The Conversation

By | Dec 02, 2021
2021 November/December
Copy of previous Moment issue, whose cover features an image that parallels the Uyghur population to Jewish victims of the Holocaust. It reads "An Inconvenient Genocide"

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Thanks to Tom Gjelten for this informative and powerful piece (“An Inconvenient Genocide,” September/October 2021). Some of the most chilling parts of this excellent article are when Gjelten points out the deeply disturbing parallels between the outside world’s conciliatory approach to China today and how the Nazis were appeased in similar fashion. He shows how American bankers, companies and politicians, including even Franklin Delano Roosevelt himself, went out of their way to avoid confronting Hitler, despite the information they had about what was already happening in Germany.

China’s attacks on the cultural vanguard of the Uyghurs, and on Uyghur intellectuals, recalls what Hitler and Stalin did when targeting people and nations that they wanted to eliminate. They sought to silence those peoples, to rob them of their voices and destroy their sense of community in one stroke. It is deeply disturbing that China’s leaders in the 21st century are repeating this tactic: The disappearance of intellectuals, writers, musicians and the like means they are seizing people not just because they are Uyghurs but also because they are Uyghurs with a voice.

It’s horrifying to think that this is once again playing out today, with United States companies lobbying behind the scenes to weaken or scuttle the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. This has already significantly delayed the law, by which the United States would deny an export market for products made in the Uyghur region. That is, the United States would actually do something beyond just protest—something that could help to halt the Chinese genocide. So, have we not learned from history? Apparently not.
Magnus Fiskesjö
former Cultural Attaché at Sweden’s Embassy in Beijing
Ithaca, NY


Your article comparing the outrages China is perpetrating against the Uyghurs to those of the Nazis against the Jews was informative and well-written. I must disagree with its statement that the U.S. went to war against Nazi Germany “because of Nazi victories throughout Europe and the threat of Axis world domination.” In fact, Hitler declared war on the U.S. four days after Pearl Harbor, and only then did we add Germany to the declaration of war Congress had issued against Japan the day after the attack. If Hitler had not dragged America into the European war on December 11, 1941, it’s quite possible we never would have entered it.
Alan Rosenberg
Warwick, RI


It may be that I am living in a happy bubble, but it seems to me that things are never quite as dark as depicted in Moment: 18 pages and a cover dedicated to the Uyghurs goes well beyond covering the issue. Please balance the dark stories with some bright, even exhilarating ones. I’d like to leave Moment feeling good about something.
Art Rosen
Newbury, NH



I want to applaud Nadine Epstein for the thoughtful article (“In the Shadow of the Lynching Memorial,” September/October 2021) describing her moving journey to memorials and landmarks commemorating the tragic history of slavery and racism in our country. As a son of Holocaust heroes, I completely agree with Epstein’s assertion that the horrific persecution faced by Black people throughout America’s history deserves as much attention as the atrocities suffered by our own people. Recognizing the suffering of our fellow human beings does not detract from the meaning of our own suffering, but rather can serve as a bridge for healing. Please keep raising your voice in the name of justice.
Jack Y. Edelstein
Ann Arbor, MI


Bravo to Nadine Epstein for this article. Not only should Epstein not be “raked over the coals” for her suggestion that “American slavery, the failure of Reconstruction and the centuries of racial injustice they wreaked, including murders and persecution, deserve as much discussion in the American Jewish community as killings and persecution of Jews,” her proposal should be implemented. And founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative Bryan Stevenson is a national treasure. I would put him on the Supreme Court if I could, but I’m afraid in today’s world he is doing more good with his initiatives on the Black American experience.
Ira Wagner
Besthesda, MD



Shaul Magid, and certainly Robert Siegel, are either both self-hating Jews, ignorant of Jewish exegesis or ignorant of the Jewish experience during the 20th century in America and Russia (“America’s Homegrown Jewish Terrorist,” September/October 2021). I was a personal witness to the hundreds of Jewish lives Rabbi Kahane and the Jewish Defense League (JDL) saved in America and the Soviet Union. As a member of the JDL, I was one of four people with Kahane on the corner of First Avenue and 45th Street the night before he was brutally murdered after a lecture. He recited a Bible passage to us, which underscored, as always, his positions on antisemitism and
anti-Zionism. He was a Torah scholar, an ardent Zionist and Jewish to the core.

Including Rabbi Kahane in the same breath as the racist, antisemitic, anti-white, anti-American hatemongers who led the Black Panthers and preached devastating anti-Zionist rhetoric during the 20th century is outrageous. Rabbi Kahane did not hate Arabs or non-Jews. He was not a racist. He wanted Israel to remain the Jewish homeland that it always was and always will be—politically, historically and religiously.
Alan B. Rosenthal
Riverdale, NY

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I was shocked and horrified to read Thane Rosenbaum’s essay (“Is Critical Race Theory a Threat to Education?” September/October 2021) claiming that critical race theory (CRT) is a threat to education. Not teaching it is a threat to our country. He is in total denial of the history of intentional repression and discrimination of
non-Caucasians throughout this country’s history. It is ironic that he states that Holocaust denial should not be debated, and, therefore, critical race theory should not be either. That the Holocaust happened is a fact. The racism in this country is also a fact. Facts need to be taught in our schools.

The entire essay is riddled with errors. No, CRT does not claim that “race explains everything.” No, “the legacy of slavery” is not being taught in schools already. To claim that the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, etc. demonstrate that there is no systemic discrimination is a complete denial of the most recent efforts of various states to restrict people of color from voting and the gutting of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court. To say that several people of color being elected or appointed to powerful positions in the federal government means there is no racism ignores an inconvenient fact: A man who prominently displayed his racist and sexist opinions was elected as president immediately after Obama’s second term.

Rosenbaum concludes by trying to tie the prominent role that Jews played in the civil rights movement to why CRT should not be taught. There is no connection.

Systemic racism in this county is a fact. We as a country need to face this ugly truth and start to educate the next generation in order to move ahead, and to attempt to achieve the principles that are supposed to be the foundation of the U.S.
Bob Rosenbaum
Chilmark, MA


If this is a defense of critical race theory, oy, vey! Mia Brett confines her explanation of CRT to telling us that it is a lens and an academic framework. One of the few concrete statements in her article is about the disparity between sentencing for crack and cocaine, something that many of us realized a couple of decades before we’d ever heard of CRT. Despite a whole page to say something concrete, we don’t learn much.
Michael L. Fine
Punta Gorda, FL


We asked Moment’s Twitter followers to weigh in. The No’s won.



I am writing regarding Letty Cottin Pogrebin’s recent column (“We Know It When We See It,” September/October). For someone who employs words for a living, she appears naive to the major impact behind certain words, such as “apartheid.” I do not think she is naive. The word is inflammatory, and she knows it. The word “apartheid” is toxic and has nothing to do with Israel. She apparently prides herself in being a “responsible historian and truth-teller” when she expresses empathy for the Palestinians with respect to Israel’s rebirth. I have no problem showing concern for another people, but if she were a true historian and understood the dangers Israel faces today, one would hope that she would refrain from publicly criticizing it.

I understand her point—that one should be able to criticize the homeland without being labeled an antisemite. But we, as Jewish Americans, do not have the luxury of publicly judging or reproving this little gem of a nation. When it comes from a person of the Jewish community, it merely makes our enemies rejoice. If you must express your feelings, write to an Israeli government official.
Susan J. Friedman
Alachua, FL


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