Reducing risk of Jews getting mad cow disease

It is good that the laws and practices of kosher slaughter, such as not stunning animals prior to slaughter and not slaughtering sick animals, reduce the risk of Jews who eat kosher beef getting the human form of mad cow disease. But can we ignore the epidemic of heart disease, many forms of cancer, strokes and other degenerative diseases and medical problems that have been strongly linked to the consumption of animal products and are afflicting many Jews and others?

Since animal-based diets and agriculture violate basic Jewish mandates to preserve human health, attend to the welfare of animals, protect the environment, conserve resources and help feed hungry people, I hope that the current mad cow disease publicity will serve as a wake-up call for the Jewish community to move toward plant-based diets.

This would be consistent with our charge to be a “light unto the nations,” a holy people” and “rachmanim b’nei rachmanim” (compassionate children of compassionate ancestors), and would greatly improve the health of the Jewish people and our imperiled planet.

Richard H. Schwartz | Staten Island, N.Y.

Jewish compassion

Yes, it is shameful that Iran will not accept aid from Israel (Jan. 2 j. editorial). But it is also shameful for j. to equate the loss of 30,000 lives to Iran’s political decision not to accept Israeli assistance, opining, “it’s hard to determine what is more tragic.”

As Jews we are called to tikkun olam, to heal the world. Fortunately, as you reported, groups like American Jewish World Service in the United States and Latet in Israel are demonstrating that Jewish compassion extends beyond our own interests.

Michael Chertok | San Francisco

Quake aid

Thank you for your Jan. 22 editorial on Iran’s refusal of Israeli aid.

The tragedy is, there was perhaps no country better prepared to help rescue Iranian earthquake victims.

Israel provided rescue and medical services for earthquake victims in Armenia (1988), Afghanistan and Bolivia (1998), Turkey and Colombia (1999), India and El Salvador (2001) and Georgia (2002), to cite a few examples.

In response to the 1994 Rwandan genocide and 1999 ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, Israel set up emergency field hospitals, treating thousands. Israel even provided the region’s only delivery ward for Kosovar refugees, saving the lives of many Muslim women and infants.

In November 2003, Israeli doctors saved the life of a week-old Iraqi baby girl who suffered from a congenital heart defect after European doctors declined to treat her. Israeli doctors have also saved the lives of many Palestinian children by providing them with vital organs transplanted from Israeli children and teenagers killed in Palestinian terrorist attacks.

By rejecting assistance from Israel at a moment when lives might be saved, Tehran sent the world a message that would make Yasser Arafat proud: Iran would rather see its own people die than benefit from coexisting with Israel in peace.

Stephen A. Silver | Walnut Creek

Appealing cover

I particularly liked the front cover of the Jan. 2 issue of the j. Had a no-nonsense look about it. Very appealing.

Jack H. Liebler | San Mateo

Mikvah access

After seeing my letter in the Nov. 28 j., I realized that information on how to access local mikvahs was left out. There are six: Beth Jacob Community Mikvah, Oakland, (510) 482-1147; Mikvah Taharas Israel, Berkeley, (510) 848-7221 or (510) 540-8729; Mikveh Israel B’nai David, S.F., (415) 922-4070; MikvahChaya Mushka, San Rafael, (415) 479-0287; Dryan Family Mikvah, Palo Alto, (650) 493-5555 or (650) 494-2737; and Mikvah Society of San Jose, (408) 371-9548 or (408) 264-3138.

Hinda Langer | San Francisco

Filmmaker’s defense

Please pass on the following comments to Dan Pine, who recently reviewed my film, “The Worst Jewish Football Team in the World.”

It takes a real prat to review my film in that way. Every time I have screened the film around the world, the applause has been rapturous and the laughter deafening.

My film opened Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary film festival, to a packed house of 900 people. It has been screened at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival in succeeding years due to audience demand. The list of film festivals that begged me to let them show the film is endless.

Pine clearly has no sense of humor and must suffer from envy, as do many people who end up reviewing art and films. He also suffers from a total lack of a good critical eye. He is, of all the millions of people who have seen my film (originally screened on the BBC), in his unusually odd views, a very lonesome pine indeed.

Oh, and by the way, his review was much, much too long.

Gary Ogin | London

The law is clear

I have to correct many of your editors and letter writers — and even some Israeli political leaders.

There is no “occupied territory” in Israel. All of the land of Israel is legally Israel’s for the following reason:

In 1948, Israel was attacked by all of her Arab neighboring countries, including the Palestinian state. Israel defeated them all and, in the process, gained land. That land legally belongs to Israel, just as Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California belong to the USA as a result of the Mexican-American War.

International law is very clear on this matter.

Yale J. Berry | Brookline, Mass.

Palestinians must address morality

When terrorists act, their victims react.

They react to protect families and homes, to attempt to put an end to such cruel and senseless killing so they might live with peace and security.

After Sept. 11, America immediately launched a war on terrorism to hunt those responsible and disable their networks. We reacted because we are compelled to protect our peace and security, our homes and families.

After every suicide bombing in Israel, Israelis react, hunting those responsible and tightening checkpoints to prevent more bombers from entering Israel. But Israel’s attempts to protect its people backfire, encouraging more bombers.

If Palestinians discourage and condemn those who recruit suicide bombers, the bombers will eventually stop and the Israelis will have nothing to react to.

The Palestinians need to address a morality that honors those who blow themselves up in order to kill innocent women and children. And they must realize that a society that sanctions and supports such heinous acts will never know peace.

All actions have reactions. The reaction to an end to suicide bombings in Israel would be a true and lasting peace — and a Palestinian state.

Steven Lee | Sausalito

Peace cannot bloom while teaching hatred

The Palestinians had a chance for a peace based on generous and unprecedented offers by the state of Israel. The Palestinians are not ready for peace. Peace cannot bloom while Palestinian curricula continue to teach hatred and destruction of the Jews and Israel. The Palestinians will not be ready for peace until their religious leaders stop teaching that Jews should be driven into the sea and Israel be eradicated from the map of the Middle East.

Israelis and Israel want peace. Peace will not happen until the violence stops. Peace will not happen until the Palestinian leadership chooses to teach their people peace.

Bob Cohen | Menlo Park