No talks with terrorists

Yossi Alpher writes about how he believes negotiations between the Palestinian Authority (or representatives of it) and Israelis have run dry (“Sadly, nothing left to talk about — unless it’s to Hamas,” op-ed, May 18). In the 20 years since the Oslo accords, he claims, nothing new has arisen to talk about. Thus, he concludes that the only progress on the negotiation front is to be made with Hamas. Unfortunately, several problems arise with this thesis.

Firstly, the U.S. government, the European Union and, frankly, the majority of the international community expect deliberations between the Palestinians and the Israelis, thus “Now we are just tired of one another” is not a satisfactory excuse.

Second, as a terrorist organization, if Hamas were hypothetically to achieve a peace deal with Israel, it would not be followed. The “first intifada effect,” so to speak, would occur. Promises were made but never kept because splinter Palestinian groups will always form and ignore promises made by their former representatives.

While the status quo may not be ideal, we need to be optimistic and work with it. There is still much to talk about without resorting to negotiating with terrorists.

David Patou   |   Los Altos


So, why compromise?

Reading Yossi Alpher’s op-ed is akin to time-travel back to the 1990 period of pre-Oslo euphoria.

It is sad to see educated people like Mr. Alpher and his ilk cling to a vision that proved to be a mirage. Oslo was a major blunder. It achieved nothing for Israel yet gave the PLO legitimacy and a base to operate against Israel. In hindsight, many Israelis acknowledge that, yet those on the left refuse to admit it.

Like Yossi Beilin then, Mr. Alpher, a TAU faculty member, can engage in “what-if’s” and outside-the-box thinking. However, these exercises in futility sow confusion and may lead to demoralization of the Jewish spirit and diminishing of Israel’s resolve; the Palestinians sense that, so why negotiate?

Given time, the Palestinians believe that with world pressure, sympathetic liberal media and Israel’s leftist NGOs (funded handsomely by the EU and NIF), they will be able to chip away at Israel’s resolve and make it succumb to their demands, a goal they could not achieve in eight wars. So, why compromise?

Sam Liron   |   Foster City


Craving a kosher menu

How wonderful that Saul’s Delicatessen has a kosher-observant Israeli chef who is introducing creative Sephardic dishes (“Israel in Berkeley? Saul’s new chef is spicing things up,” May 18).

How ironic that she herself can’t eat the food at this classically Jewish deli because it isn’t kosher. The owner is quoted as respecting the “authentic Jewish voice” that Elisheva Isaac brings to the business. I hope that to further this authenticity and expand the customer base to kosher-observant Jews, the owners will consider a kosher menu (perhaps even starting with special orders) so that those of us like Elisheva who keep kosher can have the chance to enjoy her great cooking.

Rabbi Julie Danan   |   Chico


Federation ‘undesirables’

Rae Abileah, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace, was banned from speaking on her family’s legacy of activism by the Bureau of Jewish Education (“Panel on Jewish activism will go on, but not at BJE,” May 18). The BJE is a grantee of the S.F. Jewish Community Federation, whose guidelines in effect exclude funding for people associated with JVP, or who support some form of BDS.

Joining Abileah as undesirables under the Federation guidelines would be some of our greatest artists and thinkers, including Tony Kushner, Eve Ensler, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein and many more. The late Adrienne Rich, a JVP advisory board member, was one of the last of the banished to speak at a Bay Area JCC. Just before reading her poetry, she learned of the exclusion policy and rebuked it.

In Abileah’s case, the event was moved to Congregation Sha’ar Zahav in San Francisco, which does not engage in blacklisting. This is a hopeful sign that, although our forums may have to be relocated, our community’s

cultural and intellectual life will not be stifled.

Carol Sanders   |     Berkeley


Consequences of hate

Your cover article on hands-on Holocaust lessons by Oakland high school students in a Czech town brought home the sadness of the catastrophe of the European Jews, but it also gave meaning to the students who created a memorial gravesite for one of the victim’s families (“Hands-on Holocaust lesson,” May 18). These students at Bishop O’Dowd High School studied the Holocaust before the trip and now know the consequences of hate.

Somewhat troubling was another article, “Seven Krakow synagogues open for one night” (May 18). These synagogues, closed most of the year, will open for one evening of exhibitions, music concerts and fashion shows from Poland and around the world. Fewer than 50,000 Jews remain in Poland compared to 3 million before the Holocaust. Synagogues as showplaces or museums are a sad reflection on our devastated community.

Lawrence Wanetick   |   Walnut Creek


Name behind EKS

With reference to the article “Berkeley congregation publishes its own commentaries” (Feb. 24), let me point out that the founder of EKS Publishing was the late Ethelyn Kaplan Simon, whose initials form the company name. Ethelyn was also a member of Congregation Netivot Shalom as well as other East Bay congregations.

Warner Oberndoerfer  |  Oakland


Rights before religion

I am disappointed by the O.U.’s reaction to President Obama’s support of gay marriage (“Heavy Jewish support for Obama’s stand on gay marriage,” May 18).

As a high school student heavily involved in both my school’s Gay-Straight Alliance and BBYO, which heavily supports anti-bullying movements, I see Obama’s support as a step in the direction of equality for all.

As Jews we are a group that, over and over again, has been marginalized, and it is part of our duty to make sure that all people, regardless of sexual orientation, should be able to enjoy the same rights that we are now able to enjoy.

Religion should be set aside for the sake of human rights. The affirmation of Obama’s statements within the Jewish community shows that this is not an issue of religious tolerance, this is an issue of fighting discrimination.

Jane Sadetsky   |   Walnut Creek