Letters to the Editor: Jan. 14, 2015

Commentary needs balance

While I appreciate Martin Rochester’s provocative review of election returns in “Ten Reflections on the New Congress” (Jan. 7), the commentary is more of a partisan Republican statement than a balanced analysis of the 2014 election returns. His own views and hostility to government are apparent throughout. As a result, readers are left with a simplistic view of why certain groups vote the way they do.

African Americans do not vote overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party simply because of affirmative action and entitlements. Historians and political analysts have demonstrated how the Republican Party has played the “race card” since the passage of the great civil rights bills of the 1960s. This behavior continues with efforts to suppress the black vote with laws adopted by Republican legislatures across the country. More middle-class African Americans share Republican positions on public issues but remain uncomfortable with racially coded language of many Republican elected officials.

As for the Jewish vote, Rochester left no explanation of why Jews vote overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party.  A majority of Jews support the party because of its commitment to civil rights for African Americans, marriage equality, humane immigration reform and the rights of workers to have a voice through unions. The Republican Party has fought marriage equality and aggressively undermined the the rights of workers by pushing right-to-work laws in state legislatures across the country. Against this background, a majority of Jews believes that a more inclusive and diverse party is good for the Jews.

The returns may not tell us much about what what will happen in 2016. It is hard to say how positive news about the economy will impact 2016. Had the good news been apparent two months before the November elections, we might be having a different conversation.

Dennis Lubeck, Ph.D., St. Louis

Keeping maps accurate

I was happy to see the Jewish Light take on an issue near and dear to my heart — that of accurate map-making (Jan. 7 editorial, “No State Solution”). The paper condemns HarperCollins for printing atlases which omit the country of Israel, calling such maps “the dissemination of ‘propaganda.’ ”

I would like to see the Light continue this cause. In 2011 at the tourist information center in Haifa, I picked up a map of Israel (the same map the Israeli Ministry of Tourism still provides on its website). This map portrays all of the Occupied West Bank as part of a unified Israel. There are no lines of demarcation — just the words “Samaria” in the north and “Judea” in the south. The map shows several illegal Jewish settlements and their connecting roads, yet Palestinian cities are mysteriously unconnected to any roads.

These maps are also “the dissemination of ‘propaganda’ in the truest sense of the word.” They were made to create a falsehood — that of a State of Israel without checkpoints, without conflict, without occupation, without Palestinians. No country in the world, not even Israel, officially recognizes these maps as accurate.

HarperCollins pulped all of their offending atlases. I ask you to call on the tourism ministry to destroy their offensive maps and take them off their website. Next, you can challenge the Jewish National Fund and other organizations that disseminate similarly inaccurate and offensive maps.

Michael Berg, St. Louis