Letters September 15, 2016


Travel can expose visitors to new ideas
As someone who recently visited Yasser Arafat’s grave, I was both amazed and sad that a rabbi would be “virtually lynched” (“A rabbi is ‘lynched,” Editorial, Sept. 8) because he considered visiting Arafat’s grave in Ramallah. Visiting someone’s grave does not imply complete agreement with what they did or stood for. A major reason for travel is to be exposed to new ideas, some not entirely comfortable.

While the visit to Arafat’s grave was canceled, I certainly hope that the group went into Ramallah and visited its bustling markets and established institutions. It would have opened their eyes in a way impossible from reading newspapers or going to lectures. We saw doting grandparents with their smiling grandchildren enjoying ice cream, young couples lugging TVs into their cars, businessmen with their attaché cases and women of all ages (in head scarves or not) out for the day. In short, we saw a thriving city whose daily life rarely makes the news.

Yes, there were Palestinian flags and “Free Palestine” posters. There were also posters for an annual children’s book fair and a Danish/Palestinian classic music concert. First Bank of Palestine ads featured teenagers in graduation caps and multi-generational families at dinner. Other ads were for soccer equipment and facial massages.
Since the museum is not yet open, Arafat’s grave is (at best) a 10-minute photo op. However, a visit to Ramallah is crucial for anyone who truly wants to understand the situation Israelis and Palestinians are facing.

Choosing a candidate to support
Hillary Clinton’s critics condemn the Democratic presidential candidate for her private email server. No one died or lost money because of it and no national secrets were released. In the last 24 years Clinton has been a first lady, a senator and at the time widely praised secretary of state. Where are her failures? Normally, POTUS (Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama, during those years) is to whom we attribute failure.


Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, allegedly stole thousands from unsuspecting students when they attended Trump University.  Trump frequently stiffed suppliers. Trump was a winner, by his definition, in his four bankruptcies, but not the workers left without jobs.  Trump’s charitable giving is by way of giving other people’s money. He lied about Muslims in New Jersey cheering on 9/11, that he didn’t support the invasion of Iraq and that he opposed the overthrow of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

For those blaming Clinton for the Iran deal, Russian President Vladimir Putin was there and against sanctions in the first place. Putin supports Iran and both support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. If Assad prevails, Hezbollah, armed by Assad and Iran, will be sitting on the other side of the Golan.

Candidates admire Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan or Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Trump admires Putin. Those who trusted Putin lived or died ruing their decision. Trump is only interested in Trump. The first time Israel comes between Trump and what he wants he will toss Israel aside as he has tossed aside others. We won’t see cowed Republicans standing up to him.

Trump uses people. He promises jobs, tax cuts for the middle class, billions on defense and a balanced budget. If elected, Trump will do none of that, but will do what he has always done, whatever is best for Trump.
Silver Spring

Praise for expose of grassroots groups
Kudos to the Washington Jewish Week for publishing Edwin Black’s robust expose (“Grassroots Jewish organizations roar,” Voices, Sept. 8) of self-appointed right-wing vigilante groups and their senior personnel.

The listing of this Kahanist cabal should be made readily available to media and law-enforcement officials nationwide as a resource for follow-up action in the event of outbreaks of digital and/or physical intimidation directed at “establishment” Jews, Christians and Muslims.

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