Oakland elementary school teacher Naomi Bernstein at a press conference at Montclair Elementary School, where parents, teachers and Jewish leaders spoke out against the Oakland teachers union's recent statement about Gaza, Nov. 10, 2023. (Photo/Dan Ancona)
Oakland elementary school teacher Naomi Bernstein at a press conference at Montclair Elementary School, where parents, teachers and Jewish leaders spoke out against the Oakland teachers union's recent statement about Gaza, Nov. 10, 2023. (Photo/Dan Ancona)

Half-baked politics at Arizmendi; Think locally, act locally; Blame Hamas; etc.

Half-baked politics and half-baked pizza

Arizmendi in Oakland was raising money for Middle East Children’s Alliance, specifying that the money goes to children in Gaza. On Nov. 5, I asked the cashier if they would consider putting a #BringThemHome flyer next to the MECA donation jar. Surely, we can support both Palestinian children and Jewish children who were stolen from their homes. Dual support doesn’t diminish the plight of children in Gaza.

His response was to ask if I was aware that Israel was bombing children. I shared facts about rockets into Israel and a broken cease-fire and was ordered to leave. I asked his co-worker if the collective could vote on placement of a #BringThemHome flyer. She said, “No way.” I explained that I wasn’t asking for donations to Israel but wanted to bring awareness to the children being held hostage. She said no again, so I asked her directly if she believed the hostages should be returned home. She said no, thereby making it clear that her support for humanitarian children’s causes is conditional and excludes Jewish children.

Community and values don’t stand on their own. We must constantly reaffirm and reinforce them with action. Arizmendi lost an incredible opportunity to show its customers how Oakland can be a model for inclusivity. Instead, its actions have a negative impact on community building and sow a divide that weakens us.

I urge local merchants that claim to be a part of our community to honestly reflect the diversity within and not de-legitimize one group.

The only politics I want when it comes to pizza is the pineapple-or-no-pineapple debate. Politics and pizza don’t mix.

Daphne Albert

Don’t trust ethnic studies 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

Solve local issues, not international ones

I am disgusted with the Richmond City Council and the Oakland teachers union for passing resolutions regarding the Israel-Hamas war.

Do they not have enough to do dealing with their communities? Why are they taking sides in a foreign war and propagandizing their students?

I do not believe that those who voted for these resolutions understand the long history of this conflict, nor do they understand their proper roles. Enough! They should do their jobs. Fix crime, homelessness and education in our communities instead.

Miriam Aroner
El Cerrito

Fearful but determined

On Nov. 9, 1938, my parents and I were arrested in Munich, Germany, and sent to Dachau concentration camp.

My father, Dr. Samuel Kalter, was a doctor at the Jewish Home For The Aged (Judisches Altersheim) in Munich, which I wrote about in my memoir, “I Was Born in an Old Age Home.” The SS broke the window of the room that I was sleeping in and demanded that I take them to the office. I was 4 years old at the time.

The SS locked all of the staff and the aged residents into their rooms and stole money and other valuables from the office. One by one the SS took the old people into vans and drove off to Dachau.

I am participating in rallies for the release of the hostages. I am afraid but am showing up with my Israeli flag and “I Stand With Israel” T-shirt.

Susanne Kalter DeWitt

Hamas deserves all the blame

In his letter in the previous issue, Jim McGarry wonders if Israel is being lawless. We know Hamas was lawless on Oct. 7!

Israel responded by waging war against Hamas. Judaism has the principle that he who saves one life saves the world. Israel is trying to reduce civilian casualties of Palestinians but is hindered by Hamas, which is using the Palestinians as human shields and allowing them to be killed in order to criticize Israel.

Hamas has built its military tunnels under apartments, hospitals, schools, mosques and community buildings. Hamas does not want Palestinian civilians to leave northern Gaza to go to southern Gaza. It does not want Palestinian refugees to leave Gaza for Egypt, or for relief trucks to enter Gaza from Egypt. The civilian deaths on both sides are caused by Hamas.

Norman G. Licht
Palo Alto

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