Does J Street still support Summer Lee?
In recent months, the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle has published several articles, letters to the editor and columns highlighting J Streets’ pro-Israel, pro-peace positions and its support for Rep. Summer Lee.
Rep. Lee has demonstrated her dislike for Israel by voting against several House resolutions in support of Israel, including one that stated Israel is not a racist or apartheid country. After the vote on that resolution — only a handful of members of Congress voted against it — J Street maintained its support for Rep. Lee and held a fundraiser on her behalf.
Last week, in response to the horrific Oct. 7 barbaric slaughter of Jews by Gazan terrorists, the U.S. House voted 412-10 in favor of a resolution to show support for Israel and condemn Hamas. Rep. Lee, who represents the largest Jewish community in Southwest Pennsylvania, voted along with a fringe minority against the resolution.
One has to wonder if J Street still maintains its support for someone who does not represent the interests of a large number of her constituents, many of whom have friends and family in Israel. Many have dual citizenship and some are now serving in the IDF.
Lee’s position is not for Israel and it is not for peace. She has crossed a line of extremism and questionable moral judgment, and she does not deserve the support of the community.
Where does J Street stand on supporting her now? I look forward to their explanation in a letter, article or column in the Chronicle.
Pittsburgh boy feeds IDF troops on Lebanese border
It’s hard to believe that in April 21 issue of the Chronicle, we read the tantalizing article, “A hungry heart’s journey to the land of milk and honey” by Brandon Blumenfeld. He wrote, “We ate and danced at Elias Hospitality, a farm resort owned and operated by Pittsburgh native and larger than life personality Jed ‘Gadi’ Elias, who made Aliyah in the 1970s as a child with his family.”
Fast forward to Oct. 7, when the world caved in above around Israel — we all know what happened.
Shock ensued in the country with soldiers on the borders caught on a peaceful holiday Sabbath and reserve groups hurrying to their units. Gadi Elias knew what the conditions would be in the military bases: Troops would need food, supplies and basics. Gadi also knew that all of his groups from the U.S. would be canceled and immediately went into motion. He gathered family, friends and volunteers in Yesod Hamala (where he lives). They collected basics, supplies, clothing, towels, toiletries to send to the border units. They started cooking and preparing hot meals for the troops in the north. Not for one moment have they faltered, working in compassion and unity, all ages, all sexes, the good people of Yesod Hamala.
It’s another day in Israel. Gadi and his team of volunteers continue to feed the troops in the north. He thanks all who have helped including Richard Rattner, Stuart Rattner, Mickey Rattner and Sylvia Elias for their most generous and direct support.
Tel Aviv, Israel
A Progressive’s response to the Regressives
I am writing in response to the letter by Ms. Annette Kolski-Andreaco, whose recently printed letter in your paper dripped with scorn and hatred for Summer Lee, J Street, and what she scornfully calls “progressives” (“So-called progressives’ reveal themselves,” Oct. 27).
I am not here to speak for Rep. Lee or J Street, who have their own spokespeople. But I proudly wear the label of “progressive.”
I am heartsick at the attack on Israel, on the murders of civilians that happened on Oct. 7 and in the past, by the taking and ongoing holding of the hostages, and by the threat to the very existence of the Jewish state of Israel, a lovely land I’ve been to and hope to go to again. Israel is a special place, a homeland for Jews who are strangers in strange lands everywhere else, as the recent rise in antisemitic events have shown us. I don’t defend Hamas for one second; they are a terrorist organization, and they should be eradicated. “From the river to the sea” is, indeed, a call for the extermination of the state of Israel, and of all the Jews there. We are in agreement there.
The antisemitism in the world is very real. I’ve studied it, I’ve experienced it, and I’ve acted, and continue to act, against it.
But — and here’s where Ms. Kolski-Andreaco’s vitriol fails to convince — I don’t also advocate the actions that the right-wing politicians and settlers in Israel have taken. I don’t think that bulldozing the homes of terrorists, to further punish their families, is moral. I don’t think that the building of Jewish Israeli towns in the West Bank furthers peace. I don’t think that the destruction of everything in Gaza is humane, moral, or in keeping with Jewish values. If Hamas is debased and immoral enough to use its own citizens as human shields, we must find a way — not debased, not immoral, not “well, they’re a regrettable side-effect of what Hamas has asked for” — a Jewish, upright, moral way to handle the conundrum. We are Jews. We solve problems the right and humane way.
To be clear, I don’t think that Israel, in any sense of the word, brought this on itself, or deserved it, or any retributive nonsense. Hamas has always — always — worked against Israel. The kindest, most humane policies in the world wouldn’t have convinced Hamas to let Jews live in peace.
But have we tried? Are we really doing the kindest, most humane policies possible in regard to the Palestinians? I challenge Ms. Kolski-Andreaco to say that we are. Her hatred and anger will not save the hostages, will not offer humanity and respect to moderate Palestinians, or change the bitter world we now face.
I stand with Israel, now and always, and I stand with Judaism and its values of humanity and decency.
Naomi Weisberg Siegel