Friday, August 25, 2006 | return to: letters



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Importing hatred

On Aug. 16 I attended a talk at Stanford by the Israeli consul general. Standing watch within the room were two protective security guards.

Such measures seem necessary as extremist Muslims have brought their hatred of Jews to our country and are taking actions. We know this from the slaying a few years ago of several Jews at the El Al Airline ticket counter in L.A. Airport, and from the recent killing of one and the wounding of four others at Seattle's Jewish federation building.

It is dismaying that the large Muslim community seems so accepting and takes no publicized steps of opposition or denouncing.

Bernard Rubin | Palo Alto

A moving statement

Regarding Janet Silver Ghent's Aug. 11 column, there are many reasons to learn German. But Ghent's is particular: She's learning German because she is Jewish, not in spite of it, because it's the language of her ancestors.

For me, as a German born after the war and Holocaust, this kind of statement is not new but very moving nevertheless.

The intensity of German-Jewish relations today — and between Germany and Israel — can only be explained as a result of personal decisions such as Ghent has made: to be ready for dialogue and building bridges.

Knowing the past encompasses not only the horrors of the Holocaust but two millennia of Jewish culture and new Jewish life in modern-day Germany often makes this decision possible.

But Ghent reports another experience many Jewish visitors have made: When you're ready to visit Germany, you may find a country different from what you expected — people who mostly are aware of the past, know about the Holocaust, and can deal sincerely with this legacy.

When I was a visiting fellow at the American Jewish Committee in New York I recorded my observations about German-Jewish relations. You can read this paper online at:

Rolf Schtte | San Francisco
German Consul General in San Francisco

The ultimate loser?

With respect to Leslie Susser's Aug. 18 article concerning Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's position as the ultimate loser in the conflict, I, too, agree that Olmert has been indecisive and is not yet (or may never be) ready for "prime-team" leadership.

His party is a compromise party, uniting elements of the Likud and Labor under the mantra that "unilateral withdrawal" will solve Israel's border problem. The "land for peace" policy has been proven futile, since Oslo, and this policy creates a position of weakness to Israel's adversaries.

Secondly, Olmert's party has no ideological base to sustain itself in the long run, even if it had achieved its desired platform.

Thirdly, this "one-trick" political party has no tradition of military leadership within its ranks to manage a crisis, as Labor and Likud had in the past.

It is time for Olmert to go back to fixing potholes and managing bus routes and leave military and foreign policy decisions to major league players. It is also time for a proven leader to step up to the plate.

Sam Gluck | Foster City

Homeland history

By what perverse thinking does Julian Clark claim that Israel is built "on another people's land" (Aug. 18 letter)? Jews have lived continuously in Israel for thousands of years, since before there was an Islam.

True, Jews were outnumbered for much of that time. But for most of the recent centuries, they were treated as second-class citizens, as they were throughout the Arab world. So the just and natural solution was to give Jews control over a small piece of land of their own. Jews did not ask for part of each one of the countries in which they had well-established communities — all they wanted was a territory of their own in their historical homeland.

There has been no enduring peace because the Arab/Muslim world considers the Jews to be a lesser people with no inherent rights, especially no right to govern themselves in the Middle East.

In other parts of the world, land has been divided to accommodate different ethnic or religious groups. Nowhere else has one group persisted for decades in trying to wipe out the other, or spread such hatred about the other, as the Arab world has against the Jews.

Dan Fendel | Piedmont

'A grave toll'

Regarding "As war ends without clear victor, Olmert may be ultimate loser," by Leslie Susser (Aug. 18 j.), Arabs in Gaza have lobbed 1,000 missiles at Israeli targets since the failed "disengagement" of last year, the overtly terrorist organization Hamas has come to power, and al Qaida has joined the local jihadists.

Yet, as your article notes, a retreat from Judea and Samaria would have far more devastating consequences. The terrorists in Gaza, where the infrastructure of terror is at its most advanced, have thus far developed the capability to shoot missiles at targets 15 miles away.

The vast majority of Israel's population and industry are located within a 15-mile radius of Judea or Samaria.

As evidenced by the messages perpetually disseminated by the Palestinian Authority's schools, mosques, and media — messages of martyrdom, hatred, and wiping Israel off the map — permitting the missile fire to spread would exact a grave toll in life and limb.

Julie Sager | Los Angeles

Labeling the activists

Why does j. insist on using the term pro-Palestinian as a synonym for anti-Israeli? The term is most inaccurate. Is it because anti-Israel activists prefer to call themselves "pro-Palestinian?" Wishing doesn't make it so.

These people are not pro-Palestinian. They are pro-Hamas, perhaps, pro-Hezbollah, pro-war, pro-death, pro-anarchy, anti-compromise, anti-peace, anti-Israel, and, as they demonstrated with their Hitlerian salutes and slogans, anti-Semitic.

"Pro-Palestinian" cannot possibly be the opposite of pro-Israel, since one can be truly both at the same time, as is President Bush, and was President Clinton before him.

Anyone who wants to alleviate Palestinian suffering by laying down their weapons, renouncing violence, putting aside hatred, and focusing on bettering their future can be pro-Palestinian. As the Arab Noni Darwish is quoted as saying, "Arabs need to focus on building Arab society instead of destroying Israel."

Anti-Israel activists may pretend they want to alleviate Arab suffering, but, by working to destroy Israel, they are actually working to perpetuate Arab suffering. Obviously, their hatred for Israel far exceeds any love they might have for Arabs.

In future reports, please use the more accurate terms "anti-Israel" or "anti-Zionist" to describe those who hate Israel.

Sheryl Rattner | Los Altos


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