Letters: Federation, Palestinians, School Choice

Letters: Federation, Palestinians, School Choice

Thanks to Horowitz

We too are delighted with the choice of Eric Robbins to head the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta (“Our View: Good Choice,” May 13). However, along with the warm and enthusiastic welcome to Eric, we owe his predecessor, Michael Horowitz, a profound thank-you for his five years of service heading Federation.

Michael’s deep commitment to the Jewish community, the state of Israel and the mission of Federation was crucial after the setbacks of a poor economy and reductions in many community-building programs at Federation.
For this and more, Michael and his wife, Barbara, deserve our warm todah rabbah.
— Lois and Larry Frank, Atlanta

Isakson and Hospice

Recently I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with Sen. Johnny Isakson, along with my colleagues Tony Kudner, the vice president of communications, and Anna Evans, a music therapist, to discuss hospice issues in the community.

I want to thank Isakson for taking the time to meet with us and for being a longtime supporter of advanced care planning. I feel honored to have him as an end-of-life champion in the Atlanta community.

At the meeting the senator spoke positively about hospice and his interest in policies to strengthen access to better planning for care needs. We also discussed our concerns about hospice and Medicare Advantage and how supportive services such as veteran-specific care, music therapy and bereavement care could be hampered by changes to hospice.

I look forward to continuing to work with Isakson on these hospice issues and bringing awareness of the amazing benefits that hospice offers.

Rita Isnetto, Acworth, executive director, Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care

Teaching Sunday School Pays Off

Decades ago I taught Sunday school religious classes at Ahavath Achim Synagogue to the toughest audience of all, teenagers. The pay was a pittance, but the gratifying reward came from the satisfaction of imbuing adolescent souls with an appreciation of their cultural, historic and religious traditions and years later kvelling as some of them became leaders in the Jewish community, others financially successful and a few quite famous.

But recently I received an unforeseen reward.

One of my students, Bonnie Arnold, who is now a co-president of feature animation at DreamWorks Animation, grew up in Atlanta, graduated from the University of Georgia, and eventually found fame and fortune in the motion picture industry.

I first read about her as an associate producer of “Dances With Wolves.” Intrigued, I followed her career. She was a producer for “The Last Station,” “Over the Hedge,” “Toy Story,” “Tarzan,” and the Oscar nominees “How to Train Your Dragon” and “How to Train Your Dragon II.” She is working on “Dragon” No. 3.

Given her success, I found it perplexing when she accepted a position with DreamWorks Animation in January 2015. The company failed in two merger attempts and lost money in 2014, and its stock price languished near the bottom of its recent price range.

But based on her track record and having confidence in her obvious perception of the company’s potential and what she could contribute to it — operating more on blind faith than financial analysis — I bought the stock. (I never talked to Bonnie about the company or my intentions. We did swap a few emails but exchanged only pleasantries.)
That faith in her prescience has paid off handsomely. Recently Comcast announced that it is buying DreamWorks Animation. The price? Close to double what I paid for the stock 15 months ago. Thank you for the payback, Bonnie Arnold.

Note to Sunday school teachers: Be nice to your students; someday the quiet one sitting in the back corner could become a heroic star of your next great story.

Philip Kaplan, Marietta

Vote for School Choice

Since 2008 I have been actively involved in efforts in Georgia to promote school choice. Thank G-d in 2008 the collective efforts of thousands of Georgia residents, including members of our community, secured the passage of legislation that allows Georgia taxpayers to redirect their Georgia tax dollars to benefit families sending their children to private schools.

This legislation, the student scholarship organization law, has allowed for millions of dollars to assist families who cannot afford the full cost of private school tuition.

On May 24, Georgians who vote in the Republican primary will have the opportunity to demonstrate their support for school choice. The ballot includes this question: “Should Georgia empower parents with the right to use the tax dollars allocated for the education of their children, allowing them the freedom to choose among public, private, virtual and home schools?”

There are no practical implications of voting yes to this question. However, voting yes will serve as an indication that Republican voters support school choice, and the data will be used to encourage Georgia legislators to expand school choice.

I hope there will be overwhelming support for this effort. Polling of Georgia voters indicates enormous support for school choice among Republicans and Democrats alike.

I encourage you to support this effort. You can learn more at www.gaschoolchoicenow.com.

— Rabbi David Kapenstein, Toco Hills

Pressure the Palestinians

I was troubled when I first saw the headline “Mitchell: Lasting Peace Must Begin in Israel” (May 6). However, after reading the article, I realized that City Council President Ceasar Mitchell was simply saying that the United States cannot impose a solution on Israel and the Palestinians.

Nonetheless, I feel it is important to emphasize that Israel began making peace overtures decades ago.

After Britain used 78 percent of its League of Nations mandate for Palestine (a region of the defunct Ottoman Empire) to establish the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, the United Nations proposed partitioning the remaining 22 percent into a Jewish state and second Arab state. The Yishuv (the representatives of the Jewish communities of Palestine) accepted the plan, while the Arabs rejected it.

Five Arab nations attacked, resulting in Egypt and Transjordan (now called Jordan) beginning 19-year illegal occupations of Gaza and the West Bank. No effort was made to declare the illegally occupied areas to be a Palestinian state, nor was any effort made to rehabilitate the hundreds of thousands of Arabs who had fled the 1948 war.

In contrast, Israel quickly absorbed and uplifted an equal (or greater) number of Jews who had been thrust from their homes in Muslim countries.

In 1967, Israel liberated Gaza and the West Bank in a war launched by Egypt and Syria (and joined by Jordan) to destroy Israel and her people. An Israeli offer to withdraw in 1968 was rejected by the Arab League. The Palestinian leadership subsequently rejected offers of a Palestinian state in all of Gaza and 97 percent of the West Bank with shared governance in parts of Jerusalem (2000/2001 and 2008). Israeli withdrawal from Gaza saw thousands of missiles lobbed at Israeli population centers.

Lasting peace will come only when the Palestinians agree to lie peaceably beside the nation-state of the Jews.

— Toby F. Block, Atlanta

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