September 24, 2018

Letters to the editor: Donald Trump, tikkun olam and more

Rally for Israel, No Matter the President

There is no clear evidence to show whether Donald Trump is strongly pro-Israel or anti-Israel (“Trump and Israel,” May 13). In reality, he is probably neither. What is clear is that Trump is an articulate leader after he decides where his followers want to go.

With this in mind, a pro-Israel American, Republican or Democrat, should make it known to Trump (and Clinton and Sanders) that his or her belief is shared by numerous Americans concerned with maintaining American-Israeli relations. These relations must be based on shared values of American and Israeli domestic security and democratic principles.

It is up to the Jewish majority in Israel to show that their commitment to democratic principles includes a desire and willingness to cooperate with Palestinians. In turn, Palestinians must show a willingness to accept the reality of a Zionist state that safeguards the well-being and security of Jewish Israelis and peace-seeking Palestinians. These steps hopefully will lead to Trump emerging as a pro-Israeli American, whether or not he becomes president.

Marc Jacobson, Los Angeles

Tikkun Olam Belongs to Everyone

While many Jews view tikkun olam as progressive politics, as Dennis Prager writes, (“No Jewish Message,” May 13), the concept can be appropriated for the political right as well as the left. For example, conservatives who believe in less government vigorously support private charity, not just for individual giving but also for larger projects requiring a network of givers.  And in the current political campaign, conservatives are giving more attention than before to those struggling in the economy.

But when its origins are taken into account, tikkun olam has been recently too closely associated with partisan politics.  A Jewish view of it requires present-day conservatives and liberals to find a common path — a bipartisan one, in today’s politics — to improve the world.  That is the sense in which the Mishnah and rabbinical texts apply tikkun olam — as a way for mankind to have a share in completing God’s creation.

Barry H. Steiner, Professor of Political Science, Cal State Long Beach, Los Angeles

No Right to Lose

I am sure many Republicans like Yoni Fife feel their party is conflicted (“ ‘I Can No Longer Consider Myself a Republican,’ ” May 13). Some support Donald Trump, while others do not.  If some of these registered Republicans choose not to vote for Trump in November, and either sit out the election or register as independents, or (heaven forbid) vote for Hillary Clinton, the GOP will surely lose the November election.

Sol Taylor, Studio City

Yoni Fife obviously has conflicted liberal and conservative feelings. With respect to immigration policy, it was always the intent to have it benefit this country, not the immigrants (with the notable exception of those persecuted in their native country). No country can accept all who wish to enter. His rant on racist, sexist and xenophobic demagoguery is right out of the leftist playbook. I recognize that many Republicans share Fife’s disapproval of Donald Trump as the presidential nominee, as do I, but defecting from the Republican Party will only help the leftist Democrats. I would suggest Fife strengthen his ties to the conservative principles that, regrettably, he is about to abandon because of one man.

It would be refreshing for the Journal to publish an article by a Democrat who is fed up with Hillary and Bernie and their increasingly totalitarian Marxist Party, and intends to switch sides.

C.P. Lefkowitz, Rancho Palos Verdes

Not Immigration — Refuge

With reference to Avrum Burg’s eloquent piece, the writer emphasized that the Palestinians were refugees of Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, while Arab Jews were “Olim” Zionist immigrants (“The Israeli Twins — Independence and Nakba,” May 13).  While I agree that some Arab Jews came as Zionists, the majority was, in every sense of the word, refugees. I am one of the Iraqi Jews who became a refugee. I was smuggled out of Iraq in December 1949, when I was refused an exit visa to study in the United States after my graduation from Al’ A’adadiah High School in Baghdad in 1948. Only because I was a Jew. I became a refugee. 

During Iraq’s 1941 Farhud (pogrom), I was 11; there was nowhere for the Jews to go. Thank God there was Israel in 1948. Those who didn’t leave in the 1950s faced increased discrimination and worse treatment. Out of 135,000 Iraqi Jews in 1948, it is estimated there are only eight left today. Did they leave because they were Olim? Of course not. Most of the Jewish communities in Arab lands were treated as second- or third-class citizens and had similar experiences.

Joseph Samuels via email

CORRECTION: An article in the Jewish Journal b’nai mitzvah supplement Mazel Tov (“Instant Gratification,” May 2016) misidentified the mitzvah project that precipitated the creation of the company Good Deeds in Motion and the person behind it. The project by company owner Lisa Kodimer’s son Kole was a special needs baseball team called Westhills Champions.