Defending holy men

Defending holy men

In the past year or so NJJN quoted a Reform rabbi at a treif banquet who was critical of Israel and bragged about the progress of his movement to accept same-sex and interfaith marriages, continued to advertise a non-kosher restaurant, assailed AIPAC, and gave a long defense of Rev. Billy Graham, despite his obvious covert expressions of bigotry against the Jews.

The Rev. Billy Graham was a respected holy man, invited quite often to the White House. In public, he had a lot of nice things to say, but he was caught on one of Nixon’s private tapes as a closet anti-Semite. Graham’s public statements could never obviate Graham’s egregious comments about Jews that were said to the president of the United States.

Making a comparison between Nixon/Graham’s bigotry and FDR’s somewhat insouciant attitude toward the suffering of Jews is a tenuous argument (Rabbi Gerald Zelizer’s op-ed “How should Jews remember Rev. Billy Graham?” March 1). Jews have not forgiven FDR for his failure to save the Jews on the ill-fated ship, the St. Louis, nor his failure to bomb the railroad tracks on the way to Birkenau. It is not as simple as Zelizer portrayed it. 

Insofar as President Harry Truman calling Jews “selfish,” well, if you call the incessant pressure on Truman to recognize the State of Israel, then “selfish” was an accurate term and it worked. Despite the pressure of the U.S. State Department, Truman recognized the modern State of Israel. And it did not hurt that Truman’s best friend was a Jew.

I would not be surprised if some liberal Jew would ask Jews to reassess our thoughts on Pope Pius XII for his Concordat with Hitler, and NJJN would print it. After all he continued to wear a kipa and a kohen gadol-type outfit during the Holocaust, but did not make one public comment about what Hitler was doing to the Jews. He, too, was a respected holy man who did a lot of good things.

I read your newspaper with careful thought. While it is nice to try to appeal to the broad spectrum of Jews, I sometimes think you sacrifice sensitivity and greater values for secular appeal. There are enough positive things going on in Jewish life without NJJN overreaching its grasp.

Joel M. Glazer

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