Rob Eshman is right (“Look,” March 18). We should mourn any child killed during war, either intentionally or unintentionally. But the real question is, who started the violence? The Nazis remained the aggressors even though many German children were killed by the allies in World War II. Look again at the facts. Palestinian leaders have misled their own people, rejecting all offers for peaceful compromise, incessantly fomenting state-sponsored hatred by demonizing Israelis and Jews, even in their children’s schoolbooks and TV shows. Look again.
Israel vacated Gaza in 2005, making it Judenrein as Palestinians demanded, but Palestinian leaders chose to build rockets instead of better futures for their own children. Look at the thousands of rockets that Hamas and its affiliates launched at Israelis, including at children and nursery schools in Sderot and other cities. Israel waited for three years and tolerated thousands of rockets before it responded with military force, longer than any other nation would have waited to protect its people and children from such terrorism. They wanted to avoid war. Look again.
Hamas used human shields and hid its weaponry in Palestinian neighborhoods, schools and mosques. The deaths of Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish’s daughters are indeed tragic. But Hamas and the PA’s anti-Israel incitement and actions fomented the war that caused their deaths. If Dr. Abuelaish directed Palestinian policy, his children might be alive today. But he doesn’t. Look again.
Rob Eshman Responds:
Though I don’t think it’s historic or helpful to hold the Israelis 100 percent blameless and equate the Palestinians with Nazis, the point of my editorial was not to divide blame equally between the Israelis and the Palestinians. My point was that these two peoples’ destinies are irrevocably interconnected. Their political leaders need to behave in ways that increase, rather than decrease, the chances of a peaceful marriage. Palestinian barbarity doesn’t justify Israeli shortsightedness.
Death Penalty Disagreement
Dennis Prager is, of course, correct that the Torah sanctions, and even mandates, capital punishment for murderers (“Murderers Should Die,” March 18). And if you believe in the eternal truth of the Torah, that imperative remains as relevant today as 3,700 years ago. However, Mr. Prager’s argument is not as convincing when it comes to possibly putting innocent people to death. To argue that in the greater interest of society, it is OK to put a few innocent people to death, is disingenuous and against the basic values of Judaism. The Talmud teaches us that to save a single life is to save an entire world. How can we then be so cavalier about putting a few innocent people to death for the good of the greater society? I wonder if Mr. Prager would make the same argument if it were his own son who was wrongly sentenced to death.
I will refrain from calling Dennis Prager a right-wing slimeball, as Marty Kaplan was labeled by someone who disagrees with Kaplan’s views (Letters, March 18), and neither will I dispute that many people deserve to be put to death, including Michael Woodmansee, Timothy McVeigh, Charles Manson, etc. But for Prager to state that the incidence of innocent people being put to death “is so rare (if it has happened at all in the last half century)” is disingenuous and false. What’s rare? And isn’t one [innocent person] one too many? Perhaps Prager has forgotten about the kangaroo trials in the South, or the recent events in Texas, where it was found that more than one person who was executed may have been innocent and where district attorneys and the attorney general are currently contesting DNA testing, including for those on death row. Or, perhaps, he is not aware of the correlation between those put to death and their economic status. Lobby for the death penalty if you will, but don’t overlook the fact that corrupt prosecutors, racist juries and economic disadvantage may still be factors operating in murder trials and subsequent penalties. Dennis, check out Barry Scheck’s Innocence Project.
Remember the Panthers
I was very happy to read of Valley Torah’s runs for the championship and disappointed they were not successful (“View Park Ends Valley Torah’s State Championship Run,” March 18). I would like to clarify that Valley Torah was not the first Jewish high school to reach the California Interscholastic Federation Division 5 state championship quarterfinal round.
The 1987 YULA Panthers had been victorious in the Liberty League and also reached the quarterfinals. The YULA team was composed of several talented individuals: Steven Glouberman, Jeff Kupietzky, Dan Laks, Lenny Moise, Bret Pevan, Elisha Rothman, Charlie Silberstein, Avi Steinlauf, Ari Wasserman and myself.
Rabbi Benjamin Kessler
Kew Gardens Hills, N.Y.