Letters to the editor, week of June 23, 2010

Supporting Obama

Unlike Jeffrey Kass (‘Taking Down the Obama Posters,’ May 26), I remain immensely gratified that Barack Obama was elected to be our President with the overwhelming support of the American Jewish community.  

Although I am distressed with everyone else about the economic and environmental health of our country, I cannot think of a better leader for these challenging times than President Obama.  

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I am constantly impressed by his intelligence, temperament, open-mindedness, inclusiveness, values, strength, vision, and contextual knowledge.  President Obama’s position on Israel is virtually unchanged from that of his immediate predecessor-an unwavering assurance that the United States will always be a strong ally, a determination to ensure Israel’s security, and a concurrent concern for the plight of the Palestinian people. And, of course, a commitment to peace in the region and movement toward a safe and just two-state solution.  

What has changed is the Israeli government-from a centrist coalition to the right-wing Likkud.  I lived in Israel during the mid-1990s when Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated and Bibi was elected for the first time. The change in atmosphere from hope to fear was palpable.  Now that he is in charge again, there are bound to be challenging moments in the U.S.-Israeli alliance, but I am confident that overall American support of Israel during President Obama’s administration will be unwavering.  

I actually do have pictures of our transformational First Family displayed in my home and my office and they are not coming down. And, Mr. Kass, I do not consider myself to be a fool.

Rabbi Randy Fleisher

University City

African-American/Jewish task force

We are writing to thank the Jewish Light for its comprehensive front-page coverage in the June 16 issue, of the recent trip to Israel of St. Louis African-American leadership.

The group included James Buford, Rev. Earl Nance, Jr., Rev. E.G. Shields, Rev. Emery Washington, Sr. and Bill Young.

We are proud that three of the group, James Buford, Rev. Washington and Bill Young are members of the African-American/Jewish Task Force, co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis.

This dialogue group, through the 20-plus years of its functioning, has brought leadership of the African-American and Jewish communities together to explore issues of concern. The dialogue has built understanding. It has built friendships.

The trip to Israel, under the sponsorship of the American Israel Education Foundation, provided a deep insight into the current realities of the situation in the Middle East.

These insights will be shared with members of the Task Force, as well as with a range of community organizations and individuals.

Michael Litwack

Co-Chair, African-American/Jewish Task Force


Defending Arizona immigration law

To those who are decrying the newly passed immigration law in Arizona, including the powers that be at the St. Louis Jewish Light, and other Jewish organizations here and across the nation: Keep your powder dry and beware of putting the cart before the horse. Although the law has yet to go into effect – scheduled for July 29 – bleeding heart liberals have been quick to pre-judge it, and seemingly can’t contain their indignation to what they perceive as intolerant and discriminatory.

The law calls for Arizona police officers to detain or arrest those suspected of being illegal immigrants, but such action will not be undertaken in a willy-nilly fashion. Arizona police will undergo a stringent training program, and before any suspect is detained or arrested, probable cause must first be ascertained.

Truth be told, I would hope that even the most die-hard liberals would realize that illegal immigration is a problem of paramount importance. Right now, it’s estimated that there are approximately 12 million illegal immigrants residing in the U.S., earning a living and deriving benefits illegally, not paying taxes, taking jobs from U.S. citizens and other legal residents, and in some instances, committing horrific crimes.

Such a situation is untenable, yet thus far, the Obama Administration has been lax about doing anything to come up with a comprehensive solution. At least in Arizona, whose southern border with Mexico, is among the largest sites of illegal entry of Hispanic immigrants into the U.S., its legislature, together with its brave and courageous Governor Jan Brewer, have taken steps to mitigate and ameliorate the problem, and should be lauded and praised for their efforts, rather than criticized and condemned.      

Furthermore, for the edification of those who have expressed outrage over this law, please take notice. Since 1952, federal law has said: “Every alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him (her) and have in his (her) personal possession any certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card issued to him.”

That said, however, the question then that begs to be answered is, will this law inevitably invite abuse, and discrimination – e.g., racial profiling?

Perhaps, perhaps, not. Only time will tell.

However, if the law proves to be unworkable in its present form, the Arizona legislature can always amend, re-write, or even rescind it if necessary.

All I’m saying to those cynics and naysayers is to give the law a chance to work before denouncing it as repugnant and unconscionable.

My late beloved grandfather Louis Geeser, who came to this country in the early 20th century as an immigrant from Eastern Europe, had no English education, but, nevertheless, was a very judicious man, who possessed an inordinate amount of common sense.  When I was a youth, he would always admonish me time and time again, to “look,” “listen,” and “learn” – simple words with which we’re all familiar, but it was his way of impressing upon me on how to approach the hard, tough, decisions that I would be confronted with later in life.  

Unfortunately, the liberal media and its acolytes have summarily repudiated the Arizona law as egregious and unworthy of consideration, and rather than give it a fair chance to succeed, have opted instead to follow the convoluted and totally irrational mantra of “ready,” “fire,” and “aim.”

Gene Carton