‘A stale canard’

In your Sept. 24 cover story, “In harm’s way,” you state that Cpl. Andrew Sosnick, 75th Ranger Regiment, a wearer of the Combat Infantry Badge, the parachutist badge, and an expert rifleman “chose to defy the notion that Jews do not serve in the military.”

What is the point in bringing up a stale canard that is belied by your own article? I spent 11 years in the military (including three years in the Special Forces), my father was a career officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and my uncle was in uniform a year before the United States entered World War II. None of us felt like oddballs or isolates because we wore our country’s uniform.

During WWII, Jews were, in fact, overrepresented in the armed forces. Movie film from the battle of Iwo Jima shows a brief scene of a religious service held during the heat of the battle. It takes a second to realize that the congregation is praying with their utility caps on, and that the chaplain is wearing a tallit.

Where “uncommon valor was a common virtue,” we Jews were there.

Richard Roistacher | Belmont

French anti-Semitism

I keep reading about anti-Semitism raising its ugly head in France. However, if you read the news stories carefully, what you find is that the anti-Semitic acts are being committed by French citizens of Arab descent, called the Maghrebins in France.

These attacks are not coming from the general population, and the government is trying to stop not only the anti-Semitic acts but the sentiments that cause them.

I don’t think it is clear in your recent JTA reports and in others I have seen that these attacks are coming from the Maghrebins. Moreover, the Maghrebins are causing problems not only to Jews in France but to the French society as a whole.

Gail Dawson | Mt. Pleasant, S.C.

‘4 reckless years’

“What is wisdom?” the Talmud asks. The answer: One who considers the consequences of his actions. By this measure “W” certainly doesn’t stand for wise. He has embroiled us in an expensive war that distracts us from the real need to attack terrorism; he is saddling our nation with debts whose consequences can only be guessed at but which could prove calamitous; he is reducing protection of our environment at a potentially huge cost to our planet.

John Kerry if elected can help to restore wisdom to the White House and undo the harm caused by four reckless years of impulsive action.

Ed Taub | Mountain View

‘Vote the issues’

Kerry is wrong for the Jewish community. Kerry is wrong for America

Kerry has taken different positions on the Israel security fence in front of different audiences. Kerry described Israel’s construction of a security barrier as a “legitimate act of self defense” although he previously stated in front of an Arab American audience that “We don’t need another barrier to peace.”

Kerry has offered conflicting points of view of Arafat. Kerry calls Arafat a “statesman” and “role model” in his 1997 book. However, in 2004 he claims Arafat should be isolated because he isn’t a “partner for peace.”

Vote the issues. The real issues.

Solon L. Rosenblatt | Greenbrae

2-month campaign

We appreciate your Sept. 10 story “Dovish U.S. Jewish groups call for appointment of a Middle East envoy.” The “open letter to the next president” is an important initiative that is succeeding in mobilizing large numbers of American Jews, the “silent majority” who favor a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a more effective approach to the conflict by the U.S. government than it has shown over the past four years.

We write to correct the impression that any organizations are “sponsoring” or are “signatories” to the open letter. It is sponsored by a host committee of more than 30 American Jewish leaders from the rabbinic, organizational, academic and cultural worlds. A number of American Jewish organizations, including Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, are working together in support of it.

The Bay Area chapter of Brit Tzedek is launching an intensive two month-long campaign to gather signatures. Anyone can get involved.

Marcia Freedman | Berkeley
national president, Brit Tzedek v’Shalom
Molly Freeman | S.F. Bay Area chair

‘It hurts me’

J. published an open letter from American Jews to the next president Sept. 10 and asked the question, “Do you want negotiated peace?” The answer should be: No.

We don’t have to negotiate with Palestinian terrorists. There is nothing to talk to them about.

Israel belongs to us, Jews. Those who signed the letter don’t support Israel if they want to negotiate peace.

Jews have to fight for our holy land until victory.

If I would be Israeli prime minister, the problem would be done in three days. Here’s what I would do: I would take over the territories because everything belongs to Israel, and, I would say this: Everyone who want to live in Israel, welcome.

But to negotiate peace with Palestinian terrorists — including Hamas, Jihad, Arafat, etc. — no way.

I strongly encourage Jews not to sign that letter. When I see a Jew who supports the Palestinians and says, “Free Palestine,” it hurts me a lot.

Paul Shkuratov | San Francisco

‘Time of danger’

James D. Besser derides what he terms “single-issue pro-Israel groups” (Oct. 8 opinion). I suggest that every one has multiple issues but different priorities. 

Israel and its Jewish people are in great danger from the Palestinian terrorists, the Arab nations and Muslim Iran. I remember a day in 1945 when my father received an agonizing letter telling that all of his relatives in Poland were dead. His generation of American Jews had not done enough to help. While the situations are not exactly the same, the danger of the destruction of another 6 million Jews is very real. We should be making it our highest priority in assisting Israel at this time of danger.

Arthur Cohn | Portola Valley

Who rules Israel?

In a recent j. opinion by Larry Derfner, he prophesies the future on the basis of his own warped views. Derfner had previously prophesied that the Oslo accord would bring peace. Hence, his record as a prophet is not so good. 

In his first sentence, he says that “about 75 percent of the (Israeli) public” favors Ariel Sharon’s planned retreat from Gaza (which has been euphemistically called “disengagement”). 

Derfner pulled that figure out of the air. 

He also writes about “the pragmatic majority” without ever defining the term “pragmatic” — and without explaining how he knows anything about such a “majority.”

So far, the majority of Sharon’s own party, the Likud, has voted against the retreat; and Sharon only got his Cabinet to agree to his retreat plan by firing two members of his own Cabinet. 

Although Sharon has discussed his retreat plan with President Bush, who is not an Israeli, he has not brought his plan before the Israeli Knesset.

Who rules Israel? George Bush or Israel’s elected parliament?

Yehuda Sherman | Lafayette

Uninspired Jews

I have decided to make San Francisco my home after moving here only five years ago. I recently saw a black-and-white picture of Van Ness Street where many storefronts had Jewish names. The street was lined with Jewish owned businesses … I even caught sight of a real deli.

Today, the Jewish community in San Francisco has a few shining lights, like the wonderful new Jewish Community Center on California. But the vitality of our community pales in comparison to other great cities, and is getting weaker.

It is a shame that our town has such a diluted and uninspired population of Jews.

In my optimism that the community can be re-energized, I pick up my copy of j. and desperately search the front page. Then I open it and become more despondent. The articles are uninspiring. Somehow the editors have a talent for reporting about things that don’t matter to most of us. Rather than doing a service for this community, the publication muddles on, just like the Jews of San Francisco. We can all do better.

David Lackner | San Francisco

Myths debunked

I wholeheartedly enjoyed Dennis Ross’ recent book-tour stop in the South Bay. In addition to credibly debunking many of the myths held about the Oslo process, something he said really struck me.

There isn’t an Arab or Palestinian leader that, at least privately, will not admit to the fact that Israel exists and no amount of terror is going to make it go away. 

But it’s not enough to grudgingly accept the fact of Israel’s existence. That would allow for the moral relativism that seems to have seized Israel’s opponents, namely, that despite the fact that Israel exists, many Arab leaders at best wash their hands when it comes to the Islamic radicals that promulgate terror against Israel’s civilians.

Both Israelis and Palestinians have legitimate needs that must be taken into account in any legitimate peace process. It would be foolhardy for Israel to lift its siege of Palestinian towns and villages, and yet Palestinians need to free themselves from day-to-day involvement of Israel in their affairs.

Israelis have the need to live in secure, recognizable borders that defend the Jewish and democratic nature of the state, a process only possible in a two-state solution.

Steve Lipman | Foster City

letters policy

j. the Jewish news weekly welcomes letters to the editor, preferably typewritten. Letters must not exceed 200 words and must be dated and signed with current address and daytime telephone number. j. also reserves the right to edit letters. The deadline is noon Monday for any given week’s publication. Letters should be sent by e-mail to [email protected] or by mail to j., 225 Bush St., Suite 1480, San Francisco, CA 94104.