Letters week of Feb. 22, 2007

The Closing of 'Inquirer' Foreign Bureau: Not Bad

The Jewish Exponent assessed The Philadelphia Inquirer's impending closure of its Jerusalem bureau as "a mixed bag" for Israel's supporters (Editorial: "Bad News for News," Feb. 8).

On the contrary, it's a wholly wholesome development for the Jewish and general communities in Philadelphia.

The Exponent's concern that Associated Press articles "will replace the Inqy's own stories" is misplaced.

A.P. coverage of Israel, which indeed raises concerns among that nation's supporters, has been continuously in the Inquirer all along. The Inquirer just piled their own correspondent's work — no less "mainstream" in perspective — on top of the wires.

The very presence of a paper's sole foreign bureau being in Jerusalem is unwholesome, no matter who the correspondent might be. It drives the paper's Israel coverage to persistently excessive prominence.

A fundamental problem with the Inquirer's and other mainstream media's Israel coverage is not, as the the Exponent's editorial put it, that it often has "no grounding in historical facts," but that it persistently portrays historical facts in an imbalanced manner.

Coverage like the Inquirer's lays the foundation for claims by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Israel's enemies in the Mideast that Israel was "created" in an Arab land after and because of the Holocaust.
Jerome R. Verlin
Elkins Park


Proof of an Increase in Support for the ZOA

Concerning the Zionist Organization of America's request that the Union of Progressive Zionists stop its anti-Israel programs (A Matter of Opinion: "Who Speaks for the Jews?" Feb. 1), the UPZ is free to promote its programs harshly critical of Israel, but should do so without the credibility of being part of a pro-Israel coalition.

I must also address Jonathan Tobin's false charge that the ZOA has lost popularity due to positions against Oslo and the Gaza withdrawal plan. In fact, ZOA support has improved dramatically, including a seven-fold increase in the budget over the last few years.

No wonder the new Encyclopedia Judaica stated that ZOA president Mort Klein and his administration "revived a moribund organization and brought ZOA to prominence … making it one of the most visible Jewish groups in America."
Dr. Michael Goldblatt
National board
Zionist Organization of America


'Palestinian Land' Label's Nothing but a Brazen Lie

Arab Muslims rationalize their aggression against Israel with the lie that Israel is "Palestine" — an "Arab land" occupied by Jews (Opinion: "Out of the Mouth of Babes: 'Israelis Are Like Nazis," June 25).

They claim that Judea and Samaria comprise the "Arab Palestinian homeland." This lie is lethal in its consequences. It places Israel on the defensive and provides justification for the killing of Jews.

The name "Palestine" is a Roman emperor's construct, a renaming of Judea designed to suppress Judean (Jewish) nationalism. Therefore, whatever else it may be, "Palestine" is not "Arab land," let alone an Arab homeland.

For almost 19 centuries, Jews alone were universally identified as "Palestinians." With their stolen "Palestinian" identity, the Arabs seek to delegitimize the displaced Israel.
J. Kligman


The Future of Israel? It Rests With the Desert

Your story "Concrete Erodes Israel's Greenery" (Cover story, Feb. 1) correctly raises the alarm about the growing environmental threat of development in Israel.

Israel is facing growing pains in many areas lately — not the least of which is giving voice to the nascent environmental movement spearheaded by Ben-Gurion University and its staff — namely, Professor Alon Tal.

The article fails to mention, however, a very viable solution to the overcrowding and overdeveloping of Israel's scarce resources. And that solution is the careful and environmentally thoughtful development of the Negev Desert.

The Negev comprises some 60 percent of Israel's land mass, yet 92 percent of its population resides in small crowded areas in the north and center of the country. Demographers expect that population to double in the next 15 years.

The future of Israel — as Israel's founding father David Ben-Gurion knew all along — lies there.
Claire Winick
American Associates
Ben-Gurion University
Mid-Atlantic Regional Director


When It Comes to Donors, You Must Give to Receive

The generosity of live organ donors like Rev. Karen Onesti is simply remarkable (Cover story: "Ecumenical Exchange," Feb. 1). But we wouldn't need many live organ donors if Americans weren't burying or cremating 20,000 transplantable organs every year.

There is a better way to put a big dent in the organ shortage — if you don't agree to donate your organs when you die, then you go to the back of the waiting list if you ever need an organ to live.

Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. About 60 percent of organs transplanted in the United States go to people who haven't agreed to donate their own organs when they die.

Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers, a nonprofit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die.
David J. Undis
Executive director
Nashville, Tenn.



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