Letters Week of Sep. 1, 2005


Seeking Immediate Help for Gaza Evacuees!

To the surprise of just about everyone, disengagement from Gaza took about one-third less time than was expected. But as the heartbreaking pictures fade from the front pages of the media, the evacuees are left facing harsh realities.

Some 500 to 600 families, representing approximately 2,500 of the 9,000 residents who left Gaza, are without viable housing. They need a place to live – and they need it now!

Owing to a communication breakdown between residents who resisted or hoped that disengagement wouldn't happen – and the Israeli government agency that waited for the residents to make their claims and needs known – many found themselves sent to hotels without their belongings, brought to locations where they knew no one or separated from their loved ones. Some families were left without proper accommodations at all.

The Jewish National Fund of America has been asked to be at the forefront of helping to resolve postdisengagement challenges. JNF and its partner in the Negev, the OR Movement, is working with the Ministry of Housing to interview settlers; determine housing, employment and school needs; and make assessments.

The immediate goal is to bring five or six of the evacuated communities together for opportunities in the Negev in a manner that would provide them with jobs, living solutions and education. We hope to establish such communities within the next four weeks.

We've determined we need to provide many caravillas – homes approximately 900 to 1,200 square feet – at a cost of about $50,000 each.

These short-term housing solutions will allow people to start building new communities – and new lives – complete with water resources, synagogues, recreational sites, parks, schools and businesses.

What JNF-OR, the Negev/ Galilee and the people need is required now. This is where JNF-OR can make a real, immediate and significant impact on people's lives.
Marina Furman
Regional director
Jewish National Fund

Attacks on Israel Show Seriousness About Terror

Regarding Jonathan Tobin's column about attacks on Israel (A Matter of Opinion: "Don't Expect Any Applause," Aug. 18), he is absolutely correct.

I have noted recently the anti-Jewish rhetoric used by Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a fallen soldier in Iraq, and at least two Protestant churches that have taken moves to divest financially from Israel. I find these attitudes very frustrating.

It shows that we are not yet serious as a nation about the war on terror or about terrorists.
Keith Albers

A Feeling of Solidarity That Simply Felt Right

Thanks to the courage of a fine woman and mother, Cindy Sheehan, whom Jonathan Tobin attacked in his column (A Matter of Opinion: "Don't Expect Any Applause," Aug. 18), a lot of our fellow Americans came together and let our opinions be known and shared publicly.

Listening to her, for the first time in a long time, I felt proud to be an American, and feel the solidarity and camaraderie of my thoughtful and caring countrymen.

Thank you, Cindy, for uniting us and raising our unified voices in protest to this unjustifiable war and this uncaring president.
Anita Stitt
Cherry Hill, N.J.

As Hillel Said, 'If We Are Not for Ourselves … '

I'm a Jewish American living in France now for 18 years. And when I read Jonathan Tobin's Aug. 18 column, I felt he hit the nail on its head (A Matter of Opinion: "Don't Expect Any Applause").

As long as Israeli leaders and post-Zionists feel ashamed for Israel's existence or don't really see a "Jewish" reason to exist and seemingly try their best to create a "little Los Angeles" in the Middle East, the Arabs, liberals and world governments will continue using Israel as the scapegoat for the world's ills.

As Hillel said, "If we are not for ourselves …"
Daniel Antopolsky

What's at Fault? Religious and Cultural Attitudes

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's decision to pull out of Gaza was solely based upon his own (and perhaps erroneous) assessment of deployment efficiency.

As for the rest of the world's opinion about it, Jonathan Tobin offered a well-written and reasoned piece (A Matter of Opinion: "Don't Expect Any Applause," Aug. 18).

All of this leads me to think that the attitude toward Israel has little to do with Israel, just as anti-Semitism has very little to do with what Jews did or said, but had everything to do with religious and cultural attitudes and the political utility of Jew-hating.
Saul Goldman

No Praise For the Kid Who Stole From the Store

Why do Israel-bashers think the way they do (A Matter of Opinion: "Don't Expect Any Applause," Aug. 18)?

Simply put, critics wrongly see Israel as the bad kid who stole from the store. Even when the kid returns the merchandise he gets no praise, because he should never have stolen in the first place.

Jonathan Tobin is right. Centuries of anti-Semitism – reinforced by effective pro-Palestinian propaganda – perpetuate the image of the Jew/Israel – as the taker of what is not rightfully his.
Mark Mazer


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