Iditarod is cruel to dogs I

While I usually take great pride in reading about the accomplishments of my fellow Jews in this publication, I could not enjoy the same in reading about Ms. Blair Braverman, who participated in the Alaskan Iditarod (March 22). I have long opposed and distained this event as an unnecessary and brutal experience for animals, who have no choice in being included. Historically, scores of dogs have perished during the grueling ordeal, and while I generally support and admire accomplished athletes, it always has seemed an unappealing sport due to the conditions endured by defenseless participants.

I recognize that other events, such as horse racing and equestrian competitions, also utilize animals for sport and entertainment. And I am aware that occasionally there is a fatal consequence as a result of the intense efforts during such events. However, it is only in the Iditarod that death and injury may reasonably be considered a statistical probability.

I am sure Ms. Braverman is a lovely, caring individual who otherwise takes wonderful care of her faithful dogs. However, it does seem to clash with Jewish culture that we would subject the creatures who give us their utmost loyalty in exchange only for love and care, to the tortuous rigors of such a competition.

Martin H. Basner

Iditarod is cruel to dogs II

I was very disappointed to read “Blair Braverman is the First Jewish Woman to Finish the Iditarod Sled Dog Race,” which held up the Iditarod race as something to admire. The truth is that this 1,000-mile race, which pushes dogs beyond all reasonable limits, is blatant animal cruelty.

The 2016 documentary “Sled Dogs” and many publications such as the Washington Post have reported on the cruelty that many of the dogs face. Countless animals have died and continue to die due to this barbaric “sport.” The dogs are often chained up and neglected between races.

Just last year, the race had a doping scandal when some of the dogs tested positive for tramadol, an opioid pain reliever, administered to mask the abuse the dogs were suffering. This year, a 5-year-old dog named Yoshi died of “aspiration pneumonia” — choking on her own vomit, which is a common form of death annually during this race. Moreover, many dogs are killed each year because they don’t perform well.

In keeping with the tenets of our religion, we should be stressing kindness to animals. I would have more admiration for Ms. Braverman if she were leading a protest against the Iditarod rather than participating in it.

Dr. Julie O’Connor

No dual loyalty

In my mind I have two loyalties. They are separate and distinct. There is no conflict between them.

First is my “spiritual” loyalty. This is my devotion to God and the moral precepts of divine Torah.

Second is my “temporal” loyalty. This is my singular devotion to the land (nation state) of my birth and citizenship. This is the United States of America — the land that has provided me with safety, sustenance, freedom, and endless opportunity for growth. My gratitude to her is boundless. I yearn for her safety and well being.

No other nation state has a claim on my temporal loyalty. This holds true for the nation State of Israel (which I love and admire immensely).

This my reaction to the disgusting, hateful statements and innuendos of Rep. Ilan Omer.

Jerrold Terdiman MD
Woodcliff Lake

Cheating is stealing the mind

I quote from Rabbi Joseph Telushkin’s “A Code of Jewish Ethics” — “G’neivat da’at (literally “stealing the mind”) refers to deceiving others so that they will think more highly of you than you deserve.”

I am angry and outraged with regard to the college deception scandal. What kind of parents teach their children to be dishonest and deceitful, by paying hundreds of thousands of dollars, to get their kids into Ivy League schools? Have they no shame? They disgust me. What hurts more than anything is that the deserving students who have high grades, play by the rules, and don’t have wealthy parents, do not get into the favored colleges. This is shameful.

The students who got into the Ivy League schools due to their dishonesty, whether it be cheating on their entrance exams or lying about their athletic skills, should be told to leave, since their entrance was based on fraud. They should be replaced by students who are honest and deserving. I blame the colleges as well. They should get serious about fixing their admission policies and make them fair, honest and just.

I want to share this from Rabbi Telushkin’s “A Code of Jewish Ethics”: “Another form of stealing the mind” is cheating on a test, thereby misleading the teacher into thinking that you are entitled to a higher grade. This can have extensive ramifications. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein ruled that if a person obtained a better paying job as a result of having cheated on a test, the higher salary earned is regarded as a form of stolen money, since it is based upon a false premise.”

Being proud of my two masters’ degrees, one in my five-year study of philosophy, I quote Immanuel Kant, who believed that telling the truth was a universal moral absolute that allowed for no exceptions.

Grace Jacobs
Cliffside Park

Reality of facts

It would be beneficial if Zachary Nelkin (Letters, “Don’t speculate about annexation,” March 15), and others whose mindset matches his, would concentrate on the reality of facts rather than the reality of facts as they would desire them to be.

The Geneva Conventions ban the acquisition of territories as the result of an offensive war. In 1967, Israel fought a defensive war, a major difference. Israel was attacked, defended herself and won. One of the results was Israeli control of the area from the Green Line to the Jordan River. To halt the fighting, U.N.S.C. Resolution 242 was passed. Resolution 242 calls for Israel to withdraw FROM territories occupied as a result of the war, not FROM THE territories. A very crucial difference specifically stated by the authors of the resolution, meaning that Israel was not obliged to leave all the areas captured from the Jordanians. It was understood, determined, and stated that Israel would be able to establish more easily defensible borders as a result of the defensive war she had to fight.

The Geneva Conventions forbid the government to enforce non-voluntary transfer of its population into areas acquired, not citizens going by their own decision to move into these areas.

Mr. Nelkin also wrote that Israel has taken over “the majority of the West Bank’s natural resources and development potential.” Is this his desired fact or a factual reality? I prefer that the real facts are that the Israelis now living on this land saw the potentials and exploited what was on the land through foresight, investment, and hard work. Mr. Nelkin, what did Tel Aviv, the Huleh Valley, the kibbutzim and moshavim in the Negev look like 120 years ago?

Is it the fault of Israel that the Arabs living from the Green Line to the Jordan River are living in the conditions they are living in? For almost 19 years they lived under Jordanian rule. It wasn’t the Israelis who held them back. Arab construction and investments should have taken place to improve their living conditions, infrastructure, and economic growth. The Jordan River should have served as a friendly and convenient border between the two. Why wasn’t it? Before terrorism against Israelis took hold, travel between Israel and the “territories” was more commonplace and easy. There were interchanges, Arabs coming into Israel to work and Israelis into Arab areas to shop and do business. To combat Arab terrorism, walls were built and checkpoints established. The Israelis want neither, but there is a difference between want and need. Israelis are not suicidal, and the walls and security checkpoints have severely cut down on the number of terrorist attacks.

Once the Arabs give up their mindset that they must and can destroy Israel and the Jews, that they should have no contact with Israelis or their institutions, that most of the rest of the world supports them and their efforts, then peace has a chance to arrive between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. As long as they are encouraged by many nations, the U.N. General Assembly, and many U.N. committees who seek to isolate and condemn Israel, they will not seek peace. If the U.N. General Assembly could, they would vote Israel out of existence.

Mr. Nelkin, I am disturbed by the contents of the “facts” contained in your letter and knowing that there is a large segment of our population who agree with you. I wish that more people would research the facts rather than read the headlines promoted by those they ideologically agree with.

Howard J. Cohn
New Milford

Trump supports Jews

I take strong exception with part of Rabbi Engelmayer’s editorial on March 22. He writes “Although President Trump, through his rhetoric, including his anti-immigrant rants, has helped spur the hatred from the right (not just here but, as the horrific massacre in New Zealand and the murderer’s so-called “manifesto” show around the world, as well….)” How does the rabbi know that President Trump influenced this sick individual? What evidence does he have, besides him conveniently picking and choosing some content from the killer’s so-called manifesto, which does not prove anything anyway? How do you so indict our president, and like it or not he is our president, with no evidence at all?

I have what I believe is a good follow-up question. If President Trump is so influential, why has there been such an increase in “anti-Jew hatred” and behavior during the President’s administration, which the Rabbi references in his article? Even the most anti-Trump individual would have a tough time arguing against the fact that Mr. Trump has been the president who has been most supportive of Jews and Israel, perhaps in American history. So anti-Jew incidents should have decreased, using Rabbi Engelmayer’s reasoning.

Finally, I am not a Jewish scholar, but I suspect that what Rabbi Engelmayer wrote violates Jewish law, perhaps several. For example, it is well known that it is forbidden to spread information about someone even if such information is obviously true. There is no evidence for the rabbi’s claims against our president, but still he states them as fact. If he had stated that “in my judgment” and then articulated his diatribe against Pres. Trump, I would disagree with him and question his judgment, but at least he would not be stating “fact.”

Finally, while I do not know if the Standard has a political preference, allowing this type of drivel to pass by the censors, raises serious questions about your objectivity and sense of fairness.

Chuck Levner

Talk not action

We are all talk and little action. We Jews do not advertise our humane contributions to the world. Jews have saved millions of lives in the last 20 years through our advances in medicine and science. The internet was founded by Jews. Goebbels proved that a lie stated often enough becomes truth. the same is true for truths. We must publicize the positives to eliminate the negatives. No Jewish organization has done this. At the seder, what should the wise son say? The real question is what should the wise son do? The answer lies with the action of each Jew. Let our positive effect on the world be known!

Shel Haas
Fort Lee

Disenfranchised independent voters

I am one of the 2.4 million independent voters in New Jersey. Independents outnumber both the Democrats and the Republicans here, yet we are excluded from the primaries and locked out of the most important electoral decisions in our state. That means a whopping 40% of NJ voters are effectively disenfranchised.

Political scientists say that we are just “leaners”; closeted Democrats and Republicans. In truth, we are people of all stripes who want to vote for the best candidates and policies, regardless of party label. We elected President Obama, President Trump and even Senator Menendez. Over the summer, the largest survey of independent voters nationally was conducted. I helped to coordinate the survey in NJ where 83% said they wanted to see the primaries open to independents without requiring us to affiliate with a political party and 87% believed the debates should be nonpartisan. Over 80% are unhappy our tax dollars are being spent to administer elections that exclude us.

Things don’t have to remain this way. The Supreme Court has established the Democratic and Republican Parties’ right to open their primaries to independent voters. A national organization, Independent Voting, is leading the effort to open the 2020 presidential primaries to independents. It is estimated that in 2016, over 25 million voters were excluded because the primaries were closed to independents in their state.

As part of this effort, New Jersey Independent Voters (“NJIV”) has reached out to Democratic Party Chair John Currie to discuss this matter. We will be reaching out to Republican Chair Doug Steinhardt and other leaders in New Jersey. Our effort to bring all of New Jersey citizens into the voting booth and political decision making in our state is open to all readers who want our democracy to include all citizens of voting age.

Sue Davies