Goldstone Report is laughable

There is a vibrant debate taking place in Israel on the outcomes, failings and successes of last winter’s Operation Cast Lead, whose legitimate aim was to bring about dramatic decrease in the indiscriminate shelling of Israeli’s southern towns and villages by Hamas and its allies emanating from the Gaza Strip.

While the shelling has not stopped, it has certainly decreased and civilians are beginning to return to normal lives in Sderot and other towns in the region.

The U.N. Human Rights Council’s “Goldstone Report” is so one-sided that it lacks credibility on its face and should be rejected by the Obama administration. Given the UNHRC’s history of selective, disproportionate and politicized anti-Israel bias, and that the UNHRC’s membership includes many of the world’s worst human rights violators, the amoral hypocrisy of these nations calling Israel before the dock is laughable.

The UNHRC is not the appropriate body to make recommendations — legal, moral or otherwise — regarding Israel. Israel is certainly undertaking appropriate soul searching on Cast Lead and will take corrective action where necessary, as any democracy should. Counterproductive Israel bashing on the part of the UNHRC is not the way forward.

Steve Lipman   |   Foster City

Election questions

I commend you for calling into question U.S. support for the reinstatement of Manuel Zelaya as president of Honduras (“Anti-Jewish statements raise concern in Honduras,” Oct. 9).

When will President Obama and his fawning supporters recognize that elections, even free and fair ones, are not synonymous with liberty, rule of law or other core democratic values of the United States and the Jewish community? Elections have brought to power a wide array of anti-democratic (and anti-Semitic) forces that have suppressed independent civil society in nations as diverse as Venezuela, Russia, Iran and Zimbabwe. It is no surprise that the governments of these nations are continually lining up against the United States on issues affecting our critical national interests, including the safety and security of Israel.

President Obama’s failure to support what independent analysts agree was a constitutionally valid removal of Zelaya from power in Honduras calls into question his commitment to liberty and democracy. Like his approach to trade with Colombia, missile defense in Eastern Europe and negotiations with the Palestinians, Obama’s policy on the so-called “coup” in Honduras illustrates a pattern of abandoning allies in the hopes of turning recalcitrant adversaries. It’s a naïve and destructive policy that is causing irreparable harm to the cause of freedom.

Michael B. Rubenstein   |   San Francisco

A need to stay civil

There has been a lot of buzz lately about the “politics of anger” and the consequent decline of respectful political discourse. It seems that — not surprisingly — we in the Bay Area Jewish community share the problems of the nation.

I am saddened and disappointed by the tone of two recent political disputes: Rabbi David Forman’s inappropriate attack on those rabbis fasting to protest the situation in Gaza, and the deplorable treatment of Michael Harris at the Jewish film festival. 

I believe that those in positions of leadership have a responsibility to maintain civility in their institutions. That includes Peter Stein, David Forman and, in all frankness, your paper. I support both freedom of speech and freedom of the press, but sometimes it is important to ask ourselves hard questions. Are verbal and written attacks truly informational or are they simply exercises in venting and bullying?

People have the right and duty to express their conscientiously held positions, even if they are in a minority or outside the mainstream. Those people should not be personally attacked or shouted down. Jewish venues should be the role model for civil discourse.

Rabbi Jane Rachel Litman   |   Berkeley

Put onus on SFJFF

I share the sentiments of many other dedicated supporters of Israel that it is inappropriate for the Jewish Community Federation to continue to fund the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival without specific and meaningful changes in its operations. I also agree with Rabbi Doug Kahn that boycotting donations to federation is not the right strategy to bring about those changes.

The leadership of the SFJFF knows that there is strong opposition from many influential leaders in our community to its future support by the federation. The festival has the opportunity to take action before springtime, when the federation makes its funding allocations.

If those changes (not merely promises to act differently) are not forthcoming, then the federation must stop supporting the SFJFF. At the same time, our federation, our pre-eminent community institution, should help shore up donor confidence by publishing its own policies for funding organizations, events and programs having to do with Israel. Those policies should prevent grantees from working with groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace.

In the meantime, don’t punish the federation, and the many worthwhile programs that it supports, for the grave mistakes made by the SFJFF this year.

Michael Harris   |   San Rafael

Temple is paramount

Marvin Heir and Abraham Cooper’s op-ed “Peace? Not if Arabs deny Jewish link to holy sites” (Oct. 9) underscores why Israel must keep sovereignty over the Temple Mount under any final peace accord with the Palestinians.

First, surrendering security control over the Temple Mount would leave the safety of Jewish worshippers at the adjoining Western Wall at the mercy of rock-hurling Palestinians.

Second, it would undermine Israel’s right to exist. No one questions whether the Kaaba in Mecca should be under Muslim sovereignty or whether Greece is entitled to the Acropolis in Athens. Likewise, the Temple Mount is the holiest site in the world for Jews, and Jewish history there predates the Islamic faith by 1,600 years. Yaacov Lozowick of Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, a political dove, has warned that surrendering the Temple Mount could break Judaism’s spirit forever.

Finally, it would invite an irreparable archaeological crime. The Palestinian Waqf that currently administers the Temple Mount already disposes of the site’s Jewish archaeological treasures at landfills and dumps. And recall that when the Palestinians gained control over the Jericho synagogue and Tomb of Joseph, they barbarically ransacked them. Only Israel can protect the Jewish people’s heritage.

Stephen A. Silver   |   San Francisco

Different picture of West Bank

We have just returned from Israel. We spent an entire day in Samaria, covering quite a bit of territory. Of the land we

personally saw, conservatively speaking, upward of 60 percent is undeveloped. Yet the Arabs would have us believe they have no room and are being squeezed out by the “settlers.” There’s plenty of land.

This is another in a long line of myths they’ve perpetrated. The Jews living in Judea/Samaria are willing to share the land with the Arabs. The Arabs, however, refuse to live side by side with the Jews, continuing whenever possible to wreak terror and promote their hateful agenda of eliminating all Jews from Israel’s heartland.

I know of no precedent where the winning combatant is told by a defeated foe the land they won isn’t theirs and must be given up. Leave it to Muslims, anti-Semites and idyllic apologists to redefine the rules of war at the expense of the Jewish people.

Dan Calic   |   San Ramon

Terror didn’t start in 1948

The 80th anniversary of the massacre of the Jews of Hebron reminds us that Arab terrorism didn’t begin with the Six Day War, or even with the establishment of the state of Israel.

In August 1929, 67 Jews were murdered by Arab mobs as rumors spread that Jews were endangering Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. Eighty years later, Muslim leaders accuse Israel of undermining the structural foundation of the Temple Mount at the same time they are denying the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the land of Israel.

The Israeli authorities are excavating in a careful and dignified way to preserve and discover the Jewish link to Jerusalem. The hysteria created by Palestinian clerics to deny this and to accuse Israel of intentionally destroying Arab residences is no different from what happened in Hebron. The difference today is that some rabbis, like Paula Marcus in Santa Cruz, who fast for Gaza are helping to spread these malicious rumors, once again putting Jews at risk.

Gil Stein   |   Aptos

Palestinians and ‘rights’

Palestinians want their rights from Israel and the world. The Jewish left and the world want to give Palestinians their rights.

Do they understand that “rights” means: respect, tolerance, responsibility, fairness and equal treatment, one-person one vote, and civil and religious rights?

Palestinian men, women and children have no rights in Palestine society. Palestinians solve their social and political differences with each other through murder.

They want rights from Israel but for each other there are no rights? I don’t understand?

What will they do with these rights? Save them? Sell them?

Robin Rosenblatt   |   Belmont