Letters to the Editor: Aug. 22, 2018


Missouri Jewish groups pen letter against hatred

The Jewish communities across Missouri welcome the Missouri Republican Party’s comments unequivocally condemning the anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, homophobic and racist rhetoric of Steve West, who won the Republican primary for Missouri House District 15.

We are grateful for the recent statement that this “abhorrent rhetoric has absolutely no place in the Missouri Republican Party or anywhere.” We wholeheartedly agree. While our Constitution protects every person’s right to free speech, this kind of bigotry and hate speech — whether targeting Jews, or any other group — has no place in legitimate public discourse, let alone public office. It is incumbent upon us as community leaders and elected officials to work together to ensure that such views will be repudiated loudly and clearly.

We expect all parties to closely monitor their candidates throughout the state and to demonstrate swiftly and in the strongest possible terms that our Missouri leadership finds all forms of bigotry unacceptable. The custom of parties not intervening in primaries should not extend to those who proudly proclaim discriminatory beliefs.

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Our Jewish values make clear our obligation to speak out against all forms of discrimination. As a minority community intimately acquainted with the dangers of bigotry and scapegoating, we recognize that our own security is inexorably tied to the security of all minorities.

The Jewish communities of Missouri welcome ongoing dialogue with both parties about ways in which we can collaborate to ensure that our elected officials are held to the highest moral standard and reflect the diversity of our state.

John Kalishman, Board Chair, and Maharat Rori Picker Neiss, Executive Director, Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis

Gerald P. Greiman, Board Chair, and  Andrew Rehfeld, President and CEO, Jewish Federation of St. Louis

John Isenberg, Chair, and  Helene Lotman, President and CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City

Other signatories:  AJC St. Louis, Hillel at Washington University in St. Louis, Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy (Kansas City), Jewish Community Relations Bureau/AJC (Kansas City), Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City, Jewish Family Services of Greater Kansas City, Jewish Family & Children’s Service of St. Louis, Jewish Vocational Service (Kansas City), Jewish Voices United (Kansas City), Maryville University Hillel, Midwest Center for Holocaust Education (Kansas City), National Council of Jewish Women- St. Louis, St. Louis Rabbinical Association, Holocaust Museum and Learning Center of St. Louis, University of Kansas Hillel, University of Missouri Hillel (Columbia)

Prejudice and power

What a frightening article published in the Light on Aug. 15 (“Prejudice plus power: Some progressives have a new definition of racism. What does that mean for Jews?”). 

Melissa Harris Perry, a professor and commentator on MSNBC, states that Louis Farrakhan, “a notorious anti-Semite,” has no “power or influence.” Therefore due to his lack of real power he has not caused inequity (problems) for the Jews, so why condemn his anti-Semitism? 

Jews are considered white and privileged and therefore anti-Semitism is supposedly a trivial concern. The article goes on to say especially on the left, anti-Semitism is seen as less than racism again because of Jewish power and influence. 

Linda Sarsour, the darling of the women’s movement, plays down anti-Semitism because it is not “systematic.” The systematic murder of six million Jews, Iran wanting to wipe Israel of the face of the earth is not systematic? She says Jews are too powerful to be affected by prejudice. Where have we heard that before? The article reports that Jeremy Corbyn, a British Labour Party leader accused of anti-Semitism, is using the “power” of British Jews to explain his prejudice. 

So, attacks on Jews can be ignored because they have power and influence. Attacks on blacks and Muslims are different, because they lack the power; therefore, that is true oppression. The Progressive Movement around the world is redefining anti-Semitism and most importantly downplaying the possible results. It is frightening that they are embraced by the left and ignored by the Jewish population.

I hope the Jewish community wakes up to what is happening around the world. Where is an editorial of outrage from the Jewish Light? If the article published on Aug. 15 does not scare our community, the past will surely become the future for Jews.

Howard Loiterstein, Chesterfield