Letters

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Are we hypocrites?

Once again, the international community is applying the double standard to judge an action taken by the Israel Defense Forces against a terror organization whose explicitly stated goal is to obliterate the Jewish state. 

Since September 2000, Hamas has been the leading Palestinian terrorist organization taking responsibility for over 50 suicide attacks, including one as recently as nine days ago, all under the “spiritual guidance” of Sheik Ahmed Yassin.

We in the United States cannot afford to participate in this double standard while we hunt down the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks. 

Is it not one of the primary responsibilities of a sovereign nation to protect its citizens? How can we be such hypocrites?

Lorri Arazi | Oakland

‘A hungry crocodile’

According to critics of Israel’s recent assassination of Hamas’ leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin, Israel should not have killed this terrorist mass murderer with the blood of 400 innocent Israelis on his hands because it would “inspire further suicide bombings of Israeli civilians.”

Would critics of Israel’s policy to target those who plan and execute terrorist attacks also say that victims of domestic violence shouldn’t stand up for themselves because it could only inspire further beatings by their spouses? Would the San Francisco Chronicle say that gays who experience intolerance shouldn’t openly fight against it because it could only inspire further cruelty?

It’s been said that appeasers are those who feed the crocodile, hoping that he’ll eat them last. Hamas is a hungry crocodile that hates Israelis, Jews and Americans alike.

Hamas would keep murdering whether Yassin was dead or alive. But at least now they realize they won’t get away with it without a fight.

Ronit Alcheck | San Francisco

Where was condemnation?

The French Foreign Ministry, the EU and the Vatican have publicly and swiftly condemned Israel’s assassination of Hamas terrorist network head Sheik Ahmed Yassin. Where was Europe’s condemnation and moral indignation every time Yassin’s death squads murdered Jewish civilians?

These are the same governments that would have condemned the USA had we killed Osama bin Laden prior to 9/11.

Furthermore, they would have publicly and swiftly blamed the United States for the 9/11 attacks had we moved against bin Ladin in a pre-emptive strike.

David Kaim | Austin, Texas

Arab ‘Catch-22’?

I am encouraged that over 25 Northern California rabbis (400 worldwide) have signed a letter of support for Rabbi Arik Ascherman, executive director or Rabbis for Human Rights, who is on trial for trying to prevent two Arab homes from being demolished by the Israeli military because of zoning regulations (March 19 j.).

Many of our local rabbis recognize that the housing policy of the Israeli government in the occupied territories denies Arab residents their human rights. And they have taken action to try and change this discriminatory policy. Arab residents who want to expand their homes are consistently denied building permits.

Many Arab families have found themselves in a “Catch-22” situation in their attempts to get building permits and are caught in a web of endless frustration.

Hopefully the rabbinical statement of support will be helpful this week as his trial continues in Jerusalem.

Naomi Puro | Albany

‘Elated with success’

It has been many years since Congregation Emanu-El was on the cover of the Jewish Bulletin, now j., for going into the matzah business. We did so because of the injustice of very high matzah prices in the Bay Area.

Our motives were clear to us. though questioned by other rabbis and the media, both here and in the secular press.

The charges were clear: We were putting the availability of kosher products at risk. We were doing it just for the publicity. How could Emanu-El, the bastion of Reform Judaism, take on such a noble cause?

Back then, five pounds of matzah had reached $23.95. Today, in Albertsons and Safeway you can find five pounds of Israel-made matzah for $5.99, or $7.99 for American-made matzah.

Well, the results are now in and we are happy to report that time has proven our mission a success. While others were quick to judge our intentions, we are elated with the results.

By next Pesach, may we find peace and freedom here, in Israel and around the world. Let us welcome the stranger and pass on the story of the Exodus, supporting each other in our own community.

Gary S. Cohn | San Francisco
executive director, Congregation Emanu-El

A vegetarian view

As president of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America and author of “Judaism and Vegetarianism,” I suggest we commemorate the redemption of our ancestors from slavery this Passover by ending the current slavery to harmful eating habits.

An increasing number of Jews are finding ways to celebrate vegetarian Passovers consistent with Jewish teachings. Contrary to a common perception, Jews are not required to eat meat at the Passover seder or any other time.

Several Passover themes have vegetarian connections:

• At the seder, Jews say, “Let all who are hungry come and eat.” Vegetarian diets require far less land, water, fuel, pesticides, fertilizer and other resources, and thus enable the better sharing of God’s abundant resources, which can help reduce global hunger and poverty.

• Passover is the holiday of springtime, a time of nature’s renewal. It also commemorates God’s supremacy over the forces of nature. In contrast, the production of meat has many negative environmental effects.

• The main Passover theme is freedom. While relating the story of our ancestors’ slavery in Egypt and their redemption, many Jewish vegetarians also consider the “slavery” of animals on modern “factory farms.”

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

‘An obvious choice’

As a lifelong Jew and a long-ago convert to vegetarianism, I was delighted to see Dan Pine’s March 19 cover story about veggie Jews.

God’s requirement that we do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God seems to me to be a call to vegetarianism.

Whether we are caring for our own health, the healing of the world, or the well-being of animals, a vegetarian diet helps support justice, mercy and humility every time we shop, cook and eat.

Everyone who envisions peace in the world can start at home with peaceful food choices. That peace on your plate also contributes to improved health and a cleaner environment makes a vegetarian diet an obvious choice for Jews.

Patti Breitman | Fairfax

Fence is stealing land

Some say “good fences make good neighbors.” The Israeli fence, however, is a bad fence designed to steal property and starve people needy of services beyond it.

The solution is in valuing your neighbor enough to ask for agreement on where the fence should be in order to benefit those on both sides of it.

When Israelis begin to value all the peoples of the world as worthy, the rest of the world will reciprocate in kind. If the Israeli agenda is good for everyone, then everyone will work toward fair agreements.

When the world stops being afraid that their businesses and lives will be ruined if they speak out against destructive Israeli policies, everything will fall into its natural place.

Make one nation: IsPal, and let the Arabs donate the land where the refugees reside as noncontiguous counties of this new nation. The Palestinian and Israeli conflict is a civil war that needs to end by reuniting, not separating.

Oddly, if the fence worked in keeping suicide bombers out of Israel, then there would be no need for aerial assassinations by Israel in Palestine. The fence is a land grab. It won’t work — for either side.

Sharon Davies-Tight | Cleveland

Double standard?

Your March 12 editorial, “Nobody loves a fence,” is typical of the double standard employed against Israel by the left.

Real peace between Israel and Palestinians is “unlikely to happen,” you write, “until both Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat have passed from the scene.” In other words, Sharon, who was elected by a majority of Israelis fed up with Arafat’s murderous regime, is no better than Arafat?

No reasonable person who has watched the daily killings of innocent Israelis even by members of Arafat’s own “security” forces will be taken in by this scapegoating.

George Medovoy | Davis

He ‘was a mensch’

Your March 19 tribute to my friend, Jesse Feldman, brought memories of our 62-year bond of friendship.

We corresponded during World War II when both of us were in the U.S. Navy service. Jesse was assigned to the Navy War College at Newport, R.I., and I visited him there where we went together to the Judah Touro Sephardic Synagogue, one of the oldest in America.

We shared experience in law practice, Jewish community identification, the pleasure of seeing Broadway shows written by Irving Berlin, visits to Carmel, and so many conversations together.

Jesse Feldman was a mensch. His good name is inscribed in my memory book.

Harold L. Levy | San Francisco

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