Letters To The Editor


Balance needed in coverage 

I respectfully take issue with your reporting (June 7) on President Biden’s plan to combat antisemitism. To meaningfully combat antisemitism, antisemitism must be defined.

The “gold standard” for the definition of antisemitism is the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) working definition. The IHRA definition has been adopted worldwide by over 1,100 entities, including 70 countries, 30 states in the United States, and several U.S. governmental agencies. Unfortunately, the Biden plan falls did not adopt the IHRA standard.

The 2023 U.S. National Strategy to Counter Anti Semitism states that “the United States has embraced”—but not adopted—the IHRA definition. It goes on to state the following: “In addition, the Administration welcomes and appreciates the Nexus Document and notes other such efforts.”

What does the Nexus Document say? It specifically exempts many or most forms of antisemitic speech and actions targeting Israel and pro-Zionists: “As a general rule, criticism of Zionism and Israel, opposition to Israel’s policies, or nonviolent political action directed at the State of Israel and/or its policies should not, as such, be deemed antisemitic.”

This single statement provides a “virtue-washing” for Nakba commemorations, BDS actions implemented against Israel, and the type of delegitimization of Israel that has become increasingly heard on college campuses and the halls of Congress.

Alan Kandel
University City

I’m writing to express my disappointment in the Light’s coverage (June 7) of the White House plan to combat antisemitism. Noticeably absent from your two lengthy articles on the topic was even a minimal representation of the many concerns I and many in our community have.

One concern is the inclusion of the antisemitic organization CAIR, an organization that has peddled antisemitic tropes and has ties to extremist, anti-Israel groups, as an advisory agency to the White House strategy. A second concern is the “welcome and appreciation” of the Nexus and Jerusalem Document definitions of antisemitism. These documents exempt many forms of antisemitic speech and actions that target Israel and pro-Zionism. Additionally, among the many organizations and individuals cited in the JTA article that gushingly praised the White House strategy at length, only three “right-wing” organizations were mentioned in passing, absent an even cursory explanation of their concerns.

I respectfully suggest that it’s not too late for the Jewish Light to print an article or op-ed from among the many Jewish organizations, media outlets and commentators who have serious concerns about the White House antisemitism strategy. A semblance of balance in your reporting on this issue will be appreciated by myself and many in our community.

Howard Loiterstein

Remembering Joyce Margulis 

The National Council of Jewish Women – St. Louis section is over 125 years old.  Twenty-five years ago, the president of our section was Joyce Margulis. Joyce was instrumental in changing the meeting time and demographic makeup of our Board of Directors. I was on the Board, at 25 years old, as the president of the Young Women’s Council (we had two separate boards then). Joyce asked me how to get younger people on the board, so we discussed moving the meetings to the evenings instead of the daytime so that working women could attend. Joyce spearheaded this change, and since then, our board meets at 5:30 p.m., and babysitting is offered as well. Today, at least half the NCJW Board is women under 55 years old. At a time when some NCJW sections are having difficulties finding future leaders, I am happy to say that this is not the case with the St. Louis section, partially thanks to Joyce. Joyce is remembered fondly by many members of NCJW for her leadership and dedication during her term as President and in subsequent years.

Michelle Brooks
Treasurer, NCJW-St. Louis

Global issue needs attention—and action

In her June 7 d’var Torah “‘We can surely do it’: Working to create a world of compassion, justice and peace,” Rabbi Andrea Goldstein addresses the despair many of us feel when the world’s problems feel too daunting to even start fighting. I used to feel this way about global issues like HIV/AIDS. In the early 2000s, it was a horror I heard about in news about Africa, devastating families and even economies. It seemed too big and far away for one person to tackle. But then I discovered thousands of Americans could add voices together to demand that our nation’s leaders do something about it.

The persistence of everyday citizens reaching out in non-partisan ways led to President George W. Bush creating the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). It has been a driving force in fighting HIV/AIDS. Since its creation 20 years ago, PEPFAR has helped save 25 million lives and played a critical role supporting prevention, treatment, and care programs in over 50 low-income countries.

I ask readers to join me in asking our U.S. members of Congress — Sen. Josh Hawley, Sen. Eric Schmitt, Rep. Cori Bush, and Rep. Ann Wagner — to co-sign the upcoming reauthorization of the PEPFAR program. Together, we can end AIDS in our lifetime.

Cynthia Changyit Levin
Town and Country