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Concerned About Lakewood Values

Dear Editor,

This past January the members of the BOE of Ir Hakodesh Lakewood approved an education policy for the schools in the district. I quote ” The school shall: Permit and support the formation of student clubs or programs regarding issues related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) youth’ ‘The Board believes students, teachers, and administrators should be provided with common terminology associated with gender identity’. The vast majority of the BOE members are students of Beth Medrash Gavoha. Are these the teachings of Reb Ahron Kotler O’BM?? The funding of these activities comes from the taxpayers. Do the Jews of Lakewood agree to pay for these immoral policies?

Best Regards,

Avraham Sharaby


Condemns Attack on Jewish Center in Hungary

Dear Editor:

Marom, a Hungarian Jewish association, established and runs Aurora Community Center, an umbrella organization that provides office space to small civil society groups including the Roma Press Center, migrant aid, and Pride Parade organizers. In Wednesday’s attack, the mob burned a rainbow flag and branded a para-military logo onto the premises. On September 26, the center also was attacked and vandalized by extremists.

Under the Orbán government, the conditions for independent nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Hungary have deteriorated. Over the past two years, Hungarian authorities have accused Marom of administrative violations ranging from mismatched dates on official documents to, most recently, lacking an appropriate agreement with the center’s landlord.

In 2018, Hungary passed a law establishing a 25 percent tax on organizations which engage in “propaganda activity that portrays immigration in a positive light.” It is a tax on government-disfavored speech. Hungary also adopted amendments to its “law on aiding illegal migration” that make handing out know-your-rights leaflets punishable by up to one year in prison.

“Last Wednesday’s mob attack on Aurora is an alarming escalation of violence toward minorities and civil society groups in Hungary. This second attack by paramilitary-style extremists in less than a month sends a frightening message: Authorities cannot, or will not, protect you,” said Chairman Hastings. “A decade ago, far-right extremists in Hungary orchestrated dozens of violent attacks, murdering six Hungarians including five-year-old Robert Csorba. The Government of Hungary must not allow such a tragedy to occur again.”

“The Hungarian Government may boast of a ‘zero-tolerance for anti-Semitism’ policy abroad, but in reality, in Budapest they traffic in anti-Semitic tropes, honor fascist-era leaders and ideologues, and stoke hatred of migrants and Muslims,” said Sen. Cardin, who also serves as the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Special Representative on Anti-Semitism, Racism, and Intolerance. “Actions speak louder than words. I hope that available photographs of the mob will aid law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators, and I commend the district’s newly elected mayor for visiting Aurora and seeking to ensure its safety.”

Sincerely

The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe; a/k/a the U.S. Helsinki Commission


Pittsburgh Synagogue Massacre

Dear Editor:

It has been one year since the horrific Pittsburgh shooting pierced the serenity of the Jewish Sabbath and shattered a community forever. A white supremacist murdered 11 Jews in cold blood while they were at prayer in Squirrel Hill’s Tree of Life synagogue. All Americans, including American Jews, have the right to expect our centers of worship to be safe havens where we can connect at once with our fellow faithful and the divine. It brings us great sadness that, after that terrible day, so many Jews no longer feel safe in these precious and sacred gathering places.

In 2019, armed police officers have become part of the backdrop at synagogues and Jewish schools not only in the United States, but around the world. Meanwhile, social media platforms continue to serve as venues to mass market and galvanize communities of hate. Vulnerable youth, but also angry adults, are recruited into the ranks of hate groups or inspired to strike as lone wolf terrorists. Political discourse has become increasingly nasty and polarizing, while age-old stereotypes of Jews are spouted in hallowed halls of higher learning, in the corridors of Congress, on the benches of European parliaments, and in the editorial pages of mainstream media. The result has been a growing acceptance of and apathy towards anti-Semitism in democracies worldwide.

Things have gotten worse, not better, since Pittsburgh. We will continue to fight this rising tide, partnering with our allies in law enforcement, education, the clergy and government. But what is most needed is the involvement of good-hearted people in every city, town, church and school who recognize the manifestations of anti-Semitism, both obvious and subtle, and are willing to speak up and say: No, not here, not with our children, not in our community.

Rabbi Marvin Hier
Founder/Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center
Rabbi Abraham Cooper
Associate Dean/Director of Global Social Action of the SWC


Will Tolls on Bridges & Tunnels Increase?

Dear Editor:

How Governor Cuomo finds funding to finance his $100 million worth of transportation projects should be of concern to taxpayers as the bills are coming due. To pay back the $1.6 billion dollar federal loan and $1 billion State Thruway Authority Bond which financed the $3.9 billion Tappan Zee Bridge, along with several hundred million in contractor final bills, tolls starting in 2020 may have to double. They will grow even more over time.

The MTA paid for Positive Train Control on the Long Island and Metro North Rail Roads by a $967.1 million Railroad Rehabilitation Improvement Financing loan from the Federal Rail Road Administration. It is a 22 year loan at 2.4 percent interest. The loan will have to be paid back over future MTA Five Year Capital Plans.

The MTA had to borrow most of the $3 billion to pay for $2.6 billion LIRR Main Line Third Track and $6.9 billion Second Avenue Subway Phase 2 increasing its 2015–2019 Five Year Capital Plan from $29 to $32 billion. Cuomo still owes the MTA $5.8 of his promised $8.3 billion contribution to help finance the current $32 billion MTA Capital Plan.

The Governor would pay for his 25% share of the $12 billion no frills which would be $3 billion or full $29 billion Gateway Tunnel project which would be $7.25 billion via a Federal loan.

When it comes to paying for all his $100 billion worth of transportation promises, Cuomo reminds me of Wimpy who said “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” Wimpy always paid up the following Tuesday. Taxpayers and MTA riders will deal with higher fares, taxes, more debt and borrowing in coming years to cover the costs for all of his transportation improvements. Cuomo doesn’t believe in pay as you go, balanced or transparent budgets.

Sincerely,

Larry Penner

(Larry Penner is a transportation historian, advocate and writer who previously worked 31 years for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for grants supporting billions in capital projects and programs on behalf of the MTA, NYC Transit, LIRR, Metro North and Nassau County NICE Bus)

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