Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor

Readers respond

(Photo from Flash90)
(Photo from Flash90)

Tree of Life groundbreaking was clear statement against all forms of antisemitism
The Tree of Life groundbreaking was a historic declaration of resilience amidst the groundswell of anti-Jewish hate (“Tree of Life, Inc. breaks ground,” online June 24; this issue, Page 1). As painful as it was to make space in the face of one Jewish tragedy to remember another one, I was grateful to witness a sea of yellow ribbons in support of the hostages held in Gaza. Jeffrey Solomon, vice chair of the Tree of Life board, linked the two tragedies, reminding us that in our community, as at the site of the Nova Music Festival where concertgoers were brutally attacked on Oct. 7, “We will dance again.”

The powerful speakers did not shy away from connecting the myriad forms of extremism directed at American Jews. Second gentleman Doug Emhoff was direct: “When Jews are targeted because of their beliefs or identity, or when Israel is singled out because of anti-Jewish hatred, that is antisemitism plain and simple and it must be condemned clearly, unequivocally and without context.” Gov. Josh Shapiro was also clear-eyed about leadership that equivocates when it comes to Anti-Jewish hate. He said, “On college campuses and in our town squares antisemitism is rising, and some leaders, at times, offer permission slips to hate.”

His comment named the trepidation I felt coming into the event. For months we have watched certain local leaders use their support for the Jewish community following the synagogue shooting as a defense of their support for the anti-Israel movement. The anti-Israel/anti-Zionist hatemongers in the news today are animated by anti-Jewish conspiracy theories just as the synagogue shooter was in 2018; and some supporters of that movement were literally in our big tent at the groundbreaking.

And yet, the speeches and the yellow ribbons were exactly what the attendees needed to see: When the American Jewish community talks about antisemitism, we are talking about the events of five years ago, and we are talking about what is unfolding now. I was glad that Rep. Summer Lee, Mayor Ed Gainey and County Exec Sara Innamorato were there to hear top Democratic and Jewish leadership underlining what we have tried to explain for months. I was sorry that Lee, who has actively supported the very campus antisemitism condemned by Shapiro and Emhoff, left before the program concluded. There was so much she could have learned.

Eric Ward, executive vice president of Race Forward, said it best: “Antisemitism is not just an affront to the Jewish community, it is a poison that corrodes the very fabric of our society. From Pittsburgh to El Paso, from Buffalo to Poway, antisemitism has fueled violence and division, targeting not only Jews but all who dare to be different in the eyes of those who preach hatred.”

We applaud the Tree of Life leadership and ceremony participants for making a clear statement that our community stands together against antisemitism, racism and bigotry in all its forms.

Jeremy Kazzaz, Beacon Coalition

Jewish reasons not to question verdict in Trump fraud case
Rabbi Avi Shafran makes an interesting argument that you’ll miss if you stop at the Chronicle’s headline and subhead (“The Jewish problem with Trump supporters saying his guilty verdict was ‘rigged’,” June 14). He says that complaining that the trial of ex-President Trump was “rigged” is contrary to the Talmud, which says that the losing party in a trial should “sing a song and go happily on his way.” What a wonderful world that would be! What’s more, the subheading “There are legitimate reasons, by my lights, for Jews concerned with Israeli security to want to see Trump back in the White House” doesn’t just miss the gist, the “vital point” of his column, “that delegitimizing American courts out of personal or partisan sentiment is pulling not just the rug but the very floor out from under the republic.” It also distorts the secondary point, because he immediately says, “And there are equally legitimate reasons for Jews to want a second term for President Joe Biden.”

Arlene Weiner

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