Letters to the editor
Criticism of anti-Israel legislation cosponsored by Summer Lee
It is deeply disappointing that Congresswoman Summer Lee is cosponsoring legislation that would penalize Israel if its military detains Palestinian Arab minors who engage in terrorism (“Summer Lee cosponsors bill that would restrict aid to Israel,” May 12).
There have been numerous instances of Palestinian Arab teenagers carrying out terrorist attacks that were just as barbaric as those perpetrated by older terrorists.
Anybody remember Ayyat al-Akras? In 2002, at age 17, she carried out a suicide bombing in a Jerusalem supermarket, murdering two shoppers — one was a teenage girl — and wounding 28 others. How about Aamer Alfar? He was just 16 in 2004, when he blew himself up in the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, murdering three Israelis and injuring 32. According to Israeli army statistics for the period 2000-2003, there were 29 suicide attacks carried out by Palestinian Arabs under the age of 18 — not to mention 40 attempted suicide bombings and 22 shooting attacks by teenagers under 18.
Just a few weeks ago, a Palestinian Arab terrorist walked up to a car in Jerusalem and shot its driver and passenger, two unarmed Hasidic men, injuring them severely. Israeli security forces caught the terrorist in the Palestinian Authority-controlled city of Shechem (Nablus). He’s 15 years old.
In the American judicial system, juveniles who commit certain heinous crimes are tried as adults. Terrorism surely qualifies as a heinous crime, and its perpetrators deserve appropriate punishment, whether they happen to be younger than 18 or older. Israel should not be punished for following this sound American principle.
I hope the Chronicle’s readers weigh in against this bill with Rep. Lee’s office.
Stephen M. Flatow
Long Branch, New Jersey
Jewish law prohibits imposition of the death penalty if it does not deter
Rabbi Danny Schiff’s article on the death penalty (“Judaism does not reject the death penalty, May 12) is full of important information and wisdom. It clearly shows that the Talmudic sages required many conditions to be satisfied before the death penalty could be imposed, and in so doing that the Talmudic system of justice was advanced beyond its time. One of the necessary conditions that the sages required was evidence that the death penalty deters. Nowadays, we know that the death penalty does not serve as a deterrent. In our country, states that still maintain the death penalty do not show any reduction in the number of murders per capita than those states that do not. For this and other reasons, capital punishment has been eliminated in most advanced countries.
Clarification on bill cosponsored by Summer Lee
Regarding the Chronicle’s story, “Summer Lee cosponsors bill that would restrict aid to Israel” (May 12, 2023), we would like to clarify the facts about the recently re-introduced bill that Rep. Summer Lee supports. J Street — the pro-Israel organization that has publicly supported the pro-democracy protesters in Israel in their resistance to the extremist, far-right Netanyahu-led government — backs the bill. The bill does not cut or condition aid, but instead establishes end-use restrictions on the aid to ensure it is used for legitimate security purposes. Like all U.S. aid, our taxpayer money should be accounted for and should not be used in ways that undermine U.S. interests. With a far-right government in Israel threatening the country’s democratic norms and destroying the prospects of a two-state solution through annexation, it is more important than ever to have an honest and transparent accounting of how U.S. aid is spent in Israel, and ensure that the aid is not compromising U.S.-led peace efforts or human rights. This bill does just that.
Mark Fichman, chair J Street Pittsburgh
Gun violence can be curbed with legislation
I am in complete agreement with the sentiments expressed by Dana Kellerman in her April 28 column, “Now is the Time for Sensible Gun Laws.”
The author relates many actions that can be inscribed in law which would infringe on no legitimate Second Amendment right.
The National Rifle Association has become a perversion of what it once was, now serving primarily as a mouthpiece for gun manufacturers who seek to establish a Second Amendment which, unlike all of the others, is subject to no limitations. When any action is taken to address our country’s epidemic level of gun violence, the NRA and its acolytes rev up their masses by spouting some version of “they are coming for your guns” nonsense.
No gun remedy will stop all deranged and venomous individuals from killing, but why in God’s name would we choose to continue making it easy for virtually anyone to acquire military-grade weapons designed to mow down human beings in rapid succession?
Some members of our faith have asserted that if only the Jews of Europe had been armed, the Holocaust would not have occurred. My paternal grandparents were murdered by the Nazis, but I do not believe for a second that they and others in their country of Austria would have been able to beat back the German onslaught if they had been in possession of guns.
My state Rep. Natalie Mihalek and state Sen. Camera Bartolotta, both Republicans of course, are proud to have been endorsed by the NRA. For many of us, such an endorsement would be a badge of dishonor and skepticism. I am skeptical that they can be won over, but if enough citizens placed public safety first, our elected officials would have to listen.
Has our community not suffered enough from the easy availability of lethal weapons?