President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump observing a moment of silence for the victims of Sept. 11, 2001 on the South Lawn of the White House, Sept. 11, 2017 (Photo/JTA-Win McNamee-Getty Images)
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump observing a moment of silence for the victims of Sept. 11, 2001 on the South Lawn of the White House, Sept. 11, 2017 (Photo/JTA-Win McNamee-Getty Images)

Love it or hate it, our readers have strong feelings about that Trump cover story

Less drama, more support for national security threats

Yasher koach to Sue Fishkoff and J. for the article “One year later: Trump’s Bay Area Jewish voters are proud, but not loud” and the editorial “Stop vilifying the ‘other’ — and start listening.” As one of our community’s political dissidents, I have some experience with the condescension and sometimes hostile behavior described here (though fortunately these attitudes are not universal).

One approach toward a less vitriolic and more productive dialogue is to avoid the daily drama, i.e., the “sound and fury, signifying nothing,” with which we are inundated. Instead let’s focus on the substantive issues of national security, public safety and the health of the economy that the nation is facing.

A good place to start might be the increasing threat posed by the Islamist government in Iran. National security is the president’s first responsibility. Whatever our feelings may be about President Trump personally or his other policies, the Jewish community should support his efforts to confront this looming threat.

Steve Astrachan,
Pleasant Hill

Apologists for president who holds hateful views

I appreciate the opportunity to learn about Jewish voters who support Trump and the issues that matter to them. And I agree that in these fractured times, more dialogue and not less would be valuable.

I do wish to note that one point repeated throughout the article is simply not the case. Most of us who oppose Trump and shun his supporters do not do so because they are Republicans. We act with disdain because they are apologists for a president who is firmly established as holding racist, misogynist and hateful positions. His Jewish supporters in the article repeatedly sought to downplay his hateful, hurtful actions.

As a Jew and as a human being, I cannot and will not ever be silent in the face of hate.

Rabbi Allan Berkowitz,
San Jose

A pig farmer turned emperor and an insult to our culture

President Donald Trump is a horrible person and a fool and should not be the leader of this great nation. But that is not news. However, the support that the petulant 71-year-old continues to foster within our community is newsworthy.

Donald Trump is a pig farmer turned emperor. His nonthinking populist nihilism is an insult to a people who have survived by celebrating critical thinking. Ours is a learned culture, dedicated to understanding through continuous education and debate. He is a disgusting amalgamation of every enemy of the Jewish people before and after Diocletian.

Wanton disregard for our cherished institutions permeates his entire administration. Forget contentious issues that divide the Jewish community; access to the vote, fair and impartial courts, and freedom of expression in the public square are bedrock principles which must be protected in the name of both a strong United States and a secure American Jewish community.

Jews who have convinced themselves that somehow this kind of government is beneficial to our people boggles the imagination.

Donald C. Cutler,
San Francisco

Trump supporters leave out the pain he has inflicted

I am amazed that our Trump-loving Jews make no mention of the gratuitous pain he has inflicted on Dreamers, Muslims, Central Americans, blacks and transgender people. How about his ignorant efforts to defile the Earth? No mention of his being a pathological liar whose only consistent policy is to aggrandize himself. He may have helped you a tiny amount today, but you are dreaming if you think you can count on him tomorrow.

David Fankushen,
San Anselmo

Turning a blind eye to Trump’s social agenda

Being a moderate liberal, I eagerly read “Proud but not loud” as I have struggled (sincerely) to understand how people can continue to support Trump.

I can net the article down to this: They voted their party line because Trump supported the traditional conservative economic agenda (lower taxes, smaller government, etc.). I understand that agenda and respect it, even though it is at odds with my ideology. I get that his strong position on Israel is magnetic, too.

What the article didn’t address was how these folks could turn a blind eye to Trump’s social agenda, which is at odds with Jewish values. Are economic principles and even a strong position on Israel really so much more important than creating a kind and tolerant society? That angle would have made for compelling journalism.

Roger Feigelson,

It’s not his lack of polish, it’s how he incites violence

In response to Sue Fishkoff’s excellent article on Jewish Trump voters, I have known Jewish Republicans all my life, though not many. But when it comes to Jews voting for Trump, that’s when I find myself saying, “My, how far some of us have strayed from our beginnings.”

As a Jew I have always proudly told others how being Jewish and civil rights are virtually synonymous. We care about people who are poor, disabled, struggling, brown, black, immigrants and anyone not in the white Christian mainstream having a hard time being part of America. I was raised to accept this to be part of my — of our — job in life, to “repair the world.”

And speaking of the world, part of our job is to take care of the nest we find ourselves in. Mr. Trump believes global climate change is a hoax. Those cited in the article are concerned about two issues: the stock market and Israel. As one person stated: “Free markets and free people are my causes.” What about those among us, in America or not, who are not free?

One person talked of every president having their fringe. President Obama had his, Rev. Wright, whom he denounced early on. Mr. Trump has the American Nazi Party, the KKK and Mr. Putin. I haven’t heard him denounce any of that sizable group of people. Mr. Obama is shown as having been polarizing. Yes, as the first black president, for racists he certainly was.

I think there’s a big distance between having a lack of polish and using rhetoric that incites violence against minorities. That is not presidential no matter how you slice it.

Susan Hirshfield,
Santa Rosa

Screams of Armageddon get us nowhere

The Jan. 12 J. cover story and editorial should be read not only by Bay Area Jews but by the entire state and country. Both articles address our ongoing political discourse turning into an accusatory match. We are in a state of BDS-like shouting “debates”: no respect for opponents, no tolerance for others’ views, just plain name-calling.

The BDS analogy may be extended even further, since at the core of the current (so far mostly verbal) rage is rejection of a legitimate reality. The Palestinians can’t bring themselves to recognize Israel’s right to exist, and Trump’s opponents can’t accept the fact that he is a duly elected president.

There is a well-known biblical saying: “You should not make for yourself an idol.” Similarly true that you should not make yourself an idiot. The “idiotization” of Trump results, on the one hand, in screams of Armageddon, i.e., end of the world, following any of his administrative actions (and tweets), and on the other hand, in polarization of the public.

It is time to stop shaming and guilting each other and start listening to others with an old-time, pre-social media civility.

Vladimir Kaplan,
San Mateo

What about Jewish principle of welcoming the stranger?

Thank you for your article about Bay Area Jews who support Trump. As Jews and citizens, we need to be aware that this political perspective exists among us.

The subjects of the article complain that their views are reviled in the local environment. Arlie Hochschild, the renowned UC Berkeley sociology professor and author of “Strangers in Their Own Land,” explains eloquently how we are living in bubbles with less and less social contact with those of opposing points of view, leading to the loss of civil discussion of the issues. Her study involved Southern whites who have struggled to attain and maintain financial security, but we must not forget that there are many wealthy Trump supporters, whether Jewish or not.

As a businessman, Trump’s policies appear to primarily benefit wealthy people and corporations at the expense of individuals who are disadvantaged. As a personality, he often exhibits disrespect and a bullying posture toward others, increasing a growing general attitude of fear and “circling the wagons,” which is not unfamiliar to Jews historically.

It is true that in a democracy, diverse points of view must be allowed to be freely expressed. Still, Jewish and humanitarian principles require welcoming the stranger, helping those less fortunate than ourselves and caring for our Earth. Trump’s policies and demeanor promote the opposite.

Miriam Menzel,
San Francisco

Liberal political correctness silences opposing voices

Your cover story and editorial on the secret life of Jews who voted for Trump was a breath of fresh air. Thank you for shining a light on the Bay Area’s dark side: intolerance toward those with whom we disagree.

These days, that intolerance comes mainly from the left, whose sense of moral superiority creates a repressive atmosphere for anyone who holds different views. I have personally experienced the hostility and condescension referred to by one of the people you interviewed, from left-wing friends, because my views on Israel differed from theirs. And how many times have we heard about speakers having a hard time finding venues or even being disinvited from our campuses because of views that were controversial or made students “uncomfortable”?

Those of us who did not support Donald Trump would do well to remember that he was elected in part because so many people in this country have felt shut out and their voices silenced by liberal political correctness. We owe it to our fellow human beings, and to our own humanity, to listen more and judge less.

Malka Weitman,

J. Readers

J. welcomes letters and comments from our readers. To submit a letter, email it to [email protected].