A Light Unto the Nation
Shelley Benveniste (“It’s My Opinion,” June 16) is rightfully concerned about the rampant theft and violence prevalent and left unpunished in America today.
Mark Twain commented that “a Jew is born civilized.” It is ingrained in our genes to live up to the higher moral standard that we accepted the Torah as a people by G-d through Moshe at Mount Sinai.
However, as the Rambam states as halacha in the Laws of Kings (Hilchot Melachim), that it is the responsibility of our people to teach the seven Noachide commandments (which include the commandment not to steal) to the gentile population.
So, Benveniste and others who take the hopeless, easy route of waiting for “America to wake up” – with about 380,000,000 gentiles in the USA and Canada, she and the rest of us have the responsibility to, as the Lubavitcher Rebbe asked of us, to make the world a better place.
Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Tanny
Synagogues Should Step Up for Singles
There are endless articles bemoaning the singles crisis in our community. What’s frequently overlooked, however, is that many people who try to do something about this crisis get very frustrated at the numerous roadblocks that are placed in their way.
For example, perhaps unbeknownst to most of our community, many synagogues that are approached about hosting singles events and/or singles minyanim flatly refuse to entertain these overtures. Their refusal may be because of the perceived hassle in hosting the aforementioned people, or perhaps due to concern about the synagogue’s reputation in the community being affected by hosting such events. Whatever the reasons, the reality is that those who would like to initiate singles get-togethers find that it is very difficult to do so. So, while singles may be criticized for their single status, perhaps some of the powers that be in our community share at least some of the blame.
Reality Check on the Economy
Wouldn’t it be nice if politicians stopped referring to increasing government spending funded by borrowing as “public investments,” and increased taxes as “revenues?” Such public investments aren’t a once-in-a-generation opportunity; as the federal debt has grown to exceed $31 trillion, they have become routine.
Long-term growth is a mirage, as government borrowing crowds out private investment. How are we going to win the economic competition for the 21st century in the presence of growing leakages – tax dollars siphoned by bureaucracies – inefficiencies, and debt overhang?
President Biden plays his greatest-hits record of misleading economic claims on inflation, wage growth and job creation. In reality, our inflation, which was a result of Mr. Biden’s reckless spending, remains persistently high. It has caused average real wages to decline for 26 straight months. His job-growth figure has been buoyed by the millions of backfilled jobs that were temporarily lost during the pandemic. He doesn’t deserve credit for these.
The economy is sputtering, mired in stagflation after barely coming out of a recession during the first half of last year. According to many latest polls, nearly two-thirds of small businesses are concerned that the poor economic conditions will force them to close. The real story of the Biden economy is stagflation and declining living standards.
Mr. Biden blames price hikes on supply chains, corporate profit margins and rents. When supply chains weaken, prices rise, but then fall once bottlenecks resolve. If the supply-side story is correct, we should see outright deflation now. Instead, we’re experiencing mere disinflation – a slowdown in the rate of price increases.
The corporate-profits “greedflation” hypothesis flies in the face of basic economics. When business costs rise, the markup charged by profit-maximizing firms actually decreases. Rents don’t explain inflation, either. From summer 2020 to 2022, rent increases outpaced consumer price inflation for only three quarters. Rents are growing faster now that inflation has moderated. The driver is supply and demand in housing markets, not the overall economy.
Monetary policy remains the best explanation for inflation. The monetary base grew from $3.45 trillion at the start of Covid to $6.41 trillion two years later. Mr. Biden doesn’t control the Federal Reserve, but in running massive deficits, he and his congressional allies pressured the central bank to monetize the debt.
Oak Park, Calif.
RFK Set the Record Straight on Palestine
Following his graduation from Harvard University, Robert F. Kennedy went to British-ruled Palestine and wrote news dispatches for the Boston Post, a newspaper that went out of business several years later. These dispatches have information that is very useful in clearing up current misinformation. This period following World War II saw ethnic and religious violence as well as political disagreements. Some of these points should rectify misconceptions.
From the beginning of the British Mandate in 1922 to sometime before April, 1948, at which time Robert Kennedy arrived in Palestine, over 500,000 Arabs migrated to Palestine. This is based on British Government colonial government statistics. Kennedy noted in his dispatches that Palestine was the only Arab populated country where there was an Arab middle class. This contradicts the notion that the Arabs in Palestine had lived there for centuries or even longer. (As a matter of fact, Yasser Arafat was actually born in Cairo, Egypt.)
Clearly there were mixed feelings among the Arabs. While employment, business opportunities, and medical care improved enormously for Arabs, there was also great hostility. On the positive side David Ben-Gurion’s Labor Party, the largest Zionist movement, dreamed of a peaceful independent Jewish-Arab mixed state with significant Arab participation in governing. It may have been based on something similar to what was established in Lebanon as a Christian-Muslim mixed state.
On the negative side was the influence of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammed Amin al Husseini. He was appointed by the British and proved to be extremely hostile to Jews and Jewish immigration. He used intimidation and violence to prevent peaceful cooperation between Jews and Muslims in Palestine. During the late 1930s he encouraged mob violence against Jews, including murder. During World War II he worked with Hitler and recruited Balkan Muslims to guard the railroad bridges taking trains loaded with Jews headed to death camps. He was successful in preventing any sabotage of railroad bridges.
The second interesting point Robert Kennedy made regarding British rule was after World War II, before Israel declared its independence. He traveled in a Haganah armored car with Haganah personnel on a trip from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The vehicle was stopped at a British checkpoint and searched for weapons. The British found none; however, in anticipation of such a search, the Haganah personnel had taken apart their weapons and hid the parts where they were unlikely to be found. Kennedy’s comment was that without the weapons, any such group of Jews would most likely have been killed, and the British Army knew that.
Lastly, during Israel’s War for Independence many Palestinian Arabs fled to neighboring countries such as Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Some believed the warning that the Jews would be murdered as would Arabs who remained by the invading Arab armies from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, under Egyptian command. However, many Palestinian Arabs remained in place during the war. For the most part, they were not mistreated. Today, Israeli Arabs enjoy full Israeli citizenship, and are among the best educated and prosperous in the Arab world.
When Watchdogs Need Watching
Taxpayers should be concerned that up to ten percent, or over $400 billion of $4.2 trillion in federal government Covid-19 emergency relief funding, may have been lost to waste, fraud or abuse over the past three years. This is based upon recent reporting by the Associated Press. The Justice Department’s acting director for Covid-19 fraud enforcement, Mike Galdo, said this was an unprecedented amount of fraud. What was the amount of waste, fraud and abuse of trillions more in regular federal government expenditures during the same time period?
In the rush to release Covid-19 funds, did federal employees and agencies responsible for managing these funds neglect their oversight responsibilities?
If your business lost ten percent of revenues due to waste, fraud or abuse, those responsible would be held accountable. They would either be demoted or fired.
President Biden and Congress should direct the General Accounting Office to look at all federal government agencies expenditures over the past three years. Ditto for each agency’s Office of Inspector General They should conduct a forensic audit for all agency programs. Many more billions could be found and returned to the Treasury Department All future federal agency grant programs should include a requirement for recipients to submit a cash draw down plan and sunset date for completion After a reasonable amount of time, any unused funds should automatically be returned to the Treasury Department.
Elected officials who lobbied Washington to quickly spend these funds without proper vetting and oversight should be held accountable by voters when running for another term in 2024.
Great Neck, N.Y.
What Happened to Republican Values?
Values are foundational to humanity, no matter the context. In the political arena, the values of a political movement, whether morally bad or good, are supposed to represent the movement. Pretending otherwise is dishonest.
The modern political conservative movement is represented on regional and national levels in a medium called the “Republican Party.” The Republican Party has generally been represented on the political scales as supporting traditional, conservative values.
Liberalism, represented by the “Democrat Party,” is the opposing political force, advocating for a more open interpretation of tradition. A political party’s job is to advocate for values and issues that are systematic to its existence. The way to actualize this requires a party’s politicians, influencers, media and voters to create a culture on those values and issues. People are influenced by the media, actors, educators, politicians, religious leaders and societal “norms,” etc. If people are going to be influenced by something or someone, it would make sense for a political party, which admits its agenda and motives openly, to influence the public with its values and beliefs.
The Democratic Party in recent decades has been successful on this front. Supporting issues like abortion has now created not only a “pro-choice” culture but also a “pro-abortion” culture. Getting an abortion now is not viewed solely as a personal decision, it is viewed also as a societal good.
Republicans in response to Democrats have simply responded with rhetoric, talking about the “evils” of abortion while leaving out the positives of choosing life and family. The complacent attitude of Republicans doesn’t only extend to simply reacting; Republicans now also give in to Democratic rhetoric on abortion. Many “moderate Republicans” recently have refused to talk about abortion as they believe it is too out-of-step with voters to talk about the positives of life and family, or at least the negatives of abortion.
Similarly, on the cultural issue of same-gender marriage and the like, Republicans in recent years have ceded ground on the issue, because of a lack of effort to not only counter Democrats but to create a positive culture based on conservative values and beliefs. Instead, the recent rhetoric from Republican politicians, leaders, and influencers is, “Happy #PrideMonth! @GOP is proud to have doubled our LGBTQ support over the last 4 years, and we will continue to grow our big tent by supporting measures that promote fairness and balance protections for LGBTQ Americans and those with deeply held religious beliefs,” as stated by the head of the Republican National Committee.
Former President Donald Trump tweeted on the campaign trail in 2016, “Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.” Trump also recognized “Pride” Month during his presidency for LGBT people’s “outstanding contributions.” Last year, around 50 Republicans voted for the “Respect for Marriage” Act legalizing same-gender marriage on a federal level.
In 1996, only 27 percent of Americans supported same-sex marriage; now 71 percent support same-sex marriage. Republicans’ surrender to Democrats on culture is an embarrassment that has now become an issue electorally. In response to the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe V. Wade last year, due to the lack of a positive culture from Republicans, the electoral response to Republicans in the 2022 midterms and beyond was nasty. Democrats won Michigan on the issue of abortion by double digits, and they almost kept the House of Representatives because of abortion, and they won an important seat on the state supreme court in the purple battleground of Wisconsin on abortion, etc. According to polling, half of voters who voted last year said that abortion was a “major impact” on their voting. Further, 64 percent of those that voted for Democratic House candidates said a major reason was because of abortion.
Republicans for too long have ceded ground on important issues out of “small, limited government” principles. That type of foolish thinking is causing tsunami-like damage to cultural norms in society, where big government is in addition blotting out the dissenters. The time of Republicans and conservatives sitting out and reacting passively must end! If not, we might as well raise the white flag to surrender.
Donny Simcha Guttman
A Heartfelt ‘Thank You’
Once again, we would like to thank The Jewish Press and its many readers for helping to make a tremendous success of our “Erev-Pesach Felafel Campaign” for poor Israeli families.
Thanks to the generosity of Jewish Press readers, this year we were able to send 75 fine large Jewish families to our local falafel store for a felafel and French fries!
Truly The Jewish Press is unique in the impressive number of readers who not only read it, but also respond.
We truly thank you, The Jewish Press management and the generosity of your readership, for making this erev Pesach such a wonderful time for so many fine, frum, very poor, Jewish families.
Tzvia Ehrlich-Klein, Jerusalem
P.S. Any checks we received too late for the Felafel Fund will be put towards the Emergency Felafel Fund for similar poor families. Thank you.