Letters to the Editor: Dec. 1, 2021


Jewish students abroad facing antisemitic threats

We want to alert the community to some very brave Austrian Jewish students facing menacing antisemitic threats. On the recent anniversary of Kristallnacht, a group of Viennese Jewish students plastered new street signs on 23 streets still named after Nazis, highlighting the need for Austria to examine its history and conscience.

The Austrian Neo-Nazi movement has seen a resurgence of late, driven in large part by “Corona-resistance” (those who see in COVID-19 a Jewish conspiracy). In early November a group of about 35 Neo-Nazis marched to the grave of Walter Nowotny, a World War II Luftwaffe ace credited with numerous kills of Allied flyers. Additionally, there’s rampant antisemitism on the left and among some recent Muslim migrants.

Against this backdrop, the Austrian Jewish students took their action of renaming streets. The Neo-Nazi internet channel “Unwiderstehlich” (“Relentless”) issued a chilling mortal threat against the young brother and sister pair, Bini and Lara Guttmann, who led the student group.

We have seen nothing about this in the U.S. media. At a time when wearing a kippah or supporting Israel can be an act of courage, we should stand with our brothers and sisters. You can leave a message of support on the Austrian Union of Jewish Students Facebook page (www.facebook.com/joehwien).


If we don’t, who will?

Matthew Grad, Ariela Grad (President of Parkway North JSU)

The left’s ‘alternative facts’ about Israel

People on the left often, rightly, criticize those on the right, for believing lies such as that vaccinations for COVID-19 do not work but horse pills do. But the left has its own “alternative facts” problem when it comes to Israel. It’s not necessarily their fault.

As documented by former New York Times journalist Bari Weiss and former Associated Press journalist Matti Friedman, most major media outlets have settled on a “narrative” that is anti-Israel. Facts that don’t fit the narrative are reported in a slanted way or omitted altogether. Just as some anti-Vaxxers may believe they have “done the research” and are certain of what they “know,” many news consumers consider themselves well informed on Israel, but are in fact totally wrong. One example of this common but totally incorrect belief is that “white” racist Jews in Israel practice apartheid against “brown” Arabs.

Apartheid was a horrifically unjust social system in South Africa that forced people of color to suffer countless indignities, and denied them political and economic rights. It was ended in part because of a world-wide boycott. This false charge has been manufactured against Israel, because if true, it would justify the BDS movement (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) promoted by Israel’s enemies. The lie was recently repeated by our own Congressperson Cori Bush, and as reported in the Light, it was also alleged by another “progressive” Congress person at a St. Louis JStreet executive meeting.

Israel is not “white.” Having secured the return home and self-determination of Jewish people previously exiled, scattered and persecuted throughout the world, the majority of Israel’s seven million Jews are people of color, emigrating from Arabic countries, Ethiopia, India, Asia and elsewhere.

There is no apartheid in Israel, a country which is perhaps the single best example of full- fledged multi-culturalism anywhere in the world. The apartheid slander is another form of the Soviet/PLO created charge that “Zionism is Racism.” Its purpose is to delegitimize the world’s only Jewish State. As such, it meets the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) definition of antisemitism. The truth is that like all other Israeli ethnicities, many Arab citizens of all faiths in Israel serve as Israeli diplomats, journalists, hospital department heads, IDF generals and Supreme Court justices. Arab citizens have the same rights as any other Israeli citizen. The Ra’am Islamist party is an active and influential part of the current Israeli government.

Israel is not the United States, and it is not South Africa. The charge that Israel practices apartheid is antisemitic and an insult to Israeli citizens of all backgrounds, to all Jews and to all victims of apartheid. All people of good will should speak up whenever this outrageous canard is raised, and particularly, when it is raised at the highest levels of our government.

David Rubin, St. Louis

Biggest problems facing U.S. 

Regarding Marty Rochester’s compelling commentary, “The five biggest problems facing the U.S. today” (Nov. 17), allow me to add an additional problem to Rochester’s list: gun violence.

The number of shootings and killings permeating the United States is unconscionable, and is a daily occurrence not only in large cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Detroit, but also in smaller metropolises such as right here in St. Louis. Despite all of the forums and conferences to address this egregious problem, nothing of substance seems to be working. 

I propose that any individual who uses a gun in the commission of a crime, if convicted, should be given a mandatory life sentence in prison, without the possibility of parole, regardless of whether or not the outcome results in no one being hurt, injured or killed. This would accomplish a dual purpose: getting that particular weapon off the street for good and incarcerating that individual for the rest of his or her life, whereby that person would never be free to commit another crime. This would serve as a warning and a deterrent to those who are bent upon using guns in pursuit of their criminal activities.

This action would involve a heavy financial burden. Not only would a multitude of new prisons have to be built, but costly lifetime accommodations for these prisoners would have to be met. This would likely require higher taxes, but it would certainly be worth it.

I would hope that politicians, both liberals and conservatives, together with the majority of the population, would give serious consideration to this proposal. 

People’s lives are at stake.

Gene Carton, University City