Letters to the Editor: Oct. 5, 2021


Reactions to Iron Dome vote, representative’s ‘apartheid’ comment

St. Louis Friends of Israel expresses our appreciation to the members of the U.S. House of Representatives who passed legislation on Sept. 23 to replenish the Iron Dome defensive missile system. In 2021, Iron Dome intercepted and destroyed more than 4,000 incoming short and medium-range rockets and artillery shells that were launched by Hamas at residential neighborhoods in Israel.

If not for Iron Dome, Hamas would have reduced Israel’s residential areas to rubble, rendering much of the country unlivable. Iron Dome is solely a defensive system, protecting the lives of Jews, Muslims and Christians who reside in Israel.

The United States has been a core, consistent partner in the development and funding of Iron Dome. The bill to provide funding to Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system passed 420-9 with overwhelming bipartisan support. The opposing votes included well-known Democratic members of the so-called progressive “squad,” such as Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Cori Bush of Missouri.

We thank Rep. Ann Wagner, R-2nd District, for her support of this legislation. We hope that Bush, D-1st District, will listen to her constituents who have family living in Israel and to others in her district who support Israel, to understand why she should support United States funding for Iron Dome.

Traci Goldstein and Galit Lev-Harir

Co-Presidents, St. Louis Friends of Israel

Cori Bush’s vote against the Iron dome was not courageous. It was a stunt. A blatant grab for the “woke” spotlight. The vote passed with an overwhelming majority (420-9) and for good reason. The Iron Dome is a missile defense system. It stops rockets launched at civilians and intercepts them mid-air before they land at their indiscriminate targets. It has saved the lives of countless Israelis (Arab and Jew alike).

Hamas is a recognized terrorist organization responsible for the murder of Jews living in their homeland as well as the Arabs that live peacefully in Israel. Iron Dome was developed as a response to Hamas terrorists launching thousands of rockets on Israeli cities. Last May, Hamas shot 4,360 rockets towards innocent civilians; more than 90% of these rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome. The Iron Dome is not offensive weaponry, it’s singular goal is to prevent widespread death and destruction.  So what does Cori Bush’s vote stand for… the death of more innocent Israelis?

At the very moment when our President was addressing the United Nations, reasserting American values and alliances throughout the world, Cori Bush was sending a different message. Bush stands with terrorists and terrorism. Bush’s vote did not advance the cause of the Palestinian people who suffer daily at the hands of their own leadership. It was one of self-promotion and ignorance. To relate the funding for the Iron Dome to the perpetuation of the plight of the Palestinian people is devoid of context and common sense. How does her vote serve the values of the citizens of the 1st district of Missouri?

Nathan and Linda Cohen

St. Louis Council AIPAC Co-Chairs

For Rep. Cori Bush to call Israel an “apartheid state” is to demonstrate both her antisemitism and her ignorance (“Rep. Cori Bush opposed Iron Dome funding because it goes to ‘apartheid state’s’ military”).

The American people understand that a foundational linchpin of South African apartheid was zero upward mobility for blacks. In contrast in 2019 an Arab, Samer Haj Yehia, was elected CEO of Bank Leumi, the largest bank in Israel. Under South African apartheid, if a Black person stepped into a “white” bank for any reason, he or she was immediately arrested and imprisoned. George Karra, an Arab, is a justice on the Israeli Supreme Court. Thousands of Arabs in Israel’s democracy have achieved similarly high positions in medicine, academia, finance and politics.

In 1997, Nelson Mandela accepted an honorary doctorate from Israel’s Ben Gurion University of the Negev. No rational person would believe that Mandela would have ever accepted an honorary doctorate from an apartheid state.

Richard Sherman

Margate, Fla.

Anyone accusing Israel of being an apartheid country either doesn’t know the meaning of the word or is just going along with the Palestinian victimhood narrative that is full of lies and distortions.

In apartheid South Africa, Blacks and whites were forbidden from marrying. Nothing remotely like this exists in Israel in which there are many Jewish-Arab marriages.

In apartheid South Africa, there were hospitals for Blacks and hospitals for whites, which forbade Black medical personnel to touch the bodies of white patients. Nothing remotely like this exists in Israel where Arabs are heads of departments and serve as doctors and nurses alongside their Jewish colleagues. Israeli hospitals have even treated Hamas’ leaders family members during wartime.

Arabs comprise 20% of Israel’s population and have their own political parties, one of which is in the ruling coalition. Arabs are represented in the Supreme Court, and one is head of Israel’s largest bank. Others serve in Israel’s foreign service.

The level of freedom and achievement for Arabs is higher in Israel than in any Arab country. Several years ago, a poll was taken of Jerusalem’s Arabs who were asked if Palestine is established, would you become a citizen or remain Israeli. Close to 60% stated they would want to remain Israeli.

I will not pretend to understand the workings of Cori Bush’s mind, but she is in the company of people who have made antisemitic statements and were it not for the protection provided by Congress would in any other sphere be exposed as haters.

Readers of the Light should ask themselves how many violent assaults of Jews have resulted from careless politicians making false statements about the only democratic country in the Middle East.   

Larry Shapiro

Calgary, Canada

The article on Rep. Cori Bush’s opposition to  Iron Dome funding cites criticism by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) against the congresswoman for referring to Israel as an “apartheid state.” The AJC claims it will soon present Bush with “the facts on the ground” to exonerate Israel from the charge of being an apartheid state.

Unfortunately for the AJC, the facts on the ground have been well-examined, including by human rights organizations B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch. Both groups have unambiguously determined Israel to be an apartheid state.

In Israel and the occupied territories, Jews have superior rights to Palestinians concerning basically everything that matters: freedom of movement, access to land and water, judicial rights, political rights, immigration and family unification rights and more.

In defense of basic human rights, Congresswoman Bush told the truth. More politicians should tell the truth, even if the truth is difficult for many people to hear.

Michael Berg

St. Louis