Supporters of a Gaza cease-fire resolution hold their thumbs down as District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey votes no during a San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting at San Francisco City Hall, Jan. 9, 2024. (Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)
Supporters of a Gaza cease-fire resolution hold their thumbs down as District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey votes no during a San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting at San Francisco City Hall, Jan. 9, 2024. (Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)

Tearing ourselves apart; UC Berkeley must act now; S.F. Supes betrayed the Jews

No need to tear ourselves apart

I loved David A.M. Wilensky’s piece in the “Your Sunday J.” newsletter last week about how the conflict in Gaza is tearing the Jewish community apart. It really resonated for me.

My four cousins and I are very close, like siblings — but we are at odds over the conflict. It can get rather heated sometimes. We meet on Zoom every Sunday, a tradition we started almost five years ago when we did Kaddish for a whole year on Zoom every night for their father, my uncle.

Our fathers survived the Holocaust together in hiding. We continue to draw on our foundation of love for each other.  No matter how much we argue about the conflict, we keep hanging in there every week, reminding ourselves how much we love each other.

We are all Democrats, but I am the most progressive of the group and strongly support the “c-word” — cease-fire. They mostly want to obliterate Hamas at all costs.

For me it’s been immensely painful to hear their side because it’s unbearable to see the bombing and suffering of the Palestinians. I have wanted to walk away many times. But last week, on my birthday, they each individually called to wish me a happy birthday. None of them had ever actually called on my birthday before.

So after I read David’s piece, I forwarded it to them and wrote, “This piece makes me realize that in spite of differences around the conflict, we have managed to always come back to the foundation of love that I feel from all of you. I was so touched by the phone calls and messages on my birthday. I just want to acknowledge that and say thank you. Much love back at you all.”

One of my cousins already responded with: “We are family. And love you. Full stop.”

Rhonda Findling

UC Berkeley needs to act now

As the spring semester begins at UC Berkeley, it is vital that the university change its approach to addressing anti-Jewish discrimination, harassment and abuse on campus and endeavor in the months ahead to take corrective and reparative action for Jewish students, staff and faculty. It needs to listen more carefully and respectfully and act with greater sensitivity, empathy and responsiveness.

On Nov. 7, Jewish California state legislators issued the following statement, expressing “outrage and concern” about the “explosion of antisemitism at UC and CSU campuses” and demanding action to ensure the safety and welfare of Jewish students: “Sadly, there is a widespread feeling among Jewish students … that many campus administrators do not understand the severity of the crisis and have been unwilling to take appropriate action to meet this moment.”

They noted physical assaults at UC Berkeley against Jewish students, incitement to violence against Jews by a faculty member at UC Davis and hate speech and intimidation of Jews at UCLA.

A Jewish student holds up an Israeli flag in front of a student holding up a Palestinian flag on the edge of a pro-Israel rally at UC Berkeley, Oct. 10, 2023. (Photo/Ben Weiss-Ishai)
A Jewish student holds up an Israeli flag in front of a student holding up a Palestinian flag on the edge of a pro-Israel rally at UC Berkeley, Oct. 10, 2023. (Photo/Ben Weiss-Ishai)

“Jewish students are appalled by what they perceive as callous disregard for their physical safety and emotional well-being and traumatized by a constant bombardment of hate that has directly interfered with their ability to learn,” the legislators wrote.

Since that time, the university has acknowledged that discrimination against visiting lecturers/speakers has violated UC Berkeley policies. This was an important acknowledgment, but the discrimination arose in large part because of the reactive rather than proactive way in which the university has addressed antisemitism on campus during and prior to the fall semester and since the Hamas massacres. A former visiting faculty member from Israel recently wrote in Haaretz about her distressing experience with discrimination at UC Berkeley.

There is a disturbing pattern here of repeated discrimination on the basis of Jewish and/or Israeli identity and background. It needs to stop, and the university must take proactive preventive action to stop it this semester and going forward.

UC Berkeley needs to rebuild trust and repair, heal hurt and harm, and recommit itself to  respecting and fulfilling its civic, moral and legal obligations to uphold the rights and welfare of its Jewish students and faculty, as well as their dignity, freedom, equality, belonging and access to justice.

Noam Schimmel
Lecturer, international and area studies
UC Berkeley

Remember this betrayal

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors displayed a despicable disregard for Israel by passing a disparaging, ignorant resolution on Jan. 9 regarding Hamas’ murderous attack on Oct. 7, 2023. Local voters didn’t elect them for their knowledge or expertise on foreign affairs. San Francisco readers who will vote on Nov. 5 for supervisors should remember this betrayal of the Jewish people.

Judge Quentin L. Kopp (Ret.)
Former member, S.F. Board of Supervisors

Honoring a longtime chaplain

The recent article (“New Jewish community chaplain helps fill gap at S.F. hospitals,” Jan. 12) about the chaplain prompted me to write about my father, Rabbi M. Arthur Oles, who was the Jewish federation’s community chaplain in San Francisco from 1969 to 1990. From his office at Mount Zion Hospital, he served Jewish patients at hospitals and nursing homes throughout the San Francisco area. He initiated the opening of a kosher kitchen at Mount Zion Hospital, provided education to staff regarding special needs of Jewish patients and gave yearly medical ethics lectures to the medical staff. The Jewish Bulletin wrote an excellent obituary for him when he died in 1998.

Miriam Oles
Highland Park, N.J.

A different path to Mideast peace

In order for there to be true peace in the Middle East, it will require security for Israel and justice for the Palestinian people. My proposed solution, as a U.S congressional candidate for California’s 12th district (Oakland), is for Israel to be a protected territory of the United States, and in exchange, Palestine becomes its own, independent, self-governing nation.

By Israel becoming a militarily protected territory, it will ensure the security of Israel and her 5 million citizens. The hard reality is that since the creation of Israel in 1948, her very existence has been perpetually threatened. Given the tragic events of WWII and over 2,000 years of persecution of the Jewish people, the survival and protection of Israel is something that the West owes her and that the United States of America can make happen

In exchange, the people of Palestine will have their own nation, where they will have self-determination and the yoke of injustice and oppression, which have been endured because of the de facto occupation of Gaza, will end. While the details will need to be ironed out, this framework would only provide military protection for Israel while she would still be her own independent, self-governing nation. The U.S Constitution, laws or courts would have zero jurisdiction there.

During the transition period, which may take up to 15 years or longer, the people of Palestine can file any grievances against the state of Israel that they may have with the D.C Circuit Court of Appeals. If they are military grievances, they can file them with the Pentagon or the United Nations. However, this process would only last through the transition period in which the Palestinian people are creating their own nation.

With Israel becoming a protected territory of America, any attack on her citizens would be a direct attack on the United States, thus ensuring permanent security for Israel while Palestine would be added to the list of the world’s nations. This would create the much talked about and elusive two-state solution that would finally bring true peace to the region.

In closing, peace is not merely the absence of war but the presence of justice and security for both sides of a conflict. With Palestine becoming its own nation and Israel becoming a protected territory of the United States, peace in the region is something the world may finally achieve.

Eric Wilson
U.S. congressional candidate, California 12th District

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