Week of May 6, 2009

Letter sparks rebuttals

Andrew Rennard’s Letter to the Editor (April 8) makes some serious allegations against Israel with regard to Israel’s treatment of its Arab minority. Arabs constitute approximately 17 percent of the population within sovereign Israel, and they are guaranteed equal treatment under Israeli law.

Rennard’s letter misleads readers by mixing policies directed against Palestinians in the territories with policies directed against Arab citizens of Israel (who do not live under military law).

Israel is a society that honors the rule of law, and democratic checks and balances exist to ensure that its policies are just. For example, after Israel constructed the security barrier, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the location of the barrier imposed undue hardship on many Palestinians in the West Bank. Subsequently, the military changed the route of the barrier, at a significant cost to the Israeli public. In what other country in the Middle East are the actions of the military subject to judicial review?


Are Israeli policies fair and just 100 percent of the time? No, but neither are the policies of any country in the world. To quote Gil Troy, Jerusalem Post columnist: “After 60 years, Israel should no longer be on probation, with its legitimacy questioned in the world, or its popularity among Jews so contingent upon good behavior. American liberals did not question America’s legitimacy even when they hated president George W. Bush. Yet many Jews and non-Jews repudiate Israel entirely because of one action, or one leader. Nationalism, patriotism, morality, usually runs deeper.”

I hope that readers of the Jewish Light are intelligent enough to realize that Israel’s legitimacy is not in question. Israel is a homeland to over seven million people. Despite the fact that it has been threatened by enemies since it first came into existence, Israel has succeeded in building a thriving country, responsible for many of the most advanced scientific and medical breakthroughs in the world.

Israel is passionately committed to behaving morally in a conflict with an immoral enemy. During the latest conflict in Gaza, an Israeli soldier reported that he saw an elderly Palestinian woman in pain. When Israeli medics approached the woman, they noticed her suicide bomb belt. This is the enemy that Israel faces.

We should not apologize for our support for Israel. Neither should we stop working toward justice for all people.

Galit Lev-Harir, Ballwin

Regarding Andrew Rennard’s compelling letter to the editor (April 8) in which he condemns Israeli violence, and in essence, places the onus and blame on Israel for the mayhem and destruction that has taken place in the last four decades or so vis-a’-vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I must admit that while reading such tripe I just sat there with my mouth agape.

First and foremost, no one has ever said that Israel’s act of defending itself is not, or has not ever been violent. War, by its very nature, is violent. Israel has been under constant barrage and attack from those wishing to totally annihilate it and its people ever since its inception as a state in 1948. No other sovereign state or nation in the world has ever had to endure such hardships and danger. The Jewish State has had to fight, and fight violently, for just its basic and fundamental right to exist.

Furthermore, the Palestinians could have basked in the glory of their own state at the same time as the birth of Israel, had they adhered to the U.N. Declaration of 1947, which called for a two-state solution in Palestine — a Jewish State, Israel — living side by side in peace and cooperation with a Palestinian one, yet they and their Arab brethren chose to fight a violent war against Israel in the hopes of destroying the nascent country and its people.

Thank God, Israel persevered, and was mighty enough to repel the attack and survive, and through sheer force and determination, has been able to survive, thrive, and prosper for the past 61 years, despite several subsequent wars and provocations initiated by its Arab neighbors, and a bevy of Palestinian terrorist organizations. (Only Egypt and Jordan have seen the light-no pun intended-and signed peace treaties with Israel to the advantage of all)

In response to Rennard’s claim that Israel has been expanding its borders since 1967 while excluding the non-Jews within these borders from citizenship, he apparently has not done his homework, as his postulation couldn’t be further from the truth. Gaza has been totally ceded back to the Palestinians — alas, unfortunately, it is currently under the control of the terrorist organization, Hamas — while the Palestinians control about 40 percent of the West Bank including the major cities. If, and when a Palestinian state becomes a reality, no doubt, the rest of the West Bank will be yielded to the Palestinians by the Israeli government, as the creation of such an entity will, in all likelihood, encompass both the West Bank and Gaza. (For Rennard’s edification, both Gaza and the West Bank were under Israeli control, until the 1948 War of Independence when these territories were captured respectively by Egypt and Jordan. Israel retook both territories during the fighting of the Six Day War of 1967.) Furthermore, it’s obvious that Rennard is oblivious to the fact that of Israel’s 7 million people, Arab citizens comprise almost 20 percent, or 1.5 million of the population, the majority of whom identify themselves as Palestinian by nationality, and Israeli by citizenship. Adding to this is the fact that Israeli Arabs serve in the Knesset (Parliament).

Rennard seems quite taken by the bottom line in which he excoriates those who champion the Jewish state by stating, “you can’t support Israel without supporting violence. ” I would ask him, what is a sovereign state to do when it’s security and safety is threatened 24/7, 365 days per year by enemies who will go to extremes to destroy and completely annihiliate its nation and its people, and wipe it completely off the face of the map? What should it do when innocent men, women, and children live in daily fear of their lives from rocket attacks and suicide bombings? What should it do when the hate from its enemies is so ingrained and deeply rooted that diplomacy and negotiation seem like a pipe dream? In other words, what does it have to do to survive as a nation, as a people?

What a sad commentary that throughout its entire existence, Israel has had to fight bravely, courageously, miraculously, and yes, violently, to preserve what the overwhelming majority of other nations take for granted, and what we in the U.S. fought for, and are guaranteed in the Declaration of Independence-life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To those who would seek to destroy this tiny, peace loving, indefatigable, nation and exterminate the Jewish people, with their 4000 years of history, make no mistake; Israel will continue to fight ad infinitum, as violently as necessary against its enemies, to ensure that it is granted the same tenets, guarantees, respect, dignity, and honor, accorded to other like-minded decent, civilized, nations of the world.

Gene Carton, Olivette

Environmental section, tips for further reading

Thank you for the special section on the Environment. It was inspiring to read of the efforts going on throughout the Jewish community. For me, it was also helpful to know what other congregations are doing so that we can call them for more information or set up similar programs.

I thought that parents and grandparents might want to know about the delightful activity books which are available to teach children about the environment. There is no cost for any of them.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has The Wild Babes Adventures in Waste, Adventures in Recycling, ReUse, plus a book full of facts and easy projects. They can be ordered by contacting Andrea Morrow at 1-800-361-4827 or [email protected]

The Federal government has wonderful materials at no cost and a great web site on the environment just for kids, at www.EPA.gov/kids.A kit for the Planet Protectors Club and several other publications for kids plus informative materials for adults is at www.EPA.gov/NSCEP, (National Service Center for Environmental Publications. The materials can also be ordered by calling 1-800-424-9346.

Phyllis Cantor, Social Action Chair, Congregation B’nai Amoona