Mikulski will be missed
The scramble to fill the shoes of Sen. Barbara Mikulski is on. I hope that whoever succeeds her will continue to embody the principles which have been the hallmark of her career (“With Mikulski’s retirement, community loses ally,” WJW, March 12).
While remaining firmly committed to liberal ideals, in the finest sense of the word, Mikulski has a unique ability to bridge ideological differences and to serve as a unifying force. Her appeal comes from a genuine concern for all her constituents, for the rich and the poor. She never forgot her working class roots and has been a tireless advocate on behalf of the little guy.
I especially recall one time a number of years ago when I met with her in her Senate office along with other Jewish leaders. She chastised us for not being more outspoken in our advocacy for Israel. She urged us to meet with our other elected representatives, and to do more and work harder to galvanize our community on behalf of Israel.
As a member of an ethnic minority from Baltimore, and always appreciative of the support she received from the Jewish community, especially early in her career, she felt very much at home with Jewish groups. Whenever she would speak at a synagogue, because of her height, she would always make sure there was, as she called it “the box the bar mitzvah boy stands on” so she could be seen. No doubt about it, when it came to issues important to the Jewish community, she was seen and she was heard.
She will be missed. Let us hope that whoever follows her will be an equally tireless advocate on behalf of the issues that are important to the Jewish community, and will be as devoted to Israel as she has been throughout her career.
RABBI STUART WEINBLATT
Congregation B’ai Tzedek
Continued advocacy for Israel sought in new senator
I noted with regret that Sen. Mikulski has chosen to retire, albeit for all of the right reasons (“With Mikulski’s retirement, community loses ally, WJW, March 12). She has been a credit to the state of Maryland as an ardent supporter of women’s rights and an advocate for Israel.
Hopefully her successor, and there are many vying for the position, will continue her balanced approach to many topics, including strong support for Israel as a vibrant democracy and our most steadfast ally in the Middle East. Unfortunately there are several potential candidates, including those who chose to boycott Netanyahu’s speech before the Congress who do not share her support for the Jewish state. Without naming names, they certainly will not receive my vote either in the primary or if they win in the general election.
Dealing with Iran
The prime task of any good negotiator is the ability to foresee all the broad implications of any issue under review. What in effect Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicating in his speech to Congress is that the P5+1 team appears to be more intent on getting an agreement with Iran than on the content of that agreement. (“Netanyahu slams “bad deal” with Iran, WJW, March 9).
Admittedly, no agreement has yet been announced, but enough has been leaked to indicate that it will allow Iran to keep the centrifuges spinning and that a sunshine clause will be included, effectively terminating any restrictions after an agreed time. Sadly, such results became inevitable once the sanctions that brought Iran back to the negotiating table were removed as a reward to keep them talking. It was a tragedy at the time, and one that greatly weakened our position.
Much has been written about our nuclear deterrent posture, meaning our possession of nuclear warheads deters others from initiating hostilities. What seems to have been forgotten is that the possession of nuclear warheads provides others with a similar deterrent posture against us. Anyone doubting this truism should consider the way North Korea continues to ignore world opinion and proceed on its own path.
In the same way that America has worked cooperatively with allies in nuclear issues, it would be natural for opponents such as North Korea, and possibly even dissidents from Russia and China, to assist in enhancing Iran’s capabilities. Thus, without the strong inspection protocols suggested by former Ambassador Dennis Ross – NPT inspectors able to visit anywhere at any time – we shall never be sure that Iran is abiding by any agreement that is made.
Protocol may have been infringed upon by inviting Netanyahu, but his warning was needed.
Affordable Care Act subsidies should be available
I read Barbara Weinstein’s op-ed with interest and understanding (“Upholding Affordable Care Act subsidies a moral, legal necessity,” WJW, March 5), As a physician, I am more than sympathetic to her point of view; indeed, it is my personal belief that some form of national health care program is long overdue both for moral as well as practical reasons.
Having said this, however, the wording of the Affordable Care Act is very plain: To promote voluntary state participation, subsidies would be available to qualifying citizens of those states that established exchanges.
Indeed, history has often shown that the Congress uses this carrot/stick method to motivate the states to act in certain ways. Given this history then, it is truly a reach to infer that Congress meant the subsidies to also apply to those states that refused to participate in setting up exchanges. Furthermore, to suggest, as some do, that the writers of the act were asleep at the switch and guilty of a mere oversight, is, simply ludicrous.
So what then might we expect from the Supreme Court? Given the above, the court should, on the basis of law, and law alone, unanimously declare in favor of the plaintiffs! If the court were to rule otherwise it would open itself to an indictment of social engineering. The court, after all, is supposed to interpret and adjudicate issues strictly on a neutral and legal basis. It is not the duty of the court to pull Congress’s chestnuts out of the fire! If Congress wanted the subsidies to apply generally it should have stated so in the act. I reiterate, I am very sympathetic to Weinstein’s point of view. But this is a nation based upon the law; and the law, as written in this case is very clear.
MARTIN L. LIPSON
Jewish victims of terror targeted because they were Jews
Your editorial (“Not just ‘a bunch of folks in a deli,’ WJW, Feb. 19) got it exactly right in challenging the Obama administration’s reluctance to acknowledge that the Jewish victims of terror in Paris were targeted because they were Jews. Not only did President Barack Obama himself characterize the victims as simply “a bunch of folks in a deli,” but both the White House spokesman and State Department spokeswoman went out of their way to avoid recognizing that Jews were the targets. “What are they all afraid of,” your editorial asked.
The answer is that they are afraid of acknowledging that there is a worldwide problem of terrorists motivated by radical Islam specifically targeting Jews, Christians and other “infidels.” The president and his spokesmen believe — and want the rest of us to believe — that the terrorists are all “on the run,” that the terrorists represent only some tiny fringe, and that the way to address the problem is to give them jobs (and Israeli territorial concessions). But the truth is that Islamist terrorists are on the march, not on the run; they represent much more than a fringe; and neither jobs nor Israeli territory will appease them.
RABBI ROBERT SHECHTER
Religious Zionists of America