Letters week of March 29, 2007



Attack on Congressman Undermines Democracy

As a Jew, I have no brief for the Council on American Islamic Relations, and accept for the sake of argument Jonathan Tobin's unsupported assertion that it is a "group funded largely by supporters of the Hamas terrorist organization" (A Matter of Opinion: "Stepping Over the Line," March 15).

Still, I find it shameful that Tobin is using his influence to attack a member of Congress — Rep. Joe Sestak (R-Pa.) — for having the temerity to speak to such a group.

He calls it a group that's had the audacity to try to "worm its way into the mainstream of American politics."

How dare people that Tobin considers no better than worms sit at a political table that Israel has had pretty much to itself for all these years!

Much better, of course, that these particular worms should stay underground and continue their nefarious purposes unobserved, rather than aspire to participate in what's supposed to be a democratic process. That is a process in which they might actually begin to engage in a constructive dialogue with those who disagree with them.

What is it about that prospect that so terrifies Tobin?

In my view, this is a profoundly anti-democratic approach that does neither Israel nor American Jews any favors. Tobin can attack CAIR to his heart's content, but stop attacking a Congressman for daring to speak to a group just because it doesn't support Israel but the Palestinian cause, now represented by a terrorist group — Hamas — that unfortunately was democratically elected.

As Jews and Americans, we should welcome CAIR into the political process with the rights and responsibilities that entails.

I'm afraid that it is Tobin who's "stepping over the line," and embarrassing Jews who take democracy seriously.
Michael Greenwald

Editor's Reply: The writer is incorrect in asserting that CAIR being established by supporters of Hamas is unfounded. In published research by terror expert Steven Emerson, cited in the article and other sources, the role of supporters and funders of Hamas terror is clear.
CAIR's agenda is to present itself as a civil-rights group, instead of a lobby for terror.
Such efforts are the antithesis of democracy, and deserve no aid from members of Congress or citizens who claim to care about Israel.

Thankful for Progress at Conference in Israel

I came back from AIPAC's National Policy Conference (Cover Story: "Cheney's Iraq Pitch Garners Few Plaudits," March 15) feeling better than I did upon my return from the security conference in Herzliya, Israel, in January for two main reasons

First, thank God for the Christians and the group "Christians United for Israel" that came to the conference.

Second, there are some early signs of progress in the effort to divest from Iran (or as Benjamin Netanyahu said in Herzliya, "divest from genocide"). AIPAC has formally engaged in this effort; the initial steps are under way in several states.

Still, there's much more to be done because the haters are also emboldened — to a large degree because of credibility bestowed on their cause by people like Jimmy Carter.
David Edman

It's an 'Ugly' War That We Can't Afford to Lose

I wasn't shocked by Vice President Dick Cheney's remarks at the AIPAC meeting in Washington (Cover Story: "Cheney's Iraq Pitch Garners Few Plaudits," March 15).

We can't have it both ways; we can't decry the war in Iraq while asking for help to fight Iran. The Iraq war is terrible, but the only way most of us support it is with our taxes. We don't volunteer our kids to fight; we depend upon others to do that. For many, our support for the troops ends with the purchase of a bumper sticker.

This is an ugly war, and most of us do not realize the cost if we lose it. The spread of radical Islam can overwhelm the Middle East, including Israel, and AIPAC knows it.

Jews must realize that the Roosevelt era is over, and that they can no longer just pull one lever when they vote.

They may not care for our president, but he has been very supportive to Israel. Cheney's remarks were right on target.
Arthur Hill

Don't Use War as Excuse to Embarrass Cheney!

The cool reception given to Vice President Dick Cheney's speech at the American Israel Public Affairs policy conference (Cover Story: "Cheney's Iraq Pitch Garners Few Plaudits," March 15) was damaging and inappropriate.

The AIPAC forum is about advancing Israel's position with the U.S. government. Political opposition to the war in Iraq should not be used to embarrass such a strong supporter of Israel.

The real existential threat should be the overriding concern. We are faced with unrelenting attempts to delegitimize Israel by academics, a former president, foreign governments and the press.

The bedrock support of our government should be valued above all else. It took Pastor John Hagee, an evangelical Christian and self-described Zionist, to focus on the primary issue at hand at the conference: the need for unconditional support for the Jewish state.
Doris Yarczower

Keep in Mind: Genocide's Happening in Darfur

Your story on Dr. Jerry Ehrlich's work with Doctors Without Borders in the Sudan provides only a glimpse of the tragedy occurring in Darfur (Names & Faces: "Physician's Plea: Help Save Those in Darfur," March 15).

Genocide is happening, and we must say, "Never Again."

We must back these words with actions. In fact, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College took the step last year of divesting securities of companies operating in the Sudan from its endowment portfolio.

Especially right now, as Jews look forward to the coming of Pesach, we should not forget the suffering of innocent men, women and children today in Darfur.
Joanne Hogan
Endowment director
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College



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