We’re more united than we think

Is it just me or was the kerfluffle at the Democratic Convention on Jerusalem as Israel’s capital much ado about nothing (“Jerusalem vanishes from Democrats’ platform — and then reappears,” Sept. 7)?

I support Israel’s declarations supporting Jerusalem as its capital. I favor supportive language in both party platforms. What bothers me is pandering attempts by some in the GOP to turn support for Israel, an issue with overwhelming bipartisan support, into some sort of litmus test or wedge issue.

It’s just silly. Despite empty promises in every presidential administration since 1967, has the U.S. Embassy moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem? Has international support for Israel increased? I’d almost say quite the opposite. It’s a shell game to pretend who bleeds more kachol v’lavan (blue and white). Shame on those who try to make political hay by attempting to divide us.

To my friends in the GOP, stop trying to turn support for Israel into a divisive issue! It isn’t. American leaders in both parties overwhelmingly support Israel where it counts as do the vast majority of American voters. There are real dangers facing our community from those who de-legitimize Israel at every turn, support terrorists who threaten Israelis and Jews the world over, and those who advocate openly for Israel’s destruction.

Steve Lipman   |   Foster City


Let’s hear Jewish refugees’ stories

Thank you so much for your editorial “Parity for refugees from Arab lands, at long last” and the JTA article “Conference to focus on Jewish refugees from Arab lands” (Sept. 7).

What the Jewish refugees went through is so important for the world to know about. The Arabs are loudly asking Israel ‘‘for the moon’’ for Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war and hardly anyone knows that there were 800,000 Jews who fled from Arab lands, leaving their homes and property behind, during this same period.

I’m of Ashkenazi descent and had never paid much attention to the stories of my Mizrachi brothers and sisters. Joe Wahed, who founded JIMENA along with Gina Waldman (and perhaps others), was the first person I ever heard talk about this history. Joe spoke at a rally for Israel at the Palo Alto Civic Center — I think it was in 2001. I was amazed at what I was hearing.

The world continues to blame the Jews for the misery of Palestinian refugees but ignores the complicity of the Arab nations who created both refugee problems in the first place. Thank you for drawing attention to this issue.

Sheree Roth   |   Palo Alto


Campus climate hurts all students

We need more young people like Guy Hershmann (“U.C.’s pro-Israel Jewish students should not be discounted,” Sept. 7).  His well-reasoned op-ed piece summarized the issues facing Jewish and pro-Israel students on university campuses.  There are limits to free speech. Academic freedom still requires academic standards.  If hate speech is not acceptable then Jewish students and Israelis should have the same protection as others. If hate speech is acceptable then no one is protected.

Students must understand that with free speech comes responsibility. Claiming the Jewish nation commits genocide without any regard for the truth is bigotry. The Arab population in Israel and territories she controlled has significantly increased. This simply is not consistent with genocide.  Anyone who has been to Israel knows that it is not an “apartheid state.” In apartheid South Africa, blacks did not participate on national sports teams or serve on the Supreme Court, and they could not be elected to Parliament. Such false accusations are anti-Semitic and should be called that. Students should  learn to think for themselves and be exposed to different ideas. However, we don’t promote the “flat earth society” in science classes nor do we present the Nazi defense of the Holocaust in our history classes except to explain how the “Big Lie” can be spread. It is unfortunate that the president of the University of California believed it necessary to convene an advisory council. Now that recommendations have been made, they should be taken seriously.

Gilbert Stein   |   Aptos


Lush alert

Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics is scheduled to open a store this fall in the Stoneridge Shopping Center in Pleasanton.

For those unaware of Lush’s background, it is against Israel existing. It supports Palestinian enterprises (which may include terrorism and constant bombardment of Israel).

I urge those of you who do support Israel’s right to exist and its constant battles for survival not to shop at this store. We know that the Lauders are strong supporters of Israel and have many products for men and women (e.g., Clinique and MAC), so we don’t have to go bare-faced.

Gladys Weitzner   |   Danville


Dani Dayan’s ugly triumphalism

Dani Dayan’s piece in the New York Times, arguing that Israel is entitled to annex the occupied West Bank (“Israel’s Settlers Are Here to Stay,” July 25), was a tissue of misrepresentations.

For example, Dayan asserted that Jews have “inalienable rights” to the West Bank and that “Palestinians have repeatedly refused to implement a negotiated two-state solution,” though negotiations were never completed. Jews may have a right to, or in any case a need for, a homeland, but so too do Palestinians. That indeed is at the heart of the problem.

Two states with mutually agreed upon borders and provisions for security: This is our best hope for ending the cycle of violence and the only way for Israel to develop as a democratic and Jewish state.

The settlement movement, which Dayan represents as chairman of the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria, undermines these aspirations. It means a military occupation of a civilian population, the routine violation of Palestinians’ human rights, and the appropriation of land.

Dayan does not disguise his aim: “Our presence in all of Judea and Samaria — and not just the so-called settlement blocs — is an irreversible fact.” This vision borders on ethnic cleansing. Under the gloss of Dayan’s triumphalism is a very ugly picture.

Beverly Voloshin   |   San Francisco

Chair, Department of English Language and Literature, San Francisco State University


What is ‘unacceptable’?

Again, Iran’s leaders have called for the annihilation of Israel, saying the Jewish state is “an insult to humanity.” President Obama calls nuclear weapons in Iran “unacceptable,” yet in the past the United States has called nuclear weapons “unacceptable” in Pakistan and North Korea, and now those regimes freely flaunt them. Why should Iran pay any mind to what Obama says, especially since this is a president who said Iran compared to the Soviet Union is a tiny country and it is no threat to us.

Scott Abramson   |   San Mateo