The right to die

In regards to the two views in Jan. 27 j., “Mercy killing or murder,” I firmly believe that life belongs to the person.

If that person feels she/he has lived long enough, it is his/her option to do whatever.

Considering that so many of us are living so long and are burdens to ourselves, our families and communities, that option should be facilitated and not hindered.

Phyllis Mattson | Cupertino

No empty shell

Is the taking of human life, as in euthanasia, ever morally defensible or justifiable?

It is not only human life that is sanctified: It is all life.

The destruction of life is a moral issue (Jan. 27 j.) that confronts each of us every day. To destroy habitat and pave it over with asphalt is a moral issue. Most of us choose to desensitize ourselves to such concerns to avoid the self-confrontational nature of such questions and rely upon politically (religiously) correct precedents to justify any position.

To deprive one or something of its life is a dilemma. It should always be done with full awareness of the consequences, and in all instances with regret and a respect for what has been put to death or destroyed.

With that sensitivity, assisting someone to die becomes an expression of compassion. It also makes for a society that is civilized and — in the larger sense — becomes an affirmation of life and vitality, rather than the preservation of a life that has become an empty shell of what it once was.

Daniel Bernstein | Palo Alto

No surprise

Hitler was elected in a democratic election in the 1930s, Iran’s Ahmadinejad was elected in a “democratic” election, and last week so was Hamas. Yet there is surprise that Palestinians chose Hamas?

All the aforementioned clearly stated their intent from the onset: the absolute destruction and annihilation of Jews.

From cradle to grave for decades, Palestinians have been indoctrinated by their leaders, imams, media and textbooks to hate Jews, Israel and the West. Palestinians danced in Arab streets after 9/11 (a hint perhaps?).

Palestinians glorify homicide bombers by naming soccer teams after them, by depicting them on playing cards, naming streets after them, and plastering posters all over the walls of schools and public places (maybe a clue?).

Hamas’ victory should be no surprise at all based on this consistent trend of hate, which was the norm most of the world, the media and many in our own Jewish community chose to ignore or downplay.

Hamas et al refuse to accept the existence of Israel. Based on history and the West’s obsession that enough kumbaya will change the ideology of these “democratically” elected murderers, the world will eventually appease and negotiate with these murderous thugs at Israel’s expense.

Lisa Cohen | Menlo Park

Not a ‘non-issue’

I was disheartened to read the Jan. 20 j. interview with Bay Area rabbis about the direction of the Conservative movement, particularly in regard to issues of importance for gay and lesbian Conservative Jews.

Contrary to the statement by one rabbi that the ordination of gay and lesbian Jews is a “non-issue,” it will in fact remain an issue until the Conservative movement moves forward and allows talented and religiously committed gays and lesbians to become ordained.

If leadership on ordination as well as on the issue of gay and lesbian marriage does not come from our leaders in the “bluest city in the bluest region in America,” where will it come from?

Bob Numerof | Berkeley

An open mind

Regarding your recent announcement of a Marin concert to benefit Israeli refuseniks — yes, we have an open society and a free press, but I resent that the so-called “14 Friends of Palestine” who sponsored the event did not list who they are, what their mandate is, their addresses or telephone numbers or Internet addresses (so I might contact them and talk about who they are and what is their aims or goals are).

For your information, I have lived here for the past 30 years, am a WWII vet and participated in the 1948-1949 War of Independence in Israel. I am well into the history of the Middle East, and make it a point to review many papers, books and other material relative to the area. However, I do not believe all I have read, especially about the 1947-1949 era.

But I do have an open mind.

Walter G. Firestone | San Anselmo