While I disagree with a number of the positions of Donald Trump, the election of Bernie Sanders would have been a disaster for those concerned about the security of the State of Israel (“Could Bernie Sanders have beaten Donald Trump? November 11). Certainly Hillary Clinton was my preferred Democratic candidate. As a declared socialist, Bernie Sanders has many times sided with the Palestinian Authority in every aspect. While his followers discussed mainly domestic policy, it was understood that they not only wanted Israel to make major concessions but also to cease to exist.
While Bernie Sanders has Jewish origins, he belonged to a clique that was virulently against Israel and had tried to write words expressing this view into the Democratic platform. Having said this, I think that Sanders as the Democratic candidate would have defeated Donald Trump by swinging the states where the Republican margin was small into the Democratic party. For Israel’s security, I am glad that this did not happen.
Gibson’s still no good
Jews for the most part are amongst the most educated and charitable people in the world. But when it comes to standing up for ourselves, we too often are quiet lest we antagonize another individual or group.
That’s the case with actor Mel Gibson.
Every Jew should make it a point to boycott his current film, “Hacksaw Ridge,” and any other project in which he is involved as an actor, producer, or investor. Gibson is not only a virulent anti-Semite, he is a nasty one, and there is no reason why any Jew would contribute to his bank account.
As noted in this newspaper recently, when he found out that actress Wynona Ryder was of Jewish parentage, he called her “an oven dodger” (Noshes, November 11).
How sick can you get? Every time Gibson seems to mellow, his Nazi attitude comes to the fore. But why should we be surprised? He was brought up by a mother and father who believe Jews should be eliminated from the face of the earth.
His father, Hutton Gibson, is a Holocaust denier. When the younger Gibson was asked by a reporter if he believed his father about the Holocaust being a hoax, the actor responded: “My father would never lie to me.”
His mother contended that there never were six million Jews in Europe, so how could that many have possibly been murdered in the “so-called Holocaust”?
When he was pulled over in California while driving DUI, Gibson asked the cop if he was a Jew. It just so happened that the police officer was. This was the first time that Gibson’s Jew-hatred became public knowledge. But it was only the first in a string of such incidents.
No fair-minded person, especially a Jew, should attend any of his projects. Yes, theater and movies are an art form, and as such are given considerable leeway. But the lines blur when Serrano’s Piss Christ (a crucifix immersed in a jar of urine) and Ofili’s Dung Madonna (a painting of the Madonna covered in elephant dung) are passed as art. Art can offend, and often it does. But there should be some redeeming value to it. These did not have any.
Mel Gibson’s thoughts and ideas have no redeeming value. Gibson appears to be as anti-Semitic when he is sober as he is when he is drunk. There’s no reason any Jew should be contributing to his bar bill.
Remembering Benzion Shenker
I am most saddened to note the death of Benzion Shenker. He epitomized true Jewish soul music — he touched the souls of all who heard him through his numerous recordings or who had the pleasure of hearing him in person. He was modest, gentle, and unassuming. He evoked joy and brought joy to his listeners.
When I started my hobby of presenting Jewish soul music in 1977, Benzion was part of what I referred to as “The Big Four” — Shenker, Carlebach, MBD, and Fried. Aside from my love of chazzanut, the four touched my soul, each in his unique way. For those who have listened to my programs for almost 40 years, they certainly can testify to the admiration I felt toward Benzion, and the pride I had in being his friend.
In 1994, 22 years ago, I had the honor of doing a two-hour interview with Benzion. That program now is available on my website: www.charliebernhaut.com. Simply log on, go to the archive, and check out Show #370, from November 28, 2016. The third hour presents interviews from this past weekend with Chaim Boruch Shenker, Benzion’s brother, and Velvel Pasternak, noted expert of Jewish music. Also included is the complete recording of Benzion’s first album from 1956, “Modzitzer Malave Malka.” To hear my second two-hour interview with Benzion, from five years ago, scroll down on the archive to Show #125, from November 7, 2011.
We are all blessed to having been touched by this extraordinary talent. Benzion will be sorely missed. No doubt that his music will be appreciated for generations.
Pessimism on miracles
It is difficult, in this world of despair, disaster, and downheartedness to believe in miracles, to believe in the intervention of a God in mysterious ways. We are meant to be brought from darkness to light through this holiday of Chanukah with the lighting of candles. Anything miraculous, in truth, must come from us; our hearts, our souls, with reasoning and intellect. The nations and their people are in constant despair over money or lack thereof. Enormous greed of some and enormous losses of others. The world has still not gotten past 9/11 and the destruction of a monstrous structure and the loss of thousands of lives so brutally and unexpectedly. The shooting at Columbine, and at so many other institutions, showed us a world where even children are sick enough to commit senseless mass murders.
Then there is the abuse of children — bullying, pedophilia. The aftermath of Katrina, Sandy, and the rebuilding of entire cities and the relocation of countless individuals were disasters that truly needed a miracle to fix. None of these terrible events brought forth miracles. They only illustrated a world in need of manmade solutions. Israel is in danger from annihilation constantly. New now, fires. Arson. Whatever it does, it leaves Israel at risk of distortion of fact or reprimand. All we want is the existence of land which has always been that of the Jews.
We must be the miracles, in our caring for others, in our sharing of wealth, be it food or medicine or homes or love, in our willingness to reach out and give. God is not going to create any miracles to save our children in Israel from terror attacks. It is we who need to think about why there is this constant warfare and how to stop it. It is Jews worldwide who have to stand up and not cower in the face of such cruelty. Useless wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, uprisings in all the Arab nations, arson in Israel, nuclear threats on top of us. Lives lost, every single day, for no reason. There are chemical weapons waiting to be set off. There is unlimited unquenched hatred for women; sheer brutality against women. A president-elect who is also a misogynist. No miracles to come
The list goes on and on. It seems that we live in a world of devastation and brutality. It is not a new world, either; we are but 70 years past the Shoah, the Holocaust. Miracles? It is difficult to see what miracles can change. It is our belief in hope, in light over darkness, in man’s ability to live with much less and be happier with less. The miracles will only come from within individuals, one by one, day by day.
We can light the candles on our menorahs and sing songs of freedom and the past. Our future is dark, despite what we do, for man has been reduced to a creation of greed and need and disregard for the world at large, and individuals who may be their neighbors. It has been reduced to a world of weapon-happy men, bent on destruction, who create wars and terror attacks on the unarmed. We have been reduced to animals.
There will be no miracles. There can be no miracles.
Sandra Steuer Cohen