Letters to the Editor

Last week's cover illustration? Disgusting!

Strings Attached: Unspoken Agendas

It's not about the Constitution, it's about exclusion: I was deeply troubled by Gaspar González's article "Strings Attached" (February 21). He seemed to miss the essential point, that the eruv is not a religious "symbol" in the sense of a visual object or image that conveys religious meaning, such as a cross or Star of David. The eruv is, as he correctly pointed out, virtually invisible and therefore does not convey any state sponsorship of a religious message. The eruv is more easily compared to structures that increase access for people with disabilities, since it makes it much more possible for Orthodox Jews to live within its boundaries.

This, I believe, is the true reason for opposition to an otherwise harmless eruv: Its presence means that Orthodox Jews will find the neighborhood more attractive. People who find this unobtrusive device noxious are, it seems to me, motivated less by a pure desire to keep church and state separate than the desire to keep themselves separate from the sort of offensive caricature of a Jew that your editor chose as the cover illustration of this issue.

This caricature -- worthy of anything published by Josef Goebbels -- is certainly in keeping with Mr. González's uninformed "loophole" comment, which dismisses an ancient and benign religious tradition held dear by Jews for centuries.

Henry Abramson
North Miami Beach

Strings Attached: Unwanted Consequences

A victory in court could be a defeat for us all: The proposal to remove the Miami Beach eruv because it's on public property doesn't make sense. Has the American Civil Liberties Union and the anti-Semite who complained to that organization thought that if indeed they win their case, it would mean no Christmas or Chanukah decorations could be displayed on public property? Imagine this nation with no decorations or signs of any kind.

Armando Amores
North Bay Village

Strings Attached: Untethered ACLU

Okay then, let's ban decorative lights during the holiday season: Using the ACLU's logic regarding church and state and the Miami Beach eruv, I should complain when city workers being paid with my taxes hang Christmas decorations from city light posts during the Christmas holidays.

The ACLU has no problem asserting that Americans are being denied their rights by not being able to travel to Cuba and that the embargo against Cuba should be lifted. What rights are we talking about? The saying "A person is a liberal until he or she is mugged by a minority" shines bright when it comes to the ACLU.

It would seem the ACLU has lost its path and has forgotten the reason it was created, all in the name of political correctness.

Norman Grossman
Miami Beach

Strings Attached: Unforgivable Caricature

If crude sensationalism was your goal, you succeeded: Gaspar González's "Strings Attached" was reasonably factual and balanced. The same cannot be said for the cover illustration by William Taylor, which can only be described as an inflammatory expression of Jew-hatred.

The issues the article addresses relate to all observant Jews. The use of a caricature of a grinning Hasid to illustrate the article reflects an insensitive and ignorant editorial decision not worthy of New Times. After all, would you have used a caricature of Mike Tyson, with an ear dangling from his mouth, to illustrate a discussion of watermelon economics? A caricature of the pope with a condom in hand to illustrate sexual predation by clergy in Boston? Or a caricature of a grinning Fidel Castro to illustrate bilingual education in Miami?

Was it necessary to demean, denigrate, and insult a significant percentage of your readership with crude sensationalism? I suggest that Mr. Taylor and whoever on your editorial staff approved the cover illustration take a trip over to the Sanford L. Ziff Jewish Museum of Florida to view, study, and learn from its temporary exhibit featuring a review of the use of art to promulgate hatred.

We are now post-September 11, New Times. Do not promulgate hatred.

Louis Schneider
Miami Beach

Strings Attached: Unprecedented Insensitivity

How low can you go? You just went there: The artwork on the cover of last week's New Times is blatantly racist and offensive. The exaggerated features and moles of the subject more appropriately belong in the show at the Jewish Museum of Florida, "The Art of Hatred: Images of Intolerance in Florida Culture."

I am stunned by the insensitivity of New Times's editor and staff. You have stooped far lower than usual.

Lynne Cohen

Strings Attached: Unbelievably Disgusting

Want to make things right? Try starting with an apology: Damn! I thought I'd visited the Website of the World Church of the Creator by mistake. That illustration of the Orthodox Jew holding the ball of string was completely disgusting, like something out of Nazi Germany. You guys owe the entire Miami community an apology.

Sheila Fyfe
Coconut Grove

Editor's note: As evidenced by the letters above, a number of people were offended by last week's cover illustration. In a telephone conversation following publication, Rabbi Donald Bixon of the congregation Young Israel of Miami Beach maintained that the drawing, a caricature of an Orthodox Jewish man, was analogous to an illustration of "a black man with big lips eating a piece of fried chicken with a watermelon patch in the background." A stinging analogy indeed. New Times sincerely regrets any offense taken by our readers. None was intended.

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