Letters the Week of June 5, 2014


Writers sound off on the Palestinian refusal to accept the Jewish state of Israel, the lack of legislative action on a Holocaust education bill and coverage of the recent primary elections.

Arab Obstinance, Not Settlements, the Problem
I write in response to the letter from Ben Stavis (“No Mention of Settlements’ Role in Peace Talks,” May 29). Mr. Stavis observed that the story in the May 1 issue about the breakdown of the peace talks, initiated by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, didn’t mention the “continued building of settlements on the West Bank,” which he refers to as the “very big elephant in the room.”
The implication, of course, is that Israel’s “building of settlements” is and has been a major impediment to peace between the Arabs and the Israelis. 
Regardless of one’s view of the legality of Israel’s building in communities in the disputed territories, one cannot dispute that long before there was an issue about “settlements,” the Arabs rejected the right of the Jewish people to have a state in their ancestral homeland. From Israel’s Declaration of Independence in 1948 through the 1967 war with the Arabs, there were no “settlements” (unless one agrees with Hamas that any community where Jews live in Israel is a settlement).
What stopped the Arabs from making peace then? The answer is clear: their refusal to recognize Jews as a people with a right to their own state on land where they have been present for 3,000 years. Nothing has changed.
Daniel E. Bacine | Philadelphia
Shame on Legislators Over Holocaust Bill
On Sept. 11, 2001, America was subjected to the most significant attack by a foreign element on its soil, with some 3,000 individuals losing their lives as a result. On Thursday, May 15, 2014, an awe-inspiring museum was dedicated to commemorate the event and rightly so. We must treasure our history both good and bad so we can both learn from and take pride in it.
Seventy years ago, the world learned of a Holocaust during which 13 million people, six million of whom were Jews, perished — an event unprecedented in history. Now a bill languishes in Harrisburg that would mandate teaching this atrocity as part of world history. Such a mandate is already in effect in New Jersey and 10 other states. History is history, and it is unconscionable to pick and choose only events considered popular. Our legislators should be embarrassed by their refusal to move the bill forward, but we know this is an emotion not found in our state’s capital.
Ralph D. Bloch | Warrington
Public Service, Not Politics
I am frankly puzzled by the tone of the articles focused on my primary race for the State House of Representatives. (Headlines, “Two Jewish Democrats Face Off in May Ballot,” May 15). It should not be inherently shocking that Jewish candidates compete with one another: The race for governor had two Jewish candidates for the Democratic nomination. And to say that I “come from a family with deep political ties in the Philadelphia area,” while accurate, ignores the fact that it is public service, not politics, for which my family — including my father, the late Councilman David Cohen; my mother, Florence Cohen; my brother, Judge Denis Cohen; and my sister, Sherrie Cohen, Esq. — are best known.
Rep. Mark Cohen | Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Submitted via jewishexponent.com


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