Letter to the Editor: 03.14.19

Join the Legion


March 10, 2019

Dear David, 

March 15 through the 17th marks the start of the second 100 years for the American Legion. Our local chapter provides financial aid to students and veterans; offers function space to the Boy Scouts, East Hampton Town government, and numerous nonprofits. While many people have seen the public portion of the building, most have not seen or experienced the welcoming members bar and function area. Moreover, many individuals do not realize that they and their family members can become members. 

If any member of your family history has served in the armed forces, you may be able to join the Legion or Legion Auxiliary. Membership entitles one to enjoy the numerous quality dinners offered by members (mostly under $15), an affordable and inviting bar environment seven days a week, and chance to participate in the many fun activities we do. Stop down after 3 p.m. and learn more about a great local institution. 



Amazed by “Les Mis

East Hampton

March 5, 2019


Dear David,

We wish to express our gratitude to you and to your managing editor, Carissa Katz, for the lovely front-page story about the East Hampton High School production of “Les Misérables,” which alerted us to this extraordinary musical experience. 

Thanks to the article and accompanying photos, we planned an evening at the high school theater on Saturday with friends, and found ourselves enchanted by the talent and energy of the young actors, the musicians, and the wonderful sets and costumes. We wanted to take this opportunity to congratulate everyone involved in this production, and to give special thanks to the teachers and professional musicians who worked with their students to realize this achievement.


Medical Marijuana

East Hampton

March 7, 2019


To the Editor:

Your article “Suffolk County Debates Legalized Marijuana” (Feb. 26) covered the County Legislature’s hearing on Gov. Cuomo’s plan for marijuana legalization very well. It provided valuable insights on the arguments to be made for and against legalization, and on the right of local governments to opt out of the statewide plan and retain local prohibition of the marijuana trade. 

As a psychiatrist who has been treating addiction for more than half a century and an East Hampton homeowner and part-time resident, I found the debate deeply troubling. It highlights the current dilemma of making decisions about the use of marijuana when so much about modern marijuana and its impact on users and communities is still not known. Equally troubling is what we now do know about the drug and the likely effects of legalization, to which the partisans of legalization are either unaware or indifferent.

The general public believes marijuana is a benign psychoactive drug, while today’s marijuana is powerful and dangerous, especially to the developing brain of adolescents and users vulnerable to mental illness. Consumers can already buy marijuana products with no idea of how much T.H.C., pot’s psychoactive component, it contains. Medical marijuana marketers claim that salves, oils, and even cosmetics and beverages made with C.B.D., a non-psychoactive marijuana component, can relieve stress and anxiety and aches and pains — even help Alzheimer’s disease. But there is, in fact, only one drug derived from the cannabis plant approved by the F.D.A. and it is for a rare childhood epilepsy. 

With so much research now underway and so much risk in the rush to legalize, the most rational response to the governor’s proposal is not to opt out, but to oppose it.

Dr. Rosenthal was the founder of the national Phoenix House programs and today is the president of the Rosenthal Center for Addiction Studies. Ed.

Nature’s Weed

East Hampton

March 5, 2019


To the Editor:

I read with interest your lead story last week. The article mentioned that some “well-researched arguments” were presented. Well, if they were from the addiction treatment professional who stated that “this is not the stuff people were smoking in the ’60s and ’70s she was wrong. When President Obama was hanging with his schoolroom gang in Honolulu in the late ’70s and hotboxing his VW bug, they were smoking Maui Wowie, a high T.H.C. strain. 

I know because I was there and it was the favorite of all the locals. His exploits from that time have been documented by some of the president’s friends, and the president himself makes mention of his pot-smoking days in his book “Dreams of My Father.” Doesn’t seem like years of marijuana use did him any harm. 

She went on to say, “This ain’t Mother Nature’s weed.” Wrong again: The marijuana on the menus from stores all across the country is grown with strict, all-natural quality control. And all strains are derived originally from totally natural landrace. Not so with some of what is on the black market, you literally don’t know what might be in it. 

Also, each strain is listed with the T.H.C. content, some high some low. What she also didn’t mention is that a very high percentage of people in rehab for weed are court ordered. Maybe she thinks part of her livelihood is threatened. 

And funny how this woman who runs a rehab is speaking out against something that, as mentioned in the article, is favored by 62 percent of the American people. Is Suffolk County ahead of the curve? Or are we still mired in a bad case of reefer madness? I hope not. 

Myself and many of my happy, healthy, and successful friends really don’t want to make the trek to Nassau to make a purchase. But if we had to, let me please remind the prohibitionists that we would be possessing, transporting, and consuming it in our homes legally. 


Not Enforceable

New York City

February 9, 2019


Dear David, 

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

I’m not a doctor or consumer (just a lawyer) so I cannot opine on weed’s usefulness, harmfulness, whatever. But I haven’t heard of any doctor prescribing alcohol for medical purposes or pot overdoses.

So let’s stop burdening law enforcement with enforcing what is truly not enforceable. 

Sensible regulations and education would be a better and cheaper use of resources.


Inherent Conundrum

East Quogue

March 4, 2019



The proposed Green New Deal is not an environmental plan. It is an economic infrastructure plan and a social justice plan using climate change as an excuse for social and economic change. While its proponents seriously believe in it, they overlook one important fact: All their social justice objectives would necessarily be subsumed by a strictly environmental “green deal.” But the reverse is not true. An economic plan means that solutions to the multiple global environmental crises are going to be weighed against and perhaps compete for both financial and political support and funding. 

There is no evidence that relieving poverty, primarily with massive infrastructure programs (i.e., without tax reform or proper energy pricing), will do anything except put more money in the hands of consumers to spend on unnecessary things that for the most part will exacerbate the climate crisis — a second car in every garage, purchases of appliances and gadgets that require energy, foreign travel, purchase of a second home, demand for exotic imported foodstuffs, add to the list at your leisure. 

Affluence and prosperity equal consumption equals global catastrophe. The whole point of a truly green deal should be to reduce consumption and the impact on the environment, not to promote economic growth that can only encourage humans to consume more. This is the inherent conundrum of any plan that does not put reduced consumption as the bottom line of any energy policy and it continues to be the premise upon which our consumer society survives.

That the green deal promoters do not have enough honesty and courage to wage a battle for a comprehensive environmental agenda alone, that they believe they have to soften the blows of such an agenda, that they believe that the social justice/economic agenda is the most persuasive agenda they can find, seriously reduces their credibility and their motives. Their dishonesty will be exposed eventually, as it becomes evident that they have no intention of taking substantive action to reduce consumption of goods and energy. There is no mention of a carbon tax or any other “onerous” policy. 

This is pure cowardice, shored up by delusion, in the face of an unrelenting global crisis whose future costs will dwarf those of today and mandate the intervention if not control by the federal government because of the high stakes.

And looking at it another way, it is a way of deflecting the efforts of the environmental movement, something they have done in other ways for decades by questioning the “socialist” motives of environmentalists and accusing them of ignoring what they consider the most important issues of our day: economic inequality, poverty, racism. 

Worst of all, the plan is a “Smiley Face,” intended to skirt any possible hardship or material sacrifice that will have to be made in order to mitigate global warming. Brutal honesty compels us to say that the transition to a sustainable (and equitable) society or planet will necessarily involve a diminution in traditional economic growth and its corollary of some kind of redistribution of wealth. The open question is whether this will take place peacefully and equitably, or through authoritarian policies and structures.

This does not mean literally taking assets from the rich and giving them to the poor. What it means is a realignment of things like tax codes, rethinking of fiscal policies that reward growth and penalize the poor, serious readjustment of public transportation and urbanization, and not least food policy. It will also require government powers to act in the public interest to protect natural resources, habitats, and wildlife from private development. In other words, doing more for the poor and nothing for the rich, which is not socialism but just fairness.

The Green New Deal offers no assurance that the Democratic Party has changed its spots or expanded its vision. It is just a continuance of the traditional liberal agenda (hardly socialist), shored up by token gestures toward climate change, and not even a mention of biodiversity loss, arguably the greatest crisis of all as scientists are now admitting.

Meanwhile, the rest of us should not be lulled into complacency or into supporting “the lesser of two evils,” or, more important, into thinking that the influx into Congress of leftists and “socialists” (more accurately social democrats) is going to steer us in the right direction on environment and energy issues. We could well end up in an even worse place, as liberals and independents fall in line without giving serious thought to the details and implications of this not-so-new, not-so-green deal. 



New York City

March 5, 2019


To the Editor:

There were many letters to the editor this past week protesting the development of offshore wind on Long Island by Orsted. Clothed in details, awash in specifics, the key plaints nonetheless boiled down to these: Why us? Why here? Why are these foreigners interfering in our patch? It’s as if fossil-fuel companies behind the existing local oil-and-gas delivery services were not giant international corporate entities themselves.

Why us, even though this wind farm should generate enough power for Long Island and more? Because we all live on the same planet. They will generate our power, but they will also further Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s goal of a 70 percent renewable power grid for the whole state by 2030. I think we can all accept the necessity of this goal, and call it pragmatism, not crazy left-wing politics. 

Why here, in particular, since power might go to New York City? That’s a form of Nimbyism with particularly ugly roots. Besides, the East End’s part of the Atlantic is not clean. Its marine life and fisheries are threatened with global warming. As a result, fish populations have declined sharply in recent decades and will continue to do so.

Where holes are drilled and cables come ashore are reasonable questions that can be resolved. But they must be subordinated to the overwhelming need to develop offshore wind to move our power grid to renewable resources and stop contributing to global warming.


True Public Forum

East Hampton

March 10, 2019 


To the Editor, 

Thinking in either national or global terms, East Hampton has a special and very rare resource to help the community enable the actual practice of what we call democracy. For more than a century The East Hampton Star has been printing all of the letters written to its editor (we know the very reasonable reasons for any exceptions) as the closest thing to a true public forum that one can find anywhere in our country (or in the world, perhaps.) So our agreements and God knows disagreements get aired on a weekly basis. And of course it’s not neat and clean and decisive. But it isn’t neat and decisive anywhere that people are genuinely free to express themselves. We see a superb example of this in the present discussion of the Deepwater project. 

My own response has shifted several times. Clearly something must be done, but it’s not clear at all whether enough can or will be done on a global scale to genuinely make a difference. I was among those who reacted in a negative way to the “bait and switch” scenario and also was very skeptical of corporate power in any case. But on further thought, I have to say: If not corporate, then who? 

Local governments do not have the resources to make a genuine difference except in a microcosmic, additive way, and our national government is simply too dysfunctional. The sad truth is that really only large corporate organizations have the resources to do much. I think we must get the best we can out of Deepwater, but we don’t have a great list of alternatives. Facts themselves tend to get reported in our letters in ways influenced by a great number of things: personality, political alliances, age, education, probably even wishful thinking. 

This is what made Debra Foster’s letter in the March 7 issue so refreshing. I’m not going to maintain it has no point of view, everybody has a point of view, but it is close to being a simple reporting of the facts to date. I think we have to realize that the current town officials have done a rather good job of it so far. We can’t really demonize a buried cable running through Wainscott when so many in the town have been begging to have our power lines in certain areas buried. 

There is no more volatile issue here than the impact on the local fishing industry. I simply can’t speak to that as I don’t know enough, and I’m not sure how one gets a fair and balanced report on those issues. The only thing I can report from my own experience is that as a scuba diver I know that man-made structures under water, like sunken ships and oil rigs, at least very often attract a great number of fish and other underwater life, but I can’t attest to the relevance of this.

I think the lesson of the changes in climate locally and nationally that most of us have observed and commented upon among ourselves is surely that action is better than inaction. Seeking perfect action is probably tantamount to no action. 

As the clear-eyed Don Matheson, in his letter in that same issue, suggests, only forward motion can possibly help, and our town officials are probably moving in a direction that just might help alleviate a truly broad human disaster. Whatever we do will be only a drop in the bucket, but if enough communities and nations join, there may be some salvation for the current species that live on this planet, our own being one of them. 


Tipping Point

East Hampton

March 11, 2019


Dear Editor,

The good news is that someone born today is likely to live into the next century. The bad news, as recently reported in Nature magazine, is that your children’s grandchildren are likely to live long enough into the 22nd century to see the extinction of the human race. That unpleasant prospect can be traced to a political system incapable of reform based on science, one subject to the whims of politicians wedded to the preservation of the status quo even when facing disaster. You can see it right here in East Hampton in the discussions about windmills and global warming.

CO2 levels will reach about 560 ppm in 2050. At Caltech, in a recent simulation of climate change, the scientists asked what happens to cloud cover when CO2 levels rise above 1,200 ppm, a level expected in about 100 to 150 years if there are no major reductions of CO2.

They looked at what would happen to stratocumulus clouds that cover 20 percent of the low-latitude, subtropical oceans. These clouds cool the earth by shading large portions of the surface from sunlight. They found that at 1,200 ppm the clouds become unstable and break up altogether, triggering a sudden surface warming of 18 F. degrees. This is very disturbing news because these simulations show there is a tipping point in CO2 levels beyond which nothing can be done to control the global-warming outcome.

Paleoclimatologists have found a period 56 million years ago called the PETM when a sudden surface warming of this magnitude occurred and left behind a geological record. It lasted for thousands of years. The Caltech simulations found that CO2 levels had to decrease substantially below 1,200 ppm for the clouds to reform. Once gone they were gone.

During the PETM there were mass extinctions worldwide, the oceans turned Jacuzzi hot in the tropics, life moved northward, and smaller species were favored as plant life, and ocean plankton sensitive to the heat and ocean conditions went extinct. There would be no possibility of the human race surviving such a transition. 

Now let’s look at what we are doing here in East Hampton about CO2 levels. Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc would have you believe that the forest of windmills planned off the shores of Long Island will reduce CO2 emissions. But that only happens if these plants are used to replace fossil-fuel-generating plants where overall demand for energy remains constant or shrinks. If energy demands continue to increase, as they are doing in East Hampton now, then those plants will not reduce CO2 emissions, only meet demand for more energy from a non-CO2-emitting source.

The scenario in which those windmills actually reduce CO2 emissions is one in which PSEG and the town board cooperate to reduce the total demand for energy over the grid and then PSEG substitutes wind energy for fossil-fuel energy to meet the constant or shrinking demand. The ever-growing summer peak energy demands of East Hampton have to be reversed. In other words, we have to embrace conservation.

Are we doing that? The answer is no. Neither Scoyoc nor Overby has any commitment to reducing demand. By voting for them and their inept policies we are only voting for more status quo —- more power lines, more power plants, more substations, and more mega-mansions using more and more energy at higher and higher prices. On the national level, it is just such an ignorant lack of leadership that has stymied any attempt at saving the planet. 

So what would real leadership in Town Hall do to help avert global warming? It would start by reducing the amount of energy that has to come into East Hampton over the grid to meet peak summer demand. That can be done by putting solar cells on as many homes as possible, allowing each of those homes to meet their own summer energy needs, while supplying their neighbors through microgrids with the summer surplus.

Nothing like this has been done by these two politicians. They don’t want to trouble the builders of mega-mansions and their owners by changing the building code. They don’t want to mobilize the people in Montauk and Wainscott to go solar in a big way to avoid the power lines and substations that will wreck their communities. They don’t want to bargain with the energy industry for the livelihoods of the year-round Montauk residents who earn their livelihood from fishing. And frankly, I take little solace in the fact that they will not be around to see your great-grandchildren cope with a global warming disaster for the human race.

You can of course do something yourself. You can demand a solar energy program that works to reduce demand. You can elect politicians who will make that happen. These two are not them.


Avoid Hyperbole


March 10, 2018


Dear David,    

Because the South Fork Wind Farm is such an important key to reducing East Hampton’s dependence on carbon emission pollution, which contributes to global warming, we must insist that any statements concerning the project are factual. That standard applies to the private companies involved in constructing the 15 windmills 35 miles off Montauk that are not visible from our shore and our residents. 

Our town board, led by Supervisor Larry Cantwell, unanimously voted to support a goal to install 100 percent renewable energy use. Our residents (both pro and con) should also present facts and avoid hyperbole when educating the public about the South Fork Wind Farm.

 A citizen group in Wainscott has actively sought to halt the underground cable that will be buried in Wainscott in order to attach power from the windmills to the current substation closest to Wainscott on Cove Hollow Road. I totally believe in citizen oversight and participation. Unfortunately, this group has asked residents to sign a petition that does not present all the facts, twists some statements into hyperbole, and passes on false “facts.”

For example, nowhere on their petition do they state that all the infrastructure necessary for connecting the cable will be buried safely and adequately underground and will not be visible. In fact, one citizen at a town board meeting insisted that giant transformer poles would be visible above ground from Montauk to Wainscott. Not true!

The misinformation portrays the buried cable as huge when it is 12 inches in diameter and will be buried 4 to 6 feet underground, just as their recently requested and installed public water main that was welcomed by Wainscott residents with open arms. The cable will also be buried 30 feet below the sea bottom so it will not be exposed by erosion just like all other cables that already exist under the sea floor.

The Committee for the Preservation of Wainscott has stated that the connecting cable will divide and “ruin the beach forever.” In fact, by using a proven technique, Horizontal Directional Drilling, the cable will be dug horizontally deep under the beach and people may still use the beach during implementation of the cable. However, it might be a tad cold because it will be installed during the off-season.

Another false statement on the petition and in their literature is that the piping plover will be disturbed. Yet there are no endangered piping plover nests on Wainscott beach because if there were, the beach would be shut down to public use. 

Decision-makers, our residents, and the private group installing the wind power farm should continue to be committed to researching and communicating the facts about this project so that we can fulfill our commitment to using 100 percent renewable energy in East Hampton. What a great role model and legacy to leave our children and generations who come after us.



Clean Water


March 11, 2019


Dear David,

The news that the low-cost housing project on Montauk Highway in Amagansett is going forward is a double-edged sword. While almost everybody agrees with the need for low-cost housing for East Hampton residents, there is one big problem with this project and the one that the town built across the street from it. Overwhelming any of the objections about traffic, changing the character of Amagansett, and its effect on the jewel of a local school, are this project’s potential effects on the last unpoisoned aquifer in the Town of East Hampton and on Long Island. 

The town never did any hydrological tests to determine the effects on the aquifer that supplies all the clean water to the residents of Amagansett, Springs, Northern East Hampton, and 85 percent of the public water going to Montauk. The East Hampton Town Housing Authority either doesn’t want to know or doesn’t care. They are happy to put nonresidents of East Hampton in their project, as the Star article made clear.

However, this town board and their “Water Supervisor” should care. Now that the western aquifer supplying the town’s wells has been poisoned by firefighting foam, we have only one source of clean water. The Suffolk County Water Authority will give you a bunch of lies about how clean the water they sell residents at high prices is, but if you think you are not endangering yourself or your family by drinking chlorinated water, you’re a fool. The most deadly gas in World War I was chlorine gas. The reason chlorine kills all the germs in your swimming pool is the reason you should not drink it. It is a carcinogen. 

Our town board has bought a total of three properties from the list of 60 that I have recommended to them and which Scott Wilson, our wonderful director of land acquisitions, has presented to them. To say that they are not stepping up to the plate and taking on the challenge of protecting our last unpoisoned source of water would be an understatement.

The last several town boards just don’t seem to get it. Only David Lys on this board seems to understand, as he should, being a father of many in Springs. We must do everything possible to protect this aquifer, by buying every piece of land we can that is on the Ronkonkoma Moraine and close to it and by helping every homeowner to change from the antiquated septic systems we have to the best new nitrogen reducing technology we can access.

This housing project, if proposed by a developer, would have been forced to undergo a tremendous level of screening. But the town has never acted responsibly here. There should be a full-blown environmental impact statement on this project and the one across the street, the elderly housing of St. Michael’s, which never received any regulation. Our water source, the Stony Hill Aquifer, must be protected. It’s time the town board took its responsibility to protect our water more seriously.

Thank you for your attention,

Amagansett Springs 
Aquifer Protection

For Town Justice

East Hampton

March 11, 2019


Dear David,

I am writing to express my sincere thanks to the Democratic Committee of East Hampton who recently nominated me as the Democratic candidate for town justice. I am proud to have been chosen as the Democratic nominee and I can think of no more meaningful work than serving this community as a judge in the town where I live with my wife, Rachael Faraone, and our three beautiful children. 

Justice court is likely to be the only court of law that many of us will ever interact with and so it is extremely important that the court instills confidence in the rule of law, is efficient in its business and unencumbered by unnecessary delays, and takes proactive steps to serve the residents of this town. 

What’s more, I believe that justice court should reflect the values of the community in which it sits. Today this is more important than ever. We are currently living through a moment in our nation’s history that demands our attention. I believe that now — at this moment — we must stand up and assert the values of our community: integrity, tolerance of differences, and a deep respect for the rule of law. 

With these guiding principles in mind, I believe that I am the candidate best suited for this job. Here’s why:

I have dedicated my working career to advocating for human rights. In doing so, I spent the better part of 10 years in The Hague, Netherlands, where I litigated before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and worked closely with the United Nations to advance specific human rights issues and causes. Currently I am general counsel to OLA of Eastern Long Island. In that capacity I work with the Latino population on the East End and directly assist and advocate for some of the most vulnerable residents of our town. 

My experiences in The Hague, where I attended court daily, and in East Hampton, where I have appeared in justice court on behalf of clients across Suffolk County, have given me a clear idea for how the court should operate and function.

Justice court provides a meaningful and direct way to serve this town and to assert the values which I hold most dear and which I believe form the basis of this remarkable community. My background and experience uniquely position me for this moment in time, to bring a fresh and important perspective to the court. I am delighted to have this opportunity to run and to serve as town justice in East Hampton. 



A Gadfly


March 10, 2019


Dear David: 

In a recent editorial, “Circuitous Campaign Coming,” The Star called my friend Rona Klopman “a gadfly Amagansett resident.” People have been asking what this means, and whether it is an insult or compliment. 

The term appears to originate in Plato’s “Apology,” in which Socrates calls himself “a sort of gadfly, given to the state by God; and the state is a great and noble steed who is tardy in his motions owing to his very size, and requires to be stirred into life. I am that gadfly which God has attached to the state, and all day long and in all places am always fastening upon you, arousing and persuading and reproaching you.” 

A “gadfly” therefore, like Socrates, is an intelligent dissident who selflessly takes on the role of speaking truth to power. The term is a compliment. 


A New Low

East Hampton

March 10, 2019


Dear David:

The so-called settlement on Tuthill Road, Montauk, of the Duryea lobster dock lawsuit against the town marks a new low for lawlessness by the East Hampton Town Board. 

The stipulation of settlement, signed by town attorney Michael Sendlenski, has never been voted upon by the town board. Never. Bizarrely, Sendlenski signed it twice, once as town attorney and once purportedly as the agent for the town. This is not merely illegal, it is preposterous, a fraud on the courts. 

The town board literally has no means of action on any matter other than by majority vote at a meeting duly convened at which a quorum is present. It does not “do” anything at all as a town board other than by vote, and the state’s town law requires any settlement to be approved by the town board.

There is only one possible explanation for this outlandish behavior, particularly since local lawyers have now called it to public attention. The members of the town board who comprise the majority, Van Scoyoc, Overby, Burke-Gonzalez, and Lys, were so intent on hiding from the public what appears to be a grossly inappropriate sweetheart deal for the property owner that they could not bear to vote on it in public as the law requires. We only know this settlement exists because David Buda, our diligent protector of public accountability, stumbled upon it while searching court records, and disclosed it to the public.

The failure to vote isn’t even the worst of it. In a gross violation of our own zoning code, the settlement provides for the use of residentially zoned property for commercial purposes. The town board can amend the zoning code if it follows proper procedure, but it cannot allow violations of the zoning code as enacted into law.

Can it get worse than that? Yes. It does. Both the planning board and zoning board of appeals are independent bodies, not under the control of the town board. The town board cannot direct them in any manner. It cannot control their deliberations, their investigations, their findings of fact or law, or their conclusions. Yet in this settlement the town board, without a shred of legal authority to do so, purports to undermine the independence of these bodies by agreeing with the complainant to obvious falsehoods about the state of affairs, and then directing these independent bodies to recognize the falsehoods and act as if they were the truth.

Van Scoyoc, Overby, Burke-Gonzalez, and Lys are out of control. They appear to be willing to do whatever they imagine they can get away with to do favors for the favored, respecting no law or truth.



An Enormous Bucket

East Hampton

March 11, 2019



The furor over Representative Omar’s comments about Israel might be a teaching moment if we weren’t a nation of ahistorical dimwits. Her comments on the America Israel Public Affairs Committee were neither new nor revealing. If she were not female, Muslim, and black they would have passed with little reaction.

Growing up Jewish in New York, anti-Semitism for us was like playing stickball in the streets. It just was. You could feel it, taste it, smell it. No one had to say a word. My father’s attitude was never trust the goyim (non-Jews), a no- brainer for most of us. Be smarter, be tougher, or run faster. He never allowed us the illusion that things were okay.

Cousin Joel got beat up every day on the way to temple. My brother beat up every Irish kid on the block. I practiced running.

Israel didn’t exist when I was born. Anti-Semitism predated Israel by 2,000 years. The inherent fraudulence in Christian doctrine necessitated the existence of a bogeyman. Jews killed Jesus. Jews didn’t believe in our God. They looked and dressed differently. But most important, they tended not to fight back. All the bad “isms” require a passive enemy.

Ms. Omar’s comments need to be viewed from two perspectives. Israel, on its merits, on its behavior, is a very mixed bag. Half of the Israelis are appalled by the barbarity and inhumanity of the government toward the Palestinian people and toward Israeli Arabs. Yet, American politicians tend to genuflect before the Israeli government and provide unquestioned support. We loved Franco, Pinochet, etc., so our taste in adoration is somewhat suspect. Our international credibility is very limited. Israel is an ally but we have been in bed with some of the worst people with no problems. In the Middle East we have only Israel who we can count on.

Anti-Semitism in the U.S. is another story. If Jews were dark skinned we could package it with racism. It is part of our DNA, in our history and our institutions and propagated by our churches. Become a doctor, a lawyer, or an accountant because no bank or major corporation would hire you. “Jews will not replace us,” or Trump’s comments on little guys with yarmulkes are pretty straight up anti-Semitic. Thoughts and prayers for the Pittsburg synagogue massacre are almost believable until one reads the grotesque right-wing profanities.

We have always been anti-Semitic, as we have always been racist. It’s who we are and no matter how hard we believe that we aren’t, we have a really long way to go.

The American Jewish community is rightfully oversensitive about the nation’s anti-Semitism, but if Ms. Omar is, in fact, anti-Semitic, she is a tiny drop in an enormous bucket. While anti-Semitism is on the rise all over the world, it was already a huge deal. We can’t be sidetracked by Ms. Omar when she  has little to do with the real problem. 

So, the Democrats need to get their acts together on this Omar anti-Semitism. She, also, has to understand that we are reflexively boneheaded and need to be spoon-fed the reality of the world we live in. Democrats are too knee jerk, too fatuous, too intellectually lazy and dishonest. 

For the Republicans it’s easier. They are a party of soulless white trash scammers who need a long period of silent reflection before they are allowed to participate in the conversation. Their support for the president and his natural racism and anti-Semitism should disqualify them. 

My father would remind me not to trust the goyim, but to keep an eye on the Jews as well.