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Letters for the week of April 7, 2017

Don’t punish the poor; tax the rich (a lot)

Alan Titus’ March 31 letter points out that we have a problem with a large national debt, and he suggests that we should consider saving money by eliminating Meals on Wheels for the elderly and school lunches for children who are trying to study while hungry.

I would offer another way to close the debt. Perhaps those who have purchased our legislators with their huge hidden contributions could pay appropriate taxes on their income (70 percent on income over $5 million would be a good start) and on their estates.

We should not be like the ancient regime of pre-revolutionary France where the nobility were exempt from taxes. The disadvantaged are entitled to a decent meal and not just cake.

David S. Fankushen,
San Anselmo

Social media no fill-in for journalistic accuracy

I want to thank J. for its recent story on anti-Semitic incidents that have recently occurred at Carlmont High School and, in particular, for featuring my daughter’s perspective as a Carlmont junior on what has occurred.

However, I must correct an inaccuracy in the reporting that has now been picked up by others throughout the country — namely that, while it is possible that an incident involving students saying “Kill the Jews” at a high school stadium may have occurred somewhere, there is no evidence that it ever occurred at Carlmont High School. The source of this information was a social media post by someone discussing a meeting with teens from throughout the Bay Area where the recent incidents at Carlmont came up and the teens then discussed other things.

While the report of what occurred at a high school stadium is horrific, just as the incidents at Carlmont are horrific, it is important that journalists maintain accuracy in their stories and check sources before going public. The failure to do so creates distractions for those involved in combating behaviors of hate. I would request that J. publish a correction and strive in the future for a thorough vetting of facts before publication.

Jeffrey Selman,

Editor’s note: The article has been corrected online. Thank you for the clarification.

Settlements not ‘expanding’ if footprint hasn’t changed

It’s not “expansion”! J. needs to work on its language about Israeli settlements. Your article “Trump the peacemaker?” uses the word “expansion” three separate times, but it’s inaccurate every time.

Would Berkeley say that its neighbor is “expanding” every time a new housing project begins in Oakland? Hardly! Except for the just-announced development to replace Amona, there has been no new settlement approved since before the Oslo agreement nearly 25 years ago. The footprint has not changed, any more than the boundaries of Oakland have changed, despite all the building going on.

Having more Israelis living east of the pre-1967 line may not be to the liking of the Palestinians, but the increased population does not “make the logistics of [a two-state solution] much more challenging.” What the Palestinians want is for Israel to go back to before 1967 (and then to disappear altogether), but even “moderate” Mahmoud Abbas is not willing to offer the bare minimum — a verbal acceptance of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people — in return.

No wonder the vast majority of Israelis believe that an agreement with the Palestinians is not possible in the near future.

Dan Fendel,

The peace bridge to nowhere

Tom Kahan’s article “This two-state solution is a shrewd, great conclusion” (March 31) is very symbolic. Not by its merits or flaws, but by the mere appearance as a “local voice.” A descendant of a Holocaust survivor, a resident of the Bay Area, has decided to present his plan for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Jews in Israel and all over the world express their views and suggestions on how to bring peace to the land “between the river and sea.”

Until voices of the rumored silent majority of peaceful Arabs are heard, the Hamases, the Hezbollahs, the so-called “moderates” of Abbas’ Palestinian Authority, will continue their rejection of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, in the land of Jewish ancestors.

Until diverse voices of Jews, from left to right, and from individuals to organizations, are echoed by free and vocal voices from the “Arab street” calling for mutual respect and coexistence, all road maps to peace will end up on the infamous bridge leading nowhere.

Vladimir Kaplan,
San Mateo

Calling J Street ‘pro-Israel’ is deceptive and dishonest

Your editorials consistently refer to J Street as a “pro-Israel” lobby. Please, enough with such blatant intellectual dishonesty. J Street is, at its core, anti-Zionist. Its seed money came from George Soros, its founders include some of the worst anti-Zionists, and it accepts contributions from the world’s most vicious Israel haters. Therefore, it is only logical given J Street’s membership that an overwhelming majority of Israelis oppose J Street’s positions.

Even some Jewish leftist writers (such as Ron Kampeas of the always leftist JTA and Obama apologist Jeffrey Goldberg) no longer refer to J Street as pro-Israel — instead, they call J Street a “leftist Middle East policy group.”

Finally, I know that J.’s board of directors includes several J Street members; I suppose this accounts for your inaccurate descriptions of J Street. However, again, please cease this deception.

Tod Zuckerman,
Daly City

No room for alternative facts

Mark Davidow (“Inaccurate talking points,” letters, March 31) stated that the proliferation of Israeli settlements contributes to the stalemate in peace talks and that it is false to state the Palestinian leadership doesn’t want peace. Since Israel hasn’t built a new settlement in two decades, his statement is absurd. The Palestinians will not agree to two states for two peoples because they do not accept the existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East. Their insistence on the right of millions of Arabs to enter Israel and undermine her Jewish character is evidence of this. Their books and maps, which do not recognize Israel as a separate nation, and their moves in the United Nation to deny the historical presence of Jews in the Holy Land demonstrate this. Israel has already left settlements in Gaza and it has only brought more war and terror.

Danny Yanow (“A disgrace and a blight,” letters, March 31) needs to be reminded that Jews bought land in Eretz Yisrael. Had the Arabs accepted the United Nations Partition, there would not have been Arab refugees. There are consequences for starting and losing a war. Those Arabs who stayed made the right decision. Soon after the Armistice in 1949, Israel agreed to the return of over 100,000 refugees but was rebuffed by the Arabs because to do so would constitute recognition of Israel.

Nearly all of the West Bank settlements are built on land that was not privately owned, so very few were actually dispossessed. Facts do matter.

Gil Stein,

A raggedy moral playing field

Golda Meir once said that “those that perished in Hitler’s gas chambers were the last Jews to die without standing up to defend themselves.” The letters of Mark Davidow and Danny Yanow (March 31) suggest they perceive that the moral playing field between Israel and the Arabs who wish to murder Jews is level. What would Golda have thought about that?

Some people (even including many Israelis) won’t accept that some folks out there want to kill them simply because of their religion, no matter how nice they are. Islamic terrorists proclaim that they want to murder all Jews, among others. Can anyone really dispute that there actually is an Islamic religious war against the Jews being either waged or supported both actively and passively by millions?

Even if that observation “only” applies to 10 percent of the Muslim world, it “only” took a few dozen determined men to take down the WTC. The stark question is whether you’re willing to be a victim or not. In this highly personal choice, morality is only one factor to consider. Golda prioritized the self-preservation instinct intuitively. But some people never seem to learn.

Desmond Tuck,
San Mateo

Torah’s truths still valid, and a promise is a promise

Danny Yanow is horrified that a Jew would invoke the Torah to justify Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria (“A disgrace and a blight,” letters, March 31). Perhaps he thinks the Torah is a collection of worn-out myths with no relevance to the modern world. That’s what the Hellenists thought before the Maccabees proved them wrong. In fact, the Torah has no expiration date. Its eternal truths are as valid today as when they were given on Mount Sinai.

God promised the land of Israel to the Israelites in return for their promise to obey His commands. He drove the Canaanites out of the land because they polluted it with their corruption, and He used the Israelites to accomplish this task.

Are the Palestinian Arabs better than the Canaanites? Why would Israel accept neighbors who unabashedly seek its destruction, slander it with false accusations and train their children to be suicide bombers?

For 2,000 years of exile, Jews longed to return to the land of their forefathers and re-establish their ancient nation. Are we going to stop just short of the finish line because we don’t believe in our own heritage or because of misguided compassion for our enemies?

God raises adversaries against us in order to test us. Will we follow His commands, or place our trust in man-made ideologies that are sure to fail us in the end? Hopefully we’ll choose wisely and be fully restored to our land.

Martin Wasserman,
Palo Alto