Letters | Aug. 29, 2019


Hillel is not the answer

In “How to put Hillel’s words into action on immigration” (Voices, Aug. 22), Rachel Metz argued for Jews to support more humane immigration policies during the current crisis on our southern border. We may applaud her personal compassion, but we should not approve of the way she appropriates Jewish moral teachings on behalf of her cause.

For example, Hillel’s words “Do not unto others…” was directed to us as individuals, not as immigration policy for nations. Even more disturbing is her appeal to our highest value of pikuach nefesh (preservation of human life) which she says should lead us “to allow anyone into our country with a credible fear for their life — from any country.”

I wonder if she understands that people all over the world — many from places more poverty stricken or dangerous than Central America — stand in lines at U.S. consulates awaiting interviews to make their case for visas, whether as refugees or for other reasons. The present rush of hundreds of thousands of people from Central America does not mean that all, or even most, of these people are legitimate refugees — no matter what immigration lawyers may coach them to say.


I’m sure that we can and should do better in handling these people in an orderly and humane fashion. But Jews need to see this complex problem not just with their hearts but also with their heads. And unfortunately, neither Hillel nor other lofty moral generalizations (whether in Hebrew or English) provide needed solutions.


More information on letter writers needed

In “A view from the detention facilities” (Letters, July 25), Ira Reese writes that “young misled Jews” find something better to do than demonstrate against unjust treatment of detained children at our borders. He said he’s been to the border and he sees nothing amiss. What the letter doesn’t disclose is that Reese is director of a company called Global
Security and Innovative Strategies who provides contract services to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Reese’s letter mentions a ruling called Flores v. Lynch. He doesn’t cite Trump’s executive orders and lawsuits citing Trump administration violations of Flores v. Lynch. WJW readers deserve the full picture of what’s going on at the borders.


Trump’s accusations are demeaning

President Trump’s statement that Jews who vote for Democrats either lack knowledge or are very disloyal to Israel is truly demeaning. American Jews have differing perspectives on Israel and which political party they should vote for.

The president and his surrogates have no right to tell Jewish Americans that only by voting Republican are they loyal to the Jewish people and Israel. Support for Israel must be bipartisan. Instead, the president has weaponized this to help his reelection campaign.

More importantly, he is dividing Jews (American vs. Israeli and Republicans vs. Democrats). This is very corrosive to Israel and the United States.


A litmus test for ‘pro-Israel’

Your editorial “Netanyahu’s public relations fiasco” (Aug. 22) and news article in the same issue (“Democrats may take out their angst on Dermer and Friedman”), unintentionally reveal a very discomforting phenomenon. When it comes to being pro-Israel, many mainstream Jewish organizations, including WJW, as well as leading Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are nothing more than “summer soldiers and sunshine patriots” (paraphrasing Thomas Paine in “The Crisis”).

The consternation of these groups apparently came about when the legitimate democratic government of Israel decided to ban entry of Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) in accordance with Israeli law giving the government the right to ban
supporters of BDS or those who otherwise pose a significant threat to the security of the Jewish state.

This necessary action by the Israeli government was viewed by many liberals as an opportunity to impugn the character of President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Their one-dimensional approach to this Israeli decision calls into question their pro-Israel bona fides.

Virginia Beach

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  1. The Washington Jewish Week “letters to the editor” section shouldn’t necessarily be a “tit for tat” forum, but it is fascinating (and disappointing) that people will try to defend the indefensible Trump immigration policy. There is enough precedent and direction in our sacred texts to support the humane care of the stranger. The most powerful and wealthy country on this planet, more than 325 million strong, certainly has the capacity to handle the surge of immigrants at the southern border AND process those individuals standing in line and going through the standard process to enter this country. Inhumane, unsanitary detention centers, the continued separation of families is unconscionable under any circumstances. Yes, the immigration dilemma is complicated, but that isn’t an excuse to deviate from doing the right thing for the right reason. And, yes, what we read and study in synagogue should inform our actions.


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