Letters to the Editor: What a Times editorial on antisemitism got wrong about Jews

·2 min read
Demonstrators in Beverly Hills wave Israeli flags during a protest against antisemitism on May 23. <span class="copyright">(Los Angeles Times)</span>
Demonstrators in Beverly Hills wave Israeli flags during a protest against antisemitism on May 23. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: I applaud your timely editorial condemning antisemitic attacks.

Unfortunately, what we are seeing is that many will condemn antisemitism only when it emanates from white nationalists. I am grateful that you specifically cite the violent antisemitism caused by those who claim to be liberating Palestine. The violence perpetrated upon the Jewish community proves that anti-Zionism is indeed antisemitism.

But as an Iranian Jew, I take issue with the description of Jews as "people who are, for the most part, white and often lead lives of privilege."

There are many nonwhite Jews from the Middle East, North Africa, Ethiopia and elsewhere. In fact, Los Angeles has one of the largest populations of Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews. We are not white, and most of us escaped brutal regimes in the Middle East and came to America with nothing.

Your mischaracterization does a disservice to many communities, including Jews, with whom we must unite in the fight against antisemitism.

Saba Soomekh, Beverly Hills

The writer is associate director of the American Jewish Committee-Los Angeles.

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To the editor: I was heartened by your editorial calling out the terrifying surge in antisemitic attacks. The trend is painfully familiar to Jews everywhere. However, I was dismayed by what I consider to be reckless and inciteful language.

In a paragraph intended to combat antisemitism, you repeated some of its most pernicious tropes. You claimed that Jews are "for the most part, white and often lead lives of privilege."

A large percentage of Jews worldwide, and especially within Los Angeles, are of Persian, North African or Arabian descent. Plenty of Jews are financially comfortable, and plenty in my own community rely on my philanthropic support for basic necessities.

Historically, Jews have been put in a vise in which they are vilified (and murdered) for simultaneously representing two extremes: all-powerful, media-controlling and uber-privileged, and at the same time irredeemably base, akin to vermin, pitiful and powerless, and thus worthy of elimination.

You reinforced the former aspersion, thus undermining the intent and perhaps impact of an otherwise very important editorial.

Rabbi Adam Kligfeld, Los Angeles

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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