Letters

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J Street U chair clarifies role

As co-chair of J Street U at Berkeley, I would like to clear up some of Avi Levine’s statements in his op-ed (“J Street U was rejected for Israel bashing,” Oct. 25).

J Street U is a pro-Israel, pro-peace political advocacy group dedicated to promoting American leadership towards a two-state solution. We played a central role in mobilizing the Jewish community’s united opposition to last spring’s BDS divestment bill. In fact, in the days after the fight concluded, J Street U at Berkeley was recognized by the ADL, the JCRC and the Israeli Consulate for our “outstanding dedication” to the State of Israel.

As members of our community deny our role in the Berkeley Jewish community, they lose theirs. By failing to recognize that the status quo hurts both Israelis and Palestinians, they fail to understand the urgent necessity of the two-state solution.

In contrast, we continue to confront the dire realities of military occupation and systematic oppression that endanger Israel’s future. We continue to educate our peers about the prospects for, and obstacles around, a two-state solution, and we work together to support serious final-status talks for the security of Israelis and Palestinians.

Unfortunately, we are to be the only group on campus actively pursuing Israel’s long-term safety as a Jewish homeland and democratic state. No matter, we will continue to seriously learn, discuss and question what it means to be committed to and support Israel.

Elon Rov   |   Berkeley

 

J Street U tactics exceed ‘criticism’

Avi Levine, you made the right decision in distancing the Jewish Student Union from J Street U. It bothers me that the messages J Street U sends to campus community members is the very hate-filled vitriol that should be uniting Jewish students to stand up for themselves and share an accurate picture of what the situation really is in Israel.

Of course, it’s fine to show criticism of the Israeli government, but the extent and context that J Street U puts it in are very troubling.

And I’m being polite by saying “criticism.” I’ve heard J Street U members say some disturbingly vile things about Israel and the pro-Israel community that go beyond any reasonable criticism.

Again, bravo to you, Avi!

Max Klapholz   |   Boston

 

‘Roma Question’ not far from ‘Jewish Question’

As a Jew, I am chilled to the bone by the recent flurry of media reports about alleged Roma abductions of non-Roma children. We now know that these accusations were false — Ireland’s “victim” was the genetic child of her Roma parents, and Greece’s “blond angel” was herself a Gypsy.

This modern horror story is reminiscent of the centuries-old cries of “blood libel,” accusing Jews of abducting Christian children and using their blood in religious rituals.

Recent protesters in the Czech Republic have chanted “Gypsies to the gas chambers.” Some European politicians are considering the “Roma Question,” a dead ringer for the “Jewish Question.”

The French interior minister’s threat that Roma should either leave the country voluntarily or be forcibly removed stinks of the Nazis’ plan to evict Jews in the early days of their reign.

I have been tasked by my people to never forget the Holocaust. As human beings, we must all fight to prevent the horrors that unfurl when a whole group is characterized as a threat. We must never allow this to happen again.

Jessica Zitter   |   Oakland