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(Photo from Flash90)
(Photo from Flash90)

Bhavini Patel is a welcome alternative to Summer Lee
While the 2024 Pennsylvania primary is still months away, I am writing to urge District 12 residents to vote for Bhavini Patel (“District 12 candidates spar over Israel, campaign finance at CMU forum,” Feb. 2). She is a clear and welcome alternative to our current congressional
representative, Summer Lee.

Over the past year, and in particular since the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks, Rep. Lee has consistently voted against Israeli interests and, by extension, the interests of Jewish Americans. Note that Summer Lee has voted “no” on:

• House Continuing Resolution 057 (July 7, 2023): Expressing the sense of Congress supporting the state of Israel.

• House Resolution 771 (Oct. 25, 2023): Standing with Israel as it defends itself against the barbaric war launched by Hamas and other terrorists.

• House Resolution 340 (Nov. 1, 2023): Hamas International Financing Prevention Act.

• House Resolution 559 (Nov. 1, 2023): Declaring it is the policy of the United States that a nuclear Islamic Republic of Iran is not acceptable.

• House Resolution 798 (Nov. 2, 2023): Condemning the support of Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations at institutions of higher education, which may lead to the creation of a hostile environment for Jewish students, faculty, and staff.

These votes are unjustifiable, harmful to the interests of both Israel and the United States and fly in the face of decency and common sense.

As a House member, Summer Lee has voted “no” on several other seemingly commonsense bills including, but not limited to, bills expressing support for local law enforcement officers, protecting women and girls in sports, providing a parents’ bill of rights, protecting speech from government interference, denouncing the horrors of socialism, protecting America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve from China, and family and small business taxpayer protection. Her voting record as a member of the Pennsylvania legislature is equally destructive.

Voting records matter, and are a clear indication of our officials’ proclivities and priorities.

I urge PA 12 voters to register to vote, and then to vote for Bhavini Patel; it will send a message to the Washington establishment that voters are watching.

Nate Scholnicoff
Squirrel Hill

Summer Lee is ‘the best person to support the Jewish community’
I am writing in response to the story “District 12 candidates spar over Israel, campaign finance at CMU forum” (Feb. 2).

The article did not accurately depict the debate, Summer Lee or the Jewish community of Pittsburgh. You mention that the debate was attended by “students, Jewish community members and people donning black-and-white keffiyeh head scarfs, an emblem of solidarity with the Palestinian cause” as if those are separate groups, but I know that there are large overlaps in the Jewish community of Pittsburgh and those supporting the Palestinian cause.

The article states that amid a “rising tide of anti-Jewish hate, Lee voted against a resolution condemning the Hamas Oct. 7 attack and is a vocal critic of the Jewish state on social media.” This conflates support of the Israeli state with support for the Jewish community as well as opposition to the actions of Israel with antisemitism. As a member of the Pittsburgh Jewish community, I feel represented by Summer Lee, who has stood by her word to represent those suffering most. She has stood with striking workers, fought against U.S. imperial military overreach and now stands with the Jewish community by being one of the first and few Congress members to call for a cease-fire in Gaza, which is a necessary first step in stopping this conflict and decreasing further violence against the Jewish people. I know that I am not the only Pittsburgh Jew that shares this sentiment, and if you truly are a paper reporting on our behalf, then you have failed to hear our voices.

Summer Lee is the best person to support the Jewish community because she supports the Jewish idea of tikkun olam with her policies and positions, hoping to decrease gun violence, increase wages and rights for workers and the disabled, and continues to push for equity in all spheres of life.

Honey Rosenbloom
Pittsburgh

Why rushing to judgment about UNRWA is justified
The reluctance of some to cast judgment on UNRWA is based in part on claims that countries were too quick to accept Israel’s evidence about UNRWA personnel participating in the barbaric Oct. 7 Hamas attack (“Israeli intel shows 10% of UNRWA workers in Gaza have ties to terror groups — report,” Jan. 29, online).

However, what the media should have noted is that many of the EU and other countries that are at least temporarily withholding funding from UNRWA usually do not join the U.S. in voting against the standard anti-Israel U.N. General Assembly resolutions (14 of the total of 21 resolutions against any country in 2023). Quickly assuming that UNRWA is guilty as charged is completely consistent with these countries well knowing UNRWA’s past history and present activities.

I have followed UNRWA’s blatant anti-Israeli activities closely since 1987 when I had an unsettling personal experience with an UNRWA official. While in a Geneva hotel near various international organizations, by happenstance I shared a breakfast table with a man who identified himself as a senior official at UNRWA and talked about how important his work was in protecting Palestinians against Israeli oppression. He said that the Israelis were now the Nazis, and that Israel would be taken care of immediately after South Africa. I asked him about a recent American television report about munitions in the basements of U.N. camps for Palestinian refugees, which he emphatically denied. But when I pushed the issue, he insisted I was wrong because the munitions were in tunnels under the camp buildings, not in basements.

UNRWA’s blatant anti-Israel activities are no secret. After repeated denials, and while under threat of EU and U.S. withdrawal of funding, UNRWA previously admitted production of educational material for schoolchildren that demonizes Israel and glorifies murderous martyrdom — but it has not kept its promises to reform. UNRWA also has been a foremost proponent of more concrete and steel being allowed in to rebuild Gaza while surely knowing the materials were being used for tunnels and weapons A mechanism to rebuild Gaza and feed its people is necessary. But an alternative to a Hamas front such as UNRWA must be found.

Bernard D. Goldstein
Pittsburgh

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