Then-candidate Donald Trump speaking at the AIPAC 2016 Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., March 2016. (Photo/JTA-Getty Images-AFP-Saul Loeb)
Then-candidate Donald Trump speaking at the AIPAC 2016 Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., March 2016. (Photo/JTA-Getty Images-AFP-Saul Loeb)

Chasm between Israel and US Jews; Jewish men and #MeToo

Trump vs. Obama: Policies on Israel tell the story

I commend J.’s Jan. 26 editorial (“Partisan divide over Israel — sound the alarm!”) for acknowledging the recent Pew report that 79 percent of Republicans versus 27 percent of Democrats favor Israel over Palestine in the ongoing conflict. You are also insightful in noting that since, someday, the Democrats will return to power, it behooves Israel’s supporters to try to bring that party back to its pro-Israel past.

However, attributing the shift to Prime Minister Benjamin “Netanyahu’s open contempt for President Obama,” which “contrasts so strikingly with his affection for President Trump,” ignores the substantial policy differences between the previous and current administrations.

In November 2009, Netanyahu, at Obama’s urging, declared a 10-month building freeze in the territories. The president responded by calling for the extension of the freeze to Jerusalem, which no Israeli leader could have done. He then waited down the 10-month period, calling on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to negotiate only toward its end.

Then, late in his term, Obama supported U.N. Security Council resolution 2334, which redefined the status of the disputed territories from “territories occupied in the recent conflict” (UNSC resolution 242) to “the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.”

The subtle change in wording nullified the deliberate diplomatic ambiguity of resolution 242 and the legitimacy of any Israeli/Jewish claims on that land, which became simply occupied Palestine.

Many have suggested that one of President Trump’s goals in his recent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which explicitly left border issues for future negotiation, was to restore to Israel a sense of legitimacy (with the ability to choose its own capital) which had been so deeply compromised by the previous administration.

By all means, try to bring the Democrats back to their earlier stance. But please do so with a better understanding of the actual policies at issue between the two parties.

Steve Astrachan
Pleasant Hill

Three reasons why Dems’ support for Israel is waning

Your Jan. 26 editorial missed several reasons why Democrats may be less supportive of Israel. The reasons have to do with policies of the current Israeli government. Some examples:

1. The government is moving toward destroying Palestinian villages and expanding and annexing Jewish settlements which are on disputed territory that would be part of a Palestinian state.

2. The government went back on its commitment to provide space at the Western Wall for Reform and Conservative worshippers.

3. The government continues to make life difficult for Palestinians, mistakenly assuming all of them are militant opponents of Israel, making the path to peace increasingly difficult.

Jon Kaufman

Big and little lies a harbinger of much worse to come

Here, in a tip of the iceberg, is why so many liberal Jews are so upset with Jewish Trump supporters (“One year later: Trump’s Jewish voters are proud, but not loud,” Jan. 12). I agree with David Blumberg that “persona is less important than policy,” but in Trump’s case, his persona, policies and authoritarian agenda of undermining the norms, checks and balances of democracy all reflect the same constant aggrandizement of his own ego and his money.

When asked by “ABC World News Tonight’s” David Muir: “Do you think that talking about millions of illegal votes is dangerous to this country, without presenting the evidence?” Trump’s response was, “No, not at all, because many people feel the same way that I do.” Trump is basically saying it’s OK to lie if others believe your lie and the lie benefits you at the moment. In his first 355 days, Trump made 2,001 false or misleading claims, as documented by the Washington Post.

I invite Trump supporters to research the following Big Lies and their lie-based policies: a) Trump saying “I have nothing to do with Russia,” ignoring the FBI and CIA’s conclusion it interfered on his behalf, promoting policies to dilute the Republican plank on sanctions, not enforcing current sanctions and not countering the ongoing cyberwar; b) Saying global warming is a Chinese hoax and supporting fossil fuels; c) Saying “This is going to cost me a fortune” while signing a wealthcare-healthcare tax bill that will enrich the richest, raise health care premiums and screw the rest of us.

Trump built his presidency on lies, racism, xenophobia and economic desperation, just as Hitler did. With Trump threatening North Korea with nuclear war, he could become responsible for a Final Solution for all of us, including Israel. For the sake of our children, I invite all supporters of Trump to take a closer look at his lies and the damage his lie-based policies have done.

Tom Kahan

Bibi’s regard for Trump is based on deeds, actions

Israel supporters and critics both should heed the J. editorial about the partisan divide, which is a timely alarm and warning.

Some of President Trump’s policies have been good for Israel — for instance, the recognition of the reality that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and to move the embassy there.

Some of President Obama’s policies were bad for Israel — for instance, not vetoing the U.N. anti-Israel resolution at the end of his second term.

This is the reason for the difference in the relationship between Netanyahu and the U.S. presidents. It is based on U.S. policies, not a choice of party.

Israel wants bipartisan support, and American Jews need bipartisan support of Israel in order to have a stronger Jewish community in the U.S.

Norman G. Licht
San Carlos

Close that chasm between Israel and diaspora Jews

Regarding the Pew Research Center poll that found a recent, precipitous decline in sympathy for Israel among Democratic Jews:

The survey’s results are being considered from the wrong perspective. For craven political advantage, Netanyahu’s Israel has abandoned we secular and non-Orthodox Jews in the diaspora, not the other way around. Netanyahu has tried to define Judaism and the terms of a relationship with Israel that excludes most of us diasporic Jews.

To top it off, after we literally had Nazis marching in the streets of the United States and our imbecilic president said there are very fine people among them, Netanyahu had almost nothing to say.

A Netanyahu appointee said that Israel must defend Trump and that “we need to put the declarations about the Nazis in proper proportion.”

My sympathies are with Israel and I stand 100 percent with Israel’s right to defend itself, but I look forward to a new government in Israel that closes the chasm that Netanyahu has created with we diasporic Jews.

Steve Elster
Walnut Creek

Are we ready as a community to address #MeToo?

Many thanks to Rabbi Daniel Brenner for his opinion piece recognizing that #MeToo is about Jewish men, too (“As tough as it is for Jewish men to admit, #MeToo is about us, too,” Jan. 26)

Shalom Bayit, the Bay Area agency that works to end domestic violence in Jewish homes, just celebrated its 25th anniversary. We are proud of the work we have done in raising the community’s awareness about domestic violence, a form of gender-based violence which occurs in the place where we should feel most safe — our homes.

But violence against women will continue in our community (at the same rate as in the rest of society) unless and until Jewish men join us in asking the hard questions, examining their own behaviors and beliefs, and work alongside women to shift societal norms about gender, power and sexuality.

To be most effective, that conversation needs to start at an early age. We need show and teach our youth what healthy relationships look like. Shalom Bayit has been bringing preventative education to youth, middle school to college, since 2002. We want to thank the day schools, synagogues and camps who have partnered with us.

Now it’s time for our community to integrate consent-based, healthy relationship education into the foundation of Jewish education throughout the Bay Area.

Only when men stand up with us, and all children are taught to prevent abuse from a young age, will we indeed create the cultural change needed to end violence against women and girls, whether in the workplace, while dating or in our most sacred place — our homes.

Linda Kalinowski
San Francisco
Chair, Shalom Bayit Advisory Board

Surprise and delight to read about Dufty

The Jan. 26 article on Bevan Dufty (“Q&A: The hands-on public official cleaning up BART”) was most interesting and informative! I live in the East Bay and my husband and I are active in a small schule, Congregation B’nai Tikvah. Bevan Dufty is a name that was familiar to me over the years, but I did not know about him — just that he had been a San Francisco supervisor.

To read about his background was a surprise and a delight. That he is Jewish makes me feel proud and connected to all he stands for. Thank you for writing about him!

Nessa Wilk
Walnut Creek

How can anyone support a divisive, vulgar president?

Sue Fishkoff’s cover story (“One year later: Trump’s Bay Area Jewish voters are proud, but not loud,” Jan. 12) about Jewish supporters of Donald Trump and the subsequent letters were interesting, largely civil and encouraging.

However, I think it is important to distinguish between support for Trump’s policies and support for Trump the man.

The latter is support for vulgarity, venality, arrogance, dishonesty and divisiveness.

While I can certainly understand and countenance others’ support for some or all of Trump’s policies (support I do not share), I cannot understand or countenance support for Trump the man. Bottom line, his persona is an embarrassment to our great country.

As for policy, as a fiscal conservative I consider his simultaneous promotion of substantial tax cuts and substantial spending increases (for infrastructure, defense, border security, etc.) toxic. He seems to believe in a magical massive free lunch paid for with “growth.”

We should recognize where such policies will take us: to financial dependency and instability. We can party hearty on deficit spending in the short term, but the bill for that financial recklessness will eventually come due, and the results will not be pretty.

Jay Ripps
Mill Valley

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