Letters to the editor: December 4, 2019


The choice is ours

In response to the Nov. 27 commentary “Two Events One Week Apart,” I offer my impression of two events four days apart that deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Full disclosure, I am a co-sponsor of the second event.

The first program was Breaking the Silence. The group states its mission is “to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories.” In fact, Breaking the Silence presents a one-sided anti-IDF program often outside of Israel. Breaking the Silence condemned IDF actions as supportive of the “Occupation” and designed to oppress the Palestinians. For example, searches of Palestinian houses were said to target random families. An audience member stated that as an IDF lone soldier she transmitted orders for house searches based upon terrorist activity, not as a random exercise. One of these searches thwarted an attack upon an Israeli kindergarten. Breaking the Silence responded that sometimes they searched the same house more than once, never considering that repeat searches may be based upon credible terror threats.

Although not designed to coincide so closely with the first program, Kay Wilson communicated an amazing Israeli story of survival and hope. After a horrific terror attack that killed her friend and nearly claimed her life, Wilson has emerged as an anti-terrorism advocate, a co-founder of a pro-peace Palestinian children’s group, and a motivational speaker.  She told her story with a sense of humor and had a plan to further peace that went beyond denouncing the “Occupation” without proposing a viable alternative. Instead of responding to her attack with bitterness and hatred, Wilson has friends who are Muslim, Palestinian and Syrian. Further, she has risked her life to save pro-Israel Muslims such as Mohammad Zoabi. 

What our community supports matters to Israel and to us. Breaking the Silence is free to speak in St. Louis and has made four visits in the past five years. Kay Wilson has appeared once. We need to decide what message we wish to provide with a platform: a message of hope or a message that is entirely negative. In the future, I hope we choose our programs wisely.


Laura Hulbert Goldmeier, Creve Coeur

Confirmation bias

In his Nov. 20 Op-Ed “President’s Ukraine Shell Game Damages U.S. National Security” Eric Mink says several things that could be contested, but two things stand out which deserve some additional attention.

The first, and most specifically, is “the thoroughly discredited false claim that Ukraine, not Russia, had interfered in the U.S. presidential election of 2016.” The fact is that, as reported in The New York Times on Dec. 12, 2018 (find the article here: https://nyti.ms/2Li3w7z), a Ukrainian Court did find that Ukraine broke the law and meddled in the U.S. election by releasing information about payments to Paul Manafort while he was with the Trump campaign. 

Secondly, considering an investigation was conducted against candidate Trump based on suspected foreign ties (Russia), why shouldn’t a sitting president ask for an investigation about possible foreign influence surrounding a current candidate? 

There are many other aspects to Mr. Mink’s piece that exemplify the seeming Rorshach nature of the entire political climate today; that is we all see (and hear) that which confirms our own biases.

Hesh Lyons, Creve Coeur 

Facts offer clarity

The Nov. 20 JTA article on the negative reaction by presidential candidates to the U.S. decision to no longer consider a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria illegal displays such ignorance about Israel.

The facts provide clarity: 

• The 1922 League of Nations Palestine Mandate called for “close settlement by the Jews on the land [of Judea and Samaria]” recognizing a Jewish right to live there; 

• After Israel’s birth, Jordan claimed administration over the area, which the US never acknowledged; 

• Israel re-claimed the land in 1967 after having been attacked by Jordan. 

• In 1978 noted philo-Semite President Jimmy Carter condemned the ‘settlements’ as illegal; 

• President Ronald Reagan rejected the Carter view; 

• President Barack Obama re-asserted the Carter position, which the current president overturned. 

Accepting the legality of Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria puts the issue back in the political arena, where it belongs. Ultimately the question is, will Jews have a right to live in peace in some future state on the West Bank, or must it be judenrein?

The world is filled with disputed territories: take the example of the “Russian” city of Kaliningrad. A Germanic city for 900 years, in 1945 as Russia won a defensive war against an aggressor, they eliminated and replaced the local populace to grab a Baltic seaport. No one talks of Kaliningrad as illegally occupied today because resolution was found as part of the political and diplomatic conclusion of the larger conflict, first at Potsdam and finally as part of German reunification in 1990. 

So must it be with Judea and Samaria. When Arabs accept the Jews’ right to live in the region, peace will be restored. Declarations that Jewish life in the area is illegal emboldens Arabs to stand pat while hoping the acid of Western condemnation corrodes Israeli resolve.

Matthew Grad, Creve Coeur

EU call for labeling recalls troubling era

In reading the Nov. 13 JTA news brief titled, “Foods from Israeli settlements must be labeled as such, European court rules,” I couldn’t help but feel the following. Perhaps companies should put a yellow star of David with Jude written in the middle, prominently on the front of the product. Maybe this would show the Europeans just how discriminatory this is. Saying made in Israel or even made in the West Bank of Israel should be all that’s needed. Anti-Semitism is moving right on up into the courts. 

Rick Green, Rotonda West, Fla.