Letters to the Editor | Pittsburgh Jewish History

Most families of the Pittsburgh synagogue victims support the death penalty for the shooter
As the Chronicle has reported in several articles, the US Department of Justice has decided to seek the death penalty in the case against the mass murderer who committed the Pittsburgh synagogue attack on October 27, 2018. Some recent opinion pieces in our local newspapers have the writer express his position in favor of accepting a guilty plea from the accused charges against him in exchange for a life sentence without parole. This plea would eliminate the need for a trial, which the author feels would further harm the families of the victims and society at large.

These views are not representative of the vast majority of the victims’ families. They, in fact, contradict our opinions. The writer’s opinion is their opinion and opinion only. Please don’t tell us what we should feel, what’s best for us, what comforts us and what will bring closure to the families of the victims. Could you Not will Not Speak for us.

The massacre of our loved ones was a clear violation of American law – the mass killing of Jews simply for being Jews and practicing Judaism, motivated by sheer anti-Semitism – which the law rightly considers a capital crime. This part is indisputable.

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As the families of the massacre in this case, we had a choice in supporting or opposing pursuing the death penalty for the monster who committed the mass murder of our loved ones. We are well aware of the risks that come with this, which include public rehashing of the details of the massacre, years of appeals and the possibility that the court will not issue a death sentence.

Allowing the defendant to plead would deny us our “day in court” and would prevent the Department of Justice from punishing the offender to the fullest extent of the law, as we have strived for the past four years. We are not a cruel and ruthless people. We, as an oppressed people, understand when there is a time for pity and when there is a time to stand up and say enough is enough – such violent hatred will not be tolerated on this earth. Our 11 loved ones were taken from us in a cold-blooded act of hate and violence. We the undersigned would feel further infringed by letting the defendant off at ease. His crimes deserve the death penalty.

The Bernice and Sylvain Simon family
Cecil Family and David Rosenthal
Rose Mallinger’s family
Joyce Fienberg’s family
Richard Gottfried Family
Daniel Stein’s family
Melvin Wax family

The Chronicle was criticized for its “attack” on Summer Lee
Tell me you’re doing an endorsement without telling me you’re doing an endorsement. That’s exactly what the Chronicle did on Election Day, November 8. Four articles that appeared in the Chronicle’s e-mail newsletter casting doubts and raising doubts about Summer Lee’s candidacy left no doubt: The Chronicle was out for a on mrs. lee.

The editors of The Chronicle certainly have their rights to publish the endorsement. A few hundred words from editors criticizing Mrs. Lee, or supporting her opponent, would be perfectly appropriate, even if (to many of us) they were wholly unacceptable. However, pushing these views through supposedly “news” articles breaks down journalistic boundaries. Any one of these articles on their own could be problematic. Four together is nothing short of an attack.

Reading the text of the main article (“An event in support of Summer Lee leaves some questions unanswered”), The Chronicle evidently found no evidence of any anti-Israel sentiment on Ms. Lee’s part. However, the wording of the article meant that this information had to be there, if only they could find it. This is not a report – it’s fear mongering.

The Chronicle’s reports were accurate in one important respect. It is true that “the candidate’s views on issues related to Israel were not addressed.” That’s just right, and by design. Those of us who stood proudly with signs declaring Jewish support for Summer Lee know that our representative in Congress must represent Pittsburgh’s needs and interests on a variety of issues, from health care to housing, the environment, education and many more. We also know that members of Congress have little influence over foreign policy. Finally, we know that our interests are not served by reducing the Jewish community to a single bloc that views every political issue through the lens of influence on Israel.

Summer Lee is a dedicated community member, strong activist, and able voice who works tirelessly for the benefit of her district – including parts of Squirrel Hill – and ours. The Chronicle’s bland attempts to smear its campaign reflect badly on our community.

Harry Hauser
Tom Hoffman
Yael Silk
Joshua Friedman
Avigail Oren
Squirrel Hill

PA-12 pit J Street contest against AIPAC
Extremism is in the eye of the beholder. Those 240 Jews who signed an open letter condemning AIPAC/UPD for opposing Summer Lee’s congressional nomination can’t see that in it. However, its record says otherwise. She has advocated lenient criminal treatment, an invisible American frontier, mobilization of the Supreme Court and other extreme measures. As a Social Democrat, she had strong left-wing support. Moreover, her public hostility to Israel would make her an ideal addition to the growing congressional “squad”. This perfectly explains AIPAC’s concerns. Unfortunately, although a well justified effort was made, he was unsuccessful in opposing her nomination. However, this current dust between J Street and AIPAC supporters is about more than a congressional contest. It is really about the extremism of the Democratic Party, continued public American support for Israel and, ultimately, the future of American Jewry. Jews were among the strongest Democratic voters, but they were quickly abandoned by the party. This will only ultimately serve to undermine broader public support for Israel. Lee could have allayed such fears, but he chose not to deal with the facts. “Fairness” is a collective proportional division that is destructive of a society’s wealth and opportunity. Jews, who make up 2% of the US population, can only thrive where there is equality of opportunity, where everyone is free to pursue their skills and interests without hindrance. Thus looms a fateful choice for “progressive” Jews between these two parts of their identity.

Richard D Wilkins
Syracuse, New York

An editorial about the election of a right-wing Israeli government shows a lack of understanding
Your recent guest editorial by Sarah Yohaved Riegler on why Israelis voted in droves for right-wing rule (“Why Israelis Like Me Voted in a Right-Wing Government,” November 11) makes some valid points but in some cases shows a startling superficiality of emotional understanding.

She wrote that in 1985 she could not understand why the mother of an accused terrorist and Hamas member wept and mourned at the prospect of never seeing her son again. Was she unable to comprehend the simple yet profound pain a mother might feel at the loss of her child, regardless of that child’s behavior? Her son may be guilty of horrific crimes, as has Hamas in general. But dehumanizing and demonizing the “other side” was historically a step towards more tragedies.

It is not difficult to understand the accelerating Israeli political drift to the right. We all know the modern adage that a conservative is a liberal who got robbed. But despite his supposed anti-Semitism, Nietzsche was right when he observed, “If you look into the abyss, the abyss stares back into you.”

Perhaps the hardest task of all is not to hate. The Dalai Lama once met a Tibetan monk who escaped from prison in Chinese-occupied Tibet. The monk recounted how terrible his experience in prison was, but said the worst moment was when he almost lost his sympathy for the Chinese.

Jack Bailey
Squirrel Hill

“horrified” and “upset” with a letter to the editor
I was appalled and offended by the letter I sent last week to the editor, “horrified and ‘ashamed’ that Jews voted Republican.”

The author unabashedly asserts that by voting Republican one is unequivocally putting oneself on the wrong side of justice. Somehow it is not for Jews to vote Republican.

In the campaign for the 12th congressional district, the letter’s author was outraged that “Mike Doyle” did not include the word “Republican” in his campaign literature ostensibly to disguise that he was an “extreme fraud.” Who is the extremist? He is probably the one pushing the toxic notion that a vote Republican is in essence, unquestionably, and unequivocally, a vote against truth, justice, and the Jewish way. The Democratic Party’s tendency toward the extreme left is reason enough to consider the merits of every Republican. There are very harmful elements at both ends. No party has a monopoly on corruption. I am an independent person.

Perhaps not all Republicans are evil. Perhaps it is worth examining each on his merits, especially when the surrogate (and winner), as was the case in the 12th congressional district, is a awake progressive who will happily join the congressional squad—a faction that has shown itself to be fiercely anti-Israel and has emboldened domestic politics. which, even if unintentional, has helped generate high levels of anti-Semitism in many segments of American society.

We can all learn from our forefather Abraham, who last week in the Torah implored him, Vayera, to spare the city of Sodom for the righteous who might live there. Likewise, we can probably find 10 worthy Republicans in the entire party. If there are not 10, maybe nine, or even eight, so that we need not discount any idea of ​​voting Republican. It is conceivable that the elections in which we vote include such Republicans – those who support the values ​​of liberal democracy – as opposed to Democrats who nurture a neo-Marxist, awakened ideology.

Reuven Hoch
Squirrel Hill

Messages to the editor must not spread hate
During this election season, the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle published numerous letters and columns advocating for or criticizing the various candidates and their positions. Some of the letters to the editor went further than simply offering different perspectives on issues and candidates. These letters, in the writer’s words, suffered, blamed, and denigrated fellow Jews who belonged to a different political party or had a different point of view. Some of these messages are hateful. This seems to go against the banner on the front page of the “Jewish Connection of Pittsburgh” newspaper and is a blunt rebuke not really in line with Torah and Jewish values. We have seen the corrosive impact of divisive social media which has polarized our country so much that it has led to gridlock by our government and a lot of anger. Concern about social media monitoring is growing. Letters to the Editor is a wonderful feature of the Chronicle. Perhaps since social media needs to fine-tune security, staff reviewing letters to the editor should consider doing the same. Loud, angry messages that deflect issues and attack groups of individuals are divisive and potentially hateful, and should be left unpublished. As we remember the Fourth Tree of Life Martyrs Day, we need less hate and we need to find a way to return to civil dialogue with those of whom we have different opinions.

Rocky Weiss
Squirrel Hill

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