Archive for Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Offensive letter

April 17, 2002

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To the editor:

As rabbi of Greater Kansas City's only Orthodox synagogue, I read Danne Hautmann's recent letter to the editor with utter incredulity stemming from the brazen lack of shame demonstrated by the author in speaking as an expert in areas he clearly lacks even rudimentary knowledge.

The author equates Palestinian refugee camps with Nazi concentration camps. Anyone with basic knowledge of the region's history knows that these camps were established by the U.N. to provide relief to Palestinian refugees displaced by a conflict initiated by Arab nations who rejected the U.N.'s 1948 Partition Plan. These camps existed for nearly 20 years in territory controlled by Jordan and Egypt before Israel even arrived on the scene. Anyone even vaguely familiar with the region knows that in refugee camps anyone may go and come as they choose.

On a personal level, I am deeply offended by the outrageous claim that "Orthodox Jews are taught ... that non-Jews are unworthy to live and are no better than animals (Goyim)." Where did the author get his Orthodox education? The Orthodox education I have received has always emphasized a profound respect and admiration for all upstanding human beings, be they Jew or Gentile.

The author's translation of the Hebrew word "Goyim" as "animals" only underscores his woeful command of the subject at hand. The word means 'nations of the world' and is a non-pejorative biblical term, as in 'light unto the Nations' (Isaiah 49:6).

Your newspaper as well as the highly educated academic population it serves should not allow this section to be used as a forum for ignorance and hatred.

Rabbi Ari Perl,

Overland Park

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