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Letters 1/19/09

- January 19th, 2009
Offensive & ill-informed
It is with sadness that I write to respond to the letter “Holocaust Parallel” (Letters 1/12). I am dismayed that someone ostensibly devoted to peace implies that we Jews only care about suffering when it is “our own” (“...only when Jews are killed that’s it’s an atrocity”) being harmed. As someone who advocates for peace, human rights and justice for Palestinians and other peoples, and as a Jew, I find this notion that I care only about my people in this situation offensive and ill-informed.
U.S.-based Jewish organizations are working to bring an end to not just the current violence but the ongoing social injustice in Palestine and Israel, vociferously decrying the suffering of not just Israelis, but co-equally the suffering of Palestinians.
True peace makers are those who are capable of advocating not only for their own people but who are called and willing to advocate as strongly for the wellbeing of other groups, even those who are called enemies. We have too few leaders who will reach across the lines to make the “other’s” story as precious as their own.
I do not in the least understand what point was being made with the “going quietly to the gas chamber” reference, but I do feel the sting of a writer invoking our deepest pain to express her or his own rage. Message received.
I am deeply sorry for the suffering of this conflict. I am sorry that there are few real peace makers advocating beyond “us and them,” aiming for the higher ideal of commonality. We need more advocates for peace and nonviolence, capable of moving beyond sides and into a new paradigm of shared humanity. Throughout history there have been situations as dire and painful as the one faced in Palestine and Israel, and in every generation leaders advocating nonviolence, justice and healing have emerged. I pray for the emergence of such leadership speedily and in our own day.

Rabbi Chava Bahle • Suttons Bay

Stop the killing
As a longtime advocate of peace and justice, I support an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza crisis. Both sides need to stop the killing and seek a diplomatic solution.
I wish I could say that I believe Hillary Clinton will lead this effort; however, she sounds firmly in support of the Israeli’s right to continue to control, and now to kill, the Palestinian people.
Those of us who support autonomy and freedom for the Palestinian people are often accused of being anti-Jewish. This is not the case, for me, or many other Palestinian supporters. I would like to see a two-state solution in which both Israeli and Palestinian people can be sovereign countries and live in peace. There is a web site that I would suggest: Here is a description of their purpose:
“J Street represents Americans, primarily but not exclusively Jewish, who support Israel and its desire for security as the Jewish homeland, as well as the right of the Palestinians to a sovereign state of their own - two states living side-by-side in peace and security. We believe ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in the best interests of Israel, the United States, the Palestinians, and the region as a whole.
“J Street supports diplomatic solutions over military ones, including in Iran; multilateral over unilateral approaches to conflict resolution; and dialogue over confrontation with a wide range of countries and actors when conflicts do arise.“
Please join me in contacting Congress and our new administration to urge them to seek a diplomatic solution and stop the killing and domination.

Sally Van Vleck • co-director, Neahtawanta Center

Hamas agenda
On January 8 I had the opportunity to participate in a teleconference with Raphael Harpaz, the Israeli director of public affairs. What I share with you is background information about the current Israel-Gaza conflict, and the expressed goals of the Israeli military.
Harpaz made it perfectly clear there is no intention to overthrow the Hamas government or to re-occupy Gaza. Israel disengaged its military and its civilians from Gaza in 2005 in a “Land for Peace” agreement. Israel participated in the Annapolis Summit meetings 14 months ago, even though they had serious doubts about the sincerity of the Hamas government.
After more than 6,000 rockets have been fired into Israel by Hamas, the refusal of Hamas to re-negotiate a truce, and after repeated warnings, Israel decided a military response was its only option. In no other country would a government tolerate a neighbor shelling its citizens. Hamas is using the Palestinian people as human shields. Hamas is determined to destroy Israel rather than negotiate to the benefit of the Palestinians.
The Israeli military has specific goals: (1) to stop the smuggling of weapons through multiple tunnels; (2) to destroy the ability of Hamas to manufacture weapons; (3) to minimize terrorist attacks; (4) as much as possible, to eliminate the rocket attacks against civilian targets.
It is clear that any destruction of a mosque came about after that mosque was used for weapon storage. Humanitarian aid continues to flow but is not distributed by the Hamas government. Life for Palestinians in the West Bank, particularly in Bethlehem and Jenin, under the administration of Abu Abbas is at a high level of calm and civility.

Rabbi Albert M. Lewis • Temple Beth El • TC

Stop the rockets
When I read Robert Downes‘ articles “Random Thoughts” it is always with a grain of salt, but his latest one, “Moving On,” pushed me into writing this e-mail.
Can he really be serious when he says, I quote: “Move the Israeli settlements out of range” from Hamas’ rockets? This was his fourth of his “Five Ideas for Obama.” (By the way, it is not a “settlement” that is bombarded every day by rockets, it is an established city.) Is he saying that he wants Israel to relocate a couple of hundred thousand people to a different place so that Hamas will keep improving the range of their rockets so they can reach that place in another few months? This is absolutely absurd!
Why not tell Hamas to stop firing rockets altogether instead, which would stop Israel in their fighting and pull their troops out of Gaza? Then have both sides sit down and reach a peace agreement and make them stick to it. This is obviously simplifying an almost impossible situation. However, the idea of having part of Israel’s population relocate is even more ridiculous. It would only mean that Hamas would improve the range of their rockets to reach the new dwellings, because they will obviously continue firing their rockets into Israel.
I thought the people in Gaza elected Hamas out of their free will. Maybe it is time for them to elect leaders who are a little more civilized and who can negotiate peace instead of firing rockets?

May-Lis Andrus • via email

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