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Letters for the week of Feb. 3, 2017

Thanks, Mr. President

It looks like President Trump is going to cancel Barack Obama’s last-second giveaway of more than $220 million to the Palestinian Authority. Why should we give U.S. taxpayer dollars to an entity which uses the money to reward the terrorists and their families who kill Jews?

Thank you, Donald Trump, though I know many of my progressive, liberal Jewish brethren still consider Barack Obama their champion and you an anti-Semite.

Scott Abramson, San Mateo

 

Obama’s message to Israel was one that was needed

There was a spate of letters in last week’s J. critical of President Obama’s decision to have the United States abstain rather than veto U.N. Resolution 2334.

The issue addressed in 2334 is not whether settlements have been the main obstacle to peace. Terrorism is also mentioned as an impediment. A case possibly could be made that perhaps the present Palestinian leadership is too corrupt and weak to forge a two-state agreement even if the Israeli government was genuinely serious in wanting an agreement and was to ban further expansion of settlements.

Further expansion of settlements makes it increasingly difficult to ever be able to have a two-state agreement.

Everyone who has studied the issue has agreed that part of a two-state agreement would be going back to the 1967 borders with land swaps, resulting in the Palestinians having a contiguous state with a minimum number of settlers needing to be displaced. The present Israeli policy to expand settlements (including some close to the Jordan border) will only result in an Israeli civil war being necessary in the future to possibly carry out a two-state agreement, because many of the settlers are not going to move voluntarily.

Obama had very good reason to believe that Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies are short-sighted in that they are closing the door for it to be possible to ever have a two-state agreement and for Israel to remain both a Jewish and democratic state. As a Zionist, I applaud Obama for sending a needed message to an ally.

Mark Davidow, Glen Ellen

 

In praise of Jews who aren’t standing for this

Barely two weeks into our self-inflicted disaster, I’ve attended two demonstrations: the Women’s March and a protest at SFO against Trump’s immoral, counterproductive anti-Muslim policy.

I was heartened to observe numerous signs of a strong Jewish presence at both rallies: pictures of Anne Frank, quotes from Emma Lazarus’ poem enshrined at the Statue of Liberty, a number of Holocaust survivors protesting, “Jews 4 Muslims” signs and one sign summing it all up, “Shande” (a shame, a scandal).

Of course, one need not be Jewish — but merely a sentient being — to be appalled by the stream of lies, malevolent orders and atrocious appointments streaming out of the Oval Office.

Jews should not be confused by Trump’s professed support for Israel — or, more accurately, the Netanyahu/Likud-led perversion of the Jewish state. Trump’s use of a Jewish star (which he insisted was a sheriff’s badge) and piles of money to denigrate Clinton during the campaign, his defense of his Jan. 27 Holocaust Day statement, which omitted any reference to Jews in the name of inclusiveness (a value for which Trump is well-known, right?), his adopting the “America First” slogan and Stephen Bannon’s prominence in the administration belie Trump’s true attitude.

To paraphrase one of the protest signs, “As Jews we know how this story ends. It does not end well.”

Yonkel Goldstein, San Carlos

 

Two-state solution is hardly a dead issue

Not all Bay Area Jews are as despondent on the peace process as your Jan. 20 cover story seemed to suggest (“Bay Area Jews see shaky future for two-state solution”).

I remain determined to ensure Israel can live in peace and security with the Palestinians and its Arab neighbors. Through my activism with AIPAC, I have relentlessly lobbied Congress to support two states for two people.

In January alone, AIPAC-backed legislation garnered bipartisan support from 78 senators and 342 House members, including Sen. Kamala Harris and Bay Area representatives Ro Khanna and Jimmy Panetta, that reinforced the vision for two states and reiterated that the only way to achieve a peace deal is through direct negotiations.

While a peace deal continues to be elusive, I, along with my thousands of AIPAC lay leaders across the Bay Area, remain deeply committed to the peace process and ensuring a democratic, Jewish state of Israel living in peace and security alongside a Palestinian state.

Adean Golub, Palo Alto
AIPAC Northern California board chair

 

Their true colors

Called out for the blatant anti-Semitism of its International Holocaust Remembrance Day message, which failed to mention that the victims were Jews, the Trump administration pointed to its support of Israel to show it isn’t anti-Semitic.

But we know they are. We know what Bannon has said, what his baby, Breitbart News, continues to say, and that the omission in the Holocaust message was not an accident.

We also know that one can support the Netanyahu government and its anti-democratic, racist policies and still be an anti-Semite. And thus we also know that opposition to Netanyahu, the occupation and the siege of Gaza is not anti-Semitic.

Clyde Leland, Berkeley

 

Shameful, transparent and bad for the Jews

President Trump’s recent speech about the Holocaust, in which he purposely did not mention Jews, demonstrates that Trump is no good for the Jewish people and no friend of the State of Israel.

Not moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem “fairly quickly” — his own words during the campaign — is more proof. David Ben-Gurion observed that Jews often seek a savior, when it is only the Jews who need to rely upon themselves instead of placing their hopes in flawed, unreliable people.

We can debate whether Hillary Clinton would have been better, but we see what we have now. Trump delivered his Holocaust Remembrance Day slight on purpose to disrespect and divide us. He has done it with other groups, too.

De-Judaizing the Holocaust is exactly what the Soviets did and Holocaust deniers do. Trump even uses Jews, such Jared Kushner, to deceive us. I had family in Kushner’s grandparents’ partisan unit, too. Kushner has, in the past, defended Trump against claims of anti-Semitism. Most of my family was murdered by the Germans and only because they were Jewish!

This is not about politics. It is about self-respect. Judaism is not for sale. And neither is the memory of the Holocaust and its intended and actual victims.

Mordechai Pelta, San Francisco

 

Is it time for Israel to move unilaterally?

Now more than ever, Israel should commit to a two-state solution — by agreement with the Palestinians, if possible, but unilaterally if necessary.

Fair or not, the world demands that Israel conduct itself by Marquess of Queensberry rules even when its neighbors: practice genocide (Syria, Iran, ISIS); massacre Israeli children in buses, discos and pizzerias and celebrate the killers as heroes (the Palestinians, Iran-backed Hezbollah); enact martial law (Egypt); and treat women abominably (Saudi Arabia, Iran, et al.).

It matters not that in 1967 Israel captured lands in self-defense, that Israel returned 90 percent of the territory — land three times Israel’s size today — to Egypt for a cold peace, and that Israel offered the Palestinians a state which they rejected and responded to by massacring Israeli children.

However justifiable Israel’s predicament, it cannot absorb the entire West Bank and remain both a democracy and a Jewish state. Neither the promise of “greater Israel” nor the illusion of security is worth jeopardizing the only state in 2,000 years where Jews can live by their values and determine their own future.

Israel has paramount interests in Jerusalem’s Old City, Western Wall, Temple Mount and archaeological City of David; the major West Bank settlement blocs in the seam between the Green Line and the security barrier; and the Golan Heights. Retaining the entire West Bank conflates these vital areas, which Israel must retain under any agreement, with land destined to become a Palestinian state.

Israel should try (again) for a peace agreement. But if Palestinian intransigence continues to make this impossible, Israel should unilaterally withdraw to the security barrier, declare this its border and ask for America’s support in recognizing it as such.

Stephen A. Silver, San Francisco