March 9, 2011
Letters to the Editor: J Street, Wisconsin, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
Traffic Going in Both Directions on J Street
I would like to add my congratulations, to the many he has already received, to David Suissa for again having written an excellent, incisive and rational article, “J Street Needs Another Lane” (March 4) to complement his “Israel Never Looked So Good,” which generated a significant response.
As for the article on J Street, their hypocritical members are reprehensible [people] who, under the guise of “social justice,” are bent on destroying Israel. They would at least be respected if they converted to Islam and/or Christianity because with self-loathing Jews like these, Israel doesn’t need any enemies.
Suissa’s “Hood” has a Zionist Main Street that is too narrow for 70 percent of American Jews. He is too quick to dismiss America’s fastest-growing new Israel advocacy group, J Street. With 170,000 members (including 600 rabbis) and 40 local chapters, we are a Zionist constituency that should not be ignored or denigrated as a “smugfest.”
Why does Suissa belittle my Zionist conviction that a peace treaty with Palestinians is “really, really, really, really important”? Does a genuine lover of Israel disrespect the horrible impact of constant warfare on Israelis? For Israel’s sake, I seek peace.
I went to the national J Street Conference in Washington looking for a way around the decades-old roadblocks jamming the path to Israeli-Palestinian peace. I was not disappointed.
Dennis Ross told our J Street audience that “everyone knows the basic outline for a peace settlement.” Five members of Knesset berated Israel’s motionless political leadership. They said the Israeli government is frozen by fear. It needs the confident encouragement of Diaspora Jews to open an avenue to peace.
I left the 2011 J Street Conference more committed than ever to a dramatic resolution of the old Israel/ Palestinian tension. Peace can be achieved!
Rabbi Jerrold Goldstein
We were among the 2,500 attendees at the J Street Conference in Washington, D.C., and it was an educational, inspiring experience. With the political landscape in the Mideast undergoing a remarkable shift toward personal freedom, there was a universal call for action, both on the part of Israel and the U.S. From the committed democracy of Israel, where was any congratulations or support for this citizen action seeking personal freedom? There was no charge against Israel, no targeting — Israel was hardly mentioned if at all. The uprising was a true citizen revolt against decades of dictatorial rule. Can Israel continue to keep the Palestinian people virtually under lock and key when freedom is bursting out in neighboring countries? Can the Netanyahu/Lieberman path of rigid, unyielding control continue in this new, wakening time? Should Obama develop a balanced plan, gain international support and then bring this plan to Israel and perhaps Ramallah? Can he be a true leader in this time of crisis?
The crowd at the meeting, young and old, called for action. This is a time of great movement, filled with risks and opportunities, and it requires great leadership. Does the West have this leadership or will this opportunity quietly slip into history as Israel spirals into an ever more dangerous future?
Richard and Lois Gunther
David Suissa writes eloquently when he tells J Street to stop pressuring Israel to make peace with the Palestinians, and when he asks J Street to pressure Palestinians to return to the peace table. But he ignores J Street’s reasons for focusing their pressure on Israel. Suissa seems to forget that Israel is the party breaking international law by expanding settlements in the West Bank that steal Palestinian land, and that the Palestine Papers demonstrate that the Palestinian leadership offered many concessions to the Israelis in recent years, all of which were rejected by Israel.
Suissa fears a Hamas takeover of the West Bank, yet he supports Israeli policies that make that more likely. Every time Israel rejects out of hand an offer from the Palestinian Authority, Israel is weakening the PA and creating a vacuum that Hamas is ready to step into.
Israel should get ahead of the curve and quickly end the occupation and make peace with Palestine. That is the way to preserve a Jewish state.
Examining the Jewish Position on Unions
The authors of “The Torah of Wisconsin” (March 4) make the case that the Judaic tradition is aligned with unions of Wisconsin. The writers describe the unions in Wisconsin using words such as “labor,” “workers” or “rights.” As if they like working in a coal mine subject to gas explosions. Many of these public employees, like teachers, are degreed professionals, not “laborers.” Laws that apply to every American “worker” regulate minimum wage, workplace safety and labor practices. It incomprehensible to this reader to extend special workplace circumstances to a caste of individuals, especially at the cost of votes, political favoritism and a corrupted system that moves money from government paycheck to union coffers to politicians’ political coffers.
The writers mention the Jewish delivery from slavery as a “lesson regarding the treatment of workers.” Please! The vast majority of taxpayers have fewer days off, pay more for their benefits, are paid less (in several circumstances), see their 401(k)s dwindling and may never see a Social Security check. All the while, their increasing government mandated taxes are used to subsidize this caste of individuals. So, who is the real slave?
California has been run by the Democratic Party for decades. All they way from city councils to the mayors to Sacramento. The state unions have run all of the education and city affairs for all of recent history, and they are 100 percent behind the Democratic Party. Not one significant California public union supports a single Republican candidate. It’s as blue as it can get. The Democrats have had it their way for decades and look where it has gotten us. California is in a shambles. The Torah teaches responsibility for one’s actions. The actions of a Democratically controlled California have gotten us to the brink of bankruptcy, and it’s enough already. Time to tighten the belt and act fiscally responsibly and work for the betterment of all Californians. Not just the ones that happen to be union Democrats.
Just Say No to BDS
I read the San Francisco Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) response to Rob Eshman in The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles (“Just Say Yes,” Feb. 18), and I would like to thank them for taking a stand against Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).
Within the last 40 years, the African Americans in the USA have managed not only to extract racism out of our legal system, but also to turn racism into a social taboo. Tragically, many in the Jewish community, with the help of publications like The Jewish Journal, have managed to accomplish just the opposite. They have diluted the meaning of anti-Semitism by allowing, accepting and contributing to some forms of anti-Semitism, such as attacks on Israel and on Israel’s American supporters (both Christians and Jews).
If you read The Journal’s articles, the talkbacks and letters to the editor, you will quickly notice how this newspaper has added to the confusion and the split in our community on the issue of Israel. This paper has helped weaken our younger generation of Jews who are lacking the historical perspective many of my generation have with regard to what Israel represents, how we got to where we are and what’s at stake. This paper is one of those that have shamefully contributed to the fact that “some” anti-Semitism in America is no longer a taboo.
This is a free country, and every artist has the right of free speech, expression and participation in the BDS, but they have absolutely no right to be supported by any Jewish community funds. Eshman’s rebuke is totally misplaced and irrelevant. The San Francisco JCRC did the right thing, and I applaud them for that.
Clarifying Position of JLIC Program at UCLA
I applaud The Jewish Journal for covering the effort to raise funds to maintain the Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (JLIC) program at UCLA. However, the title of the article “Orthodox Students Fighting to Keep Presence at UCLA” (Feb. 25) implies that only “Orthodox” students are involved. The Kaplans positively impact the entire campus Jewish experience at UCLA as other JLIC families do on university campuses across the country. As a Conservative Jew and recent university graduate, I proudly support and contribute to JLIC and encourage Jews of all affiliations to do the same.
When I read the headline “Is Egypt the Next Iran?” (Feb. 18), I couldn’t help thinking that there should have been a companion story “Is Iran the Next Egypt?”