Black lives matter, ­and so do facts

My own and another’s previous letters supporting the police in recent public controversies have generated passionate responses from people whose feelings I deeply respect. Nevertheless, I offer the following in response to Rabbi Michael Rothbaum’s letter in J. (Jan. 9). First, while violence may not have occurred at a majority of demonstrations, it has been far too frequent. The diversion of Oakland police resources to cover these disruptive demonstrations, starting in October, has led to an increase in the city’s homicide rate, victimizing largely young black men, as reported by SFGate.

Here we should learn from Martin Luther King Jr. His last protest in Memphis in 1968 was marred by violence. He and his staff determined firmly that the next march would be nonviolent. Tragically, that next march never occurred.

Second, there is no mention of the high rate of violent crime that plagues too many urban black communities. According to FBI data, this 13 percent of the population makes up 44 percent of homicide victims. This pattern of violent crime obviously affects the relationship of those communities with the police.

Finally, the belief that police use lethal force disproportionately against black males, an article of faith for many, is not consistent with available evidence. The FBI crime reports for 2013 show 295 police shootings of whites and 142 of blacks. The arrest numbers are:  whites 6.21 million, and blacks 2.55 million. The ratio of shootings to arrests is .0000475 for whites and .0000557 for blacks. While the numbers are incomplete because there is no uniform criminal incident reporting system in the United States, the available data show no significant difference by race. Hopefully, we can all focus on improving police/community relations to reduce violent crime and improve the lives of so many.

Steve Astrachan   |   Pleasant Hill


Situation for Jews in Paris has been bad for years

In response to the series of stories about the Paris shootings (Jan. 16), I must say that, from my standpoint, these events were not unexpected. My wife and I visit Paris frequently and have made quite a few friends in Paris. A number of years ago, one particular shopkeeper on the Rue de Turenne informed us that many Parisian Jews were in the process of leaving France to go to Israel, Montreal and the United States.

At that time, he was in the process of purchasing an apartment in Israel. On our last trip in November, he told us that this visit would probably be the last time we would see him because he now had his apartment.

His opinion was that the French government is “indifferent” to Jewish concerns for safety in France, due to the French government’s fear of the substantial Muslim swing vote to the Socialist parties and their support of the current president.

They were already emboldened by their success in bringing the Sarkozy government down. Do not be surprised if Jews continue to leave France in large numbers. The French government must be contemplating the brain and financial drain that will occur when this process achieves a critical mass.

Sam and Peggy Gluck   |   Foster City


Moderate Muslims have common cause with Jews

In response to the Jan. 9 editorial “How much more mayhem can we endure?” I suggest looking to World War II for the answer. With leaders like Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and General Eisenhower, the democracies knew they would endure as much as it took to defeat Nazi Germany, Italy and Japan.

First, our leaders of today need to recognize that extremist Muslims by their terrorism are at war with the United States, France, England, Canada and Australia. ISIS, al-Qaida, Hamas, etc. will have to be defeated. The editorial is correct, it is “Islamic terror,” and “we will fight [together] with moderate Muslims.” The war against extremist Muslims deserves bipartisan action by Democrats and Republicans.

Norman Licht   |   San Carlos


Pollard should remain in prison

On Dec. 19, you wrote an excellent editorial about the freeing of Alan Gross and then you wrote that the United States should now free Jonathan Pollard. Many have said this, but Pollard remains in a federal prison. Why? Because he deserves to be in prison!

When Pollard joined Navy Intelligence, he signed a document that said if he released any secret documents, he would be subject to a life sentence in a federal prison and/or a financial penalty. I signed the same document when I was in Navy Intelligence in World War II. The Navy and the FBI scared the hell out of me and warned me not to divulge any information to anyone, even fellow workers. Even though I handled very interesting correspondence, I never passed any of it on.

Pollard chose to violate his pledge and sent over 800 secret messages to Israel. The facts that he is Jewish and that he released these documents to Israel make no difference. He broke his bond to our government and was found guilty of treason, which is punishable by death during wartime.

Pollard is serving time he justly deserves and his punishment is a way of telling others that when you pledge your word, you must stand by your word or face the consequences!

Stanley Lichtenstein   |   Oakland


This is wrong lesson to learn from Moses

“Lesson from Moses” by Rabbi Susan Leider (Jan. 9) taught me a couple of lessons (no pun intended). Lesson 1: The absolute prerequisite for becoming a Jewish leader is to be rich and from an opulent background. Lesson 2: Poor and downtrodden need not apply.

I cannot claim to be a scholar in theology, thus Rabbi Leider’s article confused me. Are these the lessons we should derive from the story of Moses? Are these the lessons we should teach our children? To leave leadership to the rich and wealthy? To dismiss the poor and downtrodden? History is full of individuals who rose up from humble and outright terrible backgrounds to become leaders and scholars. Sorry, Rabbi, yours are wrong lessons.

Sofia Shtil   |   Fremont