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Letters week of Jan. 24, 2008

January 24, 2008
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State Legislators Press for Sudan, Iran Sanctions

State Treasurer Robin Wiessmann announced Jan. 16 that she will divest Pennsylvania's treasury investment from China Petroleum and Chemical Company due to its operations in Sudan.

This is a good first step to accomplish our goal of divesting from companies who are complicit in terror or genocide.

We have been leading efforts to divest the state's treasury and public pension funds, which currently invest $116 billion, from companies with business ties to nations like Sudan and Iran.

We have introduced bills to make efforts like those of Wiessmann permanent and carry the force of law. Protecting public funds by investing in responsible companies is not only the right thing to do; it is necessary to be proper stewards of our constituents' benefits from these investments.

Investing terror- and genocide-free will preserve Pennsylvania funds' long-term value and protect our national security interests.

To expand on the step taken by our state treasurer, we will continue to advance our bills through the legislative process to protect the interests of all Pennsylvanians, and make it clear that we will not support genocidal or terrorist regimes throughout the world.

State Rep. Babette Josephs
Philadelphia

State Rep. Josh Shapiro
Abington


Nothing Wrong With Salty Talk That Tells the Truth

Jonathan Tobin sounds as if he was so shocked by Ha'aretz editor David Landau's blunt suggestion to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that she push Israel to make peace that he fainted at the word "rape" (A Matter of Opinion: "Leftist 'Rape' Fantasies," Jan. 10).

I hope that somebody was there to fetch the smelling salts and revive the Jewish Exponent's squeamish editor!

Landau's language may have been salty, but I don't doubt that most Israelis -- and even a few knowledgeable Americans who are not as straight-laced as Tobin -- knew exactly what he meant when he said he wanted to her to "rape" Israel.

For too long, the peace process has been held hostage by extremist Arabs and Jews.

What Israel needs is for its ally America to show the Israeli right -- and their stooges here -- that the only way forward is negotiation toward a just solution.

As Landau knows, that will take a tough stand by U.S. leaders who aren't afraid of a pro-Israel lobby that does more harm than good.

What Israel needs are more Landaus who are willing to face facts, and fewer overheated defenders with Victorian sensibilities like Tobin.

Jacob Miller
Philadelphia


If Palestinians Seek Peace, Then They Have to Act

As long as hate exists, peace remains impossible (Opinions: "Culture of Death Continues to Haunt the Middle East," Jan. 10).

As long as schoolchildren are brought up with maps that don't show Israel; as long as most Palestinians believe Israel has no right to exist; as long as Hamas steadfastly bombards Israel from Gaza; as long as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas does not take one step to remove hatred, then his words are empty.

And even if he is sincere, he has no control while he is in office, and he will certainly have no control after he is gone. He cannot guarantee peace.

To trade tangible assets for nebulous words would be disastrous for Israel.

Let Fatah and other Palestinian parties remove anti- Israel words from their constitutions.

Let Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia and other Mideast countries help their brethren who are Palestinian refugees.

Let these Arab states also pay reparations to the 800,000 Jewish refugees who left their countries after 1948.

Words are easy, unless they are reinforced with action. Memories seem to be short. People seem to have forgotten the sacrilegious ways that the Arabs treated the Jewish holy places before 1967.

Is there any evidence that Palestinian views and actions have changed?

Jeremy A. Lifsey
Wyndmoor

Yeshiva: First Step in a Northeast Renaissance?

Having been privileged to attend the installation of the new Torah scroll, and the following dinner for Yeshiva Tiferes Avigdor at Congregation Ahavas Torah, I feel proud and privileged to be a member of the Philadelphia Jewish community (City & Suburb: "New Yeshiva Gets a Warm Welcome Despite a Damp, Drizzly Day," Jan. 3).

In the short time the yeshiva has been in our neighborhood in Northeast Philly, it has already created an electric excitement in our community.

We personally feel honored to have this wonderful new institution of higher Jewish learning in our midst.

The event itself was extraordinary. Despite the cold and relentless rain, many people came to share in the joyful experience of accompanying a Sefer Torah to its new home.

As we marched down the street, the Torah safely wrapped to protect it from the wet, the pride of each person there could be clearly felt.

Rabbi Avigdor Miller, for whom the yeshiva is named, was the author of 14 books and 2,000 audiotapes that continue to entertain and enlighten countless thousands of people.

His lectures and writings are characterized by an encyclopedic grasp of Jewish and world history, which he uses to formulate guidelines for living a productive Jewish life in contemporary society.

The establishment of Yeshiva Tiferes Avigdor is the first step in what we envision as a renaissance of Jewish life in this area of Philadelphia that has a long and rich history of Judaism. This only bodes well for the entire community.

Caroline Barg
Philadelphia

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