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Letters week of July 20, 2006
Don't Confuse Pro-Peace Moderates With Radicals
Jonathan Tobin is quick to ascribe beliefs, motives and objectives to Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, which is simply right-wing wishful thinking (A Matter of Opinion: "The Real Religion of Peace," July 6).
Tobin's attempt to make sense of a peace movement he has never understood ascribes a blind-faith, Ghandi-like passive resistance to anyone who won't toe his aggressive party line. More to the point, Tobin attempts to conflate the entire peace movement, including moderates like Brit Tzedek, with its most radical exponents.
While I have no intention of having Israel approach Hamas without even a slingshot, the strategy of driving Gaza back into the hands of a corrupt Fatah (rejected by Palestinian voters who put Hamas in power) in fact drove the Gaza government to exactly the aggression Israel most feared.
Now that Hamas partisans have invaded Israeli sovereignty, Israel is certainly within its rights to reply in kind.
Instead, Israel has once again assumed the colonial mantle that Arabs most resent -- by destroying the civilian infrastructure and displaying its overwhelming military power.
Worse, Israel has not even bothered to make a case for protecting its territory from acts of war and piracy.
There is no such thing as a peaceful bully, just as there is no such thing as a peaceful invader and kidnapper.
Hope of Israel's Birth Tarnished by Occupation
Jonathan Tobin's essay was a condemnation of those he disagrees with, and did not invite discussion or face-to-face conversation that might enable us to understand each other better and become more effective advocates for peace (A Matter of Opinion: "The Real Religion of Peace," July 6).
How can we expect Israelis and Palestinians to sit down and work effectively at negotiating peace if we cannot do this among ourselves?
The hope that the State of Israel brought in 1948 has been tarnished for us in the "peace camp" -- in the United States and Israel, as we've watched the Jewish state ignore the Geneva Conventions -- in its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
These rules were, after all, developed in 1949, in response to our own suffering under Hitler's Reich.
Cy and Lois Swartz
Bubbes & Zaydes for Peace in the Middle East
Don't Compare Religious Right With Leftist Camp!
Jonathan Tobin's column about the "peace" camp among the left would have been more persuasive had he not qualified his criticism with an "equal opportunity" pot shot and comparison of them with the Jewish religious right (A Matter of Opinion: "The Real Religion of Peace," July 6).
The religious right is not a mirror image of the secular left, despite the current clichés of the day. They represent very different philosophies and goals.
The sad fact is that there's no middle ground. There's right and wrong. There's truth and falsehood.
The Jewish religious right -- unsavory and uncouth as they often seem -- are the only ones that offer an answer grounded in our religious belief in a peculiar Jewish destiny. Only that can motivate us to withstand unjust criticism and cease from accommodating those who have sworn to destroy us.
Eric M. Flaxenburg
Jews Aren't 'Inflicting' Their Presence on Arabs
Is it possible to know what the settler movement wants to "inflict" upon everyone else as Jonathan Tobin writes (A Matter of Opinion: "The Real Religion of Peace," July 6).
As far as I know, they simply want to live in their homes in Judea and Samaria. What exactly does this "inflict" on others?
You could, for example, claim that Arab citizens of Israel who buy homes in Jerusalem "inflict" their presence on the Jewish majority. But you wouldn't make such a claim because it would be politically incorrect, and against the norms of democratic societies.
Why, then, is it permissible to say that the settlers "inflict" their presence on anyone else?
Rabbi David Sterne
FDR Saved as Many Jews as Could Be Saved
I read Jonathan Tobin's column (A Matter of Opinion: "The Man Who Blew the Whistle," June 15) which criticized my book, Saving the Jews: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Holocaust, and was reminded of Abraham Lincoln's story of a man being tarred and feathered, and then run out of town on a rail. When asked how he liked it, the man replied, "If it wasn't for the honor of the thing, I'd sooner walk."
Being tarred and feathered in the Jewish Exponent is certainly a great honor, but I do wish you would allow an impartial reviewer to review the book, which is a systematic refutation of the Wyman Institute's position on America and the Holocaust.
My book differs profoundly from the Wymanists. I found that we Americans saved the passengers on the S.S. St. Louis, that FDR denounced the Holocaust from the beginning, demanded justice at Nuremberg, won the war against Hitler and saved as many Jews as could reasonably be saved from the Holocaust.
The bombing of Auschwitz was opposed by the overwhelming majority of Jews at the time because it meant killing innocent Jews in the camps; almost all American Jewish leaders and organizations thought it was a bad idea, and contrary to Jewish law.
Therefore, no one of any consequence ever asked Franklin Roosevelt to bomb Auschwitz. I found, unlike the Wymanists, that American Jews were patriotic, brave and proud to be Jews. They were not cowards who should be retroactively blamed for the Holocaust.
Your readers are smart, proud American Jews. Their parents and grandparents fought the Nazis. They'll know what I'm talking about.
The Wyman Institute can still speak up and continue to tell everyone who will listen how horrible America, American Jews and Roosevelt were in World War II.
Robert N. Rosen