Letters to the editor October 31
Rubin column decried
I just read Joel Rubin’s Oct. 24 column, “Iran’s diplomatic thaw with the West.” Much has been written about Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his involvement in past Iranian terrorism. Many people do not know his reformist agenda primarily deals with life in Iran. Even though he has a smiling, grandfatherly face, nothing has changed in Iran. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is still calling the shots and Rouhani could only be president with Khamenei’s approval.
Let us remember, Iran has been killing Americans since 1979. The following American deaths and more have been attributable to Iran, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and Iranian proxies such as Hezbollah — whether directly or indirectly through funding or training:
• Eight Americans killed trying to rescue hostages from the Embassy in Tehran;
• 17 Americans killed in the Beirut U.S. Embassy bombing on April 18, 1983;
• 241 Americans killed and 100 wounded in Beirut Barracks bombing, Oct. 23, 1983;
• American Lt. Col. William R. Higgins captured in 1988 and killed while in captivity;
• Two Americans killed in the U.S. Embassy annex bombing in the Beirut suburb of Aukar, Sept. 20, 1984;
• Dean Stethem, U.S. Navy diver, killed in hijacking of TWA Flight 847, June 14, 1985;
• Six killed and 1,000 injured in World Trade Tower bombing Feb. 26, 1993;
• 19 Americans killed in Khobar Towers bombing June 25, 1996; and
• One quarter of 4,400 American causalities in Iraq were attributed to Iranian-made weapons, 2006.
One statement in Rubin’s column is somewhat misleading: “International inspectors are closely monitoring Iran’s every nuclear move.” Much of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure is not accessible to inspectors and work continues unobserved. Keep the sanctions on, make them tougher. The Muslim world only recognizes strength.
(The author is executive director of the Zionist Organization of America-Pittsburgh District.)
In the 1990s, when I was working at Rodef Shalom Congregation in Pittsburgh for the Legal Committee of Soviet Refugees, I attended a lecture given by Rabbi Joshua Haberman of Washington, D.C.
In that lecture, the rabbi explained that since it is difficult to know all the various religious beliefs of public school students, it was not prudent to introduce any religious symbolism into the schools. He did say that classes that taught the various religions could be helpful in teaching how many different faith-based communities are responsible for our country’s unique makeup, but any direct or indirect sponsoring an official idea could lead to endorsement over differences.
I agree with this analysis. Therefore, I believe in the constitutional safeguards that promote tolerance over proselytizing. Let’s not stand with those who don’t respect this difference.
(Editor’s note: The author was responding to a bill pending in the General Assembly that would require Pennsylvania public school districts to post “In God We Trust” in every school building.)