Letters | January 15, 2020


Could a Md. ‘get’ law erode
religion-state separation?

Regarding “2020 is the year Maryland will finally help ‘chained’ Jewish women” (Voices, Jan. 9): My concern about the proposed legislation is that it would corrode the separation of church and state. It seems that some people are vigilant about such separation when it suits their interests, but when it comes to constitutional protections, you either support separation of church and state or you don’t.

Under current law, the existence of a get is irrelevant to meeting the requirements for a divorce under state law. If a spouse won’t agree to a get, there is nothing to stop the divorcing spouse from obtaining a civil divorce.

Expect constitutional challenges — the proposed statute would use the granting of a civil divorce, a state action, to strong-arm an opposing party into agreeing to a certain disposition under religious law. There is the expression “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Those supporting the proposed legislation should not whine about erosion of separation of church and state.



Keep giving, keep deducting
Samantha Cooper’s Dec. 19 article on the interaction between the new tax law and charitable giving (“Giving was down in 2018. Will 2019 make it a trend?) misstated the applicable rules. It is not true that “individuals must donate $12,000 and couples must donate $24,000 before they’re allowed to deduct.”

As little as a single dollar donated to charity can be deductible, depending on the circumstances.

It is true that the higher standard deduction (in combination with the loss of or restrictions on the amount of other previously available itemized deductions) now makes it more sensible for many people not to itemize their deductions. If, however, a couple pay state or local taxes of $10,000 and pay $14,000 in deductible mortgage interest and choose to itemize their deductions, the very first dollar that is donated to charity will be deductible when computing their taxable income and will result in tax benefit for the couple.

(Charitable deductions are subject to limits and other rules; learn the rules or consult a qualified adviser.)
Falls Church

A good start
In “Do we have a plan for Iran?” the question is raised whether the administration has a plan for dealing with Iran following the assassination of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. President Trump made it clear from the start of his presidency that unlike his predecessor he will not allow Iran to acquire atomic weapons, nor continue to use a group of proxies to attack American and allied facilities and populations. We may not formally be at war with Iran, but they have conducted repeated warlike actions against us and our allies since 1979.

Removing the terrorist Soleimani, who has been heavily involved in fomenting many of these activities, is consistent with the administration’s clearly stated objectives. That sounds like the implementation of a plan, even though there are some who immediately expressed fear of Iranian reactions. In reality, Iran has been left few good options because even their leadership recognizes they can be no match for America in open warfare.

For the first time since 1979, an American administration has taken the initiative and is leaving Iran to respond. In the short time since Soleimani’s death, the Iranian response has led to further crippling sanctions on the Iranian economy and condemnation by the world community for shooting down a Ukrainian airplane. A good start has been made.


Don’t sacrifice Iraq for Iran
Regarding “Does the US have a plan for Iran?” (Editorials, Jan. 9): The history of the U.S. conflict with Iran goes back decades. Although there have been many acts of violence by Iranian-sponsored proxies against Americans over the course of that time, the history of the Middle East is such that Iran often appears as a lesser evil to stateless terrorist groups in that part of the world.

Unlike Iran, we know that it would be insane to imagine that ISIS would even think about entering into a nuclear agreement with Western nations, if they possessed the ability to enrich uranium.

The United States has invested too many resources in Iraq. ISIS, which originated there, is now a bigger threat since President Trump abruptly pulled U.S. troops out of Syria. If an actual Trump administration policy on Iran does emerge, it should never come at the price of the Iraqi government expelling our military presence from their country.

Hiders shouldn’t hide
The editorial “What is Jewish Pride” (Jan. 9) misses the point of the AJC’s #JEWISHANDPROUD campaign, encouraging the wearing of external symbols (kippot, shirts, jewelry etc.). While it is true that “embracing Judaism and Jewish observance” and the many examples listed in the editorial are more important in general, the point of the AJC campaign was in response to those who sought to hide our external signs of being Jewish as a deterrent to anti-Semitism. We need to publicly (and literally) wear our religion on our sleeves and show the world we are proud of our beliefs and not afraid to show the world.


What if he had an AK-47?
Inexplicably, the Jan. 9 issue of the WJW devoted to the “Rally in the US against anti-Semitism” (various stories) omitted a signal facet.

As horrific as the Monsey machete attack was, the casualty count (five victims) would have been exponentially higher the perpetrator had had access to a firearm, especially one with a high-capacity magazine, which, apparently, he did not, presumably thanks to New York’s strict gun control laws.


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