Letters from August 22, 2013


Life-changing program

I was gratified to read your coverage of ADL’s Bearing Witness program (“ ‘Bearing Witness’: Catholic educators explore Jewish realm,” WJW, Aug. 1). As a Catholic educator, I can tell you that this program has changed my life and made a profound difference in how I see the world. Since attending the Bearing Witness program last year, I have made it my goal to sensitize other Catholic educators to the history of anti-Semitism, and to frame the Catholic scripture within a Jewish context for my students. This year I was honored to attend Bearing Witness Advanced, which took a group of Catholic educators to Israel to learn more about the Jewish connection to Israel, modern Israeli politics and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I want your readers to know the incredible impact of this program and the dialogue it initiates. Every time we teach a child, we have the opportunity to do things over, to repeat the past in a way that will heal our future. The ADL Bearing Witness program gives Catholic educators the tools to combat anti-Semitism and to initiate a healing, productive dialogue between the Catholic and Jewish faiths.



Silver Spring


Behavior of ally?

It is deeply troubling that in the past year, there have been four occasions in which the Obama administration has reportedly leaked to The New York Times that Israel — which provided advance notification to the U.S. — flew into Syria to destroy shipments of advanced weapons destined for Hezbollah, while also protecting the leaker’s identity.

So what are the motives for the Obama administration to leak this information to the Times that is unquestionably detrimental to Israel?

• Are officials trying to provoke a war between Israel and Syria?

• Are they trying to deter Israel from interdicting weapons shipments to Hezbollah?

• Are they trying to punish Israel for resisting efforts to force it out of the territories?

Whichever it is, it is highly dangerous for Israel, which faces a myriad of missiles from Hezbollah and Syria.

Is this how an ally behaves?


Silver Spring


Follow the money

The article by Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of HIAS (“It’s not over, WJW, Aug. 8) is very eloquent in defense of a worthy organization whose raison d’etre has passed. But, despite his high sounding arguments, to realistically evaluate his position, just follow the money: $25 million from the U.S. government that has previously gone to HIAS, and $262,559, which, according to Charity Navigator, is the salary of Mr. Hetfield’s predecessor and, presumably, close to his present salary.


Pimmit Hills, Va.


Don’t ignore the local angle

The report in your Aug. 8 edition on three recent significant congressional actions (“House calls for toughening sanctions on Iran”) did not accurately inform your readers, most of whom vote in the Greater Washington area, about the positions taken by House members from our area.

It is not correct that Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) was “the only area member of Congress to vote against” the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013, which passed the House by a 400-20 vote. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) was also one of the 20 no-voters.

You correctly note in the same article that Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) was among the circulators of the letter to the president, signed by 76 senators, calling for a “renewed sense of urgency” and tougher sanctions on Iran. However, it would have been helpful to point out that all four senators from our area — Maryland’s Cardin and Mikulski and Virginia’s Kaine and Warner — signed that letter and that Sen. Kaine was recently named chair of the Foreign Relations Committee’s subcommittee responsible for Middle East affairs.

Finally, your report on the letter from 49 House members to the European Union Foreign Affairs Council regarding the designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization (“House letter thanks EU for action on Hezbollah”) in the same issue fails to mention that the letter was signed by three representatives from Virginia (Democrat Gerry Connolly and Republicans Frank Wolf and Morgan Griffith) and one from Maryland (Democrat John Sarbanes).

Your reporting on actions of Congress potentially affecting Israel and U.S. national security is important and appreciated, but it is even more important to inform your readership base about what our own congressional representatives have done. Please, in the future, don’t ignore the local angle.




Not a charity

This letter is in response to the article by Eric Hal Schwartz about Mr. Bernard Liles, a former resident of the Maplewood Park Place retirement community who died on Aug. 1 (“At 101, kicked out of retirement home,” WJW, Aug. 1).

I have been a happy and extremely satisfied resident of Maplewood for almost three years. It is an exceptionally fine place to live. Mr. Liles also enjoyed living here during his many years in independent living, and was well taken care of during his later years in the Skilled Nursing Unit when he had severe health problems.

Maplewood is not a philanthropic institution. From its inception, it was established as a cooperative ownership residence. We each own our apartment and share the ownership and costs of the whole facility. The monthly payments are fees, not contributions.

Prior to purchasing our apartments, all residents declare our financial situation in order to show our ability to pay. If any resident does not pay the fees, the costs of running the facility would have to be paid for by the other residents. All of us are aware that should our own money run out, family members would feel morally obligated to take care of us in some way. They would pay the monthly fees themselves, or move us to a less expensive facility, or move us to a facility which has philanthropic funds for this purpose.




Quality of life

Your readers may be interested in how a resident of Maplewood Park Place retirement community feels about the death of Bernard Liles (“At 101, kicked out of retirement home,” WJW, Aug. 1). I have been here since April 2007, and have been very much upset by the pathetic condition in which he had been existing. As long as I can remember he has been stretched out on a couch, apparently unable to move or talk. Most days he had been placed near the elevator on the floor where he lived and where the physical therapy clinic is also located. I often passed by him, and every time I was depressed that he was being kept alive in a condition which appeared to be close to a vegetative state. It had frightened me that, although Maplewood had taken good care of him, no one had been doing anything about the reality of his situation.

When I realized how dreadful his life seemed to be, I got in touch with my children and begged them not to allow me to live on long after real life was over. They were wonderful and promised that they would not permit it; if necessary, they would take me to a place where assisted suicide is legal. In the case of Mr. Liles, no such drastic action would have been necessary; I understand that when the family agreed to allow the doctors to discontinue tubal feeding, the home followed its wishes and would have done so a long time ago if the family had permitted it. He was finally allowed to die.

The residents with whom I have talked about this case agree that Mr. Liles should have been allowed to die as a person, peacefully and with dignity some years ago. We all view it as a blessing that his years only semi-alive have finally ended.




Not anti-peace

It is with much disappointment that we read the Ron Kampeas piece, “Is the right sabotaging peace talks?” (WJW, Aug. 8).

The headline creates conspiratorial overtones that are not supported by the actual reporting within the article. A series of unconnected meetings and initiatives from a wide variety of organizations are lumped together into a single report as though plotted out in advance by a nonexistent “right wing” cabal. A responsible journalist ought to be sensitive to the inappropriateness of stories implying conspiracies by Jewish organizations.

Additionally, the article refers to the Endowment for Middle East Truth as a conservative “lobby,” which is factually incorrect. EMET is a nonpartisan 501(c) educational organization. 501(c) organizations are barred from spending a “substantial” amount of their efforts on lobbying. EMET’s primary focus is to provide educational seminars on a variety of Middle East-related topics.

EMET’s support for Rep. Salmon’s letter to the attorney general regarding Palestinians who have maimed or murdered Americans is part of an effort that began well before the current peace talk proposals.

EMET previously worked with Reps. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) and Howard Berman (D-Calif.) on a bipartisan letter with 52 congressional signatories that raised the same points regarding terrorists in the Gilad Shalit prisoner release, which had nothing to do with negotiations. My interest in this issue predates EMET, through my efforts to see passage of the Koby Mandell act in 2005.

For EMET, the issue of American victims of Palestinian terrorism is about seeking justice, not preventing peace. We firmly believe that only by seeking justice can true peace be established. Freed terrorists with American blood on their hands being viewed as heroes by the Palestinians is the actual source of “sabotage” to the peace process. Pointing that reality out is not anti-peace, it is pro-truth.


Founder and President, Endowment for Middle East Truth


Common misunderstanding

The article by Ron Kampeas (“Is the right sabotaging peace talks?” WJW, Aug. 8) reflects a common misunderstanding as to the current status of West Jerusalem.

Under the armistice agreement between Israel and Jordan of April 1949, an armistice demarcation line was drawn that placed West Jerusalem in Israel and East Jerusalem in Jordan. The armistice demarcation lines of that period are now called the pre-1967 borders.

By April 1949 Israel had moved its government to West Jerusalem and had declared it to be its capital. The reason why the United States did not move our embassy to West Jerusalem at that time did not reflect a concern for any Arab claim to that part of Jerusalem. The failure to move the embassy stemmed from the consideration then given by the U.N. to form a corpus separatum under U.N. auspices that would govern all of Jerusalem and adjacent “Holy Sites,” including Bethlehem. This proposal, which would have taken land areas from both Israel and Jordan, was strongly opposed by the Arab U.N. member states and was given up around 1950.

From then on there has been no legally valid basis for the refusal to place the U.S. Embassy in West Jerusalem. Contrary to Mr. Kampeas’ observation, placing the embassy in West Jerusalem would not “buttress Israeli claims to the [entire] city.” It would merely bring U.S. policy on Jerusalem into line with the general U.S. policy regarding the pre-1967 borders. The State Department’s failure to take this step 60 years ago has meant that Israel has been treated in a manner in which no other country has been treated. As it is, there was a U.S. Embassy to Communist East Germany in East Berlin, whose incorporation into East Germany we had not recognized.




Jeopardizing U.S. security

Our national security could be in jeopardy if the $500 billion in sequestration defense cuts are implemented. Our military had to absorb $80 billion in prior cuts and is now cutting $487 billion over 10 years to comply with the Budget Control Act.

The $487 billion in cuts translates into the Army reducing its forces by 80,000 soldiers over the next five years. The Marines will cut 20,000 troops. Other cuts include early retirement of ships with the possibility of having 11 carrier battle groups instead of the 12 needed; the retirement of the Air Force A-10 Warthog aircraft; and the possible closure of our only tank production facility in Lima, Ohio.

These cuts are occurring while leaving the Pentagon’s civilian workforce of 750,000 unscathed. DOD added 62,000 civilians during the past four years.

If the additional $500 billion in sequestration cuts are implemented, more than 1 million civilian full-time jobs with contractors, sub-contractors and ancillary businesses will be lost. The unemployment rate could increase 0.5 percent to 1 percent and the U.S. gross domestic product could decrease by $85 billion.

The Obama administration and Congress have to find other ways to reduce the deficit without adversely impacting our national defense.


Londonderry, N.H.

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