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Jewish Journal

JewishJournal.com

August 10, 2006

Letters to the Editor

http://www.jewishjournal.com/letters_to_the_editor/article/letters_to_the_editor_20060811

Mel Gibson Arrest

I am canceling my summer rental in Malibu. Why? Well, I'm a Jew, a f---ing Jew at that, and he owns that town ("Hush Falls Over Jewish Hollywood Post-'Mad Mel,'" Aug. 4).

I've also burned my special edition of "Braveheart." I'll never enjoy it again. And I must say that I do feel a lot of guilt now that I've learned my people are the cause of all the wars in the world (I think there are about 125 conflicts going on right now, so I can't possibly explain how we got the world involved in conflicts, such as Tibet, East Timor, Darfur, Nigeria, Uganda, Congo, Amazon). You get the picture.

Probably most disturbing is the way we Jews tricked Hezbollah into collecting 15,000 missiles and crossing the border to kidnap Israeli soldiers. How freakin' clever are we?

Mel, you have enlightened me and everyone else about my people. So let me return the favor and enlighten you and your close colleagues in Hollywood with a word of advice: "Friends don't let friends drive racist."

Julie Brandt
Beverly Hills

Jewish Left

Gary Wexler's pronouncement of the demise of the progressive Jewish voice on Israel is dramatic, but premature ("Left-Leaning Jewish Groups Out-of-Touch Now," Aug. 4). It is understandable why one might feel compelled in these terrible times to retreat to a cocoon of insular self-certainty. But therein lies a key difference between the newly enlightened Wexler and his erstwhile progressive friends, including those of us who were privileged to speak at the town meeting on July 24. While we are certain that Israel has the right to exist and to defend herself, we are not certain that its military campaign is proportionate to Hezbollah's undeniable provocation or, for that matter, if that campaign is serving Israel's own security interests.

While we are certain of our deep bonds of compassion and sympathy for our Israeli brothers and sisters who face the daily terror of Hezbollah's rockets, we are not certain why this should lead us to ignore the suffering of the hundreds of thousands of innocent victims across Israel's borders. And while we are certain of our commitment to the Jewish people and to Israel, we are not certain why this should require us to stifle our voices when we feel that the Jewish -- and regional -- commonweal is not being served. Could it be that Israel has the right to defend herself, and yet its actions are counterproductive to its own citizens and sowing hatred in Lebanon and Gaza as well? It is this kind of painful self-questioning -- not the belief in Israel's right to self-defense -- that distinguishes many progressive Jews today from the likes of Wexler. After reading his report, I must confess to perplexity: Might it be that it is not the progressive Jewish voice, but the Jewish moral conscience itself that stands to lose in this tragic conflict?

David N. Myers
Los Angeles

Thank you Gary Wexler for a calm, reasoned article about your disappointment with Jewish left in their attitude toward Israel. The Jewish left feels no need to reexamine itself, or stop repeating it's old canards. So for all those like Wexler, who are disappointed in the Jewish left, welcome. Not to a monolithic right-wing group. But to the people of Israel, who though we differ on many issues, realize that when it comes to the State of Israel we are united in seeing the she can defend her borders and people. And that she continue to be the beacon of democracy and light in the Middle East.

Leah Kabaker
Sherman Oaks

Gary Wexler is a valued voice in Jewish life here and abroad. I wish him continued strength in time future in raising that voice about issues of abiding concern to him.

His article last week in reference to the "left" in Jewish life was off compass and off base. While I am a past national president of Americans For Peace Now, I write as an individual.

My wife and I recently returned from Israel. Among the many people we met -- correspondents (both American and Israeli), Knesset members, Palestinian cabinet members and opinion makers -- was a highly placed American official, who specifically congratulated Peace Now in America and Shalom Achshav for their important contributions.

In regard to the L.A. meeting, Wexler engaged in what in Logic 101 is called "poisoning the well." He did not specifically identify the speakers and he did not report on the content of their presentations. Instead he denigrated both speakers and their spoken words without a cogent analysis and critique Wexler has done a grave disservice to Peace Now but most of all, he has done a greater disservice to himself.

Gerald Bubis
Los Angeles

Israel-Lebanon War

In the 1930s, apologists for fascism argued that those fighting Nazi-backed Franco in the Spanish Civil War would isolate the United States and its allies and eliminate the chances for peace in Europe ("Is Lebanon Israel's Iraq?" Aug. 14). The Nazis found this interpretation useful as they formed the Anti-Comintern Pact to thwart anti-fascists. Joseph Goebbels wrote admiringly of peace marches and editorialists in Western capitals, observing with a great deal of amusement that the intellectuals and well-meaning peace advocates "didn't know whose store they were tending."

After returning from a month in Israel and this war, for which Iran and its Hezbollah proxy have planned for so long to effectively divert international attention from their acquisition of nuclear weapons and ascension to global power status for radical Islam, it was jarring to read Jack Miles' indictment of Israel's defensive war (supported from left to right in Israel) and wonder whose store he (and The Jewish Journal for that matter) are tending.

The tragedy shared by Lebanon and Israel both are that they have both been held hostage by Hezbollah. The difference is that Israel can and is fighting (again) for its statehood, while Lebanon suffers from being a failed state, not because of the Israelis as Miles suggests (talk about blaming the victim!), but because with Hezbollah as part of the Lebanese government, it not surprisingly gets caught in the cross-fire. It should not be surprising that a country that allows a stateless militia to be armed by an emerging geopolitical force like Iran to attack its peaceful neighbor behind internationally recognized borders is in for trouble. With Hezbollah embedded in civilian buildings, mosques and hospitals, there is no "proportional" way to fight this war.

The Iranian and Syrian missiles fired by Hezbollah must be quieted by any means necessary as soon as possible. Lebanese civilians have been used as human shields by Hezbollah and have been hit by Israeli fire unintentionally.

Hezbollah targets civilians intentionally. Miles' inability to absorb this basic difference and his American narcissism of only understanding Israel's fight through the lens of the Iraqi War (a fault The Jewish Journal headline writers also share) is sloppy and irresponsible. Harry Frankfurt, the distinguished philosopher, in his recent best selling treatise noted "...it is this lack of connection with a concern for truth-this indifference to how things really are-that I regard as the essence of bullshit." The only "quagmire" is Miles' thought process in this article. The Journal should reflect on why it squanders its word count (and cover page) and credibility on such a "friend" of our community and Israel as Miles. With friends like this....

Glenn Yago
Director
Capital Studies
Milken Institute

Jack Miles has presented many problems with the war, but failed to submit any solutions short of diplomacy; which is not a long-term solution at all. When dealing with an organization bent on destroying the nation of Israel, how long does peace last? Two months? Two years maybe? And then rockets blaze from the north once more forcing our brothers and sisters to say goodbye to their loved ones and prepare to answer the call of duty, again.

Joseph M. Hekmat
Los Angeles

I was appalled to see your cover story questioning the Israel Defense Forces' military action. How can you have an article of this nature when the IDF is fighting for Israel's survival? The only cover story worse at this time was to have an article on Hezbollah's military prowess. If you cannot be there to fight the Jewish enemy, at least show the IDF support while in battle.

Abraham H. Shafran
Culver City

Gary Wexler

Gary Wexler demonstrated that in addition to his uniquely creative eye, mind and heart he also has some stinging words about an event that took place on July 24th at the Westside JCC ("Left Leaning Jewish Groups Out-of-Touch Now," Aug. 4). "Out of the Quagmire" was sponsored by Americans for Peace Now, B'rit Tzedek v'Shalom and the Progressive Jewish Alliance (although the latter organization was not mentioned). In his piece, Wexler blasts Americans for Peace Now and B'rit Tzedek v'Shalom as "obsolete, outdated and out-of-touch" and that they are "like the Pied Piper leading their liberal/left children into the drowning sea."

Wexler's piece was more about his own change of perspective than anything else and because he has changed, he now wants organizations that he once supported to change along with him.

Respectfully, that's not going to happen. This doesn't mean that these organizations aren't going through some significant soul searching because of recent events. Yet, we still have shared ideas and goals when it comes to peace for Israel, her neighbors and how to get there. In the meantime, there are enough missiles being lobbed at us from the outside. e need not fire them at one another.

Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels
Beth Shir Sholom
Santa Monica

Since the Journal allowed a response to Wexler from someone representing Since The Journal allowed a response to Gary Wexler from someone representing Americans for Peace Now, they should also allow a response from Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, also attacked in Wexler's piece. I suggest you contact them directly in order for your paper to be fair and respectful of the whole community.

David Seidenberg
Via e-mail

Perhaps Gary Wexler attended a different meeting than I did: he said it was on Tuesday when it was on Monday; he neglected to mention that it was also sponsored by the Progressive Jewish Alliance; he failed to mention the thoughtful, and articulate statements of Arthur Stern and professor David Myers both of whom share Marcia Freedman's love and deep concern for the security and well-being of Israel.

For me, the most challenging issue that night was whether, given Israel's right to self-defense, the current escalation of military violence could possibly lead to greater safety and security. Or is it only serving to create more enemies? David Pine's response points out the larger threats and the essential prerequisites for peace, which must begin with negotiations between opponents. Clearly, all of the wars have not succeeded in making Israel safe. Along with many people in Israel, I believe that Israel is not best served by our uncritical acceptance of every action, even in the midst of a crisis.

Perhaps Wexler attended a different meeting than I did; perhaps he just doesn't listen.

Claire Gorfinkel
Via e-mail

I am an Israeli (Jewish) American who participated at the meeting on 8/24/06 organized by 3 Jewish organizations: PJA (Progressive Jewish Alliance), Brit Zedek V'shalom and APN (American for Peace Now).

I don't think we are or were "out of touch". Many people, young, old and in between came to be part of a sane Jewish voice, who care and love Israel. My daughter live in a kibbutz north of Akko, my sister live in a kibbutz in the North Negev.

I experience 5 wars during my young years in Israel. I think we could avoid at least 2 of them - Lebanon 1st and 2nd. I think that many people here and in Israel support our view, which say that we are not support any military retaliation. We may had to react this time, but not by destroying a whole country and waging all out war.

As most American are not supporting the Bush administration in their Iraq war I am not supporting this war from day 1. I think that Bush is using Israel in a brutal way (Marsha Friedman mention it in her remarks Monday). He should stop this war long time ago. I wish the extreme Arab states will recognize Israel right to exist, but if we like our Israel to have a future there are other ways to achieve it. Sometime forceful reaction is justified, but saving lives are just too. "Out Of Touch" I my view, is when you don't challenge leaders who make wrong decisions and stay silent.

Leah Soltes
Los Angeles

Mel Gibson

I count on The Jewish Journal to produce fresh insights and information every week, and it never disappoints ("Hush Falls Over Jewish Hollywood Post-'Mad Mel,'" Aug. 4) . In an article on Mel Gibson, the "cultural critic and Hollywood historian" Neal Gabler is quoted as saying that the Gibson incident is a symptom of the "radicalization of America" under the Bush Administration, which has "given license to hatemongers..." Gabler is absolutely right. Before Bush became President, there were no anti-Semites or racists or other hatemongers in this country. I wouldn't be surprised if Gibson's anti-Semitism started only on Jan. 20, 2001, the day George W. Bush was inaugurated.

Chaim Sisman
Los Angeles

It is beyond disgraceful that some 15 leading Jewish producers, directors, actors, and writers have remained conspicuously silent over Mel Gibson's recently reported anti-Semitic tirade. As a Jewish talent agent and manager suggested, if Gibson's alleged statements had been anti-black or anti-gay, the Hollywood mutes -- replete with media -- would have sanctimoniously decried such prejudiced ranting and demanded an immediate boycott and apology.

While Hollywood Jews remain silent, I won't. Gibson can demonstrate his contrition through action -- sans media accompaniment. A visit to the Washington, D.C. Holocaust Memorial Museum, a personal conversation with a Holocaust survivor, a tutorial with a rabbi to study Jewish history, law, and ethics, and a trip to Israel (including a visit to Hadassah Hospital to meet maimed suicide bombing victims) are ways Gibson can convince me that he's sincere -- and that his future films are worthy of my hard-earned dollars.

As for the silent Hollywood producers, directors, et. al, my library carries an impressive selection of videos -- all of which I can borrow at no charge.

Leann Sherman
West Hartford, Conn.

Rabbi Baron's public invitation to Mel Gibson to come speak at his synagogue's Yom Kippur services was more disgraceful than anything Gibson said himself. At least Gibson showed all his cards: He hates Jews. Fine, let him. But he tried to hide his, demonstrating an uncommon capacity for ugly, cunning self-promotion that he disguised as some sort of generous Mel Gibson outreach program, to "help" Gibson "heal."

Putting aside his naked bid for media attention -- which, predictably, met with great success -- it takes an astonishing level of nerve and complete disrespect for his congregation and Jews everywhere to turn over Judaism's holiest day of the year to a Jew-hater. And not just any garden-variety Jew hater, but the kind who has said the sorts of things that make you think he has a swastika draped up over his bed. Baron's motives are transparent, evident in the pride he shows in calling his synagogue the "largest entertainment industry synagogue in the United States." My response -- and surely the response of any thinking person -- is, who cares? We need more celebrity worshipping in this country like we need more anti-Semitism. Is there some moral value to be derived from catering to celebrities?

And that's what his invitation to Mel Gibson is all about: coddling celebrity, valuing celebrity, aspiring to celebrity. There are plenty of anti-Semites the world over, and plenty to be found in this city. They're not hard to find. If he are so interested in forgiving and healing Jew haters, why has he not invited any of them to speak to your congregation on Yom Kippur? Do they not deserve the same mercy he's shown Gibson? Are they not equally worthy of healing?

It is an absolute vulgarity that a rabbi would prize celebrity in such a way that he would sell out his religion for it. I'm not asking Baron to reconsider inviting Gibson to speak. Much like with Gibson's remarks, you can't unring a bell. And so even if he did uninvite Gibson, it wouldn't alter my feelings about Baron. I'm asking that he let me speak as well. If he wants to make this an honest day, if he truly wants Gibson to repent, let him hear from someone who isn't so eager to forgive him, lest he mistake Baron's open-arms response to his drunken remarks as an indication that if you're famous, you can say just about anything to or about Jews and they'll be eager to excuse you for it.

He can learn from what, of all people, Gibson said in the days since the arrest: "There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of anti-Semitic remark." So don't ask for any excuse, don't demonstrate any tolerance, and don't ask other Jews to do so just to get reporters to flock to his offices. And resist referring to the Jewish "community" when extending leniency to Mel Gibson. Baron and I may both be Jews, but in no way do we belong to the same community.

I saw where he said that you needed to "determine Mr. Gibson's willingness to take the necessary steps to heal the pain he has caused." Pain? Mockery maybe.

Or a little sweet quiver of schadenfreude to see Gibson's true self come to light. But not pain. Never pain. The pain comes from having a rabbi insult the intelligence of Jews by claiming that our religion compels us to extend a hand to anyone who wishes to make amends. We know the difference between genuine repentance and damage control. In Gibson's case, asking for forgiveness was a career move; and shamefully, so is Baron's attempt to give it to him.

Jeff Weinstock
Via e-mail

Jack Miles

In his article "Is Lebanon Israel's Iraq" (Aug. 4) Jack Miles' writes: "When Gilad Shalit was abducted in Gaza, Israel could have bombed the offices of Ismail Haniya, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, and arrested, say, a third of his cabinet. 'You want your government back? Give us our soldier back,' it could have said. That would have been the ultimatum. When eight of its soldiers were killed and two arrested by Hezbollah, Israel could have bombed the residence of its chieftain, Hassan Nasrallah, warning that it was prepared to institute, across the Lebanese border, the same policy of targeted assassination that has crippled (even if it cannot kill) Palestinian terrorism in the territories. For good measure, it could have sonic-boomed the residence of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Hezbollah's quartermaster.

That would have been a second powerful ultimatum."

Well, all of these theories are great if there was someone to talk to. Israel practically acted on all of what Miles suggested, yet neither the Palestinian Authority in Gaza or the Hamas, nor Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon seems to really care that these actions were taken. Their agenda is probably far greater than just prisoners' exchange, such as the destruction of the State of Israel.

During the same period that the Israeli soldiers were killed and kidnapped, the Palestinians attempted the kidnapping of Israeli citizens at bus stops, and the Hezbollah was firing Katyusha rockets into Northern Israel. Also, since Israel unitarily left Gush Katif, Qassam rockets are being fired into Israel practically every day.

Israel is fighting today partially because it left Lebanon unitarily without ever really enforcing UN resolution 1559, and partially because Gaza was returned to the Palestinian unitarily. In the eyes of the Arab world, both were a sign of weakness, rather than a step toward peace or at least cease fire. Therefore, now is the time to leave Israel alone and let her respond to the radical Arab world in their language of extreme strength. As in the past, when the smoke will finally clear, Israel will be victorious.

Recently a group of reporters analyzed the data of the Allies' battles against Germany in WWII. They concluded that according to the sum of the mistakes the Allies made in their fight against Germany they should have lost the war. But as we all know, Germany lost.

Danny Bental
Tarzana

Once again Israel faces an existential threat -- today by Hezbollah -- and Hamas supported by the modern day Haman/Hitler in Iran. The Journal's choice of front page Israel-bashing simply strains credulity: A third-rate set of insipid and incoherent observations by Jack Miles (a MacArthur Fellow no less) provides us with endless pearls of wisdom:

  1. that Israel's wrong decision to attack Lebanon resembles the U.S in Iraq. Wrong -- it resembles U.S invasion of Afghanistan after Sept. 11, only this terrorist state abutts Israel's Northern Border.
  2. That this "Botz" in Lebanon is a quagmire of Israel's own making --only half-true -- not by crushing Hezbollah today in Southern Lebanon , but by Ehud Barak's unilateral retreat in 2000 that led to Hezbollah's gained strength.

Most incredibly, Miles reveals his true colors by disagreeing with the Six-Day war in 67! "....the intensity of their [Palestinians) alienation grief and rage dwarfed that of African-Americans..."!

What an insult to the latter! The grief and alienation of the Palestinians was the frustration of not being able to push the Jews into the sea! Isn't that obvious by now?

Since The Journal obviously feels the need to address the scarcity of anti-Israel articles in the media at large, why not go for the gold and publish Noam Chomsky instead of Jack Miles, his M.I.T. credentials might even trump Miles' impressive MacArthur and Pulitzer Prizes.

Richard Friedman
Los Angeles

I am disappointed that The Journal would print as its cover story an article that will only bring divisiveness to the ranks and bring down morale. Is this the time for Monday morning quarterbacking?

As an expert in theology, Jack Miles should know better. He bemoans the lack of diplomacy on the part of the United States and Israel as the reason why such powerful acts as snatching one-third of Hamas' cabinet and buzzing Assad's palace were reduced to "mere trifles."

He writes of previous diplomatic agreements that he apparently regarded as successes. While there was relative quiet during the years of 1996-2006, what did Miles think was going on up there in Lebanon? Did Hezbollah wring its hands in defeat and run away, tail between its legs? No -- during this time they were enabled to acquire high-grade weapons made in Iran and Syria, including a formidable one that could take out a ship from Israel's navy. The reason Israel is in the situation it is in now is NOT because of lack of diplomacy. It is because Lebanon did not heed UN resolution 1559 and the world pretended not to see.

Miles needs to bone up on religion. The "Party of God" has at its disposal the most powerful weapon of all -- the religion of Jihad.

Esther Kandel
Los Angeles

Your cover headline should have read "HEZBOLLAH May come to Regret A Quagmire of Its Own Bold Making." The terrorists were shocked when Olmert, a non-military man, responded to their kidnapping acts of war with strong forceful action.

Jack Miles would prefer diplomacy over a period of time. Let's see, in six years of time, Hezbollah stockpiled more than 13,000 missiles, now trained on Israeli civilians at random. Given more time, Syria and Iran could have sent them more Katyusha rockets and new anti-tank arms with which to attack Israel on their timetable. A UN resolution two years ago required Lebanon to disarm Hezbollah, but Miles admitted that Lebanon is held hostage by Hezbollah.

Hezbollah and Hamas still won't free the Israeli soldiers. They have exposed their goal, the destruction of Israel, and Israel is fighting back.

Selma Alpert
North Hollywood

Cover

I can't begin to tell you how moved I was when I came upon the cover of your July 28 issue, namely the image of Israeli soldiers praying on the battlefield. In this case, a picture was worth far more than 1,000 words, as it managed to capture the tremendous gravity facing our Israeli soldiers and reminding us that we are all Israelis now. Thank you for making such a poignant selection.

Nathalie Guttmann
Via e-mail

Muslim-Jewish Relations

I respect Journal Senior Writer Marc Ballon, and appreciate most sincerely his work, but I must respond to some of the things attributed to me in the Aug. 4 article dealing with Muslim-Jewish relations in our part of Orange County ("Mideast Fighting Strains Fragile Interfaith Ties").

Even though Ballon went out of his way to call me in advance and to read me the part of the article dealing with my involvement, the article as written makes the situation in our group appear much more adversarial than it really is.

I tried to make that point in our phone discussion, but, for whatever reason, the article does not reflect this. The article says that the Muslim members of our small group "declined to attend a scheduled meeting" in July. As I tried to make clear, there was no "scheduled meeting" in July. We have been meeting on an informal basis in recent months, getting together when one or the other of us extends an invitation to the group to gather.

What happened was that I proposed a July meeting, and two of the Muslim members of the group said that they had great affection and respect for myself and the other Jewish participants, but that, as Ballon reported, they were too emotionally distraught in the wake of what was happening in Lebanon to feel comfortable about meeting at this time. They did not boycott a regularly scheduled meeting, as the article infers -- they just suggested we postpone meeting for awhile.

However, as the article states, a meeting has been scheduled for Aug. 8, in response to a letter sent to the group by participant Sande Hart, in which she reminded us all that this is a time when we can affirm that the group remains a "safe place" for us to come together as caring human beings. I was pleased by the decision of the Muslim members of the group to schedule this meeting, but, I was not "relieved" -- I specifically objected to that word being used. To say that I am "relieved" at their decision suggests an emotional investment that such a meeting needed to take place. We are friends, we communicate with each other honestly and we try to respect each other's needs. Thus, I am pleased to have the opportunity for us to sit down together and share our pain but I would not feel in any way rejected or dejected if the decision had been to postpone our meeting for another month or more.

Rabbi Allen Krause
Temple Beth El
Aliso Viejo

Return to the Promised Land

As someone who has read Amy Klein's articles over the years, I know that her heart is in the right place. I even know when she is being a bit tongue and cheek. Her recent article about the Rembaum family moving to Israel during a time of war plays with the idea that this family is so special because they do not appear to be crazy, or militant or ... Orthodox. The Rembaums are ..well you know.. normal. ("Return to the Promised Land," July 27).

Clearly, it is no longer news when Orthodox Jews (the bearded and skirt wearing kind) move to Israel at a time of war but it is apparently front page, full cover news when a non-Orthodox family chooses to do so. Why is that? Maybe Klein's next article might be a serious analysis of the "root causes" of this phenomenom. That may be the real news.

Rafi Guber
Los Angeles

Journal Blew It

In the Aug. 4 Jewish Journal you printed a letter from Jerry Green, an octogenerian who implored The Journal: "Deference to the Jewish Left is divisive. Ignore it. You have a job to do to maintain Jewish morale."

Well, with your headline on your front page, you blew it completely. You are so eager to promote your left-wing views that you have let down the Jewish people in Los Angeles, and any Jew who might read your paper this week. All the ads in the paper urge us to support Israel in her time of crisis, and you reserve space in your newspaper for articles like "Is Lebanon Israel's Iraq?"

Shame on you Rob Eshman, this is the last time I will spend my money on a subscription to the Jewish Journal. If I want to read anti-Jewish and anti-Israel articles, I'll just buy a Los Angeles Times.

Marsha Roseman
Van Nuys

War Is Not the Answer

With all due respect to Rachel Ben-Dor (War Is Not the Answer, July 21), while noble in her past thoughts and deeds, her present "answer" to the problems faced by Israel appears to have been to leave her homeland. In fairness, perhaps there were other mitigating circumstances that caused her to come to the U.S. but expressing her criticism from the safety of Ohio does seem odd and naive at best and dishonest at worst.

If war is not the answer, perhaps she's asking the wrong question.

Stu Bernstein
Santa Monica

Moment of Truth

"We cannot solve the complex problems we face at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them" Albert Einstein The Jewish community is facing yet another moment of truth. The events in Israel/Lebanon/Gaza have aroused our deepest fears about the future of Israel. Where is the line between a strong self-defense and uncontrolled revenge? What about the deeper, more sustained and lasting meaning of strength, of moral strength, strength of judgment, strength of balance, the strength that comes from dialogue and negotiation? Where is the strength to say that boundless military action is counterproductive, wrong, immoral? Surely enduring security will not be bought at such a heavy price.

This is the vital discussion our community needs now more than ever, yet a life-long supporter of Israel was called a "traitor" for having the temerity to criticize Israel's retaliation. Those of us who, out of love and concern for Israel, question its judgment and, therefore, its behavior, are being demonized, and therefore the range of allowable conversation is narrowing. People are beginning to censor themselves out of fear of the community's opprobrium. We are losing our civility toward one another even as Israel loses its moral compass in a frenzy that even Ehud Olmert now admits will not eliminate Hezbollah.

Amos Oz, several years ago, suggested that Israelis and Palestinians were both abused children of Europe, who, instead of bonding, turned on each other. Reliance on military strength will never resolve what are fundamentally historic, psychological, religious and political problems. Strength of a different sort-- wisdom--is needed.

Do we care enough about Israel to offer her tokhahah, loving criticism? Recognizing the murderous outrages of Hezbollah and Hamas, isn't the crucial issue not whether Israel has a right to respond, but whether Israel is making the right response?

Every day there are new reports: Israel bombing UN officials (not "deliberately" as Kofi Annan recklessly said, but through gross miscalculation), attacking a convoy of fleeing civilians (again as "collateral damage"), destroying vast portions of Lebanon's infrastructure, including entire villages and neighborhoods in Tyre, Sidon and Beirut, and creating more than 700,000 displaced innocent civilians. Can we have a civil conversation over whether this is excessive and counterproductive? Can we speak truthfully and without fear of intimidation and name-calling about such serious matters?

Can we discuss whether the exercise of Israel's military strength is forcing moderates to sympathize with Israel's foes, breeding new terrorists, destabilizing the most democratic, multicultural and Westernized Arab country in the world, destroying Lebanon's chance for years to be a counterweight to Hezbollah and inflaming anti-Jewish sentiment throughout the world? Can we call on all parties to agree to an immediate cease-fire without even that being treated as a betrayal of Israel?

Judith Glass
John Glass
Stephen Rohde
Jean Cohen
Adam Rubin
Irving Goldstein
K.C. Victor
Irv Hepner
Joan Walston
Mary Weinstock Gilbert
Suzanne Marks
Wally Marks
Rabbi Jerrold Goldstein
Rita Lowenthal



Lessons

For the reader who accepts Israel's right to existence and national security -- along with the right of Jews to participate in the destiny of man -- I say the response by Israel must be to the threat, not to the provocation. For the reader who does not accept Israel's right to existence and self-determination, nor the right of Jews to the peaceful pursuit of their lives -- I say nothing.

For the ambivalent -- the apologists -- who so easily dismiss Israel's actions in its self-defense, I say your opportunities and good fortune have grown out of the reality that America responded to the threat Pearl Harbor represented, not its impact.

The Arab world -- through its military units Hezbollah, Hamas and Al Qaeda -- has as little legitimate right to attack even one location of Israel once, just as Japan did not have the legitimate right to attack Pearl Harbour.

Peter Meingast
Vancouver, BC

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