‘Blind’ Palestinian support

Ms. Pearlman says she doesn’t “subscribe to blind support of Israel just because I’m Jewish.” (“Singing klezmer and dancing a pro-flotilla jig,” July 15).  Neither do I.

The blind support she refers to, however, is an insidious but popular myth.

In my experience, Jews — in the Bay Area, Israel or anywhere — freely, loudly, and safely voice both vigorous agreements and impassioned disagreements about anything and everything concerning Israel.

As a good Jew, Pearlman says, she must “question unethical actions” of Israel. And that’s her right. But I have a question for her: Why does she choose to question only the unethical actions of Israel? Doesn’t a “good Jew” also have the right (and duty) to question the unethical actions of Palestinians? Especially when one claims to desire peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians?

I appreciate and learn from a balanced, spirited discussion about the tragically complex Israeli-Arab situation. But the spoken and published words of Pearlman’s fellow Jewish flotilla supporters (especially Henry Norr) seem impelled to blame only Israel for Palestinian woes.

Such “blind support” for the Palestinian narrative is not only unfair but also extremely condescending to Palestinians, perpetuating their portrayal as helpless victims unable or unwilling to be held accountable for their own “unethical actions.”

June Brott, Oakland


‘Nice’ is immaterial

Notice how Lois Pearlman, a “nice Jewish supporter of Palestine,” describes herself: She is first of all “nice,” above all “nice.”

Notice that. Hear that. I am sure her people in Israel, whose right to exist is questioned by the whole world every day, will be glad to know what a nice girl she is and how very Jewish she is.

The gap in reality between  Jews as a society, set in the cross road of the Levant,  and the Russian River, Sonoma County is breathtaking. It makes me want to jump in the river and spy on the Bohemian Grove, which will not aid in educating the world about the peace process of the last 44 years.

Personally, would you agree to negotiate with a person who states constantly their duty to kill you? Wouldn’t you advise instead that such a person was criminally insane?

Ever hear of terminal niceness? If I am not for myself, who am I?

Betsy Shapiro, Santa Rosa


For Jewish books, shop locally

As an ex-owner of Berkeley’s Afikomen store and now as a rabbi-customer, let me say that the brick and mortar Jewish bookstore is an absolute necessity (“Shelf life: In the Kindle era, local Judaica bookseller is an anomaly,” July 22).

If I were confined to online browsing, my personal library would not be as rich and diverse as it is. To view a wide selection of Jewish-interest books gathered in one place, to pick up a book in your hand, glance through it, browse it, and easily check out its table of contents, index, references — and then to see what is shelved nearby — is both a cerebral and sensual experience that online will never approach.

If you agree, then vow never to commit the sin of finding a book in your local Jewish store and then ordering it online. The small extra amount it may cost is what you pay to support this experience and to support your Jewish community and its resources.

Kindle is fine for books you are reading in the moment. The books in your personal Jewish library are your friends for life — they are there to revisit and to re-engage in dialogue.

Rabbi David Cooper, Berkeley


Circumcision decision

I was requested to perform a post-mortem circumcision on a 63-year-old Russian immigrant. After the circumcision in the mortuary, it occurred to me that it was so sad that the deceased did not avail himself while he was alive — to have a bris that we usually perform with music, festivities and celebration.

May I suggest to the living to grab while they can, the opportunity to have a live bris (“Six adults get a gratis bris courtesy of Miami organization,” July 22).

Rabbi Jacob Shechet, Los Angeles


Would a Palestinian state have open arms?

Much has been written about the Hamas-Fatah plan to have their West Bank Palestinian government declared an independent U.N. member. Despite the uncertainty of approval , the Palestinians could gain support if they would supplement this by offering a West Bank rite of return to the 4.5 million refugees concentrated mainly in UNRWA camps in nearby nations.

Since most are children and grandchildren of the original refugees and have never lived in the Holy Land, settling in a Palestinian territory would seem welcome. These unfortunates have lived in squalor despite the wealth of the oil-rich Arab nations who have kept them in apartheid conditions — keeping them separated, preventing them from competing with their own citizens for employment, refusing them any citizenship and restricting medical treatments.

The Arab League owes them a great deal, for if the Arabs had accepted the 1947 U.N. offer of the bulk of the British mandate, with Israel accepting the smaller region, there would have been no refugees at all and so many lives would have been better.

The Arab League sponsoring and funding resettlement in a Palestinian state — independent or not — would demonstrate that compassion is indeed a teaching of the Koran.

Bud Rubin, Palo Alto


‘Useful idiots’

West Bank and Gaza Arabs are inculcated with hate for Jews and Israel throughout their education. Schoolbooks and maps simply erase Israel. They are taught there never was a Jewish presence in the area. Hamas’ charter calls for the murder of every Jew on Earth; and Palestine Authority head, Mahmoud Abbas, stated in November 2010 that he will never recognize a Jewish state of Israel.

Ahmed Ibrahimi, Algerian freedom flotilla coordinator, stated on Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV on June 4, 2010: “I swear by Allah that we felt no fear whatever of the Jews, those brothers of apes and pigs … the Palestinian cause is a purely Islamic religious issue.”

A Palestine Center for Public Opinion poll (July 2011) showed that 66 percent of Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza favor the destruction of Israel (per the Hamas charter), and 73 percent agreed with the Hamas charter affirming the need to kill Jews.

Hardly a harbinger for peace!

Jews who support Hamas are “useful idiots,” a term Lenin created to describe those whose actions would lead to their own deaths. Jews who support Hamas may be quite surprised that, when the noose is set, they would be among the first whom Hamas will hang from it.

Fred Korr, Oakland