Alameda student Natasha Waldorf, seen here with parents Mel Waldorf and Jessica Lindsey at her bat mitzvah (Photo/Courtesy Mel Waldorf)
Natasha Waldorf, seen here at her bat mitzvah with parents Mel Waldorf and Jessica Lindsey, received anti-Jewish text messages from a classmate at Alameda High School. (Photo/Courtesy Mel Waldorf)

Readers weigh in: campus anti-Semitism; binational Israel; ‘dismaying’ DACA editorial

Editorial was off-base

The failure of your editorial last month to make any reference to the underlying Constitutional issues was, to say the least, dismaying.

I have long supported some sort of comprehensive immigration reform to, among other things, address the situation of those who have grown up here but, through no fault of their own, lack an actual legal status. Having taught in the public schools, I have empathy for the young people who are in this situation.

The Constitution establishes a separation of powers between the three branches of government, and the authority for regulating immigration (i.e. “To establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization”) clearly comes under the purview of Congress (Article I, section 8, clause 4.)

President Obama understood this fact well, acknowledging it publicly on numerous occasions before establishing DACA. In April 2011 he said, “I know some here wish that I could just bypass Congress and change the law myself. But that’s not how democracy works.”

When President Trump asked Congress to deal with this issue, or in your terms “punted to Congress to solve the problem,” he was simply conforming to the requirements of the Constitution. In this regard his action stands in stark contrast to that of his predecessor.

A far more constructive approach would be encourage those who are interested in immigration reform to work with their congressional representatives to craft legislation that addresses the “Dreamers” and other legitimate concerns with our immigration system. A good first step would be to avoid the sort of incendiary rhetoric that further inflames the dialogue surrounding this already far too polarized issue.

Steve Astrachan
Pleasant Hill

‘Pressing and real danger’

Leaving aside the fact that my original, unedited letter to the editor made a completely different point than the headline used by J. (“Trump is not a Nazi lover,” Sept. 8), the two letters published in the Sept. 20 print edition that attacked my contention that Trump is no Nazi lover indicate confusion within the Jewish community.

My letter’s premise was based on a full paragraph quote by Efraim Zuroff, the U.S.-born director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, concerning real and imagined dangers to American Jewry. Zuroff said:

“There’s no danger to American Jewry. An individual Jew may be harmed by a neo-Nazi, but certainly these people don’t pose a threat to the Jewish community as a whole. There’s no danger of them overthrowing the government or anything of this sort, and the U.S. government has the willingness and the ability to deal with instances like this.”

Do both letter writers oppose Zuroff’s view?

Add to Zuroff’s comments Trump’s recent U.N. speech, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described as the most courageous made in the U.N. in the past 30 years, and the unrelenting actions and words of Nikki Haley, our U.N. ambassador, in support of Israel.

Then review the recent words of Imam Ammar Shahin in Davis, when he called for the annihilation of Jews by Muslim hands, and figure out where the most pressing (and real) danger lies.

Desmond Tuck
San Mateo

Campus anti-Semitism is more than ‘discomforting’

Dr. Ari Kelman’s assertion that Jewish students’ life on college campuses “might be uncomfortable but not overly threatening” doesn’t sound “overly” reassuring.

Are there any other groups feeling the same way? Not to my knowledge.

At the first sign of discomfort they raise their voices to a level that immediately attracts the administration’s attention and gets a reaction. For some mysterious reasons, only Jewish students find their discomfort as comforting.

What is even more disconcerting is that Dr. Kelman, in his capacity as an assistant professor in the Stanford Jewish studies program, seriously concludes that there is no need for “greater advocacy and intervention” to fight anti-Semitism on campuses.

Dr. Kelman would be well advised to look on pages 8 and 9 of the same J. issue to understand that anti-Semitism, in any form, must not go unanswered, because history shows that it turns from “discomforting” to “overly threatening” on a dime.

Vladimir Kaplan
San Mateo

(Editor’s note: Kelman’s actual quote was “I hope they take the voices of the students very seriously, and understand the students are not clamoring for greater advocacy or investments,” with the “they” referring to Jewish community leaders, philanthropists and others who may have seen reports about anti-Jewish vandalism or activity on campus but probably hadn’t heard from the students themselves.)

Where’s the outrage?

I read Mr. Mel Waldorf’s description of the harassment his daughter has experienced (and is experiencing) at school.

I became angrier and angrier when I thought of the immense response Jews in this community demonstrated to the distant ravings of kooks in Charlottesville, whom no rational person could take seriously. But when Leslie Wong, the president at San Francisco State University, and the school board in Alameda do nothing to protect Jewish students, where is the outrage?

We certainly have the talent and resources to take action locally; if only our priorities were in order.

David L. Levine,
San Francisco

Israel will be binational

The many articles and arguments about the West Bank settlement policy of the Israeli government usually fail to mention the engine that drives it, what Jewish Israelis call “the demographic problem.”

That is, the fact that Arabs, of whatever nationality they claim, make up roughly 20 percent of Israel’s citizenry and roughly 40 percent of Israel’s school children. Also, the birthrate among Israeli Arabs is considerably higher than it is among Israel’s Jews (with the exception of the ultra-Orthodox).

The government tries to counter this by bringing in Jewish immigrants from other countries and settling them in the West Bank, there being little land left for increased population inside the Green Line, and making them citizens with a vote in Israeli elections — a vote, of course, denied to West Bank Arabs.

Ultimately it won’t work.

In a generation or so, Israeli Arabs will be roughly half of the voting population, causing a big change in Israeli government policies. The government can react to this in two ways: It can accept the change gracefully. Or it can disenfranchise its Arab citizens and/or deport them to the West Bank. Either of these two actions would make Israel even more of a pariah state than was apartheid South Africa.

So Israel will eventually become a binational state regardless of how or whether the West Bank question is settled. U.S. Jews and the U.S. government can help influence the Israeli government to accept this development peacefully.

Eliot Kenin

J. Readers

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