Letter to the editor: When it’s time to say ‘enough’

This is in regard to the Jewish Light’s Jan. 24 article “Digital Provocateur.” Let me state at the outset that I don’t know Russel Neiss nor have I read any of his writings until now.  But I appreciate the prominent coverage given by the Light to Mr. Neiss’s opinions about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to offer 38,000 Africans seeking asylum in Israel the choice between deportation or imprisonment. 

Mr. Netanyahu apparently thinks that these people are not legitimate refugees, but are there for “work needs.”  That is a sad joke.  I have worked with many African refugees.  They have risked their lives to escape their countries due to deadly civil wars and oppressive governments.  Many were forced to live in refugee camps in deplorable conditions, not knowing if their loved ones were dead or alive.  Their situations were desperate.

The head of the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis, Ms. Rori Picker Neiss, said “This is not a controversial subject within our JCRC, it’s more just a question of, is this something where we have the ability to create change by putting out a statement?  What’s the value of putting out a statement if we don’t have the capacity to then put the work behind it?”

As a Jew, I would call making a statement “bearing witness.”  Perhaps that is all we can do,  but in large numbers it can  be a powerful tool.  Would that more people in our own history had done just that.

I realize that these matters are quite complex, but sometimes one just has to say “enough.” 

If President Donald Trump follows through on his plan to: 1. Deport 24,000 Haitians who came here after their devastating earthquake, and 2. Deport 200,000 El Salvadorans who came here after a series of natural disasters, I hope the Jewish community will be compassionate and vocal in its protest. In the meantime, we can educate our community about issues that should be of interest to everyone. We are all in this together.

Kathy Lass, St. Louis