Readers have their say

Good immigrants

I just usually ignore Joseph Aaron’s Trump/Bibi derangement syndrome ravings, but he really was so far off on a recent tirade against Israel and its treatment of illegal African migrants comparing their treatment to his parents’ welcome in the U.S. My mother is also a survivor and was welcomed by this country after the war, as a LEGAL immigrant.

To obfuscate illegal economic migrants like Africans to Israel to legal immigration to the U.S. is disingenuous at best and perhaps knowingly manipulative at worst. Most if not all of the Africans in Israel are economic migrants and not politically persecuted peoples. Big difference.

Israel had a very humane and liberal political refugee policy even for non-Jews. Illegal economic migrants do not qualify, just as they do not in the U.S. I realize no country is perfect but Aaron’s comparison between his parents and illegal migrants is false in my opinion. I read your paper religiously. I certainly respect your existence as an independent Jewish paper and support your work if not your opinions.

Also, I wish Aaron would lay off the Kushners. Maybe they stayed at a hotel near the press dinner.  I have done similar when faced with a very important function that began right after Shabbos and I stayed in a hotel nearby so I could walk to the function so as to arrive as soon as Shabbos ended in order to attend. That is what I suspect they did as well.  Did Aaron see them drive?  He is being tremendously judgmental of the Kushners’ religiosity.  They do not hold themselves up as religious examples and Aaron should take his own advice and not judge. Just a suggestion.

Jay Lakritz

Good Jews

During my over sixty years providing professional services, mainly to Jewish-owned businesses, I have yet to encounter even one person that I considered to be a crook, perv or creep. Rather, I have encountered very honest and hard-working providers of goods and services who were also very charitable and very active in non-profit endeavors.

Joseph Aaron seems to delight in generalizing from the acts of a very few Jews and concluding that something terrible has happened to all Jews. I have heard of none that shoot school children, rob banks, shoot from hotel windows at concert-goers below, or kill with bombs. I do encounter Jews who are active in organizations such as Jewish United Fund and who have actively supported Jewish causes and the State of Israel.

Why has Aaron made it his career to use his position as an editor to tear down Jews at every opportunity and for any excuse?

It would be far better if Aaron made at least part of his writings compliment the many deserving Jews who give so much of themselves and of their money, to help others. I will watch and wait for any evidence that he is capable of such, but I am not hopeful.

Howard I. Bernstein, Chicago

Good lawyers

As president of the Decalogue Society of Lawyers, America’s oldest Jewish bar association, I address improper attacks made against the legal profession and Jewish lawyers in Joseph Aaron’s column, “Passing over Jewish values.” (April 6). These overgeneralized attacks use anti-Semitic tropes that are shocking coming from a Jewish community newspaper.  

Decalogue values the contributions of the free press to the protection of freedom in our country.  It is the prerogative of journalists to offer opinions; our nation is best served by the ability of the media to ask tough questions that benefit society and to hold elected officials accountable for their decisions. Yet, the attack on the legal profession and Jewish lawyers did neither.  

The column does not hedge in calling lawyers “the lowest form of humanity.”  Accordingly, no exception from criticism is made for the many Jewish attorneys who work tirelessly around the country to exonerate incarcerated people who were wrongfully convicted.  Nor is even minor lip service paid to the many hundreds of attorneys here in Chicago, Jewish and otherwise, who seek justice, mend wrongs, and protect those in need of protection.

Presidents of Chicago’s bar groups rarely write letters to local community papers.  As Decalogue president, I am privileged to instead spend my time working with hundreds of our members to try to make our city, state and country better.  We advance the Jewish values of truth and justice. As a group, we have done so for decades. Just a few examples of our near-daily efforts include:

  • Offering seminars and classes to broad audiences on legal and Jewish issues;
  • Engaging in social action projects (not limited to pro bono legal service, but rather extending to participation in food distribution and other programs);
  • Mentoring young lawyers;
  • Aiding in the evaluation of prospective and current members of the judiciary;
  • Writing amicus briefs on issues of concern to the Jewish community and beyond. (This has included the recent filing of an amicus brief to the USSC);
  • Working on college campuses to assist free speech and to protect those targeted by hate;
  • Coordinating with other Jewish groups to address matters of importance to the Chicago

Jewish community; and

  • Speaking out against discriminatory policies, extra-constitutional action by the executive, and attacks against the judiciary.  

We have also worked with other groups to build bridges of cooperation and understanding.  In the wake of events in Charlottesville, VA, Decalogue organized a coalition of over 20 bar associations to speak out against the rise of anti-Semitism and racist hate in this country.  Decalogue worked with many of these same bar associations to confront Chicago’s gun violence by helping to organize a “Lawyers Call to Action” anti-violence initiative. As part of this ongoing effort, Decalogue members (and those of the other bar associations) have worked to assist dozens of non-profits that address violence in Chicago. Decalogue also assisted in launching the Cook County Sheriff’s hate crime hotline, and was a founding member of a “Tolerance Council” that works closely with the sheriff’s office to protect various communities. Notably, our members do not charge for their time volunteering for the above activities.

I do not know whether the above convinces Aaron of the error of his broad criticism that the practice of law is “a very dishonorable profession” that Jewish parents should not want their children to enter.  We will continue to do good regardless. But, it is not concern for Aaron’s negative opinion of lawyers, itself, that prompted this letter.

The reason I address Aaron’s column is because of his frightening use of anti-Semitic tropes that have targeted Jewish lawyers since before Decalogue’s founding in 1934.  The reference to Jewish lawyers who “…charge you for every single second of their so oh precious time” is the type of Jew-hating canard long used to disparage Jewish attorneys. Equally troubling is the choice to list several Jewish lawyers in government, and – while emphasizing their Jewish names – to suggest that these ostensibly evil figures represent all Jews, attorneys, or both.  From other periodicals this would be seen as anti-Semitism. It is tragic that the Jewish writer and editor of the Chicago Jewish News did not recognize it as such.

Jewish people worldwide face increased anti-Semitism.  Jew haters on the right and the left have repackaged traditional anti-Semitic messages into language more acceptable to the mainstream.  The Decalogue Society has fought against these efforts. Decalogue calls on the Editor/Publisher of the Chicago Jewish News to join us in rejecting the use of such tropes.  

Decalogue defends the right of the Chicago Jewish News to publish whatever opinions it wishes.  Yet, words matter. As journalists, the staff of the Chicago Jewish News knows this. And Decalogue looks forward to opportunities to work with the Chicago Jewish News.  Perhaps it could choose to report on the good works of Decalogue and thousands of other Jewish attorneys – efforts that prove that Jewish values have been passed down to generations of attorneys. Such efforts seem too easily passed over by the Chicago Jewish News and others.

Mitchell B. Goldberg, President, Decalogue Society of Lawyers

1 Comment on "Readers have their say"

  1. I am glad to see these letters to the editor lambasting Joseph Aarons. I have always found his columns to be distasteful, bigoted and offensive. Not quite sure why the CJN had kept him on the payroll for so many years. He seems to be on the wrong side of every issue and inflammatory in his use of words.

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