Letters to the editor: November 13, 2019


Vetting of author’s ‘truths’ needed

I was so very disappointed to discover that a partner of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis — the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival — has chosen to disparage Israel and the Israel Defense Forces by featuring Yousef Bashir, a Palestinian described as an “unflinching advocate of peace.” 

The Jewish Light promotes this “spin” in its description of Bashir’s book as “tactful,” bereft of diatribes. Perhaps someone should have looked up the meaning of the word “diatribe.” Yes, Bashir is subtle in undermining the Jewish State; would anyone expect anything different from a U.S. educated person? 

The Jewish Light quotes Bashir’s accusations that he was shot “for no apparent reason”; that his father has “experienced suffering at their [IDF’s] hands”; that the IDF destroyed their homestead in Gaza; that the “soldiers shot everywhere…[out of boredom].”  Seems to me that the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival owed it to our community to also feature a speaker who could address the validity of Bashir’s claims. More importantly, the Jewish Light should have vetted these “truths” before it proclaimed Bashir’s “wisdom and generosity.” 

Advertisement for The J

Certainly, the IDF deserves criticism when criticism is due, but we owe it to ourselves and Israel to make sure when that is truly the case.

Susan K. Feigenbaum, Town and Country

Jewish community  events on same night frustrate reader 

One of my favorite Yiddish expressions that my late grandparents taught me was “Mit eyn tuches ir kennen nisht tantsn in ale khasenes.” With one behind, you can’t dance at all the weddings.

St. Louis isn’t that big of a town and our Jewish community even smaller so it’s disappointing that so many wonderful cultural events are planned at the same time.  In the Nov. 6 issue of the Light I read about the interesting Jewish-related films being presented at the St. Louis International Film Festival over many of the same days I had planned to attend presentations at the Jewish Community Center’s Jewish Book Festival with my Premier Pass, all-inclusive ticket.  

Even more frustrating was the fact that I’d already made reservations for the program “Americans and the Holocaust—What Did Missourians Know?” sponsored by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum at Kol Rinah on Nov. 19 and then found out about the lecture by Eli Rosenbaum where he will discuss his work as a Nazi-hunter which will be at the St. Louis Holocaust Museum building at exactly the same time on the same night. So I guess this Missourian will not be able to know about that. 

Do we not have a Jewish community calendar where these dates could be cleared to avoid such overlap?  I can only dance at one wedding at a time.

Sherilyn Krell, Olivette

Misleading on race

It is hard to know where to begin a response to Martin Rochester’s misinformed Oct. 30 commentary, “Are We Exaggerating racism?”

Yes we have made progress, but our schools are more segregated than ever. 

If Rochester had read Richard Rothstein’s “The Color of Law” Colin Gordon’s two books on housing discrimination before and after the great civil rights l1960’s, including the  Fair Housing Law of 1968, he would know how zoning laws and redlining by the real estate and banking industries increased white flight and the segregation of neighborhoods in the St. Louis region 

His analogies are also flawed. While he is right to praise the accomplishments of Asian Americans immigrants and the discrimination most faced, the experiences of African Americans are dramatically different. Slavery and Jim  Crow laws left far deeper scares and a legacy we have yet to fully address. 

And comparing affirmative action at our most selective universities with having the talent to play in the NBA is absurd.  

Many African American students admitted to Harvard and other competitive universities have become leaders in every sector of our society. Ironically this confirms Rochester’s assertion that our country has made some progress in racial matters.  

I am not sure how Rochester knows so much about what is taught in schools about race and the Founding Fathers. As a former history teacher who also provided seminars for history teachers, it is my impression most teachers praise the accomplishments of the Founding Fathers but also do not treat the founding generation as demigods. 

His criticism of The New York Times 1619 publication is worth debating. Centering race as the most important theme in American History is a provocative thesis, but the series is a persuasive set of articles by leading African American scholars who educate readers on how race has shaped so much of our history, whether we start the narrative in 1619 or 1776.

The most small-minded assertion in Rochester’s commentary is his claim that he learned all he needs to know about slavery in elementary school: “This was not exactly rocket science.”

This is an insult to African Americans and scholars of slavery who are dedicated to new scholarship that presents new insights into the impact of slavery. 

We should expect more thoughtfulness from distinguished professors.  

Dennis Lübeck, Brentwood

Confronting anti-Semitism   

Regarding the Nov. 6 story, “White supremacist arrested in plot to destroy a Colorado synagogue,” once again, another synagogue has been targeted for an attack — albeit this time the perpetrator was arrested before he could carry out his plan.

Unfortunately, in the United States, anti-Semitic incidents have become commonplace in the last few years, resulting in a plethora of injuries and deaths to Jewish congregants.

I would venture to say that hatred for Jews now is at the worst point it has been since the Nazi era of the 1930s.  

Jews have always been the world’s scapegoats, and this will never change, as this situation has existed since biblical times. I wish I knew the answer to such hate and vitriol, but I confess I don’t.

In the meantime, Jews all over the world need to remain vigilant and be forever on guard, and continue to report all anti-Semitic activity to the authorities.

That said, if anti-Semitic scum think Jews are running scared, they are sadly mistaken. Jews have survived the worst of history’s  atrocities, and have always come back stronger with even more resolve.

Jews are fighters, not quitters, and will continue to survive until the end of time.

Gene Carton, University City


Submit letters to [email protected]. Letters may be edited for grammar, length and clarity. Please include your name, municipality and a daytime telephone number.  Letters should be no more than 250 words.  The Light will publish only one letter from an individual writer during a 60-day period.  Anonymous letters generally will not be considered for publication.