Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor

Readers respond

(Photo from Flash90)
(Photo from Flash90)

Federation supports shared society programs in Israel
Thanks for your wonderful article about the multi-synagogue program on the Akko Center for Arts and Technology, or ACAT (“Pittsburgh-inspired center helping to foster dialogue in Israel,” May 2). Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh has been a proud supporter of this and many other shared society programs building bridges between Israelis of many different faiths and backgrounds. The Federation staff originally helped connect Manchester Bidwell Corporation with the key people in Israel interested in replicating this model. These relationships develop over long periods of time, so they are only made possible because of donor support for the Jewish Federation’s Community Campaign over many decades.

David Sufrin
Chair of the board,
Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh

Criticism of AIPAC
There are two things I really like about the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle. First, that it provides news about the local community that I could not get elsewhere (except by rumor). And second, that it prints a wide variety of views. If it there is one thing Jews can agree upon, and there may only be one, it is that we have great diversity when it comes to opinions.

That is why I read with interest the column by Rabbi Jacob Herber entitled “Deplorable politicians, AIPAC and safeguarding Israel’s precarious security” (May 6). His argument was that it is perfectly fine for AIPAC to endorse and give money to congressmen who voted not to certify the results of the last presidential election. (They no doubt still assert that Trump really won and was the victim of fraud, even though that is a lie.)

The rabbi’s rationale was that AIPAC’s support doesn’t matter because these congressmen are going to be reelected anyhow. And for him the only thing that does matter is they are friends of Israel.

That logic is as tortured as it is false. Last week, I received a flyer in the mail that was a transparent attempt to slime Summer Lee who is running to be the Democratic nominee for Congressman Doyle’s seat. The flyer was from a group calling itself the United Democracy Project. A visit to UDP’s website reveals nothing about the organization, but a quick internet search shows that it is a Super PAC created by AIPAC.

According to a recent article in Jewish Insider, $8.5 million of the $15.7 million UDP collected in the first quarter of this year was raised from AIPAC itself. Over $1 million of that money has been spent opposing four Democratic candidates in primaries around the country. All four are women, three are African American and one a Muslim American. Presumably, their offense is not their gender, ethnicity or religion, but that they said something about Israel that AIPAC did not like.

The rabbi claimed that because of the limit of $5,000 on contributions by a nonprofit organization like AIPAC, it would have no influence. UDP was set up as a Super PAC, however, to get around that constraint. If it does not give money directly to or coordinate with a campaign, a Super PAC has no spending limit.

There is no small irony in UDP using Democracy in its name given that AIPAC has endorsed the more than 100 Republican incumbents who are undermining our democracy. One thing I learned as an election observer in Latin America and Africa is that there is nothing more important for democracy than free and fair elections. And nothing is more important for having that kind of election than the voters having the confidence their ballots will be accurately counted. I think the rabbi needs to ask himself how effectively America would be able to help defend Israel’s democracy if we lose our own.

Ambassador Dennis Jett (Ret.)
University Park, Pennsylvania

Candidate choice for District 12 is clear
After reading the Chronicle’s excellent coverage of the three Federation-sponsored Q & A’s with the Democratic candidates for the 12th Congressional District, the voting choice is crystal clear. If the well-being of Israel and the U.S./Israel relationship is important to you, than Steve Irwin is the obvious choice. If not, either of the other two candidates will represent your point of view.

Lou Weiss

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