Letters to the editor: April 25, 2018

Israel at 70 Unity Walk

St. Louis Friends of Israel was pleased to join so many other community organizations and over a thousand individuals on Sunday, April 22 as we all participated in the Unity Walk from Temple Israel to Shaare Emeth, and then continued the celebration of Israel’s 70th Anniversary at Shaare Emeth. It was a fabulous event, and it again demonstrated that our St. Louis Community openly and enthusiastically supports the State of Israel. In particular, we would like to congratulate and thank Rabbi Brad Horwitz and Yael Treger of the Jewish Community Center; the wonderful Creve Coeur police department; all of the other participating organizations; and the many staff people and volunteers who helped make the day a tremendous success. May our community and all friends of the State of Israel continue to go from strength to strength. Am Yisrael Chai

St. Louis Friends of Israel Steering Committee: Marcy Cornfeld, Laura Goldmeier, Traci Goldstein, Stuart Klamen, Galit Lev-Harir, Donald Meissner, Mike Minoff, David Rubin, Richard Senturia and Irl Solomon

Lashon hara and civic responsibility

In last week’s Jewish Light, Rabbi Michael Rovinsky cautioned against engaging in lashon hara (“After release of House report, widespread calls for Greitens’ resignation”).  I concur.  Nonetheless, I write separately to address one’s civic responsibilities. Responsible free speech, speech aimed at raising the bar in politics and government; speech addressing current events — however distasteful or embarrassing the speech may be — does not necessarily constitute the offense lashon hara

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Are we as American Jews required to wall off our civic responsibilities of engaging in polite discourse to the point of not demanding that an elected official resign from office for alleged conduct that calls into question his ability to perform his constitutional oath of office?  Where does the law of the Talmud end and civic responsibility begin? 

The rabbis of the Talmudic Age who sat on the Beis Din performed their civic responsibilities as judges.  And we, too, have a civic responsibility to engage in meaningful speech about the alleged actions of misconduct and potential criminal wrongdoing by Missouri’s governor.  We have a responsibility to ourselves, to our community and to the State of Missouri to engage in meaningful discourse respecting the issue of whether or not Gov. Eric Greitens should be impeached, convicted and removed from office.

Last but not least, as a legal historian, I would be remiss in my obligation to you, the reader, by not stating that the constitutional standards for removal from office of a Missouri state official does not mirror that of the Constitution of the United States.  Missouri’s 1945 Constitution provides that one can be impeached, convicted and removed from office on the grounds of being incompetent. 

 Can a governor facing trial on criminal charges for invasion of privacy competently perform the office of governor? Can a governor facing a second indictment for computer crimes competently serve the people of Missouri? These are hard questions. They are meant to be just that. And we, as Americans, Missourians and voters have a civic responsibility to engage in respectful and meaningful discourse on whether Gov. Eric Robert Greitens should resign or face the ignominy of impeachment. 

What would the rabbis of the Talmudic Age say if we were to abandon our civic responsibilities in hard times?  If we don’t discuss the issues before us now, when will it be appropriate to engage in such discourse?  If not now, when? 

Rabbi Joseph Fred Benson, legal historian and retired Missouri Supreme Court Archivist, Jefferson City, Mo.

Where is the peace partner?

Reading two recent articles in the Light was like entering a movie theater for the last half of the feature and wondering what went on during the first half. Where did Mahmoud Abbas’s ongoing hatred for Israel (Jan. 17 edition) originate and where is the outrage that the current PLO plan for the destruction of Israel (Jan. 24 edition) contained in its 1974 Phased Plan has never been repudiated by the PLO?

Current Arab nationalism and hatred for Israel has nothing to do with settlements, or their demand for land that they claim as their own. In 1921 Mohammad Amin al-Husayni was appointed Grand Mufti of Jerusalem by the British High Commissioner Herbert Samuel when Palestine was under British Mandate. Amin was the founding father of the Arab National movement, a political activist who worked tirelessly toward the destruction of Jews in Palestine and a dedicated Nazi collaborator. He refused to accept the existence of the Jewish State or its sovereignty over land given it. 

Mahmoud Abbas continues this mindset 97 years later and this is the explanation for why the PLO has never been a partner for peace (Jan. 24 edition). The Phased Plan confirms the PLO was born with a commitment to the destruction of Israel. Abbas is an unlikely candidate for an Arab peace partner regardless of the hopes and wishes of United States and world politicians who continue to live in a fantasy world that allows them to think Abbas wants what they want.

Until the first half of the feature is seen the last half will continue to be misinterpreted. And the PLO continues to pay the families of suicide bombers who kill indiscriminately.

Bruce Stoliar, St. Louis