April 18, 2002
Amos Oz's assertion ("Two Wars; One Just One," April 12) that "killers make no distinction," misses the point. Killers often make clear distinctions. Think serial killers, mafia hit men, Nazis and Islamic terrorists hunting Jews and Americans. Oz's other assertion that by mortgaging the "territories" for peace, Israel would close off one front and therefore be able to focus on the other, is untrue and dangerous. What if Israel cedes with the West Bank and settlements, but terrorists, aided and abetted by the Palestinian governing authority, continue to launch murderous attacks? Israel would have to take back the land. Sound familiar? It is happening right now. Chief Palestinian terrorist Yasser Arafat was given a chance to govern a nascent Palestinian state, but he threw down the olive branch and fired his pistol. I ask Oz to consider what the state of affairs would be if terrorist Arafat and his goons had spent the last decade building a democratic Palestinian government and vital economy, instead of attempting to destroy Israel. There is only one solution to terror, and that solution is to crush its progenitors.
Noel Anenberg, Encino
The cover of the Jewish Journal from April 12 pictures a young woman holding a sign that reads, "There is no excuse for suicide bombing." White House spokesman Ari Fleischer announced this week that from now on we will refer to them as "homicide bombers." It seems so obvious. After all, we all know that "suicide" is, as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary: 1) the act or an instance of intentionally killing oneself and 2) the destruction or ruin of one's own interests. It is the act of a depressed person choosing to end his life. "Homicide" is defined as the killing of a person by another. Homicide bombers are people who intentionally attach bombs to their bodies and then go to the most crowded area that they can to kill as many people as they can. They do so gladly, and their people dance in the streets to celebrate the bombers' victory. Let's call these mass murderers what they are.
Yocheved Rosenthal, Los Angeles
Appeal to Clergy
In an article by Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis ("An Appeal to the Clergy of All Faiths," April 5), he stated, "We have the same tears and the same fears. The caskets may be draped with different symbols, but the broken hearts of the widow and the forlornness of the orphan are the same." How dare he say that they are the same. How in the world is dying in a Passover seder the same as blowing yourself up to kill as many people as you possibly can? These terrorist families are not mourning. They are dancing in the streets and are very proud of what their children, cousins, brothers and now sisters are doing. These families are getting up to $25,000 for each of these terrorists. They are making them into heroes. They train them in childhood to do this most horrendous act. That is not the same tears as sitting shiva.
Helayne Amrani, Tarzana
Help From the U.S.
Not being Jewish, I have few ties to Los Angeles' Jewish activist community, so I'm searching for ways to show my support. I have nothing but admiration and compassion for the people of Israel and feel like they are doing the job that the rest of the world, including the United States seemingly, are hesitating to undertake.
Mike Coulter, West Hollywood
It is hypocritical of George Bush to demand that Israel cease its efforts to eliminate the terrorist infrastructure on the West Bank. After Sept. 11, after declaring war on terrorism, after the military campaign in Afghanistan, after stating that he would never negotiate with terrorists, Bush now demands that Israel negotiate with Palestinian terrorists and refuses her the right to protect her citizens from terror.
Everyone should write at least one letter to the White House and one to their local newspaper stating that we support Israel's campaign against terrorism, and that Israel's fight against terrorism is America's fight, too.
Deborah Koken, Costa Mesa
My wife and I were among the thousands at the Federal Building on Sunday, April 7. It was wonderful! It didn't matter whether we were Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, agnostic, atheist; we were all there just as Jews. Though there were heterosexual Jews; gay and lesbian Jews; Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews; white, black, brown and Asian Jews; old and young Jews; it didn't matter, because we were there because we were all Jews -- Jews who were there to let the world know that a threat to Israel is a threat to us all, no matter who we are as individuals. There was an unbelievable connection between us and everyone felt it.
It is indeed unfortunate that it takes the horrors of a threat to Israel's existence to cause us to bond -- but it did. Perhaps there's a message there for all of us. Perhaps not. Whatever it is, let's keep it going.
Stu Bernstein, Santa Monica
Last week, I attended the Israel rally at the Federal Building in Westwood. It was an incredible event with people stopping traffic, waving signs and cheering wildly in Hebrew and English. It was exhilarating to see such an outpouring of support for Israel.
But, perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the event was the demographics of the participants. The crowd was overwhelmingly Israeli and Sephardic (mostly Iranian), young and old. However, surprisingly, there was a noticeable lack of Ashkenazi Jews. This seemed to be representative of a trend that I personally have witnessed at other Israel events -- a small Ashkenazi contingent relative to other Jewish communities.
Los Angeles certainly has a diverse Jewish population, but Ashkenazi Jews still constitute the majority. They are some of the most successful and assimilated Jews in this city and across the United States. Why were there so few at the rally? Where are the Ashkenazi supporters of Israel? Where are the many Jewish celebrities and public citizens, an almost exclusively Ashkenazi club here in Los Angeles, and why have they not articulated any public support for Israel?
If Israel is to survive its most perilous crisis, she will need the vocal support of every single member of the Jewish community.
Jonathan Greenblatt, Santa Monica
The Jewish leadership and the Jewish people in America have failed to mobilize in a significant way in support of Israel.
During this weekend, the pro-Palestinian groups in the United States mobilized students, old people, young people, Arabs, left-leaning groups and even some Jews for the most effective weekend demonstration against Israel.
Where is the Jewish leadership? Where are the young Jewish people? Why is it that the pro-Israel Christians are not mobilized by the Jewish leadership? Why are the Jews not as effective as the Muslims and anti-Israel groups in attracting network television?
Is the Jewish leadership in America up to the task? Do the Jews need new and effective leadership?
To my Jewish brothers, sisters and Christian friends, now is the time to mobilize thousands of people to go to the main streets of America and stand for the right of Israel to defend herself from terrorism and stand for the right of Jews to live in peace in their homeland. The safety of Israel is on the line.
Moshe Cirt, Fullerton
Conflict in Israel
We should not be attempting to force Israel to negotiate with the head of a terrorist organization, which through words and deeds is pressing for the destruction of Israel. As we search for, fight and kill terrorists in Afghanistan, and assist other countries, such as the Philippines, in doing the same, how can the United States possibly chide Israel for doing exactly what we're doing? It's not right, especially when it looks as though we're asking Israelis, again, to sacrifice their safety for our geopolitical agenda.
The United States should be urging the Palestinian Arabs to recruit real leaders for Israel to talk to who do not have blood on their hands. Peace is possible, when all parties are sincere in their intentions.
Scott A. Hayman, Northridge
I went to Israel to spend Passover with my family despite their plea not to go there. I was asked by many Israelis to describe to the outside world what their lives have been like the past few months.
Despite the tragedy of daily suicide bombings, we celebrated the seder. After reading the haggadah and enjoying a festive dinner, we turned on the television and saw the massacre in Netanya. Celebration turned to sorrow. Entire families were decimated. The scene was a nightmarish sight of total destruction.
Saturday night, my nephews would go over to the safest restaurants. If there were more than four people, they would not go in because the suicide bombers strike Saturday night in crowded restaurants where they can kill many Israelis.
It feels like being in New York on Sept. 11 -- everyday. Walking in the street anywhere in Israel is dangerous, a Palestinian might pull out a gun and shoot around. Fear is pervasive and the Israeli people suffer from psychological problems. The government has provided a 24-hour hotline for psychological counseling.
Unemployment is on the rise, the economy is in shambles and tourism is completely dead.
Lilly Gottlieb, Los Angeles
What to Do?
How about an article called "What to Do About Ariel Sharon?" ("What to Do About Arafat?" April 5) Thanks to Sharon, Yasser Arafat is an international hero and Israel is increasingly isolated and despised by the rest of the world. If anybody is leading to the destruction of Israel, it is Mr. Sabra and Shatila himself.
Jonathan Aurthur, Santa Monica