Thank you, Dan Pine

Thank you, Dan Pine, for your clear statement about “Choosing a Side” (the Column, July 18). It really is quite simple, but many Jews do not understand that there is a difference between a country trying to protect its citizens and a country purposely exploiting their citizens’ deaths and targeting civilians. This conflict did not start with the kidnapping and murder of the teens, nor with the murder of the Palestinian teen. Rockets have been fired into Israeli civilian areas for several years. Even after the 2012 cease fire, rockets did not stop. Liberal, progressive and Zionist Jews alike are targets of Hamas’ hatred. Don’t think because you side with the Palestinians that you would be spared.

Linda Diamond   |   Berkeley


A prayer for Palestinians

Oh, People of Palestine!

Throw off the yoke of Hamas who oppress you.

Spare thy children from the chaos, while Hamas leaders hide in tunnels.

Do not permit thy hospitals and schools to store ammunition or to launch missiles.

Save thy homes to live in peace with thy neighbors, for that is the real path to redemption.

Wendy Harris  |  Santa Clara


Oppressor, not ‘underdog’

Dan Pine has made a crystal-clear explanation for supporting Israel in its conflict with Gaza. Why liberals, many Palo Altans, for example, see Gazans as the underdog David to the brutish Goliath is puzzling when the explanation is as obvious as Pine illustrates. The column reminded me of how my boss, when I volunteered with the IDF through Sar-El during the second intifada, dismissed what seems like a disproportionate conflict. I told him how Palo Altans remark at how pitiful it is that Gazans have only stones and crude missiles to fight tanks and fighter jets. My boss, Barak, reached for something to his left … a ballpoint pen. He held it aloft. “Why stones and missiles,” he asked, “when the only weapon they need is this? A pen to sign a peace agreement.”

Natalie Krauss Bivas  |  Palo Alto


Moral stink of U.N.

Last week the United Nations actually found Hamas rockets and missiles stored in one of their U.N. schools. Guess what that august body of the world community did then? It turned these rockets and missiles back to the Hamas terrorists, who no doubt will use them to try to kill more Jews. If anyone still doubts the moral stink of the United Nations, I suggest they get a whiff of this.

Scott Abramson  |  San Mateo


Killing leads to killing

In response to Dan Pine’s column:

I do not choose to support Hamas.

I do not choose to support Israel’s invasion of Gaza.

I do choose to support a peace process in which all the peoples of the region will be able to live in secure and thriving communities. Too many have died. Killing will only lead to more killing. It takes more courage and determination to work for a peaceful solution, than to continue this senseless fighting.

Mr. Pine, your article condones and glorifies Israel’s brutal actions and tries to shame those of us who question these actions.

Judith Levitt Kennedy  |  Berkeley


Don’t blame the settlements

In his letter last week, Allan Altman blamed “the settlements” for the current war. Sadly, I hear this all too often among Jewish “progressives.” Do they not know what Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian Authority teach their children about Israel, and Jews, generally? Do they not understand that Israel seized the West Bank only after winning a war of survival, in which the Arabs’ goals were to liquidate Israel, and Israelis? Do they forget that Israel offered the PA almost all of the West Bank and a connecting corridor across Israel to Gaza, but the response was a blood intifada (in which the “moderate” PA killed more Israelis than Hamas and Islamic Jihad combined).

Do they forget what Hamas did almost immediately after Israel vacated Gaza? Do they really believe that even though the Palestinians say — clearly and repeatedly — that they will never (a) accept a Jewish state and (b) give up the “right of return,” they do not mean it? That all their terror is to achieve a peaceful Switzerland type state to exist next to a Jewish state? Weird.

Tod Zuckerman  |  Daly City


An even-handed column

I am very appreciative of J. as my best source of balanced reporting on Middle East events, with all sides of the issues represented without favoritism. My own perspective has been clarified by Peter Beinart’s “The Crisis in Zionism,” wherein two competing perspectives are delineated: one sees Zionism as a moral endeavor guided by the tradition of the prophets in Judaism, and the other sees moral restraint as a weakness that debilitates the survival of a militaristic and nationalistic Jewish state. How interesting that these two sides were represented in the July 11 issue of J.! In her column “Refusing to give up on Israel,” editor Sue Fishkoff gave us a first-hand, wonderfully nuanced account of events as they unfolded, evoking an even-handed moral response that should be the deep foundation for moving toward peace.

On the other hand, J.’s editorial promotes a “swift and decisive [military] victory” over “Hamas and its pernicious ways,” so that “Israel should be in a better position to dictate favorable terms.” I would like to add my prayers to those of Fishkoff and others who are urging men and women like Sayed Kashua to “stay and fight for a better country” in which Arabs and Jews share the country equally.

John Lovejoy  |  Corte Madera


A sign of hope

I follow J. each week from Connecticut, where I teach Judaism and interfaith relations at Hartford Seminary. Before that, I lived in Israel for 25 years, first directing the Oz veShalom religious Zionist peace movement and then co-directing the Open House peace center in Ramle. As a dual Israeli-American citizen, I remain involved with that center and its courageous educator-activists.

Editor Sue Fishkoff’s July 11 column movingly described the anguish of Israeli Arabs like TV personality and journalist Sayed Kashua, who recently indicated he was planning to leave the country. As a more hopeful sign, during the latest round of warfare Open House’s Summer Peace Camp drew 70 Arab Israeli and Jewish Israeli campers. Despite security precautions and disruptions, the campers came, demonstrating that their generation yearns for peaceful coexistence and an end to the agony of war. Channel 10 on Israeli TV featured an interview with two of the campers, a Jewish boy named Matan and an Arab girl named Sabine, along with the two co-directors, Dafna Feldman and Vivian Rabia. The camp was described by the interviewers as “an island of sanity.” A report on the camp, including photos and a link to the TV segment, is at www.friendsofopenhouse.org.

Yehezkel Landau  |  Hartford, Conn.


Where’s the humor?

Where has the J. humor gone? It used to be that Friday was the day to learn or maybe relearn a Jewish joke that would appear at the last page of J. Nevermore! Now we get to hear “advice,” or as the Yiddish term more descriptively labels it, aitse. Please bring back the jokes or else I will only have the Reader’s Digest to rely on. Their jokes are neither Jewish nor funny! What’s a Yid to do?

Noah Stroe  |  San Francisco


No more jokes?

I love J. and look forward to reading it every single week.

My family and I always found the humor column delightful — but we haven’t seen it in months. Many of the jokes were laugh-out-loud funny, fun to share and reminding us that in spite of what horrors are going on around the world, “we” always try to laugh.

Humor me by saying you’re bringing the column back.

Donna Lynn Rhodes  |  Scottsdale, Ariz.


‘Botched’ headline

In an article in the June 6 world section, you tell a story about the emptying of the bank account of a Crimean Jewish organization. The bank is owned by the Ukrainian Jewish oligarch Igor Kolomoisky, who was appointed to a high position by the current Ukrainian government and spends millions of his own money to finance armed struggle against pro-Russian separatists.

The head of the wronged Jewish organization, according to your article, squarely blamed Mr. Kolomoisky for the loss and appeared to be very unsympathetic to the oligarch’s political actions. Yet the article is titled “Crimean Jews claim Russia emptied account.”

To paraphrase an old joke, the fact that Vladimir Putin is a dangerous dictator doesn’t mean that J. hasn’t botched the title of the article.

Anatol Zolotusky  |  Palo Alto


Anti-Israel campus activity

As members of Fairness to Israel, an alumni group organized to confront BDS actions at Vassar, we read with interest Abra Cohen’s article “Panel discussion takes on pressing issue: BDS” (June 27).

Recently, pro-BDS Vassar students plastered campus with anti-Israel propaganda during “Israel Apartheid Week,” noisily picketed an International Studies class because the students were taking a trip to Israel, harassed those students and their professors at a subsequent “open” meeting, and posted Nazi-era anti-Semitic graphics on social media. (Notably, BDS supporters were angry that students would even step foot in Israel, even though the trip was intended to study water issues and “justice” from the Palestinian perspective, and deliberately avoided interaction with Israeli water experts). Compounding problems, 39 professors signed a virulently anti-Israel letter to the student newspaper, criticizing Vassar’s president for rejecting the call for an academic boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

Fairness to Israel has 160 alumni from classes spanning the 1950s to the present. New members join weekly. We published articles in Vassar’s newspaper, presented at the reunion, met with Vassar’s president and insisted that the campus community confront anti-Semitism.

We would be foolish to minimize the dangers of anti-Israel activities on U.S. college campuses.

Dr. Karen Rappaport  |  San Diego

Leslie Friedman  |  Mountain View