U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) waves to her supporters with her husband, Douglas Emhoff and her niece, Amara Ajagu, 2, during her presidential campaign launch rally in Frank H. Ogawa Plaza on January 27, 2019, in Oakland, California. Twenty thousand people turned out to see the Oakland native launch her presidential campaign in front of Oakland City Hall. (Photo by Mason Trinca/Getty Images)

Dear Editor,

I believe that the Five Towns Jewish Times has reached a publishing nadir with Yochanan Gordon’s unprovoked, vicious attack on Kamala Harris (“The Soul of America,” November 6).

I am uncertain what exactly nurtures Gordon’s hate of Harris, but he arrogates to himself the right to construct a vile “derush” with Harris’s first name. When Kamala is written in Hebrew, he avers, it is spelled kuf, mem, lamed, ayin. These letters, he proffers smugly, are the same letters as found in the name Amalek, the Biblical enemy par excellence of the Jewish people.

By what right does Gordon compare someone whose only sin is that she ran (successfully) against 5TJT idol Donald Trump to Amalek, a nation that we are commanded to destroy? Has Yochanan lost all sense of decency and proportion? He owes Kamala Harris a full-throated, sincere apology.

Further, he wangles a connection between President-elect Joe Biden’s first name and Gog, one of the nations that will be involved in the war that heralds the Messianic era. Leaving aside the incredible linguistic stretch that Yochanan must make to achieve this connection, why insult Joe Biden? What has he done to us? To the contrary, his career has reflected a solid connection with Jews and sustained support of the State of Israel.

Rather than extend respect to duly elected officials, Gordon seeks to demonize them. This is a sad relic of the Trump scorched-earth method, wherein reasoned disagreement bows before personal attack. It also belies the stated purpose of Gordon’s column: “to promote the perspective of life from the vantage point of the soul.” Sorry, Yochanan, but this particular endeavor was soulless!

Let us look at the records of Biden and Harris regarding the Jewish people, specifically concerning the State of Israel. Joe Biden has been a reliable friend of Israel for nearly five decades. Does that mean that he never disagrees with Israel’s policies? No, but even among Jews who are Zionists, opinions abound concerning specifics. Some believe in a two-state solution (as does Biden, and, yes, as does Trump!); some find it unrealistic. Some believe in annexation; others (I count myself among these) believe annexation is a shortsighted and needless strategy. It is OK to disagree; it is not okay to pillory anyone with whom you differ.

Kamala Harris, too, has been a friend to Israel, and her support includes several appearances at the annual AIPAC conference. Critics point to her “no” vote on a 2019 Senate bill that might have criminalized the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. However, Harris was clear that while she opposed BDS, she believed that the bill violated the free-speech provision of the First Amendment. Hers was a reasonable concern.

If we wish to make Biblical comparisons, I suggest the following. Kamala would not be spelled with an ayin at the end. It would likely be spelled with a hei. Whereas we have a principle that similar-sounding letters can substitute for one another, we may now take the kuf and substitute a kaf. Kamala’s name is thus spelled kaf, mem, lamed, hei. Those letters are the same as the ones in “malkah,” queen!

As for Biden, his first name, Joseph, is the name of our ancestor Yosef HaTzaddik. Yosef helped devise the path for the Jewish people to survive in exile. He created a home for his brothers in Egypt, simultaneously reminding them that they would eventually return to the Holy Land. Let us congratulate President-elect Joseph Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris. And let us pray that Joe Biden will be true to the symbolism of his name, helping keep American Jews safe. At the same time, we must never take our eyes off the prize: the coming of Mashiach and our return to the Holy Land.

Avi Goldstein
Far Rockaway

1 COMMENT

  1. I was at the Cedarhurst protest in addition to checking out the fair and wanted to mention one thing that troubled me a lot – the behavior of some people on our side of the line definitely veered into Chillul HaShem territory. We have to be better – for the sake of Israel and how the world views us, we absolutely must control ourselves. Tensions are high, people are angry, and like any human they will make mistakes. But the world is watching and waiting for us to slip up….

    Case in point, one twitter “journalist” filmed a bunch of our people holding up their middle fingers and cursing out Neturei Karta members when they appeared. I understand the sentiment, but it’s an absolutely terrible look for our community.
    https://x.com/taliaotg/status/1767694839733203374?s=20

    Separately, I had to ask several teenagers holding a megaphone to stop yelling childish insults into it at the Palestinian side (eg. “you’re ugly”) while waving Israeli flags. They all complied immediately and understood when I explained why they should stop. But then an adult behind them just picked up the chant and started yelling it.

    The eyes of the world are on us, and we are held to a higher standard fairly or unfairly, and must adhere to it, or we just set our own cause further back and resemble their caricature view of us. Little mistakes are blown way out of proportion and will hurt support for Israel and the Jewish cause in the world.

    One of the most memorable lessons for me growing up was learning that the Jews did not publicly celebrate at the Egyptians death at the Yam Suf, because Egyptians were created by HaShem too. I see no difference with publicly celebrating the deaths of our current enemies or behaving as if a conflict that has resulted in the death of thousands on both sides is a sporting event. I wish there was a way to encourage our community to stand tall, together, and be stoic. We do what we must and refuse to back down, because we sadly have no other choice, but we fully understand the gravity of our actions and the price we pay in human life in doing so, and don’t take that lightly.

    Am yisroel chai!
    Avi M
    Woodmere

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