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Letters week of March 13, 2008

March 13, 2008
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Soldiers Want Israel to Be a 'Light Unto the Nations'

In a number of ways, the "Breaking the Silence" exhibit at the University of Pennsylvania was actually pro-Israel (Advocacy Corner: "What 'Silence' Are IDF's Critics Really Breaking?" Feb. 28).

I spoke with the two soldiers who were there and was touched by their sincerity, humanity and internal conflicts. I felt that they displayed courage.

Asaf Romirowsky alluded to the fact that it is shameful that some radical left-wing groups, who practice moral relativism (for example, alleging the absurdity that Israelis treat Palestinians like Nazis treated Jews), may try to malign Israel's reputation by manipulating and abusing what I believe are the good intentions of these Israeli soldiers.

In their hearts, these men want Israel to be a "light unto nations."

Their testimonies and those of their comrades are not an indictment against Israel, but simply a sad commentary on the effects of war in general on the human psyche. Under long-term duress, even the best of people are capable of actions they're not proud of, even if it doesn't extend to war crimes.

Conversely, it would be refreshing to hear from Palestinians who feel remorse for actions they have perpetrated or for tactics used by those who purportedly represent their causes.
Matt Rosenbaum
Ardmore

Presentation Exploits the Real Suffering of Soldiers

The article by Asaf Romirowsky about the self-critical Israeli soldiers as part of the exhibit "Breaking the Silence" omitted an aspect of this event that was clear to me as I heard one of these young men last week in Durham, N.C. (Advocacy Corner: "What 'Silence' Are IDF's Critics Really Breaking?" Feb. 28).

He went on and on about the suffering his activities caused the Palestinians, including pointing a rifle at a threatening man and dismissively tossing another man's car keys to the ground. He wept, he raged, he agonized, but he could not answer the question about what to do next. He railed at feeling hopelessly out of control.

As time went on, I realized that in my time as a physician in Vietnam and later in a Veterans Administration Hospital, I had seen this before.

I arose to show my sympathy for a person whose behavior was that of someone with post-traumatic distress syndrome.

His talk was sponsored by Brit Tzedek v'Shalom. I asked them later to consider the harm done to such a person by exploiting his distress in this fashion. Their answer was to take me to task for giving my opinion about his condition publicly.

I remain appalled nevertheless by this exploitation.
Robert A. Gutman M.D.
Durham, N.C.

All Three Candidates for President Back Israel

I am a Democratic Party committeeperson in Montgomery County and a supporter of Sen. Barack Obama.

Kudos to Jonathan Tobin for his recent column (A Matter of Opinion: "Obama's Spurned Supporters," Feb. 28). Not because he supports Obama (he doesn't), but because he states what should be obvious -- that all three major candidates are supporters not only of Israel's right to exist, but also its right to have security and the opportunity for prosperity.

The three candidates might differ from time to time on the best path, but that is no different from the factions within Israel itself. Having an alternate view on the best way for the United States to help Israel achieve these legitimate goals does not automatically make any of the them "anti-Israel."

What the organized Jewish community -- and the individual Jewish voter -- should be opposed to are those who'd use Israel as a "wedge" issue, especially if Obama becomes the Democratic nominee.

When we read those full-page ads from the "Republican Jewish Coalition," please critically eyeball them for legitimate discourse, as opposed to cheap, ethnic-based pandering.
Richard Saunders
Eagleville

How Can We Trust Obama If He Lets Go of Iraq?

What Sen. Barack Obama says to a Jewish audience counts much less than what he says to the electorate as a whole (A Matter of Opinion: "Obama's Spurned Supporters," Feb. 28). I notice that his campaign has been very quiet about the statements Jonathan Tobin refers to, and that there's been little coverage of them in the major media.

More to the point, a man who's willing to hand Islamic extremists a victory in Iraq against his own country can't be counted upon to defend another country in the same region, especially one that has become demonized by many of his own supporters.

It's time for Jews to face up to this fact and get off the Democrats' electoral plantation.
Bob Levetown
Phoenix, Ariz.

Pro-Israel Evangelicals Deserve a Break!

Stuart Goldman's editorial cartoon in the Feb. 28 issue of the Jewish Exponent was rather amusing.

The correct answer to the cartoon's Jewish bystanders question is that, of course, "the evangelical" would be the better person to have over for dinner. Evangelicals, for whatever their reasons, are pro-Israel.

The cartoon shows a slovenly dressed pro-Israel "evangelical." Most evangelical ministers I see on television wear very fine suits and are impeccably groomed.

Yet the more dapper Methodist preacher who says, "Excuse me, neighbor, would you please divest from Israel?" is more pernicious.

At a time when the Methodist Church has become outright anti-Israel, perhaps its time to give the evangelicals a break.
Jan Sklaroff
Berwyn

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