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Israel’s home-demolition policy ‘fuels animosity of Palestinians’

Thank you for informing us of Rabbi Arik Ascherman’s imminent trial for trying to prevent the demolition of two Palestinian homes (Jan. 9 j.). Ascherman, former Bay Area rabbi, made aliyah because of his strong Zionist beliefs. As the executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights, he is motivated to protect the human rights of both Israelis and Palestinians.

The demolition of the Dari and Issawiyah homes, which Ascherman tried to prevent, had nothing to do with security issues; none of the residents were involved in violence or harboring terrorists. They were demolished because of the violation of zoning regulations which make it almost impossible for Palestinian families to legally obtain building permits in the Israeli controlled West Bank.

B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights organization, reports that thousands of Jewish homes have been built in these same areas. Since 1987, some 2,500 Palestinian homes on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem have been destroyed. This type of discriminatory policy fuels the animosity of Palestinians towards the Israeli occupation.

Naomi Puro | Albany

‘A double standard’

While the world is demanding that Israel dismantle Jewish “outposts” in the Judea-Samaria territories, nobody ever mentions the much more numerous illegal Palestinian Arab outposts and settlements in those territories. According to Israeli government estimates, the Arabs are building at 10 times the rate of Jews in Judea-Samaria.

To tear down Jewish buildings, yet leave intact the much larger number of illegal Palestinian Arab buildings and homes, represents a deplorable double standard that smacks of racism.

Morton A. Klein | New York
national president
Zionist Organization of America

‘No basis in fact’

In the Jan. 2 j. there was a letter regarding claims that the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) supports terrorism. There is no basis in fact for that assertion. 

I would encourage readers to read the full article referenced by letter-writer John Gertz. It is a plea to consider the power of a nonviolent resistance to a brutal occupation. 

It is the Israeli military that admits to shooting ISM British volunteer Tom Hurndall in cold blood, leaving him brain-dead until his death Jan. 14. And more recently admits to shooting Israeli peace activist Gil Na’amati with live ammunition.

And now Kate Raphael, a Jewish activist from Berkeley, faces deportation by Saturday, Jan. 17 after being arrested while “armed” only with a video camera.

They were not “human shields” but instead acted as witnesses to occupation.

It must anger the authorities greatly to know that despite running over us with bulldozers, shooting us, deporting us and slandering us, we still come, and we still stand for human rights, for the possibility of peace and justice. We simply refuse to give up hope. 

A more detailed response to the false claims about ISM may be found at www.tomjoad.org.

Jim Harris | Berkeley

Anti-Semitism fears

I can just imagine the conversations in the 1930s about the anti-Semitism that was creeping into mainstream Germany and elsewhere. If CNN existed back then, you’d probably have seen an interview similar to the one I recently saw.

The anchor was asking two Jews about the rise of anti-Semitism in the world. She brought the discussion around in such a fashion that implied Israel was at fault. I couldn’t believe it. Interspersed among the dialogue was footage of Israel Defense Forces soldiers in some West Bank town. 

While they played part of the ex-Malaysian president’s recent speech accusing the Jews of ruling the world by proxy, the anchor kept up the questioning line of how Israel is at fault by ignoring U.N. resolutions. The U.N. General Assembly resolutions in question are non-binding. These are not the same as the U.N. Security Council resolutions that Saddam Hussein thumbed his nose at. 

Anti-Semitism is casting a familiar shadow and too many people are assuming it is a phase, as many suggested 70 years ago.

I stopped wearing my Star of David in public view a couple of years ago, and it’s not because I support Jacques Chirac’s vision of a secular state.

Howard Roth | South San Francisco

The Bible redux

Leonard W. Williams writes in a Jan. 2 letter that “everyone knows that Torah is the Hebrew word given to the first five books of the Bible.” Such a statement is inaccurate.

The first five books of the Bible are called the Pentateuch, or Chumash in Hebrew. When the Jews speak of the Torah, they could refer to three different things: Chumash, Tanach (the Jewish Bible)” or the oral law (oral Torah).

The word “Torah” was unknown either in Moses’ or Ezra’s time; it was coined by rabbinic Judaism, probably in Mishnaic times. The word “Torah” is usually translated as the teaching, but a more accurate transaction is the doctrine.

Rudy J. Budesky | El Cerrito

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