Rafah response

Israel’s operations in Gaza are in response to weapon-smuggling. For nearly four years Israelis have been victims of an ongoing Palestinian terror campaign, which murdered more than 900 and injured more than 6,000.

A substantial portion of these weapons and munitions have come via tunnels connecting Rafah in Egypt to homes in Rafah in the Gaza Strip. Israel has determined it has no choice but to eliminate the danger these tunnels pose.

Israel’s efforts to destroy the infrastructure of terror are supported within constructs of international law, and necessary for the protection of Israeli civilians.

Approximately 90 tunnels connected to residential houses in Rafah have been destroyed since September 2000. Tunnels are used for smuggling weapons, drugs, goods and even people into Gaza.

Since January 2003, dozens of rocket-propelled grenades and launchers, hundreds of kilograms of explosives, hundreds of AK-47 rifles and tens of thousands of bullets and cartridges have been smuggled in through private residences, resulting in brutal murder and maiming of thousands of Israeli civilians.

If the Palestinian Authority refuses to comply with the requirement of the “road map” to dismantle terrorist infrastructures, Israel has the moral obligation to do so to protect its citizens.

Lee Kohl | Petaluma

Biased film fests?

In his May 21 letter to j., Joseph Abdel Wahed notes the anti-Israel films shown at the San Francisco International Film Festival and wonders why no films that depict Israel in a positive light are programmed.

This is due entirely to leftist bias, and is the status quo at all major film festivals, here and abroad.

Both in funding guidelines and in exhibition decisions, the film festival scene is dominated by politics. For instance, the past success of Michael Moore’s “documentary,” which is really a mockumentary, “Bowling For Columbine,” is a testament to the elevation of propaganda knowingly passed off as truth.

To its credit, the recent Tiburon International Film Festival did screen “The Road to Jenin,” a French/Israeli film that depicts the truth regarding the discredited “massacre” in Jenin. And also “Shooting Conflicts,” an Israeli documentary about, among other things, the friendship between an Israeli and a Palestinian journalist.

However, these films will not be seen at film festivals whose agenda includes spreading Palestinian propaganda. Unfortunately, that includes the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.

Mara Wallis | San Francisco

Distorted coverage?

No one should be fooled by the self-serving May 21 letter by Rodney Huey in defense of NPR’s anti-Israel reporting. Obviously, as NPR’s vice president he is going to assert that NPR’s coverage is balanced and represents high journalistic standards. What media outlet doesn’t proclaim that it is fair and highly professional?

While it is true that NPR conducts self-assessments of its Middle East coverage, these assessments contain errors, distortions and self-congratulatory material instead of real analysis.

I suggest that anyone interested in this issue visit www.camera.org, which contains several revealing studies of NPR’s Middle East coverage. These studies demonstrate that NPR airs a disproportionate number of anti-Israel speakers.

To NPR’s credit, NPR issues corrections for some of its more blatant (and clearly erroneous) anti-Israel reporting. Yet, if NPR strives to be balanced on its Middle East coverage, Huey should ask why is it that all of the factual errors made by NPR in its Middle East coverage are errors that condemn Israel.

Josh Baker | San Francisco

Thriving idolatry?

Your April 30 editorial mistakenly asserts that Jewish law declares feticide “permissible … when a mother’s life is in danger.” While you (unwittingly) acknowledge a pregnant woman is indeed already a mother, you should understand there is no instance of halachah expressly permitting the intentional killing of the child.

If the consensus of available, informed, medical opinion determines a pregnant woman’s physical life to be, in the rare instance, truly endangered by (not merely coincident to) continuation of the pregnancy; and if ending gestation holds good prospect of saving her life, and no alternative response shows such promise; then Jewish law still does not “permit” abortion, it commands it. The doctors — the community — must save her life (if it can be saved).

“Choice” remains utterly alien — and altogether repugnant — to the proposition.

No room is available for the notion of a “personal option” in as grave a matter as the deliberate taking of innocent life.

That the people of Israel have been dominated for decades by those who close their eyes — and hearts — to the inconvenient humanity of the unborn does not render halachah less binding.

Rather, it shows idolatry thrives amidst the one people who should know better.

M.Z. Swartz | Santa Rosa

No monument

My name is Israel Turk. I am a Holocaust survivor. In the past five years, I’ve written most of the Jewish and Holocaust institutions in the United States about the need to place a Jewish monument on the mass graves where millions of Jews were tortured and murdered in Poland, Birkenau, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Mydanek and many other places.

Why can’t the institutions, which are collecting millions of dollars annually from the American public as a result of the Holocaust in Europe, use a small portion of the money collected and place a Jewish monument there?

Steven Spielberg has collected testimony from thousands of Holocaust survivors about their experiences, including my own, and produced a major movie about how great Oskar Schindler was. However, Schindler and many Nazis came from Germany to Poland in 1940 to enrich themselves by the murder of thousands of Jews in Krakow, which I have personally witnessed.

It is for me continuously heart-wrenching how Spielberg is continuously glorifying Schindler because it is politically correct, and profitable, while millions of Jews do not even have a monument on their graves.

Israel Turk | Tarzana

Confusion of values

Recently, both Jewish and non-Jewish publications have been deluged with letters regarding whether there is a natural connection between anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiments. Disappointingly, there are an increasing number of Jews who are obviously confused about that distinction.

It actually makes an old liberal like me re-examine his values.

Part of the confusion has to do with artificially separating Jewishness, Israel and Zionism.

The left criticizes Israel’s policies but objects to being characterized as anti-Semitic. While it is a Jewish tradition to allow and even encourage open discussion and criticism, it is a Chanukah gift to the enemies of the Jewish people to aid and abet their anti-Semitism.

Further, undermining Israeli’s safety does become anti-Semitic, no matter how anti-Zionists deny that connection.

Many claim they are not anti-Israel but are anti-Zionists. Any Jew who is against Zionism or the legitimate rights of Israel is a Jew who has failed to learn from history. The Germans forgot they were Jews and thought they were Germans.

Even a German legislator recently said, “Israel has become the collective Jew of the nations.” May it never come to you, but without Israel, there is no Jewish home.

Paul S. Berg | Oakland

Touched by quote

Thank you for Joe Eskenazi’s May 14 article, “Tears, smiles at dedication of Marla Bennett garden,” reporting on Berkeley Hillel’s efforts to honor the U.C. Berkeley graduate.

I never met Bennett but I was touched by something she wrote for a San Diego Jewish weekly newspaper about her experience in Israel a couple of months before terrorists took her life. She wrote that “each small decision I make — by which route to walk to school, whether to go out to dinner — may have life-threatening consequences. … But there is nowhere else in the world I would rather be right now. I have a front-row seat for the history of the Jewish people. I am a part of the struggle for Israel’s survival.”

Too often, the enduring legacy of victims of terrorism in Israel is merely the horrific way the person died. Commendably, Berkeley Hillel and Eskenazi’s article in j. gave expression instead to who she was as a person and what she achieved during her life.

Stephen A. Silver | Walnut Creek


Headlines across the world simultaneously ran two stories about the glee of Arabs after they cut off the head of Nick Berg in Iraq and blew off the head of an Israeli soldier in Gaza.

In the light of our revulsion for the torture of Iraqi prisoners, we might be inclined to dismiss these acts of depravity as mere revenge. 

First Daniel Pearl, then Nick Berg, now the headless Israeli soldier. Who knows which Jewish head the knife of Arab terrorists will sever next? Who deep down really believes this is revenge and not a manifestation of their holy jihad?

Alan Stein | Mendocino