It is easy to feel helpless as we watch bloody CNN images of downtown Jerusalem and Tel Aviv from our homes 12,000 miles away.
Certainly memorial services and candlelight vigils help express our anguish at the loss of Jewish lives and solidarity with Israel. But we also share with Israelis frustration at the never-ending violence of random terrorism.
Israelis are increasingly demanding that their government act swiftly and strongly to punish the perpetrators and bring some security to their daily lives. American Jews echo that cry, but from this distance our debate naturally focuses more on the bigger picture: What can Israel — and its supporters — do to stop terror and nurture peace?
In the age of the Internet, plenty.
First, Americans can fax or e-mail their state and federal lawmakers and urge them to support legislation that has been bottled up in Congress for more than one year.
The bill, due for a House subcommittee hearing this month, would outlaw fund-raising in the United States by designated terrorist organizations such as Hamas. Israel's U.S. Ambassador Itamar Rabinovich says Hamas has become "very sophisticated" in its U.S. fund-raising efforts.
Anti-terror laws would also outlaw donations by Americans to such organizations as Hamas.
The bill also would provide $10 million in aid for anti-terrorism technology in countries threatened by terrorism, including Israel.
Last year President Clinton signed an executive order freezing U.S. assets of terrorist organizations and barring financial transactions with such groups; according to Reuters, the U.S. Treasury so far has seized $800,000 in Hamas assets.
To further support such action, e-mail President Clinton at firstname.lastname@example.org or fax the White House at (202) 456-2883.
Those wishing to send messages to Israel or find out about events there can e-mail the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., at email@example.com or fax the embassy at (202) 364-5423. The embassy also offers a World Wide Web home page — http://www.israelemb.org — which offers information on the recent bombings.
Bay Area Jews also have launched a campaign to register opposition to terrorism directly with Palestinian Authority head Yasser Arafat, who has putative control over Hamas. To reach Arafat, fax him at 011-972-7-822-366, or 011-972-7-824-672.
So turn off CNN and turn on your modem and fax machine. Let your voice be heard.