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Passover, Palestinians, Afro-Americans

A recognition of commonality where there exists a clash of beliefs: this year's Passover Seder with my family.  We read the story of the liberation of the Jewish people from Pharaoh’s Egypt and we honor the freeing of all peoples from oppression.  The Zionists in our family see the present Palestinian Land Day commemoration as a violent demonstration led by Hamas to overtake Israel.  The Jewish Voice for Peace activists in our family see the Land Day commemoration as a peoples’ struggle to free themselves from oppression by Israel.  There are explosions of words.  We are truly eating the ‘bitter herbs.’  We participate together in the Seder, we read together the Haggadah as our parents and grandparents did before us,  We partake of the festive meal.  We go on like this, generation upon generation.  The evening ends in song. We are gathered together even though we are not in harmony.  

An upcoming film brings two distinct groups together: Afro-Americans and Palestinians.  ”Al Helm: Martin Luther King in Palestine" will be shown to the public this Friday April 6, 7 pm at Holy Cross Santa Cruz Episcopal Church, Kingston. The film documents these two groups working together on a Palestinian play about racism, Both know oppression and have a dream (Al Helm) of something better. Both know non-violent resistance.  By recognizing their common struggle, they are renewed. At the film's end, members of the New Progressive Baptist Church Choir will lend their voices to the evening. 

My Jewish family have always supported the Afro-American struggle for freedom. My father led our Jewish community to Washington D.C. when Martin Luther King Jr, gave his inspirational speech:“I Have a Dream.” I believe that those in my family rooted in Zionism will move from ‘the narrow place’ as they open their hearts and minds to the Palestinian non-violent struggle for justice.

Jane Toby
April 3


Guns are not a Democrat or Republican issue.

I must stand in strong opposition of Mr. Joel Gingold’s opinion published on March 26, 2018.

Senator Murphy opposes many of the mandates contained in the NY Safe Act as do I and many other New Yorkers. Note  that I purposely did not label New Yorkers as either democrat or republican but simply New Yorkers.

We can all agree that anyone who would use a gun in an illegal fashion is a bad person. Taking all the guns away will still leave us with all the bad people. The second Amendment has nothing to do with “Hunters or Target Shooters” and everything to do with the defence of ourselves, our family, our property and most importantly our country and it’s values. The use of the first amendment to attack the second amendment is an unacceptable conflict of the Constitution and the amendments to it.

Mr. Gingold states that 80-90% of Republicans favor some of the enhancements to the Safe Act when in fact 80-90% of NY legal gun owners are against the Safe Act on its face. Just a bunch of meaningless laws and restrictions that criminal bad people don’t follow anyway. Just more laws that only law abiding people will follow but do nothing to change the attitudes of those who are lawless. Nothing in the NY Safe Act keeps the guns out of the hands of those who would use them illegally. Enacting more laws when the ones that already exist are not fully and forcefully enforced is an effort in futility. Get caught with an illegal gun here in Sullivan County and you will pay the price and do the prison time. Get caught with an illegal gun in Bronx County and you will be back on the street in the morning. I reject any new laws as long as the existing laws are not fully and uniformly enforced. Governor Cuomo’s NY Safe Act is a feel good useless attack against all law abiding NY gun owners and nothing more. Criminals don’t do background checks! Legal, law abiding gun owners don’t do crimes!

Gary Lothrop
March 28


Supports Kesten

Columbine, Sandy Hook, Orlando, Las Vegas, Parkland.  The litany goes on and on.  But we in NY are fortunate that we have not yet appeared in this listing.   NY has the fourth lowest rate of gun deaths per capita in the U.S., thanks in part to the NY SAFE Act, a 2013 gun safety law. A Siena poll reported that opposition to the SAFE Act is at an all-time low of 28%.

But Republican State Senator Terrence Murphy wants to change all that.  Mr. Murphy, rated 93% by the NRA and a regular recipient of NRA campaign cash, has co-sponsored S.879, a bill to repeal the SAFE Act outside of NYC.  

He and his colleagues have rejected Assembly-passed enhancements to the SAFE Act including red flag provisions, enhanced background checks, keeping weapons from domestic abusers, etc. Actions, some of which are favored by 80-90% of Republicans.  The Republican response was a package of  “school safety” provisions, including the offer of “Guardians for Schools” license plates to raise money for school security.

By contrast, Robert Kesten, Mr. Murphy’s Democratic opponent, stands foursquare behind the SAFE Act and actively supports its enhancements as well as a ban on “cop-killer” ammunition and similar provisions.

No reasonable person wants to repeal the Second Amendment or prohibit gun ownership by responsible hunters, target shooters, etc.  But the recent spate of gun violence compels us to take positive action to keep guns from those who cannot or will not control themselves and to manage the types of weapons available to the general public.

Robert Kesten understands this. Mr. Murphy does not.  If he has his way, we will one day experience such a tragedy here in the Hudson Valley.  But, Mr. Murphy, we will still have our “Guardians for Schools” license plates.

Joel Gingold
March 26


GOP Lost Its Identity to Trump

    Grand, the descriptive word for the Republican Party, is now an exaggeration since the Grand Old Party(GOP) surrendered its soul to Donald Trump. Its moral compass was given to Trump who immediately disposed of it in a dumpster. Morality has no place in the Trump administration. Trump owns the GOP !

    The GOP is no longer the party of family values and fiscal discipline. Turn back to Alabama's 2017 special election for Jeff Session's vacated US Senate seat. The Republican candidate was Roy Moore. During the campaign four women came forward asserting, as teenagers aged 14 to 18, they were subjected to sexual misconduct by Roy Moore. These incidents occurred when Moore was not only in his 30s in age but was Alabama's assistant attorney-general making his conduct even more reprehensible. It was reported Moore actually dated these teenage high schoolers one of whom's yearbook was signed by him. When this tidbit went public Moore declared the signature a forgery. A handwriting analysis would prove or disprove his forgery claim. An analysis was never requested implying signature authenticity. In light of this Trump, the Republican National Committee and the religious right(ceding its claim of moral authority) still supported Moore's candidacy !

    The GOP scrapped its historically fiscal conservative platform to satisfy Trump's agenda.  Trump proposed a fy2018-19 $4.4 trillion dollar budget with monumental spending.  America is already faced with a $1.5 trillion dollar deficit-producing tax-cut law that will provide only a modest boost to economic growth as per economists of every political stripe; not the White House projections of a 4% to 6% hike in our gross domestic product(GDP) that would extensively offset the lost revenue. To recoup revenue Trump put entitlements on the chopping block with cuts to the tune of $1.7 trillion dollars including $237 billion from Medicare and $800 billion from Medicaid over a decade. Cuts to Social Security are also included.

    Trump's budget shows the 2019 deficit nearly doubling from last year's projections to $984 billion dollars. The red ink would total $7.1 trillion dollars over the next decade with the national debt rising to nearly $30 trillion. All this red ink assumes Congress adopts Trump's proposals including the spending cuts and there is no economic downturn for at least 10 years !

    Budget director Mick Mulvaney is the chief architect of this spending blueprint. He was a former Freedom Caucus Congressman and its co-founder. In the House he was a hard-line deficit hawk who decried Obama's spending proposals. Compared to this Republican river of red ink President Obama's expenditures amount to a small stream. Look at Mulvaney now. Where are all the conservative Republican deficit hawks ? They all caved in to Trumpism ! Pure GOP hypocrisy !  Well, Mickey had his 'mouseketeers' and now Trump has his 'trumpeteers.' The White House should recycle those old black 'mouseketeer' caps, refurbish them, paint them orange and distribute them to all the blind loyalists making them official 'trumpeteers.'

John Lown
March 22



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