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September 16, 2014 / 21 Elul, 5774
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Letters To The Editor


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“Everything changed in 1654 when Portugal reconquered Brazil. Fearing the reenactment of the Inquisition, the Jews of Recife either returned to Holland or fled to Dutch, French, or English colonies in the Caribbean. Jews mainly of Sephardic descent (collectively known as La Nacion) had recently established small but flourishing economic enclaves in Parimaribo, Barbados, Curacao, Jamaica, Hispaniola and Cayenne. A total of sixteen ships transported both Jewish and Dutch colonists from Recife.”

The source for that quote is “They Came From Recife: the First Jews to Settle in America 1654” by Dr. Kenneth Libo and Michael Skakun (Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society).

Yitzchok Levine
Brooklyn NY

Editor’s Note: Dr. Levine writes the popular Glimpses Into American Jewish History feature that appears the first week of each month in The Jewish Press. Ms. Rappeport appreciates Dr. Levine’s correction.

The Right To Bear Arms

Reader Tzvi Hershkowitz (Letters, Feb. 21) takes to task columnist Sara Lehmann’s objection to, among other things, “the draconian gun-control bill rammed through the New York legislature soon after the Newton massacre (The Right Angle, Feb. 14).

While it is easy to sympathize with the letter writer’s sentiments as well as the fact that the letter was long on good intentions, the letter was woefully short on facts, respect for history, and critical thinking.

Mr. Hershkowitz complains that in his job as a corrections facility psychologist he has firsthand knowledge of the devastating effects of “easy access to firearms” by the drug-using inner city juvenile population, implying that this could somehow be prevented by the new legislation.

However, the new legislation will have no effect at all on juvenile access to guns. It already was illegal for juveniles to have access to firearms the same way and with the same success rate their access to illegal drugs is prohibited.

Abolishing the constitutionally protected right of law-abiding American citizens to keep and bear arms because inner city youth misuse illegal guns would make about as much sense as revoking Mr. Hershkowitz’s psychologist’s license because a therapist in another city and in another practice abused his patients. In other words, it makes no sense at all.

The same goes for expressed revulsion for mentally unstable individuals being given access to guns. While I share that revulsion, it too was already illegal. There are over 20,000 laws currently on the book governing firearms. The unconstitutional gun grab of legal firearms instituted by Gov. Cuomo will do absolutely nothing to alleviate what Mr. Hershkowitz complains about.

But it is his statement that only the police be allowed access to guns that I find most disturbing. Has Mr. Hershkowitz forgotten the lessons of recent history? Between 80 million and 100 million people – including six million Jews – were massacred by their own governments in at least nine separate massacres on three different continents in at least fifteen different countries in the past one hundred years. In each one of these horrific events the killings were preceded by civilian gun registration and the confiscation made possible by it.

No, I am not saying that every government that registers and then confiscates civilian weapons goes on to massacre their citizens. Of course they don’t, but it is a prerequisite for those that do. Is that really a mistake we want to make again?

The reality is, and recently released FBI statistics back up the fact, that more guns in the hands of law abiding citizens reduce crime. That is something that Jew and gentile, black and white, liberal and conservative should all be able to embrace together.

Favi Walfish
(Via E-Mail)

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