I was shocked by the suspension of two teachers at Friends' Central School for inviting a Palestinian speaker, Sa'ed Atshan, to address students ("Friends' Central suspends teachers," Tuesday). The speaker, an assistant professor of peace and conflict studies at Swarthmore College and a Quaker himself, had been invited by the school's Peace and Equality in Palestine Club.
The suspension apparently was instituted due to the complaints by some parents that the professor supports the growing international movement to use nonviolent means, such as an economic boycott and financial divestment of Israeli products and companies profiting from the internationally declared illegality of the Separation Wall, the Israeli military occupation, and the increased building of settlements in traditional Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Nonviolent pressure to attain social justice is central to Quaker tradition.
Friends schools are rooted in the Quaker testimonies of peacemaking and nonviolent resistance to social injustice. To disinvite a fellow Quaker because of parental pressure is disappointing. The prophetic witness does demand moral courage in the face of conflict.
The school should reinstate the teachers and allow the students to hear Atshan. Only with respectful dialogue can peace and justice have a chance in that holy land.
|Stephen Oldham, Philadelphia
When education is based on lies rather than facts, what message are teachers and administrators delivering to their students, and how are students to be prepared for their lives in the "real world?" Do we want adults - because they were miseducated - insisting that the Earth is flat, or that the South won the Civil War, or that Palestinians have lived in the land of Israel for thousands of years and Jews are "occupying" their land?
What about ethics? Do they matter at all?
Regarding William Kashatus' commentary, "Friends' Central wrong to cancel speaker" (Wednesday), if Palestinian speaker Sa'ed Atshan supports Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions - an international movement designed to delegitimize, weaken and ultimately destroy the Jewish State of Israel - then students at Friends' Central School would be exposed to vicious, hateful lies with little hope that the same teachers who invited Atshan would offer students the actual facts about Israel, Palestinian-Arabs, and the Middle East that would set the record straight.
Unfortunately many Quakers, via their American Friends Service Committee, have supported a notoriously anti-Israel organization. With so much misinformation out there about Israel, its history, and the true nature of the Arab war against Israel, the classroom should be a safe space from this vitriolic hatred and propaganda.
|Steve Feldman, executive director, Zionist Organization of America: Greater Philadelphia, Bala Cynwyd, email@example.com
Immigrants provide so much to our community and economy that they should be welcomed and praised for their contributions ("Kenney: 'God is on your side' amid raids," Tuesday).
Immigrants are more likely to start their own businesses, which creates jobs for both immigrants and native-born Americans. Small businesses owned by immigrants employ millions of Americans, compared to the tens of thousands of jobs created by President Trump's businesses.
Even undocumented immigrants contribute to the health of our economy. Studies have shown that these immigrants pay more than $11 billion a year in taxes. Trump has admitted he has avoided paying personal federal income taxes for years. Plus, lower-wage immigrants spend most of their income locally, keeping money circulating in the economy and not just filling a billionaire's pockets.
Lastly, but most importantly, immigrants contribute to the diversity of our nation, which is essential for us to remain leaders of technology and industry around the world. Decades of research have shown that more-diverse groups outperform less-diverse groups when it comes to problem-solving.
We should continue to welcome immigrants to the United States and thank those who chose to live here for their valued contributions.
|Jennifer Meservey, Glenside
Constructing a wall along our border with Mexico and believing it will protect us from illegal immigrants is absurd. With sufficient incentives, ingenuity, and technology, people will find ways over, under, and around the wall. It will become a monument to President Trump's hubris - a white elephant that U.S. taxpayers will ultimately pay for, and a scar across our southern border. We should think of the wall as Trump's Maginot Line, because it will be as successful in protecting America as the original was in keeping the Nazis out of France.
|Thomas J. Baldino, professor, political science, Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, Pa., firstname.lastname@example.org
Do any of us really believe that Michael Flynn contacted the Russian ambassador and discussed U.S. sanctions without President-elect Donald Trump's knowledge ("Trump knew Flynn misled Pence," Wednesday)? Those of us who feel Trump is fulfilling his mandate are happy to see this cowboy governing as we have not seen before. He will shake up the status quo. He is not beholden to anyone - except, perhaps, Vladimir Putin.
Is Trump afraid of what damaging information the KGB has about him? We need a leader who is more than fodder for comedians. "America First" will become America Last if this chaos theory continues.