Readers respond to the June 30 issue of the AJT.
The AJT welcomes letters and guest columns from our readers. Letters should be 400 or fewer words; guest columns 600 to 700 words. Send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name, the town you live in, and a phone number for verification.
North Springs Maligned
Your article “Slurs, Swastikas Target Jewish Students” (June 23) presented a myopic view of North Springs High School. As actively involved parents of students at the school, we write to share our experiences.
We are proud that North Springs represents the diversity of Fulton County; in fact, that is one reason that our families chose to send our children to the school. Jewish students and parents thrive at North Springs High School and are active in all aspects of school life.
We are proud that the school is supportive of the activities of the Jewish Culture Club, the largest club at the school. In fact, your publication wrote an article about our Jewish Culture Club, highlighting how safe students felt on the campus, bolstered by the empowerment of the club.
While there are isolated incidents of anti-Semitism or racism, our school is known throughout the community as a place where cultural diversity is embraced.
Sadly, this article inaccurately portrays our principal as complacent in the face of these events. To the contrary, he has addressed these issues with thoughtfulness and seriousness. This year our principal established the Principal’s Student Council on Diversity and brought students to the Anti-Defamation League’s No Place for Hate Summit on Martin Luther King Day to learn techniques to share with their peers.
Our principal has established a strong partnership with the ADL, which held a series of assemblies for all North Springs students and is planning a teacher training. Moreover, a group of parents established a speaker series for the community on issues of race and other forms of discrimination.
Had you given the principal a chance to comment for this article, he might have shared these facts, but he was never interviewed.
We believe that our community must be diligent in its response to anti-Semitism, racism and bullying in our schools. We are proud that North Springs is a place where diversity is celebrated in a climate where students can learn and thrive.
— Mindy K. Binderman and Marcy Louza, Sandy Springs
Don’t Give Up on Peace
In response to “Our View: Forget Peace” (June 23), the article deals with the Israeli-Palestinian debacle. It signifies an appeal to the baser instincts of people, hateful, pessimistic, mired in the mud of 50 years, like listening to a broken record. How little the AJT thinks of humanity, compassion, empathy, compromise, cooperation and the tremendous capacity of people for creativity.
Send me over there to mediate with the parties. I believe that Israel should be an eternal homeland for Jews the world over, secure in the fact that America has their back and the average person dreams of peace, family, work and religion (or not).
The Arabs want a peace based on justice. They want out of the yoke of occupation, which they perceive to be demeaning, stripping them of their dignity. If both sides listen to each other and empathize and work really hard to dispel the myths and prejudices of each other, there could be an amelioration of the hate and eventual cooperation, which could lead to trust and confidence in each other.
And if Israel could show some genuine concern for the Arab people, it would work wonders and would be the best security Israel could have.
— Irwin Levine, Dunwoody
Votes, Not Brooklyn Rallies, Matter
The article by Eli Sperling on the rally in Brooklyn is deceiving (“Brooklyn Protest Reflects Israel-Haredi Tensions,” June 30).
You would think from the way it is written that such a rally, a protest about Haredim being drafted, would influence Israeli policy. Because only an infinitesimal number of the rally participants will ever make aliyah, their rally is meaningless and only a big PR act.
In 1988 the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of blessed memory, paid for thousands of his followers in the United States who had Israeli citizenship to fly to Israel for the elections. He also suggested to the Lubavitchers in Israel to print a card with his picture and a blessing. A million were
printed and distributed throughout Israel.
The Haredim won two extra seats in that election. Votes talk.
— Rabbi David Geffen, Jerusalem
A Disappointing Opening
I must say I was both overjoyed Thursday, July 6, and extremely disappointed in the same event. For the first time, my daughter is competing in the Maccabiah Games in Israel, for which the opening ceremonies were held July 6.
I watched as delegation after delegation entered Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem for the 20th games. I know that this is not a big deal to most of the world, but it is the third-largest sporting event in the world, behind the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup.
As I watched each country enter the stadium, I noticed that the larger delegations, such as Great Britain, Germany, France, Canada and Mexico, just to name a few, included a message from the head of state or government, whether the prime minister or president, depending on the country.
Much to my disappointment, when the United States, with the second-largest delegation to the games (behind Israel) entered the stadium, it was greeted by a message from Mark Spitz. While I appreciate that Spitz is a highly decorated Jewish American athlete who has competed both in the Maccabiah Games and the Olympics, I would think a message from President Donald Trump would have been more appropriate.
Our country has sent over a thousand athletes to compete at these games, and the president could not take five minutes to record a message to his delegation, which after all is representing the United States. This is the same president who has a son-in-law who is considered an observant Jew.
I think it is shameful and shows a lot to the world community. While I know he is the president and a very busy man, I find it a little ironic that he can meet with professional sports teams that have won their respective championships, whether football or any other sport, but cannot take the time to wish the best to athletes who are wearing the U.S. flag and “USA” on their uniforms and clothing.
These athletes are not representing a city or a state; they are representing our country. I am very proud to support these games and would hope that the country supports these competitors as well.
— Jonathon Goodman, Fairfield Glade, Tenn.
Climate Just One Trump Error
I am responding to Chuck Berk’s letter (“Bad Deal on Climate Change,” June 30) regarding my column (“Paris Decision Is Making America Irrelevant Again,” June 16). I appreciate Chuck’s nod to our friendship, which I reciprocate. While I will get to Chuck’s comments about the Paris climate accord in a moment, the main thrust of my article had to do with President Donald Trump making America irrelevant in world politics and being at odds with the values of our country. The climate accord is but one example.
Trump has a seemingly inherent hostility to American principles, including a free press and appropriate treatment of our own intelligence agencies. The recent European trip continued to show that hostility.
There he was deriding the free press of America in front of a Polish president who has been vastly restricting the press in his own country. Trump was agreeing with him on fake news. Why is the American president not defending a free press instead of constantly attacking it? His approach restricts our ability to criticize other nations in their treatment of the right of a free press.
He has also derided our intelligence agencies. In noting that 17 agencies had concluded that Russia interfered in our electoral process, he said he had done “much research” and found that there were only three or four agencies. But he has done no research, just like his claim that he sent investigators to Hawaii and found some amazing things about President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. Why does he continue to lie?
If we Jews have learned nothing else, it is that leaders hostile to us will lie about us and many other things. One example is the Dreyfus affair. Spreading lies created one of most egregious anti-Semitic episodes.
On the Paris climate accord, the statistics in Chuck’s letter come from a model by NERA Economic Consulting, which tends to result in higher costs than other economic models. The study assumes certain hypothetical regulations, but one could easily model other actions with much lower costs. It also ignores the benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, like avoiding the negative effects of climate change.
Moreover, the statistics used span 20 years. The type of climate change technologies that will develop over that time will create many jobs.
As Jews, we are charged with being stewards of the earth and its resources. The obligation to champion the poor and vulnerable around the world, to be seekers of justice, is fundamental to our Judaism. Low-lying areas and small-island developing states already see their very existence threatened by sea level rise. We will all soon feel the impacts of climate refugees and displacement.
The Jewish community understands the need for a quick transition to a clean energy economy. The United States must be a world leader because we live in a global community. It is time that our president starts acting like we do.
— Harold Kirtz, Sandy Springs
Climate Needs Carbon Tax
Regarding Chuck Berk’s letter to the editor, Archimedes said, “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I can move the world.” We have the lever and fulcrum that can save the world. We just need to start using them.
The Paris climate agreement was never going to be nearly enough (National Academy of Sciences), but we have a simple, effective, realistic solution to climate change that can phase out fossil fuels globally within the next decade (Newsweek) using market forces to make other nations cut their emissions as much as we do. It will jump-start a multi-trillion-dollar economic boom and put more disposable income in Americans’ pockets every month.
It works on the principle of self-interest. It doesn’t cost consumers or taxpayers anything. It doesn’t ask anyone to give up anything or make any sacrifices — except for polluting fossil fuel corporations. It makes them pay us, the taxpayers, an escalating carbon pollution fee.
All the money goes to every taxpayer in equal monthly “carbon dividend” checks. And the amount of those checks keeps going up every year as the tax increases, making oil, natural gas and coal more and more expensive.
Meanwhile, solar and wind prices keep dropping exponentially, allowing people to save more money each year by using their increasing carbon dividends to buy cheaper clean energy. Clean energy prices will drop even faster as solar and wind scale up. Clean energy is projected to be virtually free within 20 years (The Washington Post).
It’s called “carbon fee and dividend,” and it will create over 5 million good-paying, permanent (40-year) U.S. jobs (Stanford University’s solutionsproject.org) and increase U.S. GDP $75 billion to $80 billion annually (citizensclimatelobby.org).
It has worked as promised in British Columbia for eight years, cutting taxes and energy bills (The Economist) and has an 83 percent public approval rating there (World Bank). It uses conservative economics, so it can have bipartisan support in Congress. Google “A Climate Solution Where All Sides Can Win” and “CLC Unlocking the Climate Puzzle” for more on how it works.
Climate change has already cost U.S. taxpayers over $1 trillion (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). Carbon pollution kills over 5.5 million people worldwide annually (Time), including over 200,000 Americans (MIT).
We really can save the world while making the vast majority of Americans financially better off with this simple policy. It’s genius.
— Lynn Goldfarb, Lancaster, Pa.
Don’t Suspend Support for Israel
Is philanthropist Ike Fisher, a major supporter of Israel, unintentionally and tragically abetting a fracture in Israel-Diaspora relations? Fisher’s suspension of support over the Israeli government’s Kotel decision and conversions bill endangers Israel’s security and economy and benefits neither Israeli nor Diaspora Jews.
Fisher says the Israeli government’s public includes all the people of Israel. But surely he understands that many Israelis view the Kotel’s long-established egalitarian section as already providing prayer space for women who wear tallitot and tefillin and who wish to pray with men.
Regarding the Gordian knot of conversions, it is deeply saddening that any Jew would apply financial pressure to force the hand of Israel’s elected government. The intricate and perhaps intractable issue of conversions, with its political ramifications, is certainly not solvable now and should not be a priority at this critical time.
The current arrangement has not prevented Israel from providing a haven for Jews, who have made the desert bloom despite ongoing existential threats.
All supporters of Israel might wish to consider shifting their focus to the real threats Israel faces. The issue of conversion is one to be dealt with in a much less troubled time.
— Julia Lutch, Davis, Calif.
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