June 30, 2005
Kol hakavod to The Journal for its comprehensive coverage of the wide range of perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian impasse, from those of Jon Hambourger to those of Craig and Cynthia Corrie and Khaled and Samah Nasrallah ("Two Families' Dreams Were Not Demolished," June 24). It is always difficult -- but so much the more important -- to read opinions and viewpoints with which we disagree; sometimes we might wish that certain positions did not find voice in a Jewish paper. But Klal Yisrael is a big tent; and if, like our namesake (Yisrael), we can wrestle with God, then surely we need not shy away from grappling with the disparate views of other human beings.
J. Shawn Landres
I am writing to commend you for the courage and integrity you demonstrated in publishing the story about the Corrie and Nasrallah families. It is a human story, but also one with political implications. Many American Jews shy away from the grim reality of the Middle East, and try to draw a picture in which only Jews are victimized by the conflict. Yet, denying the sad situation in which both Palestinians and Israelis are stuck helps no one. It is thus extremely important to make stories such as this one known, as they might lead some readers to reassess old opinions, perhaps even take action. May the important trend you started continue!
Professor of Psychology
Tel Aviv University
I was astonished and saddened to read "Two Families' Dreams Were Not Demolished." While I have come to expect pro-Palestinian propaganda in various left-wing publications and even the Los Angeles Times, one would hope that Israel would merit more balanced treatment in The Jewish Journal. In the interest of journalistic integrity, if not fairness to Israel, Howard Blume might have mentioned the following facts about the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), to which the late Rachel Corrie belonged:\n
•While the ISM itself employs nonviolent tactics, its leadership supports the right of armed resistance by Palestinian terrorists, including suicide bombings. Until it was recently modified, the organization's Web site stated as much. In the words of two of its founders, Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf, "The Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics, both nonviolent and violent. But most importantly it must develop a strategy involving both aspects." (Palestine Chronicle, January 2002)\n
•The purpose of the ISM's nonviolent activities is to interfere with the security and military activities of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). For example, in April 2002, ISM members acted as human shields at Yasser Arafat's Ramallah compound to try to protect the Palestinian gunmen who murdered Israeli Tourism Minister Rehav'am Ze'evi. They also interfered with IDF operations in Bethlehem when 150 Palestinian gunmen occupied the Church of the Nativity.\n
•ISM organizer Susan Barclay was deported by Israel after she hid Islamic Jihad terrorist Shadi Sukiya in the ISM office in Jenin.\n
•The ISM acknowledges that the two British Muslims who blew up the Mike's Place restaurant in Tel Aviv in April 2003, leaving three dead and 50 wounded, had attended a meeting of ISM activists in Israel prior to carrying out their suicide bombing. The ISM may have assisted their entry into Israel.\n
•Even a cursory examination of the statements of its leadership demonstrates that when the ISM states that it opposes Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, it means not only Gaza and the West Bank, but Israel's pre-1967 territories as well. Simply put, it opposes the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.
Equally unbalanced was Blume's comparison of the Nasrallahs to Israeli settlers in Gaza. He writes that the settlers' claims are "legally open to question" because, "The Gaza strip was originally set aside as 'Palestinian' in the same 1948 (sic.) U.N. resolution that carved out the nation of Israel." Apart from the fact that the U.N. Partition Resolution was passed in November 1947, the presently Israeli cities of Ashkelon, Jaffa, Akko and Nahariya are also in areas designated as "Palestinian" in the 1947 resolution. Does Blume consider Israel's claims to those cities to be legally questionable, as well? The official position of the United States is that the right of Israel to West Jerusalem, right down to the location of the Knesset building, is unsettled under international law. Would Blume write that Israel's right to West Jerusalem to be legally questionable? The right of the settlers to their farms and homes in Gaza was never in question under Israeli law. As Blume himself wrote, the Nasrallah family returned to Gaza from Egypt in 1998. Many of the settlers have been in Gaza for 30 years longer than the Nasrallahs.
The Palestinians and their supporters have many media outlets for their propaganda. The Journal need not provide another.
Ralph B. Kostant
There is a worldwide effort to deligitimize the Jewish state. The Corrie family and the Nasrallah family are being exploited or are choosing to contribute as part of that effort. Your "senior editor" Howard Blume and The Jewish Journal have now, sadly, become part of this process. His writing is more characteristic of the L.A. Times, Reuters or the BBC (i.e. biased, slanted, fantastical coverage) than what I would expect in The Journal.
Blume writes "when the Israeli government forced out the Nasrallah from their home...." He neglects to emphasize that this occurred in the context of a four-and-a-half-year terror war started by Mr. Nasrallah's people against Israel. Terrible things happen in war; this is among the least.
He then uses the phrase "the border district stood above tunnels that were, according to the Israeli government, used to transport weapons and bomb-making materials." Is he disputing this assertion? Why not just state it as fact, as we all know it to be, rather than in the manner of the L.A Times or Reuters that tries to question each statement of "the Israeli government."
"It was the homestead that ... Rachel Corrie died trying to protect." Very dramatic writing -- Rachel Corrie was a foreign national interfering in a war zone. This is not emphasized in the piece.
The ISM is described as "pro-Palestinian activist group that uses nonviolent means to oppose Israel policies." In fact the ISM is a group that has repeatedly endorsed the "armed struggle" (code word for terror-murder).
"As a solidarity movement, it is not our place to dictate the strategies or tactics adopted by the Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation." Thus this organization condones terrorism -- the innocent killing of Israelis. It cannot therefore be described as using nonviolent means if it condones murder.
Furthermore, known terrorists have been found in ISM headquarters and have been arrested by Israelis while being shielded from arrest.
"In a widely publicized incident that made many doubt the ISM's claims that it does not collaborate with terrorists, Susan Barclay, an ISM organizer later deported by Israel, attempted to hide Islamic Jihad terrorist Shadi Sukiya in the ISM office in Jenin while the IDF searched the building for him. An ISM spokesman claimed that Barclay had no way of knowing who the man was -- although that would hardly justify her attempt to prevent a search of the ISM offices by an officer of the law who was searching for an identified terrorist. The spokesman went on to say that he was not certain how he would behave if he were himself given the opportunity to shelter a known terrorist from the police."(home.comcast.net/~jat.action/ISM_essay.htm'Shelter)
As to Rachel Corrie, she is known to have burned an American flag with Palestinian kids prior to her death. Photographs have been archived:(www.factsofisrael.com/blog/archives/000636.html). This virulently anti-American behavior is typical of the anti-Israel radical left in both the United States and Europe and is downplayed or ignored in Blume's puff piece.
Corrie most likely died in an accident, in a location where she had no right being and probably because she tripped.
I remind you of the incident where the child Mohammed al-Doura became an international figure after his alleged murder by Israelis in a cross-fire incident. German (that's right European) media have since investigated and determined that it was geometrically impossible for the boy to have been killed by Israelis. Others have concluded the whole incident was staged (www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=32137). Nonetheless, much of the world considers this alleged death one of the great tragedies of the so-called intifada (or terror war, as I prefer more accurately).
Blume refers to the Gaza strip "originally set aside as 'Palestinian' in the U.N. resolution of '48...." Of course he ignores that the Palestinians rejected the '47 and '48 proposals to compromise and that five Arab states invaded in '48, making a peaceful solution impossible. He also ignores the period 1948-1967 when Egyptians could have set up an independent Palestinian state in Gaza -- neither they, the Arab world, nor the Palestinians pushed for this at the time -- hoping to conquer Israel.
"Nasrallah says it's easier to travel to the U.S. than the West Bank...." Again, out of context -- if his compatriots and fellow Palestinians were not trying to commit mass murder in the West Bank it would be far easier for him and them to travel there.
The final sentence is an ad hominem attack, "the Nasrallahs, of course, can attest to the ... experience with evictions, especially when bulldozers are brought to bear." Where is this coming from -- hatred, stupidity, what?
I am very disappointed in this article.
Blume should be fired or dramatically reprimanded.
Failing this, if this is the direction of political fantasy and anti-Israel psychological warfare that you intend to report as objective news in The Jewish Journal under the "community" section, then you will quickly find that my paid subscription to The Journal and many others will be terminated.
Dr. David Schechter
As 'Evil' Does
Thank you for your uplifting and honest article in The Jewish Journal this week ("My Evil Stepmother," June 24). I wonder how many hearts you touched with this profound story of the hard road to trying to forgive and forget the pain inflicted by a parent's choice of spouse? What the rabbi doesn't factor in is the difficulty some of us have in the forgetting.
Many congratulations on all your wonderful achievements. You have a lot more to say -- I look forward to hearing it.
As president of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) I want to commend you for publishing Noam Mohr's very thoughtful article, "Factory Farms Akin to Shoah Suffering," in your June 24 issue. This title misrepresents Mohr's thoughtful analysis, as he indicated that such comparisons are "extraordinarily tasteless."
However, I hope that his article helps make Jews consider how animal products are produced and how animal-based diets and agriculture violate basic Jewish teachings.
Staten Island, N.Y.
I was very pleased to see Howard Blume's well-balanced story on the recent visit by the parents of Rachel Corrie and the Nasrallahs ("Two Families Dreams Were Not Demolished," June 24). These are brave people whose lives have been horribly disfigured, although in different ways, by the Israeli occupation of Gaza.
The Israeli settlers in Gaza and their sympathizers seem to live in a dream world, where only one group of people -- their own -- may enjoy basic rights, and where the only history that matters is their own.
The Corries can never make up for the loss of their daughter. But how long before the Nasrallahs -- and the Palestinians -- get to put their lives back together again? How long before they may experience justice?
Mazel Tov on the stellar article by Howard Blume showing what it means to lose a home from both the Palestinian and the Israeli side. It is so important for Jewish Americans to understand that the Gaza disengagement is not a defeat.
Blume's emphasis on the ongoing trauma endured by Palestinian residents of Gaza should hopefully inspire some understanding of what it has cost to maintain the Jewish presence there.
I applaud your willingness to print what is surely to invoke a heated response from many of your readers. Please keep up the courage.
I would like to thank you for your coverage of the Corries, Nasrallahs and the Rebuilding Alliance tour in your article "Two Families' Dreams Were Not Demolished."
I especially appreciate the information that you gave to help describe the broader picture, including the historical narrative. This is not just about one family, and you expressed that well, in addition to giving voice to a member of the Palestinian family present on this tour: Khaled Nasrallah.
When the tour came to Seattle, hosted by the Palestine Solidarity Committee and the American Friends Service Committee, I was pleased to also hear what Samah Nasrallah had to say, as we had an excellent translator.
Erin L. Wade
Just wanted to take the opportunity to thank you and commend you for your excellent article on Rachel Corrie and the Nasrallah family. You have written an accurate and deeply human account of the terrible struggles faced every day by Palestinians.
By publishing this article, you have demonstrated your commitment to journalistic integrity and objectivity. You have shown your newspaper's dedication to publishing unbiased accounts of events that affect all caring and compassionate people who believe in human rights and human dignity -- whether Jewish or gentile.
You have repudiated the stereotype of Jews as bigots and merciless militarists. And you have given glimmers of hope to oppressed Palestinians.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Keep presenting the truth. Stand up to opposition. You have done a real mitzvah.
Chapel Hill, N.C.
Thank you for printing the Corries' article about the demolishing of houses in Rafah. This is a brave step and one to be applauded. Thank you.
"Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore [individual citizens] have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring." -- Nuremberg War Crime Tribunal, 1950
Great article. Thank you. This very difficult situation in the Middle East does not receive much press on the human side of the conflict. We must always remember human beings are human beings.
Your article took a nonbias, human interest approach and for that I thank you.
I hope more journalists/editors will follow your lead.
Congratulations on a job well done. Continue to be leaders.
I read the article you published about the Corrie family and I found it very good. What's to be commended especially is to have these subjects touched in a Jewish paper
I am a member of Ebrei Contro l'Occupazione (Jews Against the Occupation), which is one of the organizations of EJJP (European Jews for a Just Peace)
Dr. Paola Canarutto
In this tribalist climate of Bush II, Islamic terrorism, evangelical American jingoism, etc., it is easy to accept (or cower beneath) the rationalisms of tribalists that others are less entitled to air or housing or natural resources.
So it is not surprising that accurate depictions which embarrass are the focal points of news critics. All news may be biased, but fact-based news vs. rhetorical commentary is the real issue behind assaults on PBS ("Now") and Howard Blume's excellent piece, "Two Families' Dreams Were Not Demolished."
So I am writing to support good news coverage, i.e., fact driven. If people take issue, then let them write to you with equally well-supported evidence.
I applaud Howard Blume's article on the Corries and Nasrallahs. I had not expected to see such an excellent and fair article in The Jewish Journal. Mr. Blume's work definitely gives the paper a claim to genuine journalism.
I understand that Jewish people in Los Angeles and throughout the world have not been told the truth about what is going on in Israel and Palestine, and now find it very difficult to listen when the truth is told.
However difficult, I hope you will continue your courageous editorial policy and let Mr. Blume continue to do his job.
Thank you so much for your courage to publish the article, "Two Families' Dreams Were Not Demolished," by Howard Blume.
I write to you from England to congratulate you for your excellent article, "Two Families' Dreams Were Not Demolished." A friend of mine e-mailed it to me from Los Angeles, and I was delighted that you had the courage and integrity to publish, even though you knew there would be many angry and even offensive letters and telephone calls complaining about it.
However, I would like to say to all those who have complained about the publication of this piece. It is not The Jewish Journal who is wrong, it is not them who are the enemies of Israel, the ones who offend the memory of the victims of the Holocaust or the ones responsible for the increase of anti-Semitism everywhere in the world, but those who give blind, unlimited, unconditional support to Sharon and who turn a blind eye, or even justify injustice, brutality, the destruction of many communities and ethnic cleansing, for whatever reason it may be. For as long as there are newspapers like yours, there will be hope for us all
Name withheld by request
I was very moved by the story that Howard Blume wrote about the Corrie and Nasrallah families. I so appreciate it when publications like yours and The Forward print stories considered controversial by the wider Jewish community.
To the Editor. Thank you for publishing Howard Blume's article which reflects the concerns of a growing number of people in Israel. Virtually everyone here has family or friends who know of people who are having to uproot their lives from Gaza and relocate inside Israel. It's a tragedy for these families, but a necessary one for the sake of our children and grandchildren.
However the tragedy of Palestinian home demolitions is another order of magnitude, considering that of the 13,000 houses demolished since 1967, less than 1 percent were homes of terrorists, and almost no Palestinian families received compensation.
However, the upper-class Israelis living in the Gaza Strip will be amply compensated for their spacious homes that were originally subsidized with my taxes. Uncompensated demolition of Palestinian homes is an almost daily occurrence in the occupied territories and East Jerusalem.
While the conclusion of the article touches briefly on the issue of Israel's ongoing territorial expansion in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), the issue is emerging as one that may deliver a decisive blow to any aspirations that the Palestinians may have for a viable state.
I live in Kfar Saba, a mile from the Green Line and witness daily the construction of the so-called separation barrier, and the concurrent destruction of olive groves, confiscation of land and the ever-accelerating expansion of the settlements.
Kfar Saba, Israel
Just wanted to applaud your courage and fairness in the publication about Rachel Corrie and the demolition of Palestinian homes in the occupied territories.
I want to thank the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles for publishing Howard Blume's June 26 article, "Two Families' Dreams Were Not Demolished." Everyone who truly cares about Israel must let the world know about the brutal and pointless suffering being endured by the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.
They are being killed and permanently disabled. They are suffering massive unemployment, and the educational infrastructures that are the key to their future economies are being eroded to complete ineffectiveness.
Even in Israel, where the suffering is somewhat less than among the Palestinians, more than 30 percent of the population is living beneath the poverty line.
This conflict is pointless. The Israelis are not going to disappear, leaving Israel to the Palestinians. The Palestinians are willing to die rather than diffuse into the rest of the Arab world, leaving the territories to the Israelis. Either, the Israelis and the Palestinians will beat each other back into the stone age or they will negotiate a just two-state peace.
The Geneva accord, negotiated by respected Israeli and Palestinian leaders, provides a starting point for the Israeli government and the P.A. If they care about the fate of their peoples, these parties will get to the negotiating table as quickly as possible, hopefully with the assistance of our president and legislature.
Joel A. Levitt
Ann Arbor, Mich.
I want to commend you on your courage in printing the article on the Nasrallahs and the Corries. Because statements or essays that can be interpreted as being in any way critical of the State of Israel and/or the IDF seem to ignite the defensive passions of a segment of our population, thoughtful and important articles such as this one too often go begging.
Your decision to print it is evidence that the attempt to censor information through intimidation is contrary not only to the principles of journalism but inimical to the fundamental human values we all cherish.
Having seen firsthand the conditions of life in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, met the people and seen the wounds inflicted by the occupation, I am at once appalled by the oppressive behavior of the IDF, aghast at the violent depths to which too many Palestinians have found themselves stooping in response and nearly overwhelmed by the apparent intractability of the situation.
The astonishing courage of a Rachel Corrie, then, whose willingness to put her life on the line in support of a belief in the capacity of people to overcome oppression by peaceful means cost her that very existence, offers light and a spark of hope in the face of tyranny.
That her parents and the family whose home she was attempting to protect have come together in honor of her commitment is a testament not only to Rachel but a call to all to respect that indomitable human spark within each of us.
Thank you for your willingness to honor that spark.
Your article about Rachel Corrie, "Two Families' Dreams Were Not Demolished" by Howard Blume was enlightening and educational. I and so many others genuinely appreciate your willingness to present many different stories about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
It is a testament to Judaism that the issue can continue to be discussed in such a civilized and open-minded way. I know that it takes courage to print such articles, given the backlash you must receive, but please continue to do so, as all points of view are deeply valuable to us all!
We were so impressed and heartened that you published "Two Families' Dreams Were Not Demolished." In the spirit of the Sh'ma -- listening and hearing, and not just to ourselves -- you wrote in one breath about the distress of both Palestinians and Jews in Gaza.
Your article was rich in history and detail, but distinctive mostly in its inclusiveness -- in our eyes, truly religious. If God is the largest frame of reference, is there anyone to whom we must not listen?
In these times when taking sides is adding up to nothing at all, your ability to tell both peoples' stories in one educational, heartfelt column gives us a glimpse of what the very best journalism will look like in our shared future, hopefully not far down the road.
Len Traubman, DDS
Congratulations for having the courage to print the article by Howard Blume regarding the experience of Palestinians and Rachel Corrie's parents. American Jews have sheltered themselves from alternative narratives.
The Jewish press has an invaluable role to play in educating our people so that they can begin to come to terms with ways Israeli policies could become more productive for peace and Israel's security.
I hope you continue to print articles such as Blume's with the conviction that you are, indeed, serving the American Jewish community.
Thank you for your courageously honest article "Two Families' Dreams Were Not Demolished" by Howard Blume. I find it encouraging to see a Jewish newspaper write accurately about the Israeli army's horrific practices, including Palestinian house demolitions in the Gaza strip.
I look forward to reading further articles about similar subjects on your Web site.
Becaria de la Comision Fulbright Argentina
Universidad de Buenos Aires
Department of Anthropology
University of California, Berkeley
Thanks for the fine, factual, and moving article Howard Blume has written about the two Palestinian families in Gaza whose home was demolished by the IDF. Amazingly, their dreams for a better future remain strong.
They will build a new house in Gaza after the settler families leave. Please let me and other readers know how we can help.
The tragic death of Rachel Corrie shows how much we have to answer for. She was crushed by an IDF tractor while trying to defend the families' home. Blume quotes Rachel's mother, who feels that she and her husband bought with their U.S. tax monies the Caterpillar tractor that apparently killed their daughter. So did we all.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
Thanks for publishing Howard Blume's article about the Corrie/Nasrallah tour, "Two Families' Dreams Were Not Demolished." The article was forwarded to me, and I found it to be an accurate and moving reminder of the harsh life Palestinians are subjected to under the occupation. It's time for generous steps toward peace.
I wish to add my appreciation for the remarkable article in the Jewish Journal re: the Rachel Corrie/Nasrallah tour when it came to the West Coast recently. It must have taken a lot of courage knowing how much sensitivity and controversy exists around these matters. I was sent the article by a friend in Ann Arbor who works hard for greater understanding of these issues.
Rod and Helen Hokenson,
There are many other important articles to print on Jewish events and issues around the world, as well as Los Angeles. A disproportionate amount of space was appropriated to Rachel Corrie's memorial in The Jewish Journal.
First of all, her organization, International Solidarity Movement, is not an "activist" group as stated in the article. It is a euphemism for the International Communist Party, which is, and always has been, hostile to Israel's very existence.
After years of folly, Stanley Sheinbaum and his allies have refused to acknowledge their monumental failure in endorsing Arafat, the Arab neo-Nazi.
As a result, Rachel Corrie has become the new poster girl for the pro-Palestinian cause. Hopefully, the Palestinian rejection of Oslo and ensuing intifadas will prevent many Jews from repeating the same mistake twice.
I would like to express my appreciation for Howard Blume's article, "Two Families' Dreams Were Not Demolished." By printing this timely, important and well-researched article, you render great service to your readers and to Jewish communities all over the United States.
As an American and an Israeli who has lived in Jerusalem since 1990, I know the ugly and threatening face of Arab terrorism. Yet as a peace activist working with Palestinian families whose homes are threatened with destruction and who has witnessed the demolitions of Palestinian homes, I am familiar with the cruel policies that Blume describes.
Only a small minority of the homes Israel has demolished belonged to terrorists or their families. Many more demolished homes were simply inconveniently located from the point of view of the Israeli Defense Forces.
In many other cases, homes are demolished because they were built without permits. But in Area C and in East Jerusalem, requests for building permits by Palestinians are routinely rejected.
Can you imagine families whose children returned from school one day to find their house reduced to rubble? I have met such a family.
As a religious Jew, I am appalled at the hijacking of religion to support senseless policies. Those who claim Gaza and the Shomron in the name of Divine right to the land, while leaving the bill to be paid by a nation of homeless orphans and beggars, are deluding themselves and endangering the Jewish state.
Dr. Daniel Rohrlich
I am writing about the article, "Two Families' Dreams Were Not Demolished." I am French and was born before World War II, and all my life commitment is that what happened to the Jews should not happen again anywhere.
I still strongly believe that Israel would be stronger and would gain more benefit from respecting human rights on its territory and in the occupied territories. This is why I congratulate you for publishing the article you did in your newspaper, which is unhappily part also of the story about Israel.
I am writing to you to congratulate you for your courage in writing about Rachel Corrie's horrid death. It is very important that people understand the consequences of some actions by the Israeli military. Thank you for your courage.
Grace B. White
Thank you for publishing Howard Blume's excellent article, "Two Families' Dreams Were Not Demolished." This is one of the most comprehensive, clear, honest and courageous accounts of the conflict between settlers/Israeli government and Palestinian residents of Gaza that I have seen yet, and a most moving presentation of this conflict through focus on the Nasrallah family.
Mr. Blume's article deserves widespread attention across this country -- and, I would add, in both Israel and its Arab neighbors.
Elsa Marston Harik
Hi. A friend sent me a wonderful article from your publication titled, "Two Families' Dreams Were Not Demolished." I just wanted to applaud you all for writing such a lovely article about these two families, and for covering an important subject that many people just choose to ignore or avoid.
I applaud your telling of the story of the Nasrallah family and their home being rebuilt in Rafah. I met the family and saw the Corries again when they were in town.
It is important that all people's rights be acknowledged and the injustice done to this family and Rachel Corrie. It is important to criticize cruel and illegal actions of our country and others like Israel when inhumane acts are done in our name.
Being American or being Jewish does not supersede our obligation to make the U.S. and Israel accountable for their crimes we ultimately pay for.
Kathleen O'Connor Wang
A friend in L.A. forwarded me Howard Blume's "Two Familes' Dreams Were Not Demolished" and I wanted to write a note of thanks to both Howard Blume for writing such a wonderfully informational piece and to The Jewish Journal for publishing it.
Some of what attracted me to Judaism in the 1990s was its foundation of justice. I have since been deeply disappointed that the tenets of Judaism I learned and came to love after studying with a rabbi have been overcome by a vapid call for nationalism and oppression, but in many ways unbeknownst to those who make the call to support Israel "right or wrong."
I have long held the opinion, as I continue to do so today, that if most Jewish Americans knew what the Israeli government was doing to Palestinians in the name of Judaism they'd be horrified, and they'd get with organizations like Brit Tzedek or APN or Tikkun or Jewish Voice for Peace and they'd be counted amongst what I call "the true Jews" who call for a just peace, who call for an end to settlements, an end to occupation.
Howard Blume's article was a service to the Jewish American community in my opinion. Jews wonder "why do people hate us?" The answer isn't the pat old "anti-Semitism" (although there certainly is enough of that to be frightened of) but no, Jewish Americans need to know what the rest of the world knows: That the Israeli government is doing awful things in their name. They need to know that in order to be able to stand up to it.
I also appreciated Howard Blume putting such context to the Rachel Corrie story. Without knowing the circumstances that called that called Rachel to do what she did, one can almost understand why so many accuse her of being in a place she shouldn't have been.
The reality is, of course, that she was in a place every human being should be in: standing up against injustice, whether inflicted by our own government or another.
I want to thank you for your story, "Two Families' Dreams Were Not Demolished" by Howard Blume. The story about Palestinian home demolitions and the tragic killing of Rachel Corrie is important for the Jewish community to realize.
While I understand the deep feeling that many have for the State of Israel, that should not prevent honest and objective news about what is actually happening on the ground to those Palestinians who have lived for decades in the areas upon which the Jewish settlers wish to encroach.
The first step in the path to peace in Israel is the ending of the occupation and the complete withdrawal of the settlers from Palestinian lands. Only then will both peoples be able to sit down and negotiate an end to this awful conflict.
Thank you very much for including the article in your newspaper on the Corries-Nasrallalhs.
Federal Way, Wash
I am a syndicated columnist-talk show hostess who has never, and will probably never, see my columns in your paper, because I am not a 'self-hater' and support the Jewish state.
I had been told by others over the years that the reason you never published my work was because I "told it like it is" and didn't march to the leftist party line of your editor. I didn't believe it.
However, after reading that biased anti-Israel column written by your senior editor, Howard Blume, which calls for the violent destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews while supporting the terrorists, Rachel Corrie, I now understand.
A Jewish newspaper? Unbelievable.
Thank you very much for your wonderful article ("Two Families' Dreams Were Not Demolished") in The Jewish Journal.
I attended the event with the Corries and the Nasrallahs in Venice, (my hometown), and I feel it's extremely important that their stories be told, especially since our mainstream media generally drops the ball on reporting events happening in the occupied territories.
They're working toward understanding and peace, and some first steps are to speak truth and expect truth and fight for justice.
It takes genuine courage and humanity to write from such fair and honest perspective. I complement you on both your courage and honesty.
I'm a 58-year-old American and a Sephardic Jew. I'm fully aware that leveling criticism where Israel is concerned can result in everything from labels being hurled to careers being demolished.
One would think that "the only democracy in the Middle East" could withstand some criticism, but G-d forbid. I'm frankly not about defining my Jewishness by Israeli standards and policies. I'm a very proud Jew, but I never want to put my Jewishness ahead of my humanity.
Let us all be guided by love, our humanity and our desires for justice and peace.
All the best to you. Thank you.
John P. Jones
I know how difficult it is to present both sides of the Gaza story. Your story was remarkably fair, something I rarely see. Thank you.
Mr. Howard Blume: Thank you very much for your moving article about the Corries and Nasrallahs. I never met Rachel Corrie, but I know her parents and attended her memorial service in Olympia, Wash, where most of the town turned out. She was obviously a remarkable young women.
I also heard the Corries and Nasrallahs speak here in Tacoma. I appreciate your pointing out that while Israeli citizens of Gaza settlements are protesting the amount of compensation they may receive for relocating, Palestinians whose homes have been bulldozed receive nothing, are provided with no alternative housing and are usually refused building permits, even if they can afford to rebuild somewhere
I have been concerned about the Palestine-Israel situation since my childhood in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood of Los Angeles, among people I dearly loved. This was in the 1930s, and from earliest childhood, I heard about persecution of Jews in Europe, and I heard cruel slurs about Jews closer to home. Both angered me.
I went to school with children who had fled with their parents from Germany or Austria, and as an adult, I have counted Holocaust survivors among my close friends.
My Jewish friends taught me my passion for justice, and in time, I learned that justice has to apply to everyone, even Palestinians. In 1993 I was in Israel and visited Gaza. This was pre-Oslo, Arafat still in exile, the first intifada had worn down, and the Israelis were totally in charge.
I watched three large Israeli soldiers trash a tiny dwelling in a refugee camp. I saw a three-story apartment building totally demolished by Israeli soldiers looking for a pair of "wanted men" who turned out not to be there. One hundred and fifty people were left homeless, and I wondered if this contributed to Israeli "security."
I saw the red-tiled roofs of the villas where Israeli settlers lived with lawns and swimming pools behind high walls guarded by fierce dogs and Israeli soldiers. I wondered then, in 1993, why anyone would want to live like this, only yards away from some of the poorest people on earth.
An Israeli friend in Jerusalem even told me then that he thought these settlements should all be abolished, as he felt they served neither a security nor a religious purpose (he had no objection to the settlements in the West Bank).
Above all, I want peace and security for both communities, and I have no doubt that the Israelis cannot have security without granting security and justice to the Palestinians. I deeply appreciate your efforts in telling this story, as I am sure many Americans -- Jewish or not -- simply do not know the situation.
Bernice L. Youtz
I want to commend you for the accurate and true depiction about "Two Families' Dreams Not Demolished".
It is such writing that will bridge the gap between Palestinians and Israelis.
Nidal A. Barakat
The problem with your Rachel Corrie article and the Jewish people that support the Palestinian cause is that it completely ignores the education of hatred in Palestinian schools today, the use of their own civilians as shields by Palestinian militants and feeds into the 'poor me' mentality of Palestinians that have been handed over more money per capita than any other population in the history of the world, and had it stolen and squandered by their own leaders.
Anything the IDF does pales in comparison to the blame that must be shouldered by the Arabs themselves that allow their leadership to treat them with such lack of respect.
I have read the courageous article published in The Jewish Journal on the Corrie and Nasrallah families and want to tell you how much I appreciate your publishing it.
As a Jewish American who has been in Gaza many times in recent years, I believe it is of utmost importance for U.S. media to publicize what wrongs have been committed there, not only since the beginning of the second intifada but during the long years of occupation, 38 years, to be exact.
Rachel Corrie was an American heroine, a nonviolent protester against injustice, someone we should be very proud of. Unfortunately, there have been numerous attempts in the United States to damage her name and reputation.
The fact remains that she acted heroically to try to prevent a grave injustice, the demolishing of a house of a Palestinian family in Rafah. This more than brave act will keep her memory alive in the minds of all of us who oppose the Israeli occupation and the violation of the most basic human rights.
I wish to express my deep gratitude that you had the courage to publish Mr. Blume's excellent article.
As a retired executive director of the Life & Peace Institute, Uppsala, Sweden -- an ecumenical international center for peace research and action -- and as a former journalist and editor-in-chief of a Christian periodical, let me compliment you and Howard Blume for the excellent article "Two Families.'"
This kind of balanced and fair reporting is -- sorry to say -- too rare in ethnic journals and as such especially valuable. I take for granted that you anticipated a lot of criticism to come; consequently you proved great courage by deciding to publish.
There is still hope.
May peace and justice be restored and prevail.
I have read with interest your article on the circumstances surrounding the death of Rachel Corrie and the demolition of the Nasrallah family home. I am gratified that you chose to cover the story in such a fair manner.
My grandparents, Orthodox Jews, came to the U.S. from the Ukraine in the early 1900s, and throughout my life, I have heard family members calling that land Palestine.
In 1948, we had a very small television on which we saw grainy pictures of fleeing Palestinian families carrying belongings, their children and the elderly on their backs.
I recall my father saying, "The poor Palestinians; they didn't deserve that."
I was very young, but when I close my eyes I can still see the looks of terror on their faces.
In the 1980s and 1990s, I made eight trips to what the world refers to as "Israel and the occupied territories." I met many families like the Nasrallahs.
They had lost their homes, often more than once. Their livelihood had often been lost as well. Many still carried the keys to their homes.
I believe that there is room for both peoples on the land and that, for the sake of peace, each side should listen to the pleas of the other and make accommodations. To visit on the Palestinians further agony would be to forget how much it hurts to suffer dispossession, something the Jewish people should never forget
Barbara J. Taft
The article by Howard Blume, "Two Families' Dreams Were Not Demolished" was beautifully and accurately written. Thank you for your courage and integrity in publishing it.
We American people need to hear more about the lives of Palestinians, their struggles and aspirations. And we need to know how we have participated, through our taxes and our silence, in their oppression.
Howard Blume and The Journal are to be commended for a brave, straightforward report that too many readers will rush to repudiate.
Any viable Jewish future in Israel/Palestine requires making common cause with our Palestinian cousins, in search of a different kind of shared reality, via political arrangements that Israelis and Palestinians will have to co-create together -- simply because no people can co-create a shared future alone.
The major stumbling block is Jewish and American fear and loathing of Palestinian Arabs, a remarkable people whose gifts remain largely untapped, while yet another generation languishes in geopolitical limbo.
As adversaries, Palestinians have been stubbornly unsinkable; as potential partners with whom to fashion a new shared reality, they could be truly magnificent.
As surely as James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner died for the right of black Americans to vote, Rachel Corrie gave her young life for the Palestinian right to self-determination with dignity. In her name, let us abandon the war of the historical narratives and seek the kind of future Rachel envisioned, one in which Palestinians finally take their rightful place in the sun, along with all the rest of us.
Chutzpah has been defined as the man who kills his parents and pleads for mercy because he is now an orphan. Nowhere in your article on the Gaza families does it suggest that if they want peace, they should stop murdering Jews. The opposite: It assumes that if Israelis are in Gaza, then hostility against them is just natural as the sea breezes.
What is breathtaking is that any Jew here thinks that by supporting such an attitude, they are supporting peace.
These families had no objection to the use of their homes and their neighbors' homes as weapons depots in a war of their own making.
They gave it their own name; called it an intifada. Why does it not register with some Jews that these poor 'victims' condone murder.
Just ask these Arabs: "Do you approve of militant action against Zionists." Ninety-five percent of them will say "yes." The only way a Jew can accept that is to agree that Israel indeed has no rights at all to be in Gaza.
Pretty much the same people who deny Israel's biblical right to be there also deny the divinity of the Bible. So naturally, for them the Bible is no argument.
They may not realize that by canceling out a biblical basis they are also denying the very reason Israel is on that land and not some place in Uganda.
Those who look to Arab rights as having authority from the 1948 partition ignore the facts that not only was the U.N. decree a nonstarter for the Arabs, never ever accepted by them to this day (as it would imply a right for Israel to exist), but it denies that wars have any impact on geopolitics. Those people must have been sleeping in history class if they attended at all.
In any case, the very appearance of this lengthy article in the local Jewish press is a major embarrassment to the Los Angeles Jewish community. The reason it is an affront to everyone to the right of Yossi Sarid and his buddy, Sheinbaum should be clear: It feels no less than as if The Journal is telling the stories of poor Nazi families displaced because of the war.
It is not our place to be sympathetic for them, unless they demonstrate that their goal is permanent, peaceful coexistence with a viable Israel, and fight to stop all Arab attacks against any Jew. They did not do so.
Because the editor may not be aware or sensitive, I write to point out what should have been obvious. When so many, if not most, Jews in Los Angeles saw these pictures, we saw only those who support the murder of Jews.
Thanks for your article about home demolition on both sides. The only way to end the painful conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is to bring justice and fairness to both sides. It can happen.
Keep up the good work of keeping dialogue open between peoples who can help each other, instead of hurting and hurting and hurting.
I want to thank you for your article on the Corrie and Nasrallah families. It brought some hope to my day to read about people from different countries and different religions working together for the chance of peace. I greatly appreciate it.
I would like to applaud you for the editorial bravery it must have taken to run the story ["Two Families' Dreams Were Not Demolished"]. This conflict will not end until people come to realize that a Palestinian life is just as valuable as an Israeli one.
Assistant professor of Arabic and International Studies
Robert A. Jones House
Your article on the demolition of the home of Khaled and Samah Nasrallah found its way to Des Moines Iowa. I applaud your thoughtful approach.
Rachel Corrie's parents, Cindy and Craig, graduated from Drake University in Des Moines, and they still have several Iowa relatives. It took courage to do the article.
Des Moines, Iowa
Howard Blume hates Jewry and loves our enemies, judging by: "But it could be worse. These families could be Palestinians."
Their displacement is more grievous than our displacement?
What does he claim was the purpose in digging and concealing the tunnels from Egypt? Why add "according to the Israeli government" to the fact that they were for smuggling arms?
The ancestral homeland of the Arabs is Arabia. Ours is the country which even the Arabs were calling "the land of the Jews" when they first invaded it.
By definition, we can not be "occupiers" in our own country. We captured Gaza from the Egyptian occupiers, thus liberating it. It was they who took it "by military force" in 1948.
The local Muslims and the invading armies portrayed that U.N. resolution partitioning Palestine as a scrap of paper impaled on their bayonets. Too late for them to base a claim on it now.
Nor did the resolution set aside land as "Palestinian." It divided the mandate into ARAB and Jewish territories. Both peoples, and the minorities, who lived in the mandate were all called Palestinian. Use of that name to designate only Arabs is a propaganda device used since the '60s' to delegitimize Jewish rights in the country.
We suppose that any Muslim "could prove to be a suicide bomber," because they use women, children and even ambulances to deliver bombs. We control the seacoast to stop arms ships like the Karine-B.
And Mr. Blume supports "open borders?" With Jews like him, who needs enemies?
The law decreeing razing of terrorists' homes was promulgated by the Turkish occupiers, kept on the books by the British occupiers and kept also by Israel. Therefore, it was a Muslim law that was good enough for a Christian regime, too. Why may only Jews not enforce it?
ISM does not promote peace. It facilitates the terrorists' war. It is not just nonviolent. It smuggled terrorists across from Gaza to slaughter Jews, and arms were found in its offices.
Rachel Corrie was not killed standing in the open, as in the accompanying photo, but later, at another site, when she was hidden by a mound of debris. In any case, she was shielding terrorists, and so was personally complicit in their terror.
Nasrallah mourns Muslims killed by Israeli bullets, but not those killed by Muslim bullets (like the boy photographed dying in his father's arms, but shot by the terrorists) Nor does he mention Israeli women and children shot by them at point-blank range.
If Rachel Corrie received third-degree burns while she was igniting the American Flag, would her parents sue the match company, the kerosene company or the makers of the flag?
In response to the June 24 article "Factory Farms Akin to Shoah Suffering," I have much to say. I understand how you could find it offensive that PETA made such a comparison, but as I am not Jewish, I am unable to see it from your viewpoint. Noam's grandfather was a lucky man to have survived the horrors of Auschwitz.
Call me young; call me naive, but I see it as a suitable comparison of factory farming and the Holocaust, even if offensive. Just as the Jewish people of Europe were confined, beaten, starved, tortured, experimented on, etc., so are the cows and other animals we raise in factory farms every day.
I know this is a touchy subject, and do forgive me if in saying what I have, I have offended any person who should read this, but to me it is a harsh reality.
It is a pity that the callous headline by a callous typesetter will distract readers from Noam Mohr's anguished article about the animal factory farming system. Having been myself the victim of stupid headlines attached to letters or articles by me, I resent the power of the headline, usually composed by a typesetter who may have simply glanced at the article.
The headline for Noam Mohr's article is one of the worst I have seen. It could just as easily have read, "A Lesson From the Holocaust." It would have taken no more space.
Those who write misleading headlines should be made to explain why they did what they did. The headline for Noam Mohr's article certainly violated what Elias Canetti called "the conscience of words."
I just watched the news show, "20/20," on ABC that talked about kabbalah ("TV Probes Kabbalah," June 24). After watching it, I'm dumbfounded and disgusted.
I will admit that when I went to Israel for the first time on my birthright trip, we spent time in Tzfat with David Friedman (no relation) and learned about kabbalah and his kabbalah artwork. It was beautiful and really meant something important.
This type of kabbalah is completely ridiculous to me. Kabbalah water? Red string bracelets? This is how a cult looks and smells.
Comparing it to Judaism is a complete shame. I almost place this in the same category as Jews for Jesus. The only difference being the belief in Jesus.
Sad, just sad.
I wish I could agree with Neusner's praise of Chabad in your of June 17 ("Why Reform, Chabad Are Necessary"). I find them to be a bigoted, self-servicing religious body best described as a cult, with lots of chutzpah, and whose pockets are lined with lots of money, and no lay board to govern them. Nor do we need ghetto living in America.
One additional comment on the former Defense Secretary William Cohen.
I got to know him through one of my closest AZA buddies from Bangor, Maine.
Cohen was ready for his bar mitzvah. But as his mother was Catholic; the Orthodox Rabbi refused to allow it.
I have read some letters about the "disengagement" in The Jewish Journal and like to raise few points ("The Battle Over Gaza in America," June 17).
It seems that everybody that deals with the topic has the for a starting point the fact that "Jews live in Gush Kattif (the Gaza Strip) and they are to be uprooted from their homes."
People seem to forget that Gush Katif is not a part of the State of Israel. The area was conquered by Israel in the 1967 War from Egypt, who controlled the area from 1948 under the 1949 agreements.
In the 1970s, Israelis started settling there (with the aid of the Israeli governments) as they saw great economic prospects -- the land and houses were cheap, and they could use the local Palestinians for slave labor, employing them for peanuts.
The area has never been annexed or declared part of Israel. In 1993 (Oslo agreement), it was clear that this part of the land, together with the West Bank, will be part of a future Palestinian state, which will be established at the end of the political process. Yet the residents of Gush Kattif continued to live there, as they could not give up the high standard of living and the luxurious homes and castles they built there, exploiting the cheap labor of the native population.
Now when the Sharon government decided to disengage from the Gaza Strip and return it to its rightful owners -- the Palestinians, these people refuse to move.
Israel has uprooted thousands of Palestinians and demolished their homes during 38 years of occupation. None of them got a single penny for compensation. The people of Gush Kattif, who lived on a land which was not theirs to start with, are getting a lot of money and new homes in Israel (my money as a taxpayer in Israel and your money as a donator or a taxpayer in the U.S.) yet they pretend to be miserable (and I am not mentioning the young Israeli soldiers who pay with their lives to keep these people making huge profits and maintaining their high standard of living.)
Therefore, I have no sympathy nor compassion for these people, and if I involve sympathy in this case, it certainly goes to the Palestinians who were uprooted from their homes and used as slave labor by the "poor settlers" who are about to get millions in compensation and new homes inside sovereign Israel.
Hopefully the cover story on "SaveGushKatif.org" signals a point of teshuva for The Jewish Journal, that they now will become an illuminating force to help the Jewish people maintain the sacred land designated for them ("The Battle Over Gaza in America").
One can only wonder what would happen if the struggle was for Native Americans trying to hold onto their sacred land? Where would The Journal stand on this?
The recent victory of 2,500 Los Angeles hotel workers was more than a success for Los Angeles' working people. Throughout the 14-month labor dispute, Jewish community support and involvement was overwhelming, prompting many involved in the campaign, Jews and non-Jews alike, to observe that we were planting the seeds of a "new Jewish-Latino alliance."
We at PJA thank all of the Jewish communal organizations and congregations, as well as the hundreds of individuals, who stood with us and the workers and helped usher in a new era in Los Angeles.
Progressive Jewish Alliance
In a recent article, you once again refer to Hamas as a "militant" group. Isn't a stronger adjective than militant required in light of Hamas' charter, which not only calls for the "obliteration" of all of Israel, but also calls for "fighting against Jews and killing them," as well as liberally quoting from "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," a fraudulent discredited anti-Semitic treatise that claims the Jews are conspiring to rule the world.
Hamas, who has murdered over half the Israeli Jews since the Palestinian terror war began in 2000, deserves the appellation "terrorist" every bit as much as Al Qaeda.
Morton A. Klein
Zionist Organization of America
I could not agree with you more that in the debate of how to expose our youth to Jewish values, the beauty of Jewish tradition and keep them from abandoning their rich heritage, Jewish sleep-away camps have been most greatly ignored. In fact, when trying to raise money to create new Jewish camps in California, enthusiasm has been, well, let's just say, not overwhelming.
Although my children, who have the benefit of being involved in a tight-knit Jewish community through our synagogue, when it comes to sending them to an Orthodox summer camp, I must go as far as Wisconsin, Toronto or New York. Although there are a number of excellent Jewish camps of other Jewish affiliations in California, many Jewish families cannot afford to avail their children of this life-changing experience.
Your editorial highlights that disconnected Jewish children need to have to grow up ignorant of their traditions, and Jewish camp is a perfect way to expose these children to the complete picture. Like the foundation for Jewish camping you mention, I am involved in the Foundation for Jewish Education, http://www.tfjeinc.org."
A relatively new organization, the Foundation for Jewish Education in its first year, 2004, sent children to Camp Alonim for two weeks and hopes to double the figure this year. The Foundation for Jewish Education, like Mr. Silverman's foundation, recognizes the unique opportunity a Jewish summer camp experience offers to Jewish children all over the country who have not had any exposure to Jewish culture, heritage or close association with the State of Israel.
All of these components, together with the unifier of experiencing them with peers, are invaluable and cannot be duplicated in any other form.
I ask that you publish this letter so that our foundation is made known to your readers. There are many children out there who need this opportunity desperately.
But in truth, as Jews in America, saving our Jewish youth is saving our collective future.
Tax deductible donations may be made c/o the Foundation for Jewish education, 433 N. Camden Drive, Suite 888, Beverly Hills, CA 90210