Letters week of June 1, 2006

Hello, Out There? Seniors Need Some Respect!

I enjoyed the recent article about Hadas Kuznits (Names & Faces: "A Veritable Love Affair With Radio News," May 18).

However, she sounds like she never expects to grow old!

Kuznits says, "If college students voted as much as the senior citizens, the issues on the table would not be Medicare and Social Security. It would be college tuition reimbursements. It would be things important to young people."

Gee, thanks Hadas, I hope the young people 30 or 40 years in the future are not as selfish as you seem to be.

I'm a senior citizen (about 21?2 years from that milestone), and I think there's room at the table for all. I'm even concerned about issues that impact those not yet old enough to vote, such as universal health-care coverage for kids and better schools.

It's wonderful that she was educated at Akiba Hebrew Academy, but was she paying attention in the Jewish ethics classes that taught respect and care for the elderly?
Rachel Garber

Defeat Arab Extremism – Don't Aid Its Continuance!

Headlines in the Western press warn of an impending humanitarian disaster in the Palestinian territories if immediate aid is not sent to Gaza and Ramallah (Nation & World: "American Groups Create Task Force to Aid Arabs," May 4).

Little, however, is said about the choices the Palestinian people and their leaders made.

The truth of the matter is that the Palestinians are more interested in destroying Israel and killing Jews than to have a functioning economy, economic progress, political and social justice, or harmony with their neighbors, all of which benefit everyone, particularly themselves.

There is a remarkable bond between National Socialism (Nazis) in Germany and their successors in Europe today, and the Palestinian national movement and its leadership.

Since the 1947 partition plan, Palestinians have shown that they would rather forgo independence, economic stability and progress than reach peace and accommodation with Israel and the Jews.

Just prior to the start of the 2000 intifada, some 250,000 to 500,000 Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank worked in Israel. Their remittances fueled the Palestinian economy, and raised their per capita income to the highest level in the Arab world. But Yasser Arafat preferred murder to prosperity.

Like the Germans 60 years ago, Palestinians may resent their defeat, but it's time to move on, toward an orientation that places individual rights, human rights, democracy and economic prosperity ahead of blind religious hatred.
Joseph Puder

Jews, as Well as Arabs, Seek Israel's Collapse

Thanks for Jonathan Tobin's column regarding Arab opinions on a Jewish state (A Matter of Opinion: "The Conflict in a Nutshell," May 18).

This mindset prevalent among even Arab "moderates" gets to the heart of what the Zionist enterprise really faces: a concerted effort by a very powerful group (oil-wealthy Arabs) to delegitimize the concept of a Jewish state.

It's also worth mentioning that significant numbers of influential Jews also seem to feel Israel is illegitimate or unjust.

As an example of this, I offer you Tony Kushner, the playwright and scriptwriter recently honored by Brandeis University (of all places) who thinks that Israel's creation was a mistake that he regrets.

It may take 100 – or perhaps even 500 – years for the Arabs to realize that Israel is here to stay, and that they have to deal with it. But that should be the goal, and Jews need to be willing to sacrifice for this purpose.
Steve Gold

Undermining Dialogue Won't Lead to Peace

Jonathan Tobin complains that the gripes of Israeli Arab journalists are harbingers of an endless conflict (A Matter of Opinion: "The Conflict in a Nutshell," May 18).

Rather than focus on their understandable unhappiness with the deplorable conditions that many Israeli Arabs are forced to endure, he chooses to inflate their grievances into a declaration of war.

Do we really expect Arabs to be Zionists?

Tobin seems to be seeking to undermine any hope of dialogue by casting the conflict as a "zero-sum game." It would be far better if he were to use his column to promote understanding of their predicament.

Peace will be achieved via the efforts of those who actively seek it, not by those who prefer to hype the regrettable rhetoric of the extremists.

The example Tobin cites of a joint Jewish-Arab entrepreneurial project that promotes life science solutions is the real story, not arguments between journalists.

As long as Jews treat Arabs in their midst as the "other," genuine reconciliation between two peoples who share one land is impossible.
S. Cohen

Make Shavuot the Real Vegetarian Holiday

Since Shavuot commemorates the Jewish people receiving the Torah, many religious Jews stay up that entire night engaged in Torah study.

I believe that this provides a good time to consider if we are properly applying Torah values with regard to dietary issues.

Since the Torah mandates the avoidance of tsa'ar ba'alei chaim (causing unnecessary pain to animals), shouldn't there be far greater concern in the Jewish community about the horrible treatment of animals on factory farms?

Since the Torah stresses that we should very diligently guard our health, shouldn't Jewish leaders speak out about the many negative health effects of animal-based diets?

Since the Torah mandates that we are to share with hungry people, shouldn't the Jewish community address the fact that 70 percent of the grain produced in America is being fed to animals destined for slaughter, while an estimated 20 million people die from malnutrition annually?

Let us make this Shavuot a time to apply Torah values to produce a more humane, environmentally sustainable, just and compassionate world.
Richard H. Schwartz
Jewish Vegetarians of North America




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