Volume 22, Number 15 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | Aug. 21 - 27, 2009

Letters to the Editor

‘Appalling’ reference

To The Editor:
It is appalling that Jerry Tallmer should identify Sammy Glick as a “certain kind of Jew” who could have come out of the “cartoons in Julius Streicher’s Nazi newspaper...” (Downtown Notebook, Aug. 14 – 20, “Thanks, Budd, for everything, even for Sammy Glick”). Streicher’s “cartoons” portrayed Jews not primarily as greedy and unprincipled but as lethal and sordid parasites who sucked the blood, gold and vitality out of the German nation (and made it lose World War I) and who therefore had to be eliminated from society.

This, of course, is a recognizable updated version of the medieval European myth accusing Jews of draining the blood of kidnapped Christian children to use for the production of matzo for Passover. This “blood libel,” as it became called, was cynically employed to justify and incite pogroms in Europe for centuries — even as late as 1946 in Kielce, Poland (source, for those interested, is Nora Levin’s “The Holocaust”), and still circulates.  Ruthless as Glick may be, he does not descend to the level of the mythological anti-Semitic stereotype of bloodsucker in Streicher’s propaganda. One wonders whether Tallmer actually saw some of Streicher’s bilge before he leaped into print.

Tallmer implies that Glick’s merciless, unethical and exploitative behavior in climbing the ladder of success derives from his being a Jew; a “certain kind of Jew” is still a Jew — someone who has Jewish ancestry and is a product of Jewish history and culture and a member of the Jewish people. What he does not say is that Glick is an assimilationist Jew — one who has rejected and discarded Jewish culture and its behavioral norms and, instead, has chosen to model himself on a certain type of man in the majority culture. In his case, it is the rapacious capitalist robber baron of the late 19th century. Tallmer should have identified Glick as being a man who chose the worst type in American life to emulate, not as a stereotypical Jew in racist genocide-inciting propaganda.
Aviva Cantor
Aviva Cantor, a Downtown resident, is the author of “Jewish Women, Jewish Men: The Legacy of Patriarchy in Jewish Life.”

Protect the Maritime Building

This is an open letter written to Carol Ash, commissioner of the State Historic Preservation Office:

Dear Commissioner Ash:
I am writing to ask you to please stop the plan to turn the historic Battery Maritime Building —the Governors Island ferry terminal — into a multi-story commercial hotel. Mayor Bloomberg is planning to bring in a developer to construct new stories on top of this landmark building. These stories would be modern, boxy, glass structures — totally incongruous with the beautiful old ferry terminal. The rationale for this plan is to raise money for building upkeep.

Times are hard, but surely there’s a better way. This building is worthy of public investment, at least as worthy as the Fulton St. subway station, which the city paid a lot to remodel. If separate money must be raised, why not charge for the ferry service and establish a museum with an entry fee and maybe some federal funding? Or some other kind of commercial use that doesn’t require new garish construction. Perhaps the M.T.A. could take it over and maintain it like the Staten Island ferry terminal? What about the Port Authority—wouldn’t this be a good use for leftover 9/11 recovery money?

There must be a way to save this legendary building without destroying it. This wonderful ferry terminal is literally and spiritually the gateway to Governor’s Island — not only because of the ferry service, but because it’s visual impact carries us back in time. Governors Island is undergoing a renaissance as an important historic resource. Putting ugly, boxy stories on the Battery Maritime Building will mar that experience. It will send a terrible message—announcing that we don’t care enough about our historic treasures to maintain them. Please protect this historic building.
Abigail K. Adams

Petition fight

To The Editor:
In his response to my recent letter criticizing the efforts of Pete Gleason to keep Councilmember Alan Gerson off the ballot (Letters, Aug. 7 – 13, “Ballot access”) despite the fact that Gerson has collected far more petition signatures than any other candidate (including Gleason), Gleason supporter Adam Silvera uses a phrase that I must take strong issue with (Letters, Aug. 14 - 20, “Council race”).

Mr. Silvera refers to “serious allegations of fraud” in connection with Gerson’s petition signatures.  In fact, the only such allegations are those emanating from the Gleason campaign and its small band of very vocal supporters like Mr. Silvera, and the most eloquent and succinct response to those politically motivated charges was the statement of Judge Edward Lehner quoted in your related news story (Aug. 14 – 20, “Gerson can run after all, judge rules”) that, “It wasn’t fraud at all.  It was an error.” The real scandal in this election has very little to do with the petition signatures.  Anyone who has ever done petition work in a campaign, including Mr. Silvera, knows that some errors are inevitable in the process and that such errors do not constitute fraud.  The real scandal is the flagrant abuse of the legal system for purely political ends by the filing in bad faith of lawsuits alleging fraud.  Both Councilmember Gerson and PJ Kim have been the victims of such unscrupulous lawsuits in this campaign.  With 7,000 and 5,500 signatures, respectively, on their petitions, Gerson and Kim each clearly had far more than the 900 valid signatures required even assuming some errors, yet they both had to incur legal expenses and spend time in court to deal with the false charges. 

My suggested solution to the problem is a simple one – the courts should impose sanctions on those candidates and their lawyers who file these frivolous lawsuits.  They waste everyone’s time and resources (including those of the court) and there should be a price to pay.    
Bill Love
Bill Love has done some volunteer work for Alan Gerson.

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