A Plaque of Honor

The wonderful obituary/tribute “Roy Hoffberger: Philanthropist, Art Patron, Proud Jew” (Aug. 12) recounts that he  always kept a plaque on his desk that read: “Further discussion is unnecessary. I have said all I want to hear.” The irony  reminded him daily of the importance of listening to others and to the wishes of the community as a whole.

Perhaps the Hoffberger family, as a final act of chesed to honor their deceased patriarch, might consider dispatching said plaque to individual(s) in the public eye sorely in need of such principled civic guidance.

I suggest, for starters:  GOP presidential nominee Donald J. Trump, a wholly self-serving mogul who is Hoffberger’s philanthropic antithesis. “Mr. Bluster” could learn much from Hoffberger’s sagacity and opalescent example.

Their Color? Jewish

The JT’s “Jews Conflicted by Black Lives Matter Platform” (Aug. 12) comments on the challenges Jews of color face because of the anti-Israel agenda of the Black Live Matter movement. I don’t see a conflict. Whether Jews of color are born Jewish or have become Jewish by choice, they are Jews and their color is Jewish. The BLM movement is clearly not about racial equality, and the name is meant to mislead sweet and caring people, who think well of others, to win their  support and donations. The Yiddish expression for the name BLM is chazer feesil.

Dems: Losing Jewish Vote?

In the excellent JT article “Convention Had Little to Say About Jewish Issues, Republicans Take Note” (Aug. 5), very important points were made.

My grandparents’ generation ardently supported the Democratic Party, but it would not recognize it today. The Democrats have abandoned the white working poor and middle class. They have shifted their voter base to the black, Hispanic and immigrant communities. They have embraced Black Lives Matter, which some consider racist, and their opposition to the war on police is uneven. They inflame racial tensions.

Our economy is in ruins with everything going overseas and people losing jobs, but the Democrats claim our economy is sound. Our enemies grow stronger, and our allies do not trust us. We are attacked by radical Islamic terrorists, which they say do not exist. They want open borders and rapid citizenship, despite crimes committed by illegal immigrants and competition with citizens for entry-level jobs.

Prior to the Democratic National Convention, a proposal to add the boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel to the Democratic National Platform was narrowly rejected.

In the past, the Democrats could count on Jewish votes, but maybe not this November.

JCC’s Belly Flop

Speaking for many members of the JCC in Owings Mills, we watch daily how the downstairs pool, splash pad, playground and two gyms cannot be used while camp is in session (JCC Members Upset Over Pool Hours,” July 15). The board decided that the members could not use these parts of the JCC in Owings Mills this year because of the influx of many camps now that Milldale is closed.

If someone even tries to go downstairs, they are yelled at and told to leave. My children attended the JCC camps for years, and always the members were allowed to swim and use the facilities with them. There was never a “safety” issue, as members are now being told.

This is so upsetting because the members were told about the amended hours only two weeks before Memorial Day after many new members had already joined. Because it has been made clear that the members are not important to the JCC, it comes down to the almighty dollar and the money the camps are bringing into the J.

With all these changes, the members are still expected to pay full price, even though we can’t use all of the facilities. At the very least, the fee should be pro-rated. I have heard many members say that they will not renew. Such a shame for the facility and the community.

Sanders’ Values Are Israeli Values

“A Fly (Donkey?) on the Wall: Behind the Scenes at the DNC” (July 29) quotes Adrian Shanker as describing Bernie Sanders’ “vision as grounded in values that are very Jewish to begin with.”

Sanders’ hashkafa is that of democratic socialism: the ideology of the Founding Fathers of the State of Israel. (Not to be confused with the crony capitalism of the current Israeli government, whose policies have created an inequality gap even exceeding that which currently afflicts the United States.)

Right-wing condemnation of Sanders and his democratic socialism agenda amount to a full-throated attack on the origins of the Jewish State, which — in this age of BDS — qualifies as being anti-Zionist, anti-Israel and hence, — according to Zionist Organization of America logic — anti-Semitic.

As a people of memory, Jews should keep this in mind for  the November and subsequent  elections.

Politically conservative Jews, such as the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Orthodox community, who stood silently by while this calumny transpired, owe an apology to the Jewish community worldwide, as does the Jewish media for not highlighting this  telltale historical link.

And what better time to render such an mea culpa than now, during the Three Weeks?

Force Was Justified

In the Baltimore Jewish Times  articles on the Democratic  National Convention, one briefly mentioned the demonstration in support of the Palestinians outside the convention center (“Sanders Supporters Showed Up in Droves to Protest DNC,” July 29). Prior to the Convention, some leaders in the Democratic Party had wanted to insert into the Democratic National Platform that in the 2014 conflict with Hamas, Israel used “disproportionate force” in firing back at Hamas rocket launchers in Gaza.

When bombers are used  to hit ISIS targets, that is considered an intelligent and  appropriate use overwhelming air superiority, as opposed to sending in ground forces, which would incur heavy  casualties.

In 2014, when Hamas fired 5,000 rockets into Israel from Gaza, the Israelis fired back with field artillery and strategic air strikes at the rocket launchers. Their focused and appropriate use of overwhelming superiority in artillery and air power, instead of sending in ground forces, was similarly justified.

Hamas initiated the conflict by firing rockets into Israel. The Palestinians were the  aggressors. Israel did what any country would do to protect its people. Israel is our most trusted ally in the Middle East. Hamas is an Islamic terrorist organization and they hate the United States. It is therefore perplexing why some leaders in the Democratic Party support this notion that Israel used “disproportionate force” in defending its people.

Kauffman Column Was Ad, Not Op-Ed

Why was the Brad Kauffman piece (“Democrats Must Be Held Accountable,” July 15) run as an opinion piece rather than as a Kathy Szeliga political ad, which it clearly was?

Like rabbis in the pulpit, an op-ed in a Jewish communal setting should offer analyses of policy and issues, rather than serve as a venue for partisan stump speeches. The latter should appear as paid ads.

For the record: Kauffman is not a “pro-Israel” activist, but a pro-Likud advocate. There is a difference. Disagreeing with him, numerous senior Israeli security experts supported the American JPCOA, and their “pro-Israel” credentials are impeccable.

Moreover, to bolster his case, Kauffman invoked “terrorism expert” Steven Emerson as an authoritative source.

This is the very same individual whose blundering analysis of the Muslim presence in Birmingham, U.K. (January 2015) was so egregiously wrong that Fox News — which virtually never admits mistakes — was forced to apologize and make a  retraction in his case.

Kauffman is Right on Iran

I am protesting the ad hominem attack on Brad E. Kauffman in a letter to the  editor of the July 29 edition (“Your Say.”) Marty Waxman, in reference to Kauffman’s well-reasoned opinion published July 15 (“Democrats Must Be Held Accountable,”) baselessly accused Kauffman of insincerity. Marty Waxman closed his letter with the following dig, “he seemed more like a pro- Republican activist at the expense of Israel.” This kind of rhetoric should have no place on this editorial page. Kauffman’s opposition to the Iran Nuclear Deal happens to coincide with the position of the majority of Americans, the overwhelming majority of Israelis, the Prime Minister of Israel and Senator Ben Cardin. His position scarcely seems partisan.

A second letter to the editor defended the deal by describing its content. However, an agreement is only as good as the participant’s willingness to abide by it. The Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quoted in the Washington Post saying, “The Americans say they stopped Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, they know it’s not true.” Meanwhile, the Iranian regime is using its more than $100 billion dollar windfall from the deal to build Hezbollah military infrastructure and stocks of armament.

No candidate for office that supports the Iranian Nuclear Deal has earned the support of the pro-Israel, pro-civilization voter. Everything is at stake. As a Navy veteran of two  deployments in opposition to the Iranian regime, I applaud the efforts of Brad E. Kauffman.

Another Van Hollen Defender

Rep. Chris Van Hollen has been unwavering in his support for the State of Israel. That’s why I was dismayed to read Brad Kauffman’s baseless attacks against him (“Democrats Must Be Held Accountable,” July 15). Van Hollen has consistently advocated for Israel’s security and qualitative military edge, championing American leadership to preserve Israel’s Jewish and democratic character through a two-state solution.

Van Hollen’s support for the Iran deal is consistent with his ironclad commitment to Israel’s security. The IDF Chief of Staff has called the deal a “strategic turning point,” and for good reason: It is working.

The deal has successfully blocked every pathway for Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. As a result of the agreement, the heavy water reactor at Arak has been filled with cement, Iran has shipped 97 percent of its enriched uranium out of the country and it has dismantled two-thirds of its centrifuges.

Van Hollen, unlike his Senate race opponent, Kathy Szeliga, recognizes that the purpose of the deal with Iran was not to curb Iran’s despicable support for terror, but to limit its nuclear capabilities. He understands that responsible leadership demands meaningful diplomatic engagement, even with states with which we have fundamental disagreements.

Van Hollen’s support for the Iran deal and advocacy for a two-state solution as a means of furthering Israel’s security speak to a record of steadfast friendship with the Jewish homeland — a record that will serve him well in the US Senate.

Israel Not a Partisan Issue

In his opinion piece, Mr. Kauffman does Israel no service by making the Jewish state a partisan issue (“Democrats Must Be Held Accountable,” July 15). Israel has supporters and unfortunately antagonists in both major parties, and if we care about quality of life and security in America as well as in Israel, we are most effective by looking at the full voting record, experience, public statements and base of support of every candidate, regardless of party affiliation.

If you want to know about Chris Van Hollen, ask the voters of Maryland’s 8th Congressional District, especially the Jewish community of Montgomery County, who elected to return him to Congress seven times. Or ask the editors of the Baltimore Jewish Times, who during the primary election campaign earlier this year called Congressman Van Hollen “a steady and consistent supporter of Israel” with “a history of sensitivity to and support of issues of interest and concern to our community.”

As for me, I believe Van Hollen will be an excellent partner in the Senate to our soon-to-be senior Sen. Ben Cardin, another Democrat who is and has been a consistent supporter of Israel.

While Mr. Kauffman describes himself as a “pro-Israel activist” — perhaps he is — in this case, he seemed more like a pro-Republican activist at the expense of Israel.