Letters to the Editor: Week of March 26, 2014

Legislature’s proposals disrespect women

In light of the numerous and onerous bills that the Missouri legislature is considering that limit access to abortion, one has to wonder what the legislators really think about women. Is it not demeaning that the legislature thinks that the first time a woman has thought about an unintended pregnancy is when she arrives at the clinic for an abortion? A 72-hour waiting period is not a way to “protect” women, but a way to put another barrier in front of women that keeps them from receiving a very safe and legal medical procedure. For the many women who have to travel to our one Missouri clinic, a law such as this would add the burden of leaving family, the cost of missing work, and additional money for a hotel — all for a procedure that the woman has already thought about and been informed about when she called the clinic.

As a faith-based organization, the National Council of Jewish Women respects the diversity of religious and personal opinion, but believes we cannot presume to tell others how best to inform and listen to their own consciences as they make decisions about whether and when to have children or how best to care for their families. Why would the Missouri legislature think it can do just that?

The National Council of Jewish Women-St. Louis Section, representing 5,000 members and supporters, encourages citizens who believe in religious liberty and the separation of religion and state to contact their Missouri representatives and let them know that you oppose any further restrictions on women’s reproductive health.

Marlene Hammerman, President NCJW-St. Louis Section

Right of return

The March 12 commentary “Why ‘Israeli’ is not a nationality” reminds me of the proclamation in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” that “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

Israel cannot legitimately claim to be both a liberal democracy and a state that belongs to all the Jews of the world. For example, if an Israeli Arab (Palestinian) marries a non-Jew from the West Bank or Gaza that person is not eligible for citizenship and residency rights in Israel. But a Jew anywhere in the world can instantly become an Israeli Jew – no marriage needed. This is the Right of Return, a right denied millions of Palestinians and their descendants who lived in what is now Israel before 1948 and want to return.

The reality is that Israel is a Jewish ethnocracy — the distinction between citizenship and nationality is a type of sleight of hand meant to merge the illusion of equality for all with the reality of privilege for some. Meanwhile, even the illusion of equality disappears in the “Occupied Territories.” You can support equality, justice and democracy or you can support the political system in Israel. But you can’t do both at the same time.

Michael Berg, St. Louis