Letters to the editor: Feb. 21, 2018

Teacher calls for increased background checks for gun purchases

[Editor’s note: The following is a letter the writer first sent to Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.]

I am a public school teacher at Ladue Horton Watkins High School. This is my 20th year at Ladue and 21st in Missouri.

I am writing you in a plea to save the students I teach. Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., has a remarkably similar demographic composition to Ladue.

New Mt. Sinai Cemetery advertisement

Please lead the fight for increased background checks for gun purchasers. Every gun sold should have to have a background check, regardless of who is selling it.

I do not donate money to politicians, so you probably will not care what I have to say. I do want you to know my name so that if I am killed in a school shooting like [Douglas High School teacher] Scott Beigel, you will never sleep again because you put the NRA in front of the constituents you are sworn to serve.

Jim Goldwasser, Creve Coeur

‘Wrong-headed’ column 

Having read Marty Rochester’s “Why my dislike of the left trumps my dislike of the president” (Feb. 14 Jewish Light), I’m amazed that he can hold a university-level position as a teacher of political science. He admits to Donald Trump’s outrageous personality and lack of fitness for the presidency, but cites Trump’s actions as triumphs where sane people would cringe: “Tax cuts. Deregulation. More for the military; less for the United Nations. … Troops to Afghanistan. Arms for Ukraine.” 

This is not good government; this is the insanity for which Trump is famous. He’s brought us to the brink of war with North Korea, he’s increased our involvement in warfare in the Middle East, he’s eased restrictions on pollution and corruption and made us internationally famous as a nation of violent bigots and bullies. 

I guess professor Rochester and I see things differently. Rochester sees anything wrong with government as President Barack Obama’s fault, and any progress to be credited to Trump. I would remind professor Rochester and the Light’s readers that Jews continue to vote, by vast majority, for Democrats. 

I feel about many Democrats like professor Rochester does about Trump: It’s a little bit like kissing the devil. But our co-religionists have traditionally backed civil rights, human rights, women’s rights, the organizing of unions, controls on pollution and corrupt politics, an open-door policy on immigration (remember the Holocaust? Apparently not), control of the massive U.S. war-waging machinery, etc.  On all of these issues conservatives have been wrong-headed, an appellation I will now apply to Rochester.

Fred Blumenthal, St. Louis

I am not sure why Marty Rochester felt the need to share his views in his recent column. His thesis seems to be that while Trump may not be especially good for our country, liberal policies would be far worse. Citing noted Republican Trump critics such as David Brooks and Bret Stephens, Rochester would have us believe that he is more enlightened and judicious, and that he is steering us not toward Trump, but to some imagined middle ground with “less polarization and more sanity in our political system.”

In fact, Rochester’s column represents the worst kind of moral and intellectual abdication of principles. In its supposed even-handedness, he willfully ignores what Trump has done to our democratic values and the principles our country was founded upon. Rochester never mentions the president’s disdain for truth in his article. Why not? Nor does he cite Trump’s reckless careening toward authoritarianism. 

Instead, Rochester chooses to offer us familiar tropes about left wing “identity politics” and the “racism of a liberal professoriate” with a passion utterly missing in his tepid, half-hearted displeasure with Trump. 

Like the cowardly Republican Congress that chooses to occasionally express faux outrage, then wink at its hypocrisy by promoting a tax cut benefiting corporations and the wealthiest among us, Rochester hails Trump’s tax plan (“80 percent of the middle class will get a tax cut under the legislation”) while absurdly noting that the “Federal Register containing 100,000 pages of regulations, has been reduced by one-third over the past year.”

Rochester ignores the fact that tax cuts for the upper 1 percent (even if desirable, and even if they didn’t add 1.5 trillion dollars to the debt) could possibly offset the repugnant and imperious actions of a man who has systematically debased, in his behavior and actions, the office of the presidency. 

Rochester can pretend to be restrained in his praise of an autocrat devoid of self-reflection and human decency, but his column is yet another feckless attempt to normalize the aberrant and abnormal. 

Henry I. Schvey, St. Louis

Missouri anti-BDS bill differs from Kansas legislation 

On Feb. 7, the Light published a letter by Michael Berg claiming that Missouri Senate Bill 849 is very similar to a law in Kansas that required individuals contracting wit the state for goods or services to sign statements that they oppose a boycott of Israel.Berg’s claim is unfounded. Missouri Senate Bill 849 only affects state contracts in excess of $10,000 and does not require anyone to sign a statement regarding his or her beliefs.

Moreover, Berg’s letter claims that “the movement promoting boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel calls for Israel to end its military occupation, grant equal rights to all inhabitants and bring justice for Palestinian refugees.” 

In essence, BDS is calling on Israel to be one state for all of its inhabitants and the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza, both Jewish and Palestinian. BDS also calls for the return of all Palestinian “refugees” (including the descendants of those refugees) to pre-1967 Israel. 

If BDS were to achieve its aim, Jews would be a minority in an overwhelmingly Palestinian state. The only way that Israel can remain a Jewish State is for there to be two states: one with a Jewish character and one with a Palestinian character.

Berg also claims that SB 849 opposes the rights of Missourians. However, SB 849 and its sister bill, HB 2179, are consistent with Missouri law and with past measures designed to promote trade between Israeli companies and the State of Missouri. In 2013, the Missouri Legislature passed a measure to establish a trade office in Israel. That office, and the subsequent GlobalSTL initiative, have brought several cutting-edge Israeli companies to Missouri, creating many new jobs and attracting millions of dollars in local capital investment.

Twenty-four U.S. states have already passed anti-BDS legislation. I sincerely hope that Missouri will be the 25th.

Galit Lev-Harir, Wildwood