February 27, 2003
Being very familiar with the StandWithUs brochure David Myers referred to I am puzzled as to where in its 16 pages there is any mention or implication of Israel as "defenseless in the face of hostile neighbors" (Letters, Feb. 21). I can only conclude that it is Myers' subjective analysis of the brochure that led him to this interpretation.
Do we diminish Hertzl's magnificent vision for Israel by taking a sobering look at the region surrounding her? Do we "do violence" to America's place as the world's superpower by acknowledging that there are very real threats against her? To look superficially at a "powerhouse" as omnipotent would be a suicidal recipe.
Our brochure, requested by academics and students alike (to date almost a quarter of a million have been distributed internationally) is filled with historical facts, and proudly notes Israel's record on human rights, humanitarian efforts worldwide, peace initiatives and scientific advancements. The totality of information presents Israel as a light among nations.
It is our belief that with a willingness to confront and understand the complexities of the region, real dialogue will ensue that can ultimately lead to an end of the suffering of both the Israelis and Palestinians. If campus educators such as Myers would be willing to look beyond their own biases and provide the balanced dialogue campus students call us regularly to request, we would gladly leave it to them. Those who wish to decide for themselves can order a free brochure from firstname.lastname@example.org .
Esther Renzer, Acting President, StandWithUs
In professor David Myers' letter, he urges Roz Rothstein and Robeta Seid of StandWithUs to "leave education to the educators." As past president of Bruins For Israel (UCLA's pro-Israel student group) I found that many of the educators have not only been unhelpful in presenting a balanced view of the conflict, but have used their positions and departments to spew anti-Israel rhetoric and to provide a platform for anti-Israel speakers and unbalanced panel discussions. The moderate view is seldom presented through the educators at UCLA.
Due to the biased presentations given to students by many of their educators as well as the vehement lies and propaganda paraded on campus by the pro-Palestinian groups, Bruins for Israel relies on the support from outside organizations such as Hillel, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Israeli Consulate, The Jewish Federation and StandWithUs to provide a pro-Israel presence at UCLA. The materials, speakers and community support that StandWithUs has given to pro-Israel campus groups has equipped students with the desperately needed resources to present Israel's position to the student body.
I urge Myers, as well as other pro-Israel professors, to use their respectable positions and authority to help ensure that more moderate views are presented on campus.
Megan Michaels, President Bruins For Israel 2001-2002
Ed. Note: The Journal made several critical editing errors in printing David Myers' letter. We apologize. Below is his response.
Education and hasbara (propaganda), are not the same. Each has its season; each has its experts. I read the StandWithUs brochure as a piece of hasbara, a tool in a public relations battle that its soldiers deem essential in the current climate. StandWithUs has every right to wage this battle, provided that it be peaceful and civil. But education is more than boosterism. It is about imparting knowledge, nuance and critical thinking. From such a perspective, I fail to fathom the pro-Palestinian supporter who holds Israel entirely to blame for the current conflict -- or the pro-Israel supporter who holds the Palestinians entirely to blame.
While I am no less an ohev Yisrael (lover of Israel) than those who belong to StandWithUs, I have a responsibility as an educator to seek out balance and nuance in understanding the conflict. And here is the crux of the matter. StandWithUs supporters equate "balanced dialogue" with unequivocal support for the policies of the present Israeli government. I regard balance as a measured appreciation of the responsibility of both sides, as well as of the dynamic relationship between them. If this criterion does not conform to StandWithUs' mission, then I fear that we will have to agree to disagree on what the goal of education is.
David N. Myers, Professor and Vice Chair UCLA History Department Los Angeles
Don't Judge a Book
Reading the article by Yosef Reinman on Orthodox versus non-Orthodox relations ("Don't Judge a Book by its Cover," Feb. 14) makes one despair. How very sad that an apparently fine Orthodox writer and scholar speaks with pride about how Orthodox rabbis may not/do not have official contact with non-Orthodox rabbis. This is the sort of animosity our sages refer to when they explain that the second Temple was destroyed because of needless hatred among Jews.
It has been my privilege over the years to study and daven with many warm and kind Orthodox and non-Orthodox rabbis, teachers and scholars, as I still do. All of them love Torah and wish to promote it for the betterment of the world. What they have in common far outweighs what separates them. We do not serve the Holy One of blessing when we refuse to recognize that "both this and this are the words of the living God."
Jeff (Yosef) Gornbein, Santa Monica