Not every Palestinian is a militant

We're concerned about a rash of letters, e-mails and an advertisement that the Bulletin has received in recent weeks.

The undertone of those messages is that a good Arab is a dead Arab.

Some of the writers are upset that the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation is funding various programs in Israel aimed at its Arab populace. The letter writers and advertiser feel that because of the spate of suicide bombings, no Jew should do anything to help an Arab.

But not all Palestinians are militants, and we shouldn't lump an entire people into that category.

Perhaps the JCF is doing something that other federations and the Israeli government should have been doing for the past 20 years — helping Arab families emerge from poverty.

Some of JCF's programs include: training Bedouin women to be nursery and kindergarten teachers, funding educational and technological projects in the Arab village of Tuba in northern Israel; and giving grants to the Misgav Bilingual School in the Galilee.

The JCF certainly recognizes that many Palestinian families are made up of ordinary people who want nothing more than decent homes, good jobs and food on their tables.

If anything, the JCF could be criticized for not helping Palestinians in the territories. JCF aid only goes to Arabs living within Israel's borders. Certainly Arab countries and the Palestinian Authority should be aiding Arabs in the territories, but their help has been meager to non-existant.

Had the JCF and other American Jewish groups aided Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza over the years, there's a good chance Hamas would never have gained a foothold.

Instead, Hamas filled a vacuum by providing schools, medical help and other necessities to needy Palestinian families. It's no wonder many Palestinians have become Hamas followers rather than supporters of Yasser Arafat, who has done little to relieve poverty.

It's not too late for Israel and American Jews to offer aid or even adopt individual Palestinian villages and possibly sway them away from the militants.

We urge that critics of JCF open their minds to helping the Arab people. The JCF should be commended, not criticized for its efforts.