A banner reads "Oakland Educators Say Fund Education, Not War on Gaza" at an Oakland Unified School District meeting Nov. 9, 2023. (Photo/Courtesy Anonymous)
A banner reads "Oakland Educators Say Fund Education, Not War on Gaza" at an Oakland Unified School District meeting Nov. 9, 2023. (Photo/Courtesy Anonymous)

Yes to remote public comments; Progressives and Israel; etc.

Ethnic studies influence in Oakland

AB 101 made ethnic studies a graduation requirement for California high school students. Gov. Gavin Newsom claimed that the legislation provided guardrails to ensure that “courses will be free from bias or bigotry and appropriate for all students.”

How’s that going to work, now that the Oakland Education Association (OEA) leadership has passed a measure supporting teachers who instruct their students about Palestinian liberation in their classrooms? The OEA is exploiting a defect in AB 101 which only recommends, but does not require, adherence to the state’s model curriculum for ethnic studies.

Courses free from bias or bigotry and appropriate for all students sounds good, but watch what is actually happening, not what was said to gaslight the justified concerns of Jewish parents. Those tissue-thin guardrails were never capable of ensuring that classroom instruction would be “appropriate for use” with students “of all races, religions, nationalities…and diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds.”

Julie Lutch

Open thank you to a UC regent

Dear Regent Jay Sures: We’re a UC family. My parents met at a UCLA dorm dance about 55 years ago, I graduated from UCSD, my twin from UCLA, and our younger brother earned two degrees from Cal. And now our third generation, my oldest son, is in the process of applying to UCs.

We’re also a Jewish family, and these last few weeks have been sad and scary for us.

Thank you for your thoughtful and powerful response to the UC Ethnic Studies Faculty Council, in which you called its letter to the regents “appalling and repugnant” (“Universities’ failure to condemn Hamas gets an ‘F’ from faculty,” Oct. 24).

Students supporting Israel
A rally at UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza on October 27, 2023. (Photo/Sue Fishkoff)

Their denial that the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7 — and continued holding of innocent hostages — is reprehensible terrorism suggests that Jewish lives, and violence to Jews, is somehow less egregious than when others experience such attacks.

Thank you for your support of Jewish students and families.

One of the many wonderful things about the UC system has long been the incredible diversity (in every sense of the word) on our campuses and in our communities.

Thank you for working toward a vision where all students, faculty and staff feel equally welcome and valuable.

Jenny Goodman Abrami

‘Yes’ to remote comments

I was one of the proponents of Washington state’s 2022 HB 1329, which allows for public comments at government meetings to be submitted remotely (in situations in which a time for public in-person comment is being provided).

Having a Jewish relative in the Bay Area, I followed with equal parts interest and horror how remote public comment is being closed off (“More Bay Area governments end remote comments to stop antisemitic rants,” Oct. 6).

The Brown Act, a 1953 law since amended, apparently needs a full renovation for the 2020s.

But fret not. Renovating the Brown Act can be done.

An open-government advocate in Washington politely asked a now former state representative to legislate making remote testimony law and other necessary fixes to our Open Public Meetings Act.

It took two legislative sessions and compromises, but we did protect remote testimony.

I am confident that if California could create an entity of local government lobbyists, voices for inclusion and a few empathetic legislators, civility and inclusion could return to California.

The Brown Act should state that hate speech is disruptive in that it dissuades participation on public policy, which is the antithesis of open-government law.

Additionally, all remote callers should have to pre-register and agree to a code of conduct (such as a one-year ban for two violations in a month).

Joe Kunzler
Sedro-Woolley, Wash.

Hamas is genocidal

In his recent opinion piece, while appropriately calling out the atrocities committed by Hamas, Michael Bien settled on demanding Hamas release the hostages and demanding Hamas stop firing rockets (“Vengeance is not the only way to respond to this horror,” Oct. 25).

Apparently, Mr. Bien is not familiar with the original 1988 Hamas charter, which calls for the murder of all Jews, and fails to acknowledge that Hamas is a genocidal and antisemitic organization.

Eric Horodas

Is Israel being lawless?

Thank you for publishing Robert Goldman’s very helpful analysis of the laws of war as they might apply to the current situation in Israel and Gaza (“How the ‘laws of war’ apply to the conflict between Israel and Hamas,” Oct. 23, online).

One dimension that was not addressed is the legality of the order for all civilians to evacuate the northern half of Gaza, factored in with the time needed and the hardship for the most vulnerable, involved in any compelled population transfer.

Added to that is the bombing of the south subsequent to that order, after thousands had complied.

Jim McGarry

Destroy Hamas now!

Special thanks and yasher koach to Zack Bodner, CEO of the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto, for calling unambiguously for Israeli victory (“At Z3, we have no time for false moral equivalence,” Nov. 2, online).

In 1988, Hamas created its charter which describes an end-time battle between Muslims and Jews in which rocks will call out “there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.” (Note: that’s “Jews,” not “Zionists.”)

OFJCC CEO Zack Bodner speaks to a packed crowd during the opening plenary of the Z3 Conference, Nov. 5, 2023. (Photo/Scott Wall-Courtesy Oshman Family JCC)
OFJCC CEO Zack Bodner speaks to a packed crowd during the opening plenary of the Z3 Conference, Nov. 5, 2023. (Photo/Scott Wall-Courtesy Oshman Family JCC)

For some years, various Israeli governments have believed that an uneasy coexistence with Hamas in Gaza could be maintained. As a result the people of Israel suffered the catastrophic attack of Oct. 7. Furthermore, Hamas’ leadership has been perfectly clear that more of the same is to come.

Israel’s first responsibility is the protection of Israeli society and all who live therein. This requirement underlies the basic social contract under which we all live. We must make every effort to support Israel in the destruction of Hamas at this time of existential threat.

Steve Astrachan
Pleasant Hill

Progressives and Hamas

I am sickened — but not surprised — that the liberal left, which Jews have so strongly supported for decades now, is silent when 1,400 Israelis are slaughtered in one day.

Only an irrational  hatred (and willful blindness) could prevent a decent human being from acknowledging the bestial horror of Oct. 7.

The left, on cue, pops up to accuse Israel (and, by extension, all Jews) of “creating” the circumstances when Hamas felt justified in slaughtering innocents.

If a noose is reported “found” in a college dorm, our local schools beat their chests, bemoan racism and insist on a never-ending series of mea culpas.

When Jews are actually butchered, many liberal groups have nothing to say. Students walk out of their classes to protest “Israel’s crimes.”

The action of the Richmond City Council (among others) should remind us that when the chips are down, Jews should expect no aid.

Message to Jewish liberals: the left cares nothing for you and will abandon you at the drop of a keffiyeh!

David L. Levine
San Francisco

Calling out an East Bay city — from Israel

I read with sadness about the resolution which passed in Richmond regarding the current Israel-Hamas war (“Richmond council passes anti-Israel resolution after contentious marathon meeting,” Oct. 25)

It is so sad that the city of Richmond has lost its collective moral compass and cannot distinguish between Hamas (a terror organization) and Israel (the only democratic country in the Middle East).

To the persons who drafted this motion and those that voted in favor of it, I wish you all a complete recovery from your illness.

To my brothers and sisters of Richmond, I say be strong and continue to fight the immorality, the ignorance and the antisemitism Jews the world over experience now.

Please continue to daven for the hostages, the wounded and the survivors of the unspeakable tragedy that befell the Jewish people on Oct. 7 — and for all the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces, that they are successful in eliminating the terrorist organization Hamas, and that they return to their families safe and sound.

HaShem gives strength to His People. HaShem will bless His People with Peace.

May we only hear good tidings in the future.

Meir Silver
Beit Shemesh, Israel

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