The Chronicle recently published an op-ed by Rabbi Amy Bardack (“Voting as a Jew is not only about Israel,” May 27). In this piece, she criticizes her fellow Jews for voting with a main issue in mind that may take precedence over other issues. Out of all of the many issues that Jews may feel it is important to vote for, she specifically criticizes Jews who vote in support of Israel as their main issue. She did not criticize any other topics that people may choose to support as their main issue — only the support of Israel. While she tried to appear objective in her critique, she also only criticized AIPAC for giving money to Steve Irwin, who was the only strongly pro-Israel candidate running in the election. She did not criticize the other PACs who poured money into Summer Lee, who is not a pro-Israel candidate and who was endorsed by antisemitic members of Congress like Rashida Tlaib. Rabbi Bardack also failed to mention that she is involved with the leadership of J Street and is an official cabinet member of that organization, which endorsed Lee. The bias in her article was also not very surprising as she recently wrote a different op-ed that appeared in the Chronicle and in other media whose main point was that Jewish organizations should be more inclusive in hiring people who “do not support the state of Israel” and who are “anti-Zionist.”
Bardack’s op-ed disturbing on several counts
When I first read Rabbi Amy Bardack’s column, “Voting as a Jew is not only about Israel,” (May 27, 2022), I was deeply upset about negative comments about Israel.
From an early age, Jews are taught to question everything. That might include which political candidate is better, what issues are more important and where charity is most needed. Rabbi Bardack begins by stating AIPAC spent millions supporting Steve Irwin in his campaign — implying monetary support for candidates was one-sided in this race. Salon.com reported on May 27 that Summer Lee “received almost $2 million of independent expenditure support herself.”
Seldom do Americans vote for a candidate based on a single issue and we often rely on many factors in choosing who gets our vote. Jews are known to support many causes, issues and charities. It is appalling to have a rabbi tell us “Judaism is not ambiguous. Our top priority must be to address the needs of the people closest to us.” Who is she to tell us for whom to advocate? Whether we support issues that affect people in Pittsburgh, Israel, Ukraine, Puerto Rico or Haiti — those are our choices.
The nonprofit for which I work does not make endorsements for or against any candidate. Nor do I vote in Pennsylvania’s District 12. However, I was certainly interested in the contest which included Irwin and Lee. On April 4, I attended the Community Relations Council discussion with Lee at her campaign headquarters in Swissvale. There were several issues about which she was vague or appeared to have limited knowledge — some were about Israel and some were about the U.S. When asked if Israel was an apartheid state she said, “I don’t necessarily know the answer to that” and “I don’t know that I am well-versed in the intricacies of this.”
Come on, a bright, young woman, and a law school graduate — I’m sorry, I just don’t buy that. She also didn’t appear to know some of the workings of U.S. foreign aid and retail pricing of gasoline. I think she would have benefited from more time in the Pennsylvania House before running for the U.S. House.
Twice Rabbi Bardack disparaged Israel, stating “Jews who live in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories,” and “Israel’s subjugation of the Palestinians …” Frankly, that sounds like the pinnacle of Jewish anti-Zionism as described in a recent lecture by Foundation Scholar, Rabbi Danny Schiff. Rabbi Bardack knows as well as anyone that there has never been any other independent nation in Israel. Palestine was a geographic description no different than the Great Plains or Appalachia. The Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Ottomans and the British were imperial powers who ruled the land as a district of their vast realms.
Stuart V. Pavilack, executive director
Zionist Organization of America: Pittsburgh
Guns are not the problem
Benjamin Franklin famously said there are two things in life that are certain: death and taxes. We need to add to the list a third thing — the left’s call for gun control after every shooting (“Jewish community grapples with another mass shooting,” June 3).
Here are a few questions to consider:
1. Why is it that we never talk about the root causes of these shootings, like mental illness and the lack of values being taught to our children? Add in the violence they are exposed to through many sources and the lack of attention from many parents.
2. When citing gun statistics, why does no one discuss the fact that there are many crimes foiled by lawful gun owners, or the rate per capita of gun deaths in the U.S.? Is it because it doesn’t fit the narrative to quote those statistics?
3. What is the first thing despots do when they want to exert absolute power (think Hitler, Castro, Mao, Kim and Lenin) over their population? They confiscate the weapons of the public.
While it is sad that 19 children and 12 adults were murdered by raving lunatics in Uvalde and Buffalo recently, punishing law-abiding citizens for the actions of criminals is just as insane. What else is insane is the fact that many of these shootings occur in “gun-free zones.” Does anyone ever wonder why? Schools, military bases, post offices, Whole Foods and many shopping malls are gun-free zones.
We have a Constitutional amendment that grants us the right to keep and bear arms. The well-regulated militia means well-trained and disciplined — not regulated by the government. It’s there to protect us from an overbearing government. Eliminating modern sporting rifles, certain magazines and enhancing background checks will never stop these incidents from happening. Addressing the root issues will prevent more of these shootings. It’s high time the media, the Chronicle included, do some research into the root causes of these incidents and be honest with the public as to why these things happen. It’s not because law-abiding gun owners acquire guns.
Upper St. Clair