creatively.

How can we stop this criminal attempt to turn this country from a “light unto the nations” into a nightmare?

Judy Telman
Mevasseret Zion

Letters should be exclusive to Haaretz and must include the writer’s name, address and telephone number (an e-mail address is not sufficient). Please note that letters are subject to editing. Please send your letters to letters@haaretz.co.il