October 23, 2018

Letters to the editor: Immigrants, Trump, kosher rules and more

Immigrants and America

Rob Eshman’s analysis of the world situation that Stephen Miller’s great-grandfather faced as an immigrant versus that presently addressed by Donald Trump regarding immigrants from Muslim countries is fatally flawed in at least three ways (“Stephen Miller, Meet Your Immigrant Great-Grandfather,” Aug. 12).

First, those immigrants who arrived in New York at the turn of the century were not laced with potential terrorists among them. Presently, ISIS boasts of placing members of their community in with present-day immigrants to serve as potential cells in the country they infect. What Mr. Trump said was that he wanted a complete ban on Muslims entering the United States until we can figure out, “What the hell is going on.”

Secondly, your concern about how a Trump administration will handle Israel, where “far more terrorist acts are committed than in Morocco,” is a bit myopic. It avoids the issue of who is committing these acts —  Muslims in Israel or Jews? I’m sure you would agree that it is the former, and hence Mr. Trump’s policies still apply and there would be no anti-Israeli bias (unlike that which exists in our present administration).

Third, if there was no illegal immigration at the turn of the century, then isn’t it obvious and indeed true that Mr. Miller’s family came to the U.S. legally, since all immigration was indeed legal? This is not a ruse but rather the facts.

Michael A. Kamins, Professor and chair of marketing at Stony Brook University

Eshman responds:

1) Immigrants to the United States go through a rigorous multiyear vetting system. Politifact rated Trump’s claim to the contrary as “false.” At the turn of the century, immigration opponents stirred up fears against Jews and Italians, just as Trump and Miller are doing now.

 2) When asked to clarify Trump’s remarks on the ban on immigration from terrorism-infected countries, Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence indicated the ban would apply as well to Christians and Jews. You can’t make this stuff up. 

3) Yes, Jewish immigration was legal, but only because cooler heads prevailed over the drumbeat of prejudice. Our failure to acknowledge the arbitrary and often racist nature of immigration policy should inform our policy choices today — and our compassion.

Rob Eshman displays the all-too-familiar traits of the sheepish and ignorant Jewish left. What is omitted from his diatribe on Donald Trump’s adviser Stephen Miller reveals the fundamental lack of understanding of the risks involved in an open-border policy, which Eshman and others promote. One needs only to look to Western Europe, whose lax immigration policies have led to constant terrorist attacks, rape and abuse of women, and high crime rates. Immigration of French Jews to Israel is at an all-time high. Many neighborhoods within France, Belgium and even England are unsafe for police to enter, all telling evidence the U.S. electorate should ponder come November.

Ultimately, it is liberals like Eshman who will suffer alongside the rest of us from hordes of immigrants whose religious affiliations do not allow them to integrate into an American way of life. Criticizing Miller, given his immigrant ancestors, is as tragically shortsighted as it gets. 

Gabe Vorobiof, Los Angeles

Eshman responds: I don’t advocate for open borders, just for sensible, compassionate ones.

Excellent article about Stephen Miller, son of my cousin Miriam. I guess every good family must have a mutant strain from time to time. This was incredible to read! I grew up in Johnstown and am part of the extended Glosser clan. Had Mr. Miller actually grown up in Johnstown, he probably would have experienced for himself the animus felt by many against the Jewish residents in Johnstown. 

Lawrence S. Glosser, Seattle

The Truth About Trump

It is futile to expect Donald Trump to change his speaking strategy as he promotes domestic discord in his American presidential campaign (“Managing Trump’s Anger — and the Enablers,” Aug. 12). It is foolhardy to believe that he will ever change from being a discord promoter on both the domestic and international scene.

It will mainly be up to Hillary Clinton to expose Trump’s negatives, which are many, in the forthcoming presidential debates. To rely mainly on journalists to do the job for her and her supporters is wishful thinking.

Marc Jacobson, Los Angeles

Scrutinizing Clinton

Raphael J. Sonenshein wrote that Trump’s “behavior and attitudes alienate these [college-educated white] voters” (“A Choice Between Two Stark Visions of America,” Aug. 5). As a college-educated white, Hillary Clinton’s behavior and attitudes alienate me.

First, she is immature. When the FBI director said she was “extremely reckless” in her email handling, she immediately discounted his comment and refused to take responsibility for her own actions.

Second, she bragged how she wanted coal miners out of work, then she denied she said that.

Third: “Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.” Guess who was within earshot of Clinton at her campaign stop on Aug. 9? The father of the Orlando nightclub Pulse shooter.

Wake up, people, and vote for Donald Trump. And you can bet that Trump would be a greater supporter of Israel than President Barack Obama and, by extension, former Secretary of State Clinton ever was!

David Tulanian, Los Angeles

Jews and Kilts

Your article by Danny Lobell says the Scottish Register of Tartans just registered its first Jewish tartan (“Freedom! (From Pants)” Aug. 5). It is my understanding that there are no traditional clan tartans. The tartans were invented by the Manchester woolen mills as a way to increase sales in Scotland in the early 19th century. They distributed them to kilt-makers in Scotland at random. There probably weren’t enough Jews to make them a unique tartan.

Myron Kayton via email

Letter of the Law

I have great respect for Dennis Prager but, with all due respect, find his arguments about keeping kosher logically flawed (“If You Don’t Eat Bacon, You Keep Kosher,” Aug. 5). Even with man-made laws, one cannot claim to be a law-abiding citizen and violate the majority of laws! I doubt that a traffic court would dismiss Mr. Prager’s speeding ticket because he never runs red lights.

Contrary to his assertion, we are not stricter about observance of ritual laws than the laws between man and man. A thief who steals only from the rich because in his opinion they do not pay their fair share is still called a ganav (thief).

Why, then, do we characterize one as baal tzedakah for giving 5 percent of his income, when “the Torah commands us to give 10 percent of our income to charity”? In fact, neither the negative commandment not to “close your hand against your destitute brother,” nor the positive commandment to “open your hand to him” (Deuteronomy 15:7-8) includes a provision to give 10 percent of one’s income. Therefore we praise a Jew for giving any amount.

According to many rabbinical authorities, a custom of giving 10 to 20 percent of one’s income to tzedakah is not one of the biblical or rabbinical commandments. If it were, then a person who gives less would be criticized for not observing applicable laws of maaser — tithes, which are similar to taxes. Indeed, when the laws of maaser are applicable, separating even 9.9 percent of the produce would not make the remainder kosher for consumption until it is properly tithed. The secular law is the same in this respect — despite paying millions in taxes, a philanthropist may be still prosecuted for tax evasion while being praised for his generosity. 

I want to end my letter on a positive note. I am sure that Mr. Prager recognized the logical flaws of his argument. Nevertheless, he decided to use his poetic license to emphasize that instead of looking with disdain at a Jew who refrains from only pork, we should judge him favorably and say that it is a praiseworthy step toward keeping kosher.

Alexander Freylicher, Sherman Oaks

Editor’s note: Prager responds to his critics on p. 10.

Another Owens Story

I would like to add to recollections of Jesse Owens (“Letters: Jesse Owens’ Winning Ways,” Aug. 5). In 1936, my father, Harry Lipser, and my uncle traveled to Europe on the Queen Mary. Also on that same voyage was Jesse Owens, on his way to compete in the Olympics. Fortunately, they were assigned to the same dining table, which also included Marshall Field from Chicago.

The maitre d’ privately told Mr. Field that there were those at the table who had requested that Jesse Owens be assigned to another table. Mr. Field consulted with my father and some of the others, and suggested that those that were unhappy with the seating arrangements might want to make a change, but Jesse Owens would remain seated.

Years later, my sister, Sally Lipser Korobkin, a teacher in Potomac, Md., had the opportunity to meet Mrs. Owens when she visited their school. Sally said, “You probably would not remember my father’s name.” Mrs. Owens replied, “How could I ever forget?”

Pauline Witkin Polansky, Arcadia

Left Is Losing Its Religion

I am stunned that so many Jewish liberals are apparently buying the exaggerations, lies and double standards of Jew-hating anti-Zionists and turning their backs on Israel, even while our French and Ukrainian cousins, among others, are escaping persecution by making aliyah (“Outlier or Reflecting Anti-Zionist Trend?” Aug. 5). For 4,000 years, we’ve been a covenant-based religion, and God’s promise to us is Israel. Every year for two millennia, seders worldwide have ended with “Next year in Jerusalem!” — will liberal Jewish seders no longer end this way?  

I think Dennis Prager has it right: Liberal Jews are no longer really Jews; their religion is leftism, so they hate Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israelis who elected him. I believe this is a stunning, irreversible mistake, and I predict their children will either cease to be Jews or worse, become anti-Semites — historically many of our worst enemies have been apostates — or will bitterly resent their parents for their unforgivably poor judgment.

Rueben Gordon, Calabasas