February 2008

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News and Opinion

Letters to the Editor

Frustration Over Health Care In Pennsylvania

Every Pennsylvania State Senator has great health insurance. Perhaps that is one reason why the legislative action on health care this month was so frustrating.

The Philadelphia Health Access Network (PHAN) reported that Senate Vincent Hughes (D. Phila) advanced language on a Senate Bill that would use accumulated and unneeded MCARE dollars to pay for part of Cove r All Pennsylvanians (CAP) for the next decade or so. CAP is the Governor’s health care plan that would cover 800,000 uninsured Pennsylvanians. MCARE is the fund that subsidizes doctors’ and hospitals’ malpractice insurance and since MCARE claims payments have been falling for the past several years, there is about $530 million of unneeded money in the account.

You can probably guess how this ends. Despite calls from PHAN and the health care activists across the state. The bill went down. The matter is now closed until January 2008, one year after Governor Rendell made his original CAP proposal.

This holiday our senators and representatives will continue to enjoy the security of not having to worry about their health care needs. Unfortunately, 800,000 of the rest of us will not have that luxury.

-- Rosalind Spigel, Philadelphia Jewish Labor Committee, Philadelphia, PA

Rosenberg Is Insincere

M.J. Rosenberg's recent piece on a "shift of consensus" of American Jews vis-à-vis Israel/Palestinian peaced includes a number of weighty assumptions that I believe deserve further examination.

Rosenberg asserts that "the overwhelming majority of Israelis and Jewish Americans favor those positions and eventually the more status quo-oriented organizations had to catch up --- especially now that the Israeli government asserts that it finally has a genuine Palestinian partner." While there certainly has been evidence of a shift toward acceptance of some of these issues, to use the term "overwhelming majority" is unsubstantiated. Israeli and American Jews remain deeply divided, especially over the future control of Jerusalem. As a longtime "dove" on these issues, I have never supported dividing Jerusalem, nor do I believe does the majority of Israelis or American Jews.

Rosenberg seems to feel that Abbas and Fatah are suddenly real partners for peace, ignoring Hamas and its control of Gaza and the fact that Abbas is very weak and that Olmert is arguably the weakest Israeli Prime minister in its history. Even so, it is evident that Israelis, as usual, are deeply divided, and do not "overwhelmingly" support these positions, which some would label as appeasement. The issue of refugees clearly remains seriously divisive, and Rosenberg does not seem to recall that nearly a million Jews were expelled from Arab countries, yet he seems to think we should bend over to re-admit Palestinian refugees who caused their own situation.

Finally, Rosenberg asserts that  "Today's New York Jewish Week provides tangible evidence of a seismic shift. The Jewish Week is the largest circulation Jewish paper in the United States. It is the official voice of the New York Jewish community. Its publisher, Gary Rosenblatt, is an important figure in New York. A respected journalist, and a right-of-center Orthodox Jew, he is a key member of the New York Jewish establishment."

There are plenty of "important" Jews in New York who would dispute his positions, as well as plenty of Jewish newspapers whose boards and editors would as well, but to label that newspaper, whose own web site claims it reaches 70,000 households as the "official voice of the New York Jewish community" is simply absurd and unsupportable. Even the Baltimore Jewish Times claims to reach 50,000 subscribers in a much smaller community, and who knows how many read this newspaper, but there never has been nor will there ever be an "official voice" of the millions of Jews in New York.

The fact is that while Rosenberg and other American Jews may wish to rush head first into these huge political gambles for Israel's survival, it must remain up to the seriously-divided Israelis and their elected leaders to make final decisions. Certainly we can work with and support various Israeli groups and leaders, but to claim that we are supporting a position held by an "overwhelming majority" of either Israeli or American Jews is insincere.

-- Paul Foer, Annapolis, MD

The Philadelphia Jewish Voice welcomes the submission of articles and letters to the editor letters @ pjvoice.com. Please include name, address and phone number for identification purposes. We cannot publish every submission we receive. We also reserve the right to edit submissions for length, clarity, grammar, accuracy, and style, though we will never intentionally distort the author's intent.

Editor-in-chief Ben Burrows editor @ pjvoice.com.

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