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Letters week of July 27, 2006
Congress Was Receptive to Peace-Group Advocacy
We at Brit Tzedek v'Shalom -- the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace -- were very happy to see the Jewish Telegraphic Agency's article covering our recent National Advocacy Days (Nation & World: "Despite Relatively Bleak Prospects, Group Pushes for Peace Talks," July 6).
As the article related, our message of a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is absolutely gaining momentum, seen in the fact that we have grown to more than 34,000 supporters in less than four years.
Yet we take issue with the article's characterization of the House vote in favor of the punitive Palestinian sanctions bill as indicative of "distaste" felt in Congress for our positions.
Normally, bills purporting to protect Israel's security pass within days; this one took nearly four months, and was significantly improved in committee, in no small part because of opposition from a number of pro-Israel groups, as well as the U.S. State Department.
The bill was met with vigorous debate in Congress, with many of Brit Tzedek's talking points entered into the record and used on the House floor.
Moreover, many representatives cast their votes with the understanding that a more moderate, pragmatic version of the legislation was working its way through the Senate.
We will continue to work toward engaging American decision-makers in a process that's both pro-Israel and pro-peace.
Delusions Remain Truly Astounding
Jonathan Tobin's column on the so-called "peace camp" and Brit Tzedek v'Shalom is on target (A Matter of Opinion: "The Real Religion of Peace," July 6).
The ability of such groups to delude themselves and their supporters is truly astounding.
Stephen M. Asbel
Unilateral Withdrawal's 'Success' Is Pure Delusion
Larry Derfner's opinion piece, "In Gaza and Elsewhere: Stay Patient, and Stay the Course," he writes such an outrageously uninformed article that one wonders why you would choose to print it (Editorial & Opinion, July 6).
Derfner says he supported the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif/Gaza, but he admits that "Gaza has become too violent for Israel to go forward now" with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's plan to expel even more Jews, this time from Judea and Samaria.
That is, Israel should wait with the "realignment plan, "until Gaza is basically secured -- until safety along the Gazan border is at least comparable to that along the border with Lebanon, where unilateral withdrawal has proven a great success."
What success is he talking about? With 10,000 missiles put in place by Hezbollah over the past six years, how could he have considered that Israel's retreat would bring success?
New York, N.Y.
'Vigilantes'? They Aim to Hurt the Innocent!
With the latest Arab-Israeli war, one might have overlooked the news brief "Vigilantes Promote Anti-Gay Violence" (World News, July 13).
The article from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency describes how "unidentified vigilantes" have offered a $4,500 bounty for each death of a participant in the World Pride 2006 gay-pride events scheduled next week in Jerusalem.
I was shocked by the use of the word "vigilante." According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, "vigilante" means: "a member of a volunteer committee organized to suppress and punish crime summarily; broadly: a self-appointed doer of justice."
Those who make terroristic threats against the lives of innocent people -- gay or not -- are not guardians of justice.
They are terrorists!
Michael J. Rosen
FDR's Indifference Not Excused by False Claim
Robert N. Rosen, a lawyer who has written a book defending President Franklin Roosevelt's Holocaust record, claims (Letters, July 20) that the "bombing of Auschwitz was opposed by the overwhelming majority of Jews at the time because it meant killing innocent Jews in the camps, and 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."
But serious historians who have visited the relevant archives and examined the pertinent documents know that Rosen's claim is false.
Only one official of one U.S. Jewish organization, A. Leon Kubowitzki of the World Jewish Congress, expressed opposition to bombing Auschwitz because of possible civilian casualties. All other American Jewish leaders or organizations that are known to have expressed themselves on the issue favored bombing, recognizing that the Jews in Auschwitz were doomed to be murdered anyhow, and bombing the gas chambers might have saved some of those lives.
Kubowitzki's own boss, World Jewish Congress co-chair Nahum Goldmann, personally lobbied U.S., British and Soviet officials to bomb Auschwitz in 1944.
Moreover, the American Jewish Conference, which represented all major American Jewish groups, held a rally in New York City in July 1944, where it called on America and its allies to use "all means" to destroy the death camps -- clearly not excluding bombing.
In any event, the Roosevelt administration's rejection of the bombing requests was not based on any position that American Jewish groups took.
The War Department had previously decided that, as a matter of principle, it would not expend military resources assisting Jewish refugees, even though very minimal additional resources would have been needed to bomb Auschwitz, since U.S. planes bombed German oil factories less than five miles from the gas chambers.
Mr. Rosen omitted these and other crucial facts, which lay bare the Roosevelt administration's callous response to the plight of Europe's Jews.
The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies