No right to health care

There is no “right” to health care (“U.S. must offer health care for all who need it,” Aug. 21) any more than there is a “right” to food (even more essential to life). You can stand and scream at the ground for an eternity, but it will not bring forth a harvest. Only labor, both mental and physical, will create wealth and the creators of wealth have no obligation to deliver it to the masses. The ‘entitlement’ mentality, ‘I am, therefore I’m owed’ will be a nail in our country’s coffin (along with bilingualism and multiculturalism). Don’t believe me? Just look around you at the track record of the ‘right’ to housing and education.

Mike Levine   |   Moraga


Time for self-reliance

I disagree that health care is an “inalienable human right.” Offering affordable, accessible health care might be good public policy, but as long as someone else has to produce the health care that you consume, it can’t be considered a basic right in the same sense that free speech is a basic right. By making health care a “right,” we’re creating a culture of dependency that undermines America’s long-term survival.

America became a great nation because its people were strong and self-reliant. When they saw something that needed to be done, they just did it, without waiting for someone else to do it for them. They struggled hard and sacrificed much in order to succeed, knowing there would be no government bailout if they failed. Though not all succeeded, those who did strengthened the nation immeasurably.

But in today’s entitlement society, we expect the government to give us everything we need and solve all our problems for us. Under the banner of compassion, we’re destroying the values that made America great, and running up a huge debt that will come due much sooner than we think.

Martin Wasserman   |   Sunnyvale


Heed ‘call to arms’

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is an insightful commentator/observer of the contemporary Jewish and American scene (“Enough is enough with all these travesties of justice,” Aug. 28). His “call to arms” must be heeded. The release of Mugrahi must be protested vigorously and determination by all Americans. The Scots made a dreadful mistake by releasing him (ostensibly for humanitarian reasons). The Libyans compounded this error by hailing him as a venerated hero for his despicable outrageous deed.

We Americans, and particularly those of us that are Jewish, must not accept Khadafy into this country without great protest and indignation. Let him know, in no uncertain terms, that his presence in this country is contested and abhorrent. Acceptance of his visit, without vociferous dissent, would decry morality, ethics, and decency.

David Sauberman   |   Martinez


Don’t forget film

I would like to put in a word regarding the controversies emanating from the Rachel Corrie film. A few years ago, we asked the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival to show our documentary “The Forgotten Refugees” which tells the story of the brutal ethnic cleansing of nearly 1 million Jews from nine Arab countries and Iran. Our 3,000-year-old communities, from Damascus to Casablanca, were decimated and we lost everything — hospitals, schools, farms, retail stores, homes for the aged and over 1,000 synagogues.

The directors refused, saying “it did not meet its standards,” even though this award-winning documentary was shown at Jewish film festivals in New York, Calgary, Santa Rosa and elsewhere, on Israeli TV and even on PBS. What’s going on here?

It is clear that the SFJFF is biased and did not wish to portray the Arabs in poor light, but don’t mind showing Israel in poor light. Fortunately, we had the full support of the JCRC (and j.), as well as members of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation.

I hope that next year the SFJFF will reconsider and show our documentary.

Joseph Wahed   |   Moraga

Founder, Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa


Festival’s real motive?

Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan and other supporters of the SFJFF’s showing of the Rachel Corrie movie misunderstand or misrepresent why this event sparked such strong objection (“Bitter fallout from ‘Rachel’ screening showed us a lot about ourselves,” Aug. 21). The opposition was not against dialogue, freedom of expression, criticism of Israel, or even airing the film. Rather, the core concern was about the SFJFF’s Zionist bona fides.

If the SFJFF was interested in dialogue and freedom of expression, why was Rachel Corrie’s mother given the stage for up to an hour, initially with nobody to offer an alternative viewpoint? Why was a Zionist speaker, Mike Harris, grudgingly granted a sliver of time only after SFJFF received pressure from the community? Why did SFJFF offer organizations with suspect Zionist credentials sponsorship of this event, thereby tacitly endorsing them? Why were people rudely hostile to Mr. Harris and to Israel welcomed to a Jewish film festival?

The actions of Peter Stein and the SFJFF call into question their true motives. Maybe the SFJFF sought to stoke a controversy to demonstrate its relevance and edginess, albeit at Israel’s expense? But mainstream Jewish organizations should be unabashedly (not uncritically) Zionist. The SFJFF chose a peculiar way to show its support.

Benjamin Pollock   |   San Francisco


JVP advocates divestment

In a recent letter, Jewish Voice for Peace described itself as a “supporter of Israel.” However, its actions speak louder to the contrary. JVP advocates boycotts, sanctions, divestment and withdrawal of U.S. aid to Israel. This type of “support” is what we have come to expect from those seeking our destruction.

The fringe JVP regularly defames and demonizes Israel. It provides a platform to avowed anti-Zionists who favor an end to the Jewish state. It collaborates with the most extreme anti-Israel organizations, including ISM, ANSWER and Al-Awda.

JVP applauds Rabbi Wolf-Prusan’s essay, which completely misunderstood the nature of the community outrage regarding the Jewish Film Festival. The festival, in collaboration with extreme groups, has become a venue for defaming and demonizing Israel. It’s funded by federation donations.

Legitimate criticism of particular Israeli policies is not the issue here. What many in the community are so outraged about is how funds donated to the federation are being used to provide a platform of respectability for extremist groups that strive to make Israel a pariah state.

Organizations such as JVP should not be legitimized.

Natan Nestel   |   Berkeley


Tutu’s myopic view on Israel

“The lesson that Israel must learn from the Holocaust is that it can never get security through fences, walls and guns,” Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu of South Africa said recently.

Amen, Archbishop, nor should they! Sadly, years of unremitting terror aided and abetted by the Palestinian leadership leaves Israel no choice but to take these defensive measures, and shame on anyone for suggesting otherwise.

Sadly, leaders like Tutu with myopic world views see nothing wrong with criticizing Israel while failing to understand that the conflict goes both ways.

Steve Lipman   |   Foster City


Israel’s right to exist

We all want peace in the Middle East, but pressuring Israel is not the right approach.

The obstacle to peace is not Israel. The settlements are not the problem. The issue is simple: the Arab and Palestinian rejection of Israel’s right to exist, including through violence and terrorism, for over 60 years.

Israel’s right to exist is undeniable and is based on its right to self-determination in its historic homeland.

The path to peace is clear. With recognition, Israel has said again and again that everything is on the table without preconditions.

It’s time to stop pressuring our vital friend and ally. It’s time to look at the rejectionists who refuse to recognize Israel and negotiate a real end to the conflict.

Eugene Myers   |   Walnut Creek


Stifling expression

I recently visited the JCCSF bookstore and noticed a book I had seen two days before was no longer on display. The thesis of that book, “The Israel Lobby,” by two distinguished professors, is that the influence of AIPAC and other members of the Israel lobby on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East has been hurting both the U.S. and Israel. When I asked the owner of the store why the book was no longer on display, she replied, “There were some complaints. The book could be considered anti-Semitic.”

An inordinately influential segment of the American Jewish population has labeled as “anti-Semitic” and “anti-Israel” anyone who disagrees with them or with Israel’s policies. I have read the book, I generally agree with the authors, and if they are anti-Semitic, the book does not reveal it. As an American Jew with an emotional attachment to Israel, I want the country to succeed and to be a beacon of light for the rest of the world. I believe I am as “pro-Israel” as anyone, and I resent being labeled “anti-Israel” or worse a “Jew-hating Jew” for my views. I resent even more the attempts to stifle the free expression of ideas.

Jerry H. Robinson   |   San Francisco


Support Milk Day bill

Please join me in urging Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to support establishing May 22 as Harvey Milk Day in California. I phoned the governor’s San Francisco office at (415) 703-2218 and asked him to support SB 572; last year, he vetoed a similar bill.

The new bill needs to pass the state Assembly and state Legislature first, but the governor’s office still took my name and noted that I want him to support the bill when it arrives on his desk. Please do the same. You can also e-mail or write the governor directly or sign this petition to the governor at www.eqca.org/


It’s simply time to acknowledge such a leader and change agent in our state and nation. Plus, it’s not every day you get to see a Jewish gay man have a permanent state day in his honor!

President Barack Obama recently awarded Harvey Milk the Medal of Freedom (presented to Milk’s nephew), so why can’t we Californians honor him with a day?

Whether you are gay or straight, honoring Harvey Milk and his legacy matters.

Kimberlee MacVicar   |   Oakland