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(Photo from Flash90)
(Photo from Flash90)

Reasons for ceasefire letter should have been examined in article
The Chronicle’s recent article on the letter from local Jews calling for a ceasefire (“Many signers of letter calling for ceasefire, and thanking Summer Lee, are anonymous,” Dec. 1) is a textbook example of an ad hominem argument — when you can’t, or won’t, engage with the message and instead attack the messenger. Rather than engage directly in a discussion of why local Jews might speak in favor of a ceasefire, the Chronicle chose to comment on the inclusion of anonymous signatories. This deflection trivializes both the views of those of us who chose to speak out and the concerns of those who were reluctant to sign their names publicly.

Like so many others, I was appalled by the actions of Hamas on Oct. 7. I was also deeply saddened and concerned by the Israeli government’s response, which seems doomed to failure. The massive attacks on Gaza are unlikely to eliminate Hamas — rather, they will likely foster a new generation of Palestinians with reasons to hate Israel. My concern for Jews everywhere led me to proudly sign the letter supporting calls for a ceasefire.

I signed publicly knowing that I am fortunate to be able to take a controversial stand. Given the intensity of discourse on the topic, many in our community might be struggling to balance their fears for Israeli friends or relatives with concerns that the massive Israeli military response might cause needless death and destruction. Many might have felt the pressure of the prevailing winds of uncritical support for Israeli actions. To take a stand so out of odds with one’s family and community is not an easy thing to do. For some, signing anonymously might have been all that they could muster.

The Chronicle had an opportunity to explore these concerns, or at the very least, to report on the substance of the ceasefire letter. By choosing to nitpick about the identities of the signatories of the ceasefire letter, rather than engaging with the sentiments within, the Chronicle has missed an opportunity to understand views shared by many in our community. If the Chronicle had asked, they likely would have found that many of us chose to speak in favor of the ceasefire because of — and not in spite of — our concerns for Jews in Israel, and for everyone in the region.

Harry Hochheiser
Pittsburgh

There is no ‘body versus soul’ conflict
In the 13th century, hostage Rabbi Meir of Rothenberg refused to be ransomed, for fear of encouraging the imprisonment of other rabbis. No fool he.

What Rabbi Meir did not foresee was capturing hostages explicitly to exchange for convicts who attempted or actually succeeded in murdering civilians. Releasing pay-to-slay killers guarantees future deaths of civilians in Israel. The only unknown is how many civilians will die.

Curiously, Michael Oren imagines that Hamas will respond positively to an offer of free passage from Gaza in return for the remaining hostages’ release, and that Hamas would willingly sail off to Algeria, Libya or Iran (“Israel’s Choice: Body or soul,” Dec. 1).

He does not mention that in 1970, Palestinians tried to depose Hussein, the Jordanian king. Hussein’s forces repulsed the PLO, killing and wounding thousands of Palestinians and forcing thousands more to flee to Syria and Lebanon. Most of the Palestinian leadership ended up in Lebanon, and they undermined the central government of that country.

It seems less than likely that any country would offer entry to the bestial Hamas and risk what Jordan and Lebanon experienced from Palestinian designs against their countries.

There is no body versus soul conflict. As Rabbi Meir understood, that which best promotes the survival of Israel, which is inseparably Jewish and democratic, is the best choice in the extraordinarily difficult circumstances that Palestinians inflict upon Israel. And Palestinians perversely reward their own barbarism with trays of sweets.

If that happened among Israelis, the world would lose whatever is left of its collective mind.

Julia Lutch
Davis, California

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