Letters to the editor: March 20, 2019


Open letter to the Muslim community

Dear Muslim Brothers and Sisters: As we watched the news unfold out of New Zealand last night, we felt sick. The terror attack on the mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand where at least 49 Muslims were murdered and so many more were injured during their act of prayer is beyond comprehension. Simply put, we are devastated. 

We believe in a world in which every person has the right and the ability to practice their religion without fear of violence or intimidation. We believe in a world in which our faith traditions are not only tolerated, but embraced for their beauty of ritual, richness of history, and love of all people. 

We know all too well what it feels like to be attacked in a house of worship during the main prayer service of the week. We also know how we were comforted by the presence of allies, including the Muslim community, who stood with us in grief and solidarity. We will not allow this violence to become normalized. We vow to continue fighting hate, Islamophobia and bigotry in all its forms through strengthening our relationships and standing together against terrorism. In solidarity, 

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

Rabbi Noah Arnow, President, St. Louis Rabbinical Association

Gerry Greiman, Board Chair; Michael Oberlander, Chief Philanthropy Officer; Don Hannon, Chief Operating Officer; and Karen Sher, Senior Director, Community Engagement, Jewish Federation of St. Louis

Readers respond to ‘Trump, anti-Semitism and socialism’ column

In his March 13 op-ed (“Trump, anti-Semitism and Socialism),” Martin Rochester cites several polls and articles stating that young people are becoming more favorable to socialism than capitalism. The use of labels like these is outdated and simplistic in our complex political world. I think they are also used by the right-wing to frighten people. 

Fifty-five years ago I joined Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference to work in the South registering voters. I was young, but old enough to know that something was very wrong, and was able to see up close how our values can get distorted when no one cares to watch.

I am encouraged by today’s young people when they react to the unfairness, injustice and bold disregard for the values for which this country stands. If young people speak out for the integrity (or lack thereof) of how we treat people, let them call themselves socialists without the rest of us over-reacting. Let us remember that many of our ancestors were socialists.

To quote Rochester, “The reality is that there are still myriad Horatio Alger stories of rags to riches success built on hard work and brainpower, including so many immigrants attracted to our shores by our value system.” The fact is that “immigrants who are attracted to our shores” are largely being kept out of this country. The number of immigrants and refugees being admitted have dropped precipitously in the past few years due to government policies. Where are these Horatio Algers going to come from?

Kathy Lass, St. Louis


Marty Rochester packed so much into his column of March 13 it was hard to understand which of many points he was trying to make. 

He begins by damning President Donald Trump with faint praise, “60 percent of viewers reporting (on Trump’s State of the Union speech) a very positive reaction,” yet what Rochester didn’t say was that about 43 percent of the TV audience that night was Republican compared to 25 percent of the electorate.  Rochester pivots to Trump not being anti-Semitic because during the State of the Union he parades two victims of the Holocaust, one of whom barely missed being a victim of the shooter at the synagogue in Pittsburgh. The shooter, by the way, apparently was upset with the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society’s stance on immigration, which opposes Trump’s Draconian family separation policies.   

Rochester, who in a 2017 column defended Trump against critics’ claims of his racist views, now suggests that Trump can’t be an anti-Semite because his son-in-law and daughter are Jewish. So, are we to believe that Trump’s children, his speech, and pro-Israel military policies counter what we are experiencing in this country as a major uptick in anti-Semitic acts and violence since Trump was elected? 

Marty, if I’m suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome, then you are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.  Why do you and other Republicans enjoy being abused by this man?

Roger D. Lewis, Clayton

Be a ‘champion for truth’ regarding Holocaust history

The recent talk by Jan Grabowski at the Holocaust Museum and Learning Center on March 10 was very powerful. Grabowski, a self proclaimed “humble academic” at the University of Ottawa, is an eminent historian on the Polish “Blue Police” and their collaboration with the Nazis during World War II. I sat with clenched teeth, disturbed, as he presented in great detail a small excerpt of his research. But what followed during the Q&A really stung me. 

For perspective, Grabowski and colleagues have become targets of the Polish Far Right, their pictures splashed on propaganda newspapers with labels of dangerous anti-Polish subversives. Wherever he speaks, a representative of the Polish government comes out and challenges him.

On this day, the duty apparently fell upon the Honorary Polish Consul, Wojciech Golik. In a politely toned harangue, Golik recounted the story of the Assyrians, a civilized people who ruthlessly conquered the Kingdom of Israel 2,700 years ago. He reasserted the myth that the Nazis were descendants of the Assyrians and reminded everyone that they were the cause of the Holocaust, not the Polish nation.

Really? How repulsive that a mouthpiece for today’s far right Polish government had to try and get the last word. Let us all fight against these extremists and be champions for truth, plain and simple. And let this be a reminder to all of us Americans, left or right, who have lost our minds in devotion to “party.”

David Eisenstein, Chesterfield

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