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August 9, 2001 | 8:00 pm

Israeli Solidarity

On July 22, a number of progressive Jewish organizations stood together at a rally that was billed as an expression of "solidarity with the people of Israel." We came because we believe that love and support transcends ideology.

To be sure, we were concerned that the cry of "Israel, right or wrong" might drown out calls for a just resolution of the conflict.

But rally organizers at The Jewish Federation and the Israeli Consulate assured us and the Jewish community in general that the rally would be an "apolitical" message of solidarity to the people of Israel.

Unfortunately, this message largely got lost at the rally.

From the opening "joke" -- a tasteless suggestion that the Palestinians do not have legitimate attachments to the land in which they live -- to the declaration (repeated by two of the highest-ranking Federation officials) that the rally was a show of support for the "government of Israel," a tone was set that was anything but apolitical. As the rally progressed, we were treated to the spectacle of rabbis calling for revenge and enmity.

In addition, we heard Israel's foreign minister booed by extremists, who also screamed at, threatened, and, in at least one incident, physically assaulted others in the crowd with whom they disagreed.

Given the risk that this sort of thing might happen, why did we agree to participate in the rally? Progressives in the Jewish community cannot abandon the field to any extremists -- whether on the left or the right -- who refuse to recognize that the suffering of all must end, and that the demonization of only one side is the ultimate act of self-destruction.

Daniel Sokatch, Executive Director, Progressive Jewish Alliance; David Pine, West Coast Regional Director, Americans for Peace Now; Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, Coordinator, Coalition for Justice in Jerusalem and Hawaiian Gardens; David Moses, Regional Director, New Israel Fund

What frightens me about David N. Myers is the fact that he is a professor of Jewish history at UCLA, and undoubtedly he influences those he is teaching at the university ("Rally Later," July 27).

For shame that he finds the time to find fault with a mere 5,000 Jews who felt it an obligation to travel to 6505 Wilshire Blvd. to a rally sponsored by The Jewish Federation in order to show their solidarity with Israel, at a time when Israel is attacked by the whole world for wanting to survive.

Sylvia Kellerman, Los Angeles

Other Sides

Rob Eshman's editorial (Aug. 3) is an honest challenge to those organizations which spend more time apologizing for Israel than educating about the country and its culture. Congratulations for a brave editorial position.

Too many of our leaders seem to measure loyalty in terms of bravery and posturing, and seem grateful that we have at last unmasked an intransigent opponent. If we raised the level of the discourse, perhaps a lot of the apathetic Jewish majority could come to understand that interest and support does not mean that one must always blame the other side, or play along with every effort to be more patriotic than the next person.

William Cutter, Professor of Hebrew Language and Literature, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

You state in your editorial that "Israeli Prime Ministers don't need American Jewish boosters to tell them that the ultimate aim of the Palestinians is an end to the Jewish state," and then you urge "Jewish leaders and organizations to stop oversimplifying the complex equation that must eventually work itself out in the Middle East."

My question is this: What is so complex about an enemy who wants to destroy you? After the "remarkable progress" you mentioned in the peace talks, Israel was rewarded with 10 months of remarkably barbaric terrorism. How complicated is that equation?

In the safe, mushy world of your editorial, everyone is equally responsible, every mistake is created equal. As if calling for the destruction of the Jewish State is on par with road closings and home demolitions; as if teaching little kids to kill, and gullible grown-ups to commit suicide to murder innocent civilians, is on par with building new apartment units in disputed territory, or eliminating terrorists before they blow up another school bus.

It takes gutsy reporting to stick your neck out and admit that some mistakes are bigger than others, that some people are more guilty than others, that some realities are just too painful to bear.

After seven years of being drunk on Oslo, while falling for the lies of a corrupt dictator and ignoring his build-up of a terrorist state, we now are left with this unbearable reality: Until the Palestinians believe that terrorism never pays, and that we too are ready to struggle and die for our cause, they may never respect us enough to make peace with us. Is that complex enough for you?

David Suissa, Los Angeles

J.D. Smith

Thanks for perpetuating a really annoying stereotype ("Jewish Girls Rule," July 27). Not all of us are "hard-to-please ... shop-a-holics" (although most women of all persuasions are "diet-obsessed," I will admit). Don't you think obsessing over clothes and shoes (and you forgot to mention hair and nails) is a teensy bit on the shallow and vacuous side? It's certainly nothing to be proud of. If that's what you like in a woman, good for you. But the rest of us have better things to do with our time.

Samantha Kahn, Los Angeles

I think J.D. Smith's column was so on target I had my 19-year-old son read it immediately. I will also send it to my 16-year-old son, who is a CIT at Hess Kramer. You very humorously described what all Jewish mothers have been trying to tell their sons for years.

My older son son told me that he thinks the most truthful part is that you can't describe to a non-Jewish girlfriend what your mother is really like. I will definitely keep this column for the future, with the most sincere hope that my kids take it to heart.

Jean Orenstein, via e-mail



Kids Page Error

The Jewish Journal's For The Kids page is doing a wonderful service by giving the children valuable information. Therefore, it is especially troubling when the July 3 page perpetuates a common mistake. The year 1 B.C.E. was followed by the year 1 C.E.. There was never a year 0.

Mark Kashper, Sherman Oaks

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