Support Israel: Vote for Democrats
My friend, Howard Neiman, proposes that members of our community change their party affiliation and register as Republicans. I disagree.
Historically, the Congress has been the bastion of bi-partisan support for Israel. That support has been critical when it became necessary to confront antithetical Administration policies. It would be foolhardy for us to abandon the Democrats just as our voices are most critical. And, as proved by the recent election, Congress regularly flips from Republican to Democratic control and back. So, it is vital that we maintain strong ties to both parties.
Howard suggests, as one justification, the fact that the Democrats have taken a hard swing to the left. While it is true that there are a number of radical new Congressional Democrats, it is a terrible mischaracterization to tar the entire Democratic conference as extreme.
The New York Democratic Delegation ranks among the strongest supporters of Israel in Congress. We are blessed to have such stalwarts as Elliot Engel, Nita Lowey, Hakeem Jeffries, and Carolyn Maloney in ranking positions in the House. Our own Congresswoman, Grace Meng, has been unflinching in her support of Israel, as has Kathleen Rice, who represents the Five Towns. Beyond those already identified, a roster of local Democratic House Members rose at the recent JCRC Congressional Breakfast to declare their commitment to a strong US-Israel relationship. While a certain freshman has monopolized attention, I am heartened by the election of Max Rose representing parts of Brooklyn and Staten Island.
Finally, our community has been very well-served by friendly local officials. With local and State government overwhelmingly represented by Democrats, it remains critical that we are registered as Democrats and vote in the primaries and general elections officials who represent our interests.
NORPAC Brooklyn Queens President
Why Is Nothing Happening?
Of Congress, anti-Semitism, and so-called phobia of Arabs (“Islamophobia”)
In response to Dr. Howard Neiman’s article, when will the American Jews wake up?
A Congresswoman brings up the old anti-Semitic canard of duel loyalties of American Jews and numerous other statements of classic anti-Semitism – and nothing happens!
Islamophobia has been used and will be used by an individual (now including Congressional representatives of the Muslim faith) to defend any and all criticism of statements that have been made (and will be made) against Jews and Israel. It will be used in the extreme to accuse any person defending Israel as in violation of Congress.
G-d forbid when Iran or Arab countries threaten Israel or want weapons allegedly to defend themselves. They will call Israel a war-monger and worse, and if anyone objects, he is suffering from “Islamophobia.” From sitting in closed-door sessions, I know how that innocent-appearing term has been used, is now used, and will be used by those with Arab sympathies and/or who are just anti-Israel and anti-Jewish (deliberately avoiding the over-valued term “anti-Semitic”). It is a “Trojan Horse” for future whitewash of any and all attacks on Israel while a way to shut up all attacks on Islamic sympathizers.
The resolution did not help American Jewry, but provided a means for future attacks and a way to white-wash recent statements of Rep. Omar.
So, instead of Rep. Omar rightfully being reprimanded by Congress and dropped from the House Foreign Affairs Committee as suggested by Rep. Cheney, she enjoyed hugs and shows of affection from Democratic Party colleagues.
And American Jewry applauds?!
And yes, this move by the Democratic Party is anti-Israel and anti-Jewish, as stated by the President, not in its words but what it permits for the future (see Europe).
On this upcoming Shabbos of Parshas Zachor, we have to remember our past interactions with those like Haman and Amalek, and do our best to prevent future ones, b’ezras Hashem.
Transit Fares Are Still a Good Deal
The MTA fare increases were both modest and necessary to deal with this year’s operating deficits of several hundred million. The capital side shortfall is in billions. Long-term MTA debt exceeds $40 billion. This results in debt service payments eating up 17% of the annual budget. Yearly debt service payments will grow to 20% under the next MTA Five Year 2020-2024 Capital Plan. The MTA has no available surplus operating dollars to delay any fare increase, let alone offer any reductions. Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio’s current and upcoming budgets include no funding to do either. Both the MTA and elected officials have never been serious about combating fare evasion. Every year, the MTA loses over $200 million for those who refuse to pay their way. NYC District Attorneys will not prosecute fare evaders. This encourages more riders not to pay. NYC Transit police have their hands tied, thus giving up enforcing fare payments.
For those public officials, MTA board members and others who opposed any fare increases and were quick to demagogue on this issue (for political purposes to win upcoming elections), just how would the MTA balance financial shortfalls? Which capital improvement projects should the MTA cancel to help balance the budget and avoid fare increases? Which route(s) would you support service reductions to save operating dollars? Would you volunteer to reduce service, cancel, or delay any capital projects benefiting constituents in your district? What future union contracts would you ask for more flexible work assignments, hire part time employees, contract out more work to the private sector, and reduce salary increases? Will you ask employees to increase their contributions toward medical coverage and retirement pensions?
Contrary to the heated rhetoric of elected officials and the so-called transit advocate, MTA services continue to be one of the best bargains in town. Since the 1950s, the average cost of riding either the bus, subway, or commuter rail has gone up at a lower rate than either the consumer price index or inflation. The Metro Card, introduced in 1996, affords a free transfer between bus and subway. Prior to this, riders had to pay two full fares.
A majority of residents purchase a weekly or monthly NYC Transit bus/subway Metro Card, LIRR, or Metro North ticket, which reduces the cost per ride significantly below the base fare.
In the end, quality and frequency of service is dependent upon secure revenue streams. We all will have to contribute – be it at the fare box or tax revenues generated by different levels of government, redistributed back to the MTA.
TANSTAFFL (“There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”) or, in this case, a free ride. Someone has to pay for it.
(Larry Penner is a transportation historian, advocate, and writer who previously worked 31 years for the US Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office. This included the development, review, approval, and oversight for grants supporting billions in capital projects and programs for the MTA.)