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Letters to the Editor Week of Aug. 4, 2005

August 4, 2005
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Liberty Bell Gathering: Not an Attack on Sharon

On July 19, the local Zionist Organization of America chapter gathered in front of the Liberty Bell. We sought to persuade Americans that the impending withdrawal of Jews from the Gaza Strip will make it easier for terrorists to practice their craft in America and throughout the world.

Ours was an event by Americans for Americans, urging citizens to contact their legislators and convince them that withdrawal will be dangerous.

Yet the Jewish Exponent excoriated us for conducting a different demonstration than the one we carried out, fulminating against it and pronouncing it “distasteful” for American Jews to publicly disagree with the withdrawal policy (Editorial: “Right Feels the Heat Where Left Once Stood,” July 21).

One could debate about whether or when it’s right for Diaspora Jews to disagree with the government of Israel.

As Jews, we’re required to care and worry about Israel, and that means we must have opinions about what’s good for the state. It doesn’t mean we get to vote or make decisions if we don’t live there, but it does mean we must care.

Withdrawal will either result in more security or more terror. A plan premised on the need to do something — anything — to alleviate a horrific situation is not one built on strength. Physicians used to bleed patients when stymied over a cure for dangerous maladies. I fear the withdrawal is precisely that: bleeding the patient and ignoring the disease.

But to defend what ZOA did last week, I need not even enter that arena; the Exponent was flatly wrong in tarring us for attacking the Israeli government.

We did not, and that means that the Exponent got its facts wrong. Other organizations, here and elsewhere, have condemned Israel and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for expelling Jews from the Gaza Strip.

We oppose the withdrawal policy for many reasons. But we carefully focused our event on why the policy is bad for Americans. We refused to join in a protest at Philadelphia’s Israeli consulate. Israel is not the enemy, and we would not vilify Sharon, the rest of the government or the people of Israel.

We wore orange at the event, the official color of withdrawal foes. Orange signifies compassion for and identification with the Jewish residents of Gaza; it does not symbolize opposition to the government of Israel.

We displayed pictures of Jewish homes and businesses about to be torn from the land, because false images about the Jews in Gaza need to be dispelled so that minds can be open to change.

Gaza’s Jews should be seen for who they are: normal people whose homes, businesses, schools and synagogues are being destroyed so terror can claim a victory.
Lori Lowenthal Marcus
President
Greater Philadelphia District
Zionist Organization of America

 

Editor’s Note:

The press release issued by the ZOA for its July 19 demonstration undermines the charge that the Exponent was incorrect in labeling it a protest against the Sharon government.

The release said that it was a: “Demonstration to educate Americans to the dangers both to the United States and its ally, Israel, that will come as a result of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s erroneously named ‘Disengagement Plan.’ … We hope that by giving Americans the truth about ‘disengagement’s’ inherent dangers to themselves and the rest of the world, they will then contact their lawmakers, the White House and the media to get this plan derailed … .”

The notion that an event billed in this manner, timed to coincide with opposition marches on Gaza and anti-Sharon rallies elsewhere, and led by people dressed in the colors adopted by Israel’s opposition, could be construed as anything but a demonstration against the Sharon government lacks credibility.

No Amount of Spin Puts a Stop to Jew-Hatred
Jonathan Tobin’s column on media strategies (A Matter of Opinion: “The Selling of the Jewish State,” July 21) made a convincing point. Still, I don’t think that any “selling” of Israel or the Jews will work.

We’re seeing the growth of a wave of anti-Israel feeling that is feeding on itself, comparable to the Dreyfus affair in France, where anti-Semitism seemed to grow overnight.

Right now, it’s small, and primarily resides on the liberal left, where it’s politically correct to be anti-Israel. But I expect that the right will pick up on it eventually.

My guess is that a downturn in the economy, especially if it’s a harsh one, will bring out the worst of the hatred.
Henry L. Lazarus
Philadelphia

A Positive Slant May Cast Israel in a Better Light
I was very glad to learn of the existence of the Israel Project (A Matter of Opinion: “The Selling of the Jewish State,” July 21) and the survey of public opinion that Jonathan Tobin noted was being undertaken on its behalf by pollster Frank Luntz.

I have myself been a subscriber to the Israel21c.org Web site since its inception. I agree that the site’s attempt to present a more positive, less conflicted picture of the reality of Israel is not the total answer.

But it often sends a ray of light out into the darkness, especially when it’s aimed at the student population.
Yoram Getzler
Jerusalem

‘Anti-American’ Charge? It’s Anti-American!
Robert Leiter’s article on David Mamet was a good, intelligent response to Mamet’s indulgent piece in Harpers (Media Clippings: “Why Art Loses in Hollywood,” July 14).

Until the final sentence: “Isn’t anti-Americanism a wonderfully inventive thing?”

Anti-American? Huh? Why is Leiter’s critique any less anti-American than Mamet’s if free speech is to be equated with all things American?

Where, for heaven’s sake, does Mamet condemn “all of American life?”

Come on! Leiter finishes up looking as bad as Mamet with those kinds of generalizations.

As an American abroad, I say let’s stop this knee-jerk response to all criticism that doesn’t suit our own vision of what’s right or wrong. Then the world will once again honor the American people with the respect they deserve.
Bill Friedman
Vancouver, British Columbia

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