People running from tear gas at the border fence with Israel in Gaza City, May 15, 2018 (Photo/JTA-Spencer Platt-Getty Images)
People running from tear gas at the border fence with Israel in Gaza City, May 15, 2018 (Photo/JTA-Spencer Platt-Getty Images)

We’re wrong about Gaza; Arthur Waskow is wrong about Ruth; etc.

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Shout-out to Jewish orgs for supporting Healing Center

Thank you for the depth of exploration in the article “Shining a light on mental health in the Jewish community.” Because no one succeeds alone, we would like to add the philanthropic voice of the Federation Endowment’s Newhouse Fund to this conversation. Many years ago they invested in the Healing Center’s efforts to build the spiritual care capacity of the community. Thank you for devoting your journalistic attention to the many voices in our sacred community.

Rabbi Eric Weiss,
San Francisco

President and CEO, Bay Area Jewish Healing Center

Satiric op-ed fails to address Iran deal shortcomings

While Rabbi Arthur Waskow’s satiric “A letter from Ruth of Moab to the King of America” does little to encourage mutually respectful dialogue, it crosses a particularly serious line regarding the Iran deal, i.e. the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, saying it would be “terribly unjust if you were to bomb them or starve them by refusing to let them trade with all the world. Especially terrible because they agreed to give up the weapons you were so afraid of, and agreed to let inspectors from many countries poke under every barn and building to make sure that are not cheating. And they are not!”

This statement shows no understanding of the severe shortcomings of the JCPOA and, incredibly, gives a higher moral standing to the Iranian theocracy.

President Obama promised that any agreement would have anywhere, anytime inspections. This requirement was essential. However, while the JCPOA does mandate such inspections for declared nuclear sites, it falls considerably short for undeclared sites. Here there is a lengthy and onerous process that may lead to inspection at its end. Given these provisions, Congress should have rejected the JCPOA out of hand.

Beyond this serious shortcoming, President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry agreed to a secret side deal that placed the Parchin military complex near Tehran beyond the scope of the JCPOA and allowed for inspections only by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Furthermore, the Iranian regime and the IAEA have agreed to allow only self-inspection for this extremely sensitive site.

These shortcomings and the JCPOA’s sunset clauses leave us with no assurance of restraining Iran’s drive for nuclear weapons in either the short or long term.  We should support President Trump’s decision to exit the deal and his efforts to prevent further development of an Iranian strategic nuclear capability.

Steve Astrachan,
Pleasant Hill

The truth about Ruth

Rabbi Arthur Waskow wrote a charming piece chiding our president in the name of Ruth the Moabite. If I may be so bold as to correct the rabbi, on one significant point he has crossed the line from legitimate artistic license to misinformation. Boaz got no benefit from Ruth’s gleaning in his field. This means that it was not a “job”; it was charity (tzedakah). The Torah instructs Jewish farmers to leave some scraps at the edges of their fields for the poor, and this is what Ruth collected. A powerful image, but without quite the same contemporary political resonance.

Ilya Gurin,
Mountain View

Any discussion of Gaza has to include Hamas

Molly Freeman, please let me assure you that I, as well as everyone I know at StandWithUs, understand that residents of Gaza live under very difficult conditions (“Friends all over the pro/anti-Israel spectrum, we need to talk about May 14”). We derive no pleasure from their suffering. But we also understand that the party most responsible for it is not Israel, but rather a name you didn’t mention at all: Hamas.

Hamas has stolen cement meant to build schools, hospitals and homes and used it to build terror tunnels. It has not paid the Palestinian Authority for electricity, causing shortages, and it takes generators made for civilian use to dig those tunnels. It takes pipes meant for water and sewage infrastructure and uses them for rockets. And, as Hamas leaders have repeated over the past few weeks, Hamas refuses to accept any peace with Israel.

Were Israel to lift the siege of Gaza, what would Hamas be importing? Food, medicine and civilian goods, which are already supplied through Israel? Or Iranian long range rockets and IRGC personnel?

We, unlike your friends at JVP, share your goal of peace between the Jewish state of Israel and its neighbors. But refusing to recognize that Hamas is the enemy of peace doesn’t help Israelis or Palestinians.

Michael Harris,
San Rafael

A West Bank state would be a murderous launching pad

The J. editorial’s identification of the recent actions by Gaza Palestinians at the border as a “war” is completely correct (“Gaza is a tragedy, and everyone must share some blame”). The editorial proceeded to blame both sides for no negotiated solution.

Israel can negotiate, but it cannot accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank with the present leadership. They have shown in Gaza what to expect if there were a Palestinian state in the West Bank. Hamas and Fatah would use it as a base for terrorism against Israel by rockets, snipers, bombers and tunnels.

At the border they would burn tires for smoke, riot and try to breach the wall, and then blame Israel for the expected casualties after Israel’s defense of its borders. PM Netanyahu said it in a few words: The Palestinians do not want a state next to Israel; they want a state instead of Israel.

Norman G. Licht,
San Carlos

Hamas propaganda effective at blinding us to history

J., your logic is illogical.

In your editorial about the tragedy in Gaza, you got it mostly right, up until you stated that “Israel, along with Egypt, contributes to the ongoing misery of the population by blockading Gaza’s coastline. This has given Hamas ‘justification’ to bombard Israel with rocket attacks.”

If Israel is blockading the coastline, just how exactly is Hamas getting all of those rockets in the first place, and how many more would they have if Israel removed the blockade?

Moreover, you are ignoring history when you claim that Hamas needs “justification” to attack Israel. This is just clever propaganda that an all-too-gullible world buys hook, line and sinker — including J., I’m afraid. Hamas could give Joseph Goebbels a run for his money in this department.

Curt Schacker,

When the underdog wants to destroy you

It appears as if Jews must have inherited a gene which has us support the underdog — sometimes even when the underdog in question is out to destroy us.

The raging protesters shouting “death to the Jews” in Gaza were not “unarmed,” as has became obvious in the news films and videos. Hamas boasted about this.

All nations have the right to protect their borders and an obligation to protect their citizens. This is what Israel is doing. Yet, with all the condemnations and criticisms of Israel’s acting to protect its citizens, there has been no country or individual stating exactly what actions they would take in the same situation.

We do not live in Israel. We do not have to concern ourselves over tunnels under our children’s kindergarten or rockets aimed at our city.

We live nice, safe lives, and because of this, some of us have become sanctimonious hypocrites. However, our America is a young country and as Jews, we have been treated fairly well for the most part. But if one takes a peek at our history, there have been centuries when Jews were thriving in Egypt and Spain, Arab countries, England and even Germany.

Jewish organizations should not remain silent. They should do everything possible to support Israel.

Rose Schlecker,
South San Francisco

The great Philip Roth

Does it strike anybody else as odd that the photo chosen by your publication for an obituary of Philip Roth is of two actors who played characters of his creation? (“Writing after Roth: ‘Now vee may perhaps to begin’”) Actors whose roles were efforts to behave like fictional characters? How many degrees of separation is that? No, Philip Roth was a great writer because he found ways to convey the Jewish experience in America in ways most of us cannot articulate. Enjoy the afterlife, you’ve earned it!

Nathan Salant,
San Francisco

Israel is moving rightward because left lives in a fantasy

After reading the account of Ehud Barak’s visit to the Bay Area, it is no wonder why he has no political future in Israel (“In S.F., former PM Ehud Barak slams Israel’s rightward shift”). He may have been a great soldier but was a horrible political leader and statesman. His evacuation from Lebanon paved the way for the Second Lebanon War, and his willingness to surrender hard-won land in Judea and Samaria to the Palestinian Authority emboldened the Arabs to commence the Second Intifada.

If Israel has turned right, it is because the left is living in a world that does not exist. Barak cannot see what most Israelis do: It is not up to Israel to make peace; the concessions need to come from the Arabs who to this day cannot even say “Two states for two peoples,” much less take actions to fulfill this goal.

Barak is a has-been who speaks for no one other than his own discredited self.

While Netanyahu has his faults, his actions on Iran have the support of nearly every Israeli. Even Barak acknowledged that Israel is taking the correct action in dealing with the current violence in Gaza. Under Bibi, both as minister of finance and as prime minister, Israel has become an economic powerhouse. The inroads in Latin America and Africa are also an achievement that Barak could not accomplish.

The Israeli left failed because its policies were based on false premises. They assumed that the Arabs would negotiate in good faith and believed in a true two-state solution and that if Israel made concessions, such as leaving Gaza, it would help bring peace. The Israeli electorate understands that this is nonsense, and that is why Barak is a nonentity in Israeli politics today.

Gil Stein,

J. Readers

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