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The killing of Brown was a tragedy. Whether the officer who shot him was firing in self defense is not the point. It illustrates the sad fact that that African Americans especially those who are poor are often treated much more harshly than appropriate by the police. The Garner case in our own Staten Island is an example of it. Garner was not a violent criminal he had a confrontation with the police and ended up dead. These kind of things happen all too often.
I can understand anger and protest. I have trouble understanding how this has anything to do with arson and theft. To what question is looting stores the answer? What about the rights of business and property owners? Have we forgotten that they are also human beings. I am waiting to hear the protest leaders condemn thuggery and theft. I hope I don't have to wait a long time but something tells me I will.
Rabbi Gerald Sussman
The following is a response I wrote to the Staten Island Advance article entitled " Is circumcision an expression of religious faith - or mutilation of children?"
I was quite taken aback to see the article condemning circumcision by anti-circumcision activist Ronald Goldman that appeared on Sept 9. The article was filled with half truths and distortions as well as outright falsehood.
Circumcision on the eighth day in Judaism is mandated by the Torah as an outward sign of the covenant between G-d and the descendents of Abraham. It is a religious ritual that has been practiced for close to four thousand years. In all of the many generations the negative effects of circumcision Dr. Goldman mentions have not been observed. If what Dr. Goldman claims was true, groups where circumcision is prevalent would have elevated rates of "disrupted bonding between parent and child, sexual anxieties , reduced emotional expression, low self esteem, avoidance of intimacy and depression" as well as the various other ills that Goldman cites, in comparison with groups that do not practice circumcision. This has not been observed.
I have been present at many circumcision ceremonies and have found them to be beautiful and deeply emotional experiences expressing the continuation of our ancient covenant with God to yet another generation. Having myself been what Dr. Goldman what deem a "victim" of circumcision I can testify that I live a reasonably contented and successful life despite all the supposed dire consequences he predicts. In addition I am both proud and honored to continue the traditions of our ancestor Abraham and our Jewish faith. The covenant with God symbolized by circumcision is one of the most sacred practices of Judaism and any attempts to defame or infringe upon it must be viewed with the utmost seriousness.
My interest is in circumcision as a religious ritual. I leave medical judgements to the medical profession. In that context it is worth noting that the American Academy of
Pediatrics has recommended circumcision of male infants on medical grounds.
Rabbi Gerald Sussman
Recently a delegation that included a large number of Muslim religious leaders visited Auschwitz and Birkenau under the auspices of the UN. It was reported that they were moved by the reality of the Nazi extermination of the Jews. This was an important visit because of widespread denial of the Holocaust by various figures in the Muslim world.
I am beginning to feel hopeful about the so called peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. For the first time the real issue is on the table. The whole conflict isn't about borders or settlements or anything like that. It is about the legitimacy of Israels sovereignty in any part of what was once called Palestine. The Arabs seem to agree on a certain narrative. They see the Jews as outsiders, as Europeans who because of their persecution in Europe came to Palestine and stole the Arabs' country. If one sees the Jewish presence as a kind of colonialism it would be an injustice to acquiesce to its existence. Thus groups like the Hamas are opposed to negotiations while more "moderate" groups look at negotiations as mere ways of obtaining advantage for future conflicts.
You therefore hear statements such as those made by Helen Thomas saying that the Jews ought to go back to Poland or wherever else they came from and leave the Palestinians alone, or those of a Gazan interviewed on TV who said that the Jews indeed have a right to their own country but that it should be in Europe.
When Netanyahu raises the issue of recognition of Israel as a Jewish state that is precisely the issue being addressed. If the Palestinians are willing to concede this point the road is perhaps open to solve the other issues. If they cannot admit that the Jewish presence in what they call Palestine is rightful the conflict cannot and should not end. Yesterday I read that Palestinian schools were introducing textbooks that put together by a Swedish group that presented both the Israeli and the Arab view of the conflict. That is the most encouraging thing I've heard regarding peace in a long time.
The unfavorable portrayal of Israel in the media is neither innocent nor accidental. It is part of the Arab effort to eliminate the Jewish state, anon-Arab presence on Arab soil. The message given is that Israel like apartheid South Africa or some European colony is based on the expulsion and oppression of its original inhabitants the Arabs and therefore does not have a right to exist as an independent nation among nations.
Five reasons for Israel’s legitimacy:
Jews are descendants of the ancient inhabitants of the land of Israel. Jews were not colonial settlers, but people returning to the land of their ancestors. There is a strong cultural continuity between the Jews of ancient time and the present. Present day genetic testing shows that Jews of Europe are genetically a Mediterranean people and are genetically dissimilar from the Europeans.