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Kumbaya With Accountability

Dear Editor:

This is a Chanukah to remember, not because of its joy and light, but because of Jews being targeted, stabbed and killed, reminiscent of 1930’s Germany. “New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the stabbing was “the latest in a string of attacks against members of the Jewish community in New York this week.” “A Jewish Mom walking with child beaten in SIXTH ATTACK ANTISEMITIC IN NYC THIS CHANUKAH, “We are coming after all you Jews.”

So what should our Jewish leaders, our interfaith councils do or say? How do we make this stop without being accused of bias ourselves? David Marcus, “We Can No Longer Ignore the Attacks on Jews in New York”,(excerpts): ”many if not most of the assailants are black or Hispanic men…if these assaults were being committed by white men in hoods…it would not be “hard to talk about.” It would be a clear-cut case of bigotry… Instead, journalists are wringing their hands about intersectionality, careful not to indulge the narrative that these physical attacks are coming from blacks and Hispanics…even though that narrative is absolutely true.

A conscientious journalist should have worries about painting groups with too broad a brush or promoting stereotypes, but this must be balanced with telling the truth and giving a story the attention it deserves. At a time when we hear anti-Semitic remarks from a U.S. congresswoman and blatant anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan still holds sway among black Americans, we need to focus on and address the roots of anti-Jewish bias in New York City. Every week that goes by without doing so, more Jews will be hunted and attacked on the streets of Brooklyn.

This is not a complicated and nuanced story, it’s a crisis nobody seems to want to deal with. That has to change, and it has to change now. This will take real effort, and a commitment from leaders in the black community to educate and eradicate anti-Jewish bias. Nobody wants to talk about this, but that’s just too bad. It has to be talked about before more Jews are killed. The war on Jews has to be ended. But before it can end, it must first be acknowledged.”

Sincerely

Ginette Weiner


Perspective on Jew Hatred from a Non-Jewish Friend

Dear Editor,

I am not writing this as a token non-Jew, who looks good on the bulletin. I am writing this out of my own conviction because I believe that antisemitism is not solely a Jewish issue. What starts with the Jews never stops with the Jews!

We had made so many mistakes in the past. And today, I feel there are far too many similarities to the years leading up to the Holocaust. Just as then, today, modern antisemitism is characterized by the proliferation of organizations, political parties and associations that are strategically and purposefully fueling Jew-hatred.

Just as during the 1900s, non-Jews, Jews far from the center of the hateful mobs, governments and leaders refused to stand up against antisemitism and the continuous harassment of the Jews, the same type of apathy is around us today.

The violent attacks against Jews are the most tangible form of antisemitism. And the number of such attacks is skyrocketing. The Orthodox community has to set up safety patrols–somewhat forming a city in a city, or should I trigger you and say, they need to self-induce ghettos to be safe again? What will it take for something to change? A full-fledged pogrom?

There is something very perverse going on–and I think being an Eastern European helps me understand that all this is not only hostility, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews, it just starts with the Jews. Antisemitism is a satellite branch of an anti-American, anti-western, anti-Judeo and anti-Christian ideology and it is coming like a tsunami at us.

So what is the solution?

Much more experienced people than I am are struggling to find an answer for centuries.

But here is my take.

First and foremost, we need to UNITE regardless of religion, race, nationality, let alone political affiliation.

We need to stop this divide between us–you, the Jew, me the goy. We are in this together. What starts with the Jews, never stops with the Jews!

Fighting antisemitism is not and cannot be a partisan issue!

Fighting antisemitism is a human and civil rights issue.

Naming antisemitism, naming evil is the only way to fight it!

Whether you are on the right or on the left evil is evil.

Whether you are Jewish, Christian or Muslim evil is evil.

Whether you are secular or religious evil is evil.

The recent anti-Jewish attacks in New York are an attack on the basic western human values and morals. They are an attack on the principles of democracy and fundamental human rights–something that our forefathers, let be they here in America or Hungary (where I am from), fought for with their blood.

Can we finally have the guts to stand united and act? Or are we just to use #NeverAgain as a mantra while things happen again?

Sincerely

Virag Gulyas


Salary Increase for Federal Employees

Dear Editor:

Congress passed a $3.1 % salary increase for federal employees effective January 1, 2020 as part of the recent $1.4 trillion spending package. This will fully fund the federal government until September 30, 2020. It included increasing overall spending by another $50 billion. Then the President signed it into law. Based upon end of year personnel evaluations, they are also eligible for cash awards ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars or more. There are also bonus in grade step increases rather than waiting for periodic automatic in grade step increases.

These raise the base salary between one to two thousand dollars. They receive monthly transit checks to help pay for commuting by public transportation to work. This can average one to two hundred dollars monthly. They usually pay for weekly or monthly bus, subway or commuter rail tickets. These transit passes can be used after work evenings and weekends for non work related travel. Contrast all of the above with the meager 1.6% cost of living increases for retired federal employees enrolled in the old Civil Service Retirement or newer Federal Retirement systems along with millions more Americans on Social Security.

The current COLA calculation for retired federal employees and those on Social Security fails to accurately measure seniors spending. In 2019, spending by seniors for health Insurance went up 18.6%. Many retired people in their 60’s and 70’s are taking care of parents, aunt, uncles, older brothers and sisters as more and more people are living into their 80’s and 90’s. Others serve as parents to grandchildren and foster kids. The 2020 COLA of 1.6% will be insufficient to keep up with various costs that have grown at a higher rate. Isn’t it only fair that the Congress and President offer retired federal employees and those on Social Security the same Cost of Living Increases as current federal employees?

Sincerely,

Larry Penner

(Larry Penner is a transportation historian, advocate and writer who previously worked 31 years for the US Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration)

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