Letters to the Editor: On Discrimination and Democracy

Israeli women hold signs against gender discrimination in the religious city of Beit Shemesh.
Olivier Pitousi

Deck chairs on the Titanic

A singer chooses to perform blindfolded rather than have to look at female audience members dancing. The requisite protest comes from the Na’amat women’s organization, even though no law has been broken and no one’s rights are violated. Reform Judaism’s Religious Action Center declares a recent Supreme Court decision a victory, after five years (and no doubt thousands of shekels in legal fees) of opposing signs in a Haredi district admonishing women to dress modestly. And once again our government caves to the Orthodox regarding retail commerce on Saturdays, in defense of some vague sacred cow we call “the status quo,” a term that should be excised from our lexicon.

What do all three of these struggles have in common? They’re the proverbial deck chairs on the Titanic of democracy. Instead of playing whack-a-mole with some tattered signs that are just going to reappear down the block the moment some shiny new charismatic rabbi gives a lesson on modesty to his followers, we should be focusing our efforts on actual rights of the masses, for instance, public transportation seven days a week. Of course, we would still be subjugating nearly 3 million Palestinians, who enjoy freedom of movement zero days a week. What’s the connection, you ask? All these violations have their roots in our failure to separate church and state.

The goal of democracy isn’t to avoid offending anyone; the goal is to do what’s fair and just for the citizenry (and the non-citizenry who are meanwhile under our rule). Likewise, activism is about choosing our battles, about recognizing which wrongs have the biggest impact, and working to eliminate them. I just can’t get all bent out of shape about a sign admonishing women to dress modestly, or about a performer wearing a blindfold. Instead of stewing over those “deck chairs,” let’s get the trains moving every day of the week.

Miriam Erez

Saying ‘No’ to Roy Moore

Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore is feeling the heat, so he lashes out at his critics by trying to blame his problems on people who hate Southerners. Moore is a pathetic individual who has used God and abused Christian girls, including two minors, to get what he wants in life.

He is also well known for his hostility toward Islam and Muslims. He once stated that Muslim-Americans should not be allowed to serve in public office. When Keith Ellison became the first Muslim elected to Congress in 2006, he took his oath of office on the Koran that once belonged to Thomas Jefferson. Moore compared Ellison’s oath on the Koran to an oath on “Mein Kampf.”

Last summer, he called Islam a “false religion,” and claimed five years ago, “There are communities under sharia law right now in our country up in Illinois.” According to The Atlantic, “Moore later admitted that he had no idea if that was true.” In fact, it isn’t true and there was no apology from Moore to the millions of hard-working, loyal Muslim-Americans for his wild and unsubstantiated charges.

Truth is, Moore has some bigoted people who support him and are not Southerners. But there are many proud Southerners who know they are being played and used by this man and they will not let him get away with it.

Mahmoud El-Yousseph, Retired USAF Veteran
Westerville, Ohio

Sex slaves in Israel

I am writing to you as a member of the American Jewish community who cares deeply about Israel and its reputation in the international community. I am appalled by the phenomenon of human trafficking in Israel. Thousands of women have been smuggled into the country to “work” as sex slaves. These women are beaten, raped, starved and caged. The State of Israel cannot and must not allow slavery to exist within its borders.

The government must make this issue a national priority. More resources need to be dedicated to cracking down on perpetrators, assisting victims and preventing the continued smuggling of women across the Egyptian border.

Kimtraila Williams