slightly open mail slot

Letters for the week of Feb. 10, 2017

In support of travel ban

While I agree with your criticisms of the manner in which the Trump administration’s temporary travel ban was executed, I take strong exception to your condemnation of it in your editorial of Feb. 3: “Opposing ban goes to heart of our values.”

President Trump’s decision to temporarily suspend travel from seven terror-prone countries pending a review of the vetting system is appropriate.

In 2011, President Obama discontinued all immigration from Iraq for six months after the FBI arrested two Iraqi refugees in Kentucky for planning a terrorist attack. Both presidents acted appropriately to assure the safety of the American people, which is their first responsibility.

Those who work in the vetting program do their level best to keep the country safe while extending humanitarian sanctuary to those in need.  However, the notion that these systems are anything close to foolproof ignores the plain facts of well-documented breakdowns.

One should recall that the Tsarnaev brothers, who committed the Boston Marathon bombing, came to the Unites States as refugees. As recently as three months ago at Ohio State University, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, a Somali-born refugee, conducted a ramming attack and then stabbed 10 innocent people. No one was killed only because a heroic police officer shot the assailant and stopped the carnage.

Closer to home, in February 2016, Mohammed Younis al-Jayab, an Iraqi born refugee, was arrested in Sacramento for having travelled to Syria to fight for terrorist groups.

These well-publicized events do not cover the full range of terrorism involvement by refugees. Last September, Leon Rodriguez of the Department of Homeland Security confirmed in Senate testimony that 18 percent of those prosecuted in ISIS cases were refugees or persons given asylum.

Given these facts, a temporary suspension of travel from certain terror-prone countries, pending review of the vetting process, is reasonable, prudent and justified.

Steve Astrachan, Pleasant Hill


‘Senseless and cruel ban’

As children of Holocaust survivors and refugees from the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, we strongly oppose the administration’s ban on immigrants.

We urge our leaders in Congress to come to their senses and oppose this executive order based on unjustified fear. We already have a very strict screening process in place, and there is overwhelming evidence that it is working.

Not a single American citizen has been killed in a terrorist incident by a refugee from any of the seven banned countries. On the contrary, evidence is overwhelming that immigrants are hardworking and make positive contributions to our society while filled with gratitude for the safe haven America provided them.

We urge our elected representatives to speak out and act quickly and decisively to reverse this senseless and cruel ban on immigration. We remind them that we and other voters do remember, especially at the ballot box, how our leaders who represent us behave in critical times such as this.

This issue is beyond partisanship. It is about our common humanity.

Do not let unfounded fears destroy all that we Americans stand for. The legacy of this wonderful country for centuries has been to be a haven for oppressed refugees. The few times in our history when we turned our backs and acted with fear — refusing entrance in the 1930s for Jews fleeing Nazi oppression, and incarcerating innocent Japanese Americans in detention camps in the early 1940s — we now look back upon with shame and sorrow.

This is another historic time, a chilling echo of the past. We urge you to act with your humanity and reverse this assault to our morality and national security.

Marta and Henry Fuchs, Santa Monica


Muslims are hardly ‘vulnerable’

After seeing J.’s coverage of local Jews protesting the immigration ban in the Feb. 3 issue, I had a few questions.

What has prompted the slogan, as seen in a photo on the front page, “I will stand with the most vulnerable” (i.e. Muslims)? Why is Rabbi Katie Mizrahi, in an op-ed, making a call to rise up in defense “of the vulnerable Muslim population of the world”? And why are there limits to trivializing the Nazis’ barbarism during the Holocaust?

Keeping in line with the old Jewish tradition of answering questions by posing questions, in return, I’d like to ask the demonstrators: Have you demonstrated in support of French Jews beaten and murdered in recent years?  Have you ever seen the “vulnerable” Muslims during their boycott, divest and sanctions orgies on college campuses?  Have you ever protested the anti-Semitism on U.C. campuses born from these orgies?

As for equating Holocaust with the “vulnerable” Muslim refugees’ situation, don’t you know that Jewish escapees from Hitler-occupied Europe begged for asylum among people foreign to them since they didn’t have a single country governed by their co-religionists, while there are currently 48 Muslims majority countries in the world? Can’t you distinguish between Hitler’s genocide and factional wars in the Middle East?

Of course, America should participate in saving Muslim refugees, but their vulnerability is far removed from the carnage of Jews, gassed and murdered in the concentration camps.

Vladimir Kaplan, San Mateo


Put the blame on Islam

I voted for Trump and support his travel ban 100 percent.

It is for the protection of America and our fellow citizens. It is not racist nor bigoted to desire security. Look at Europe! Armed guards at Jewish schools and synagogues. Why? Islam, pure and simple.

Mike Levine, Moraga


How in the world could Trump not mention Jews?

The absence of any mention of Jews in President Donald Trump’s Holocaust Remembrance Day statement should be worrisome to Jews.

In the Trump (Steve Bannon?) view, it’s as if “innocent people” were randomly rounded up rather than being targeted for ethnic cleansing. “The Holocaust” is only a phenomenon when Jews and anti-Semitism are included.

As Hannah Arendt wrote, “The Holocaust was a crime against humanity perpetrated on the body of the Jewish people.”

Also, don’t think Trump’s support for Israel is deep: Remember that the Nazis had a certain respect for Zionists because they saw them as proud of their race — even though the race was inferior and worthy of the Final Solution.

Lastly, don’t think Jared Kushner is going to be our “Court Jew.” It doesn’t seem like he is making policy (or even helping with Holocaust Memorial Day statements). He is probably just looking out for the family interests. Dark times.

Ron Feldman, Berkeley


Choking off free speech is a foul act indeed

Self-described as a “movement,” the group By Any Means Necessary evacuated itself on the Berkeley campus, clogging up free speech at the “marketplace of ideas” and causing a foul overflow of arson and violence.

Police declared an unlawful assembly and ordered everyone to leave, but hundreds of protesters stayed. Police in riot gear retreated into the student center when rushed by masked anarchists.

There was also an attack on free speech at U.C. Davis on Jan. 13. A speaker’s safety could not be guaranteed due to “protestors” breaking through a police barricade, and a scheduled event was canceled.

Does tikkun olam include guaranteeing the safety of free speech? We need to look carefully at what we are teaching college students on U.C. campuses.

Julia Lutch, Davis


So you know what’s best for Israel?

From the warmth and safety of their homes outside of Israel, many, both great and small, endlessly tell Israel what is best for her and what to do: End the occupation, two-state solution, the settlements, etc.

They usually justify their erudite, freely given remarks with a “but.” “I am a Jew, but …” “I am a Zionist, but …” “We love Israel, but …”

At present, judging from actions and statements coming from the Arabs, and remembering what happened in 2005 after the withdrawal from Gaza, it is highly questionable that a Palestinian state would be a peace-loving, diverse democracy that supports “human rights.”

More likely, it would be a terrorist “Judenrein” tyranny, ready and able to lob rockets and gunfire into the heartland of Israel. Ask those who live along the border of Gaza how peaceful it is.

So I ask those well-meaning “advisors” to Israel: Are you willing to move your family to live along the border of such a state? If you are not willing to move your “butt” there, then “butt” out and let the Israelis decide what is best for them!

Marvin L. Engel, Piedmont


No logic at JCRC

To the board of directors of the Bay Area Jewish Community Relations Council:

I do not approve of recent JCRC actions and statements. For example:

JCRC purports to be nonpartisan and nonpolitical, yet it issued a strong statement condemning the political appointment of Steven Bannon to the White House staff.

JCRC remained noticeably silent in the wake of United Nations and UNESCO resolutions, which denied the historic relationship of the Jews to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.

JCRC sat on its hands in the face of United Nations Security Council resolution 2334, which, inter alia, states that the Western Wall, the Temple Mount and the Old Jewish Quarter (amongst others) are now in “occupied Palestine.”

Although many of us do not agree with different policy aspects of the new administration, JCRC unequivocally took sides and urged the community to strongly oppose some actions relating to immigration policy and national safety and security.

I do not know how, or on what basis, the board of directors makes decisions on matters of singular importance. I am, however, disturbed that you are not acting in the best interests of all factions of the Bay Area Jewish community.Therefore, I urge you to adopt a decision-making model in which all relevant voices are heard, and represented.

Trump is my president!

Aleksandr Druker, Castro Valley