Mary Rafferty of Life Work speaks at a public hearing...

Mary Rafferty of Life Work speaks at a public hearing for the development of a home for six adults with autism on Twixt Hill Road in St James at 420 Middle Country Road on Thursday. Credit: Andrew Theodorakis

A proposed group home drew dozens of people to a Feb. 14 public meeting [“Smithtown residents turn out in favor of group home,” News, Feb. 16]. As a 20-year next-door neighbor of a group home, I would like to offer my perspective.

Our neighbors are adults who have suffered traumatic brain injury. This disability could happen to anyone. The residents have been good neighbors, and we have always strived to be caring friends. They have given us opportunities to give our children valuable lessons about how to treat others. Our lives have been enriched by having these folks next door.

Unfortunately, our neighborhood has experienced ongoing problems with the home’s staff. Some blast music from cars, throw trash into the street and behave inconsiderately. Complaints are generally ignored. Some staff members do not consider our neighborhood their neighborhood; this is merely a place of employment.

There are two sides to the issue. I am saddened when I hear people express unfounded fears and bigotry toward these residents and others with disabilities. They are our friends. By the same token, we should expect group-home operators to be the good neighbors they promised they would be at the outset.

Mark A. Nocero,


Minn. politician a national lightning rod

Journalist Dan Raviv’s Feb. 14 op-ed, “The world of pro-Israel politics in D.C.,” displays disingenuousness, cynicism and naiveté.

The op-ed’s subtitle says that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) stumbled into a “political beehive” in issuing anti-Semitic and anti-Israel tweets, but that turns reality on its head, making Omar the victim and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee the villain.

She has a history of similar virulently hateful comments. In 2012, she tweeted, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and let them see the evil doings of Israel.” This year, she tweeted, “Israel is an apartheid regime.”

She promotes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which is a scheme to dismantle Israel. She consorts with Israel haters (Hatem Bazian, founder of Students for Justice in Palestine, and Linda Sarsour, both proud anti-Zionists, as well as radio host Ahmed Tharwat, who calls Israel “Jewish ISIS,” and others).

To say she is a freshman and still learning is to insult the intelligence of all, including her, and is the product of the bigotry of low expectations. She should resign. Failing that, she should be removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Alan A. Mazurek,

  Great Neck

Editor’s note: The writer is vice chairman of the national board of the Zionist Organization of America, an Israel advocacy group.

Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Somali refugee who was elected to Congress with 78 percent of the vote in her district, continues to be lambasted by Republicans and some Democrats, as well as by President Donald Trump, who said she should resign from Congress. She is railed against because of her inflammatory criticism of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and its influence in the U.S. Congress.

Her perceived anti-Semitic tweets and defensive retorts, while by no means carefully crafted, intensified the torrent of attacks from irate detractors. The House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), urged Democratic leaders to rebuke her.

The key is that we must acknowledge the influence of money in politics. Although I am not in lockstep with Omar’s assertions, I do agree with two important realities: Money spent by lobbyists has a significant impact on Washington, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee influences policy in Congress through its lobbying.

John Segovia,


Rep. Ilhan Omar may or may not have learned to tone down her anti-Semitic views, but one thing she has learned is crass incivility during congressional hearings. Her berating of Elliott Abrams, the U.S. envoy to Venezuela, was worthy of the worst bullying in congressional hearings by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).

Now that Harris is running for president and playing nice-nice, I guess Omar will play the bad cop for the next two years.

Michael Quane,

  South Hempstead

Kudos to Rep. Ilhan Omar for having the guts to see the elephant in the room and acknowledge its presence. AIPAC’s purpose is to benefit a foreign country. Why does Omar have to apologize for pointing out an obvious truth? Is it because her political career will be ruined unless she kowtows to that lobbying group? Everyone wants new blood in Washington to shake things up, but certain old guards still run the show.

Ed Serrao,

  Rockville Centre

Wrong to probe Trump after Comey firing

I am shocked that Andrew McCabe, who was the acting head of the FBI, and other agents, along with the second-in-command at the Justice Department, Rod Rosenstein, were looking to investigate President Donald Trump after he exercised his constitutional right to fire FBI chief James Comey [“Concern over Trump,” News, Feb. 18].

Trump is an easy man to hate, but to investigate him because, in my opinion, you are offended by his boorish behavior is contrary to everything that makes this country great. Trump won the election fair and square, and in less than two years, those who dislike him can try to vote him out of office.

I believe what happened in the upper echelons of the FBI and DOJ was fueled by a personal hatred of the president and should alarm all who believe in democracy.

John Gelormino,


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