‘Twinning’ is good

I am responding to the Dec. 5 letter from Herman Stern, in which he denounced Congregation Shir Hadash of Los Gatos and their rabbi for “twinning” with the Muslim community of Santa Clara.

It is important that all peace-loving people make every effort to build bridges with the Muslim community. The Islamic Networks Group on their home page have condemned the terrorism that occurred in Mumbai, and their executive director Maha El Genaildi was present at the memorial service held at the JCC in San Francisco on December 2 sponsored by Chabad.

I hope that there are other Jewish groups who would follow Shir Hadash’s example and be willing to twin and build bridges with their local Muslim communities, who are willing to state that they denounce terrorism.

I commend the congregation and their rabbi for attempting to find common ground with our local Muslim community

Rina Rosenberg | Palo Alto

Join the activist army

I attended the JCCSF’s memorial for the Mumbai victims, and especially for the Jews tortured and murdered in the Chabad House.

What can one do in response to such savagery and hatred? Surely this question was on the mind of every person there that was feeling sadness, anger, and a sense of helplessness.

Chabad offered an answer: When the world is dark, add light. Kindle Shabbat candles, study, pray, perform mitzvahs, be kind to all, do good, contribute to tikkum olam in whatever ways one can. While I respect such fine, optimistic resolutions for “the rebbe’s army,” I think they are not enough.

What’s most important, I believe, is refusing to be silent in the face of biased, inaccurate, hate-evoking, anti-Israel or anti-Semitic statements, acts, media or organizations (such as the U.N.).

Being part of an “activist army” needn’t be time consuming. Groups including CAMERA, HonestReporting, StandWithUs, and others do our “homework” for us, documenting and providing information which enables one, in only a few minutes, to rebuff lies or correct errors.

Silence aids radical Islamists aimed at Americans, the Western world, and especially at Israel and Jews.

June Brott | Oakland

Stand up to ‘bullies’

I am writing in appreciation of Gary and Edward Yevelev for their courageous and principled Op Ed piece (“Cleanse U.C. Berkeley of all intimidation,” Dec. 5). It is very heartening to see these students speak out against the right-wing bullies and extremists who so often claim to speak for all of us. Yesher koach!

Terry Fletcher | Berkeley

Defending Tikvah

I would like to express my deep concern about the Op Ed by Gary and Edward Yevelev. In it, Tikvah: Students for Israel is grossly misrepresented. This caricature is libelously inaccurate, and its claims of Tikvah’s leadership “berating” anyone who peacefully “express[es] concern” about Israel’s policies are unfounded and untrue.

I would like to clear some fallacies in the article. First, to clarify the position of Cal alumnus Gabe Weiner: he does not represent Tikvah or the Zionist Freedom Alliance. Secondly, to clarify the motives of the ZFA: Their message is focused on Jewish rights to our homeland. None of their opinions are anti-Palestinian. Thirdly, to clarify Tikvah’s conception of Zionism: it is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people.

We disagree with so called “moderates” as Kesher Enoshi because they are blatantly unsupportive of Israel. A forum they held earlier this semester, co-sponsored by SJP, turned into an Israel hate-fest. Lastly, we do not believe that “an open exchange of ideas” should include a talk by a Hezbollah supporter. Free speech has its limits, and on our campus those limits should include endorsement of terrorist groups.

Brian Maissy | Berkeley

Keep Pollard in prison

So the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations has called on President Bush to pardon Jonathan Pollard. This ostensible humanitarian call is misguided and disingenuously overlooks the seriousness of his offenses.

Pollard gave Israel daily satellite photos of the Soviet Union’s order of battle. The Shamir government immediately passed those photos along to the Soviets to demonstrate which Soviet emplacements Israel could target if threatened by the Soviets.

By turning these photos over to Israel, and by extension to the Soviets, Pollard let the Soviets know exactly what the U.S. knew on a daily basis. More egregiously, the photos informed the Soviets that the U.S. had spy satellite technology to see through their camouflage. Most dangerously, the photos also included the radio computer codes to direct U.S. spy satellites.

Pollard’s supporters claim that he was trying to help a U.S. ally. In violating his oath of allegiance as a U.S. Navy intelligence analyst he endangered the American national interest — and, by extension, Israel’s.

Moreover, Pollard was well paid for his endeavors by his Israeli Embassy handlers. He deserves no clemency.

Elihu D. Davidson | Morris Township, N.J.

Revise ‘Never again’

We need to change the mantra in the Jewish world from “Never again,” which is too amorphous and general to function as a real guide in how to respond to smaller acts of evil, to “Act now,” which is direct, immediate and more consistent with justice.

What are we waiting for? How bad does it have to get?

A murder in a Seattle Jewish Community Center, six deliberately targeted Jews in Mumbai, a Buenos Aires Jewish center bombed (31 years later and not a single conviction), Daniel Pearl has his head cut off while uttering the last words he ever would, “I am a Jew.”

What number of dead will constitute this “Never again” standard sufficient to warrant action now?

What message do we send the world when we raise and shake placards of “Never again” at funeral after funeral?

We’ve gone from mourners to angry mourners while the Jew hater listens and watches and accurately calibrates his next risk.

It would be better if he knew he was smack center in our crosshairs and not just our placards.

Act now.

Ian Zimmerman | San Francisco

Carter is a sellout

I had to smile at Bernard Goldberg’s letter (Nov. 21). He says that Jimmy Carter “has his facts straight.” And then goes on to claim that Carter had admonished the Palestinians, as well as Israel, against apartheid.

In fact, Carter was describing the anti-terrorism wall as apartheid. Since that wall was built by Israel to keep Palestinians from murdering its citizens, it is hard to see how Carter could have been admonishing both equally.

It is easy, however, to see how Carter has got his facts straight about his own interests. It is no secret that almost 90 percent of the funding for the Carter Center comes from the government of Saudi Arabia. It is not too extreme a claim to say that Jimmy Carter has descended to being a paid mouthpiece for the Saudi government.

Jack Kessler | El Cerrito