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Letters Week of June 1, 2011
Israel Has Acted Boldly; It's Palestinians' Turn
President Obama doesn't get it. In his May 19 Mideast policy speech, he promoted the idea that the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines. He described this as a "bold act."
But Israel has very little room to "act boldly." In fact, it has already and repeatedly acted boldly by giving back the Sinai to Egypt for a peace treaty which may or may not survive the "Arab Spring." It also cleared the Gaza strip, only to have to go back to stop a murderous barrage of rockets and mortar shells. It also signed the Oslo Accords, only to receive the barbarous campaign of suicide bombers.
If the "world" is tired of the Mideast "stalemate," perhaps a different bold action is needed, holding the Palestinians accountable for their villainous deeds.
It's now their turn to act boldly. Instead of firing anti-tank missiles at school buses, they must recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. Instead of enshrining suicide bombers, they must teach their children tolerance and the values of democracy. Instead of trying to destroy Israel, they must give up the idea of "right of return" and concentrate on building their own peaceful society.
If they do that, they will find in Israel a true partner for peace.
He Has Right to Criticize but Not to Endanger Jews
Michael Pasek, in his May 19 opinion piece "Take Time to Listen to Other Voices, Because We Want to Be Heard," represents a generation of Jews who matured in comfort and security who want to be heard, but they have no memory of the genocide practiced against the Jews two generations ago.
Apparently, he does not recognize that genocide is still present in the world, tacitly approved of through the inactivity of world powers, and with intentions explicitly articulated against Israel and the Jews.
Without this memory or recognition, he does not understand how and why Israel exists -- and certainly he cannot comprehend the threat it faces today. He therefore does not, as he claims, "deserve as much of a say in Israeli politics" as Jews who have survival as their primary agenda.
He certainly does have the right to criticize policies -- American, Israeli or any other -- that need improvement, but not in a way that jeopardizes the survival of Israel or world Jewry.
To move to Israel and help perfect its policies, yes; to voice constructive criticisms in appropriate domestic forums, yes; but to engage in practices that give aid and support to those whose intent is to destroy the Jewish people, no.
His intentions are admirable and I'm certain it's not his hope to help destroy Israel or to assist in making the Jewish people yet another persecuted minority on the world scene.
Gratz to Study, Compare Modern Genocides
In response to Rabbi Albert Gabbai's important May 12 opinion piece on the need for people to become informed about the Armenian genocide, I would like to note that Gratz College has established a new program in Holocaust and Genocide Studies that addresses this and related needs.
This summer, we are offering an online course titled "From Armenia to Auschwitz: An Examination of the First Modern Genocides" that focuses on the historical links between these genocides, and the similarities and differences between them.
The program as a whole is intended to help its students, many of them teachers in secondary schools, approach the difficult issues involved in thinking about the Holocaust and other contemporary genocides.
Dr. Michael Steinlauf