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(Photo from Flash90)
(Photo from Flash90)

Recognizing Palestinian hopelessness will not rein in the violence
I would like to express my profound disagreement with the opinions expressed by Professor Dennis Jett in his article recently published (April 8) in the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle. His main thesis is that the Palestinians have resorted to terrorism because “(w)hen people live without hope, it can prompt some to snap and turn to violence.” While I agree with that statement in principle, it is hardly applicable to the present situation. Violence against the Zionist enterprise is far from a new phenomenon caused by Arab hopelessness. It has a long history. It predated the Jewish state by several decades. Its motivation was not then — and it is not now — a result of hopelessness. It is a tactic, encouraged by those (Hamas and Palestinian Authority) that Jett correctly characterizes as kleptocracies.

If the Palestinian Arab violence were directed at their leadership, I would concede the professor’s point. But since the violence is directed at innocent Jews, citizens of Israel, including even Arab citizens, I draw the line and do not accept that recognizing so-called Palestinian hopelessness will have any effect on reining in the violence.

The real truth is that Palestinians, spurred on by their corrupt leadership do not yet recognize the right of Israel to exist. Israel has offered, on multiple occasions, generous terms for a Palestinian state if it would coexist peacefully with her. She unilaterally withdrew from Gaza. Left behind were valuable orchards as a good-faith move. It was greeted by Hamas hostility. Rocket fire onto Israeli territory became commonplace. It was to be “Gaza first.” If things went smoothly there, then the West Bank would be next. How well did that turn out?

Jett also blames the Abraham Accords for enhancing Palestinian hopelessness. Maybe so. Many Arab nations have given up on them and condemn their whining. Even they see that, by accepting Israel’s existence, peace and prosperity is possible if the Palestinians and their leaders truly want it.

If any group should feel hopeless, it would be those Israelis who live in constant fear of terror. Should the message to those besieged people be that it is OK to go on killing sprees? Of course not. And the professor would not, in a million years, suggest that behavior is acceptable if the shoe were on the other foot.

Robert Ennis
Pittsburgh

Why publish an opinion piece that blames the victim?
Who would have imagined that, in the week following a spate of horrific terrorist murders in Israel, Pittsburgh’s Jewish newspaper would feature a guest columnist who essentially blamed the victim? (“We must reflect on the ‘whys’ of terrorism,” April 8.)

What prompted the Chronicle to invite Dennis Jett to share his poorly informed and simplistic views on Osama Bin Laden, school shootings and killings in Israel?

Evidently ignorant of bin Laden’s widely known revulsion for Western ways and values, Jett asserts that the 9/11 attacks were the result of nothing more than hatred of America’s stationing of troops in a Saudi Arabia governed by a “corrupt” monarchy.

Far more odious is Jett’s proposition that the deaths in Israel’s street are motivated by “people who believe their lives have no hope of improvement,” then “snap and turn to violence.” That must be why these “hopeless” people were passing out candy in celebration of the murders, as they did after 9/11. Or why the “hopeless“ president of the United Kingdom’s National Union of Students prayed for “every last Jew to be killed.”

Why would the Chronicle choose to feature a columnist who writes that “it is not just the authors of the UN report who think Israel is an apartheid state.” Who else? Is he among them? Perhaps, since he goes on to make accusations against Israel that are either ill-informed or unfounded.

Are the general media so devoid of such writings that we need our local Jewish newspaper to seek out more of them? Is it not obscene to publish them when we should be mourning the murders of our Israeli brethren?
If that’s the best it can offer, what is the point of having a Jewish newspaper?

Ann Sheckter Powell
Pittsburgh

The problem with AIPAC’s anti-democratic endorsements
No amount of pro-Israel posturing can excuse endorsing candidates who carried out the wishes of violent insurrectionists by voting to overturn the results of the 2020 election. (“AIPAC defends its endorsees, including those who questioned Biden’s election,” online, March 19.)

That’s why AIPAC’S ill-advised decision to endorse and fund more than three dozen candidates who voted to overturn the results of a free and fair election is a slap in the face for American democracy.

AIPAC has defended the decision to endorse these candidates by stating that AIPAC is a single-issue organization — but that is a false dichotomy. All political decisions and policies have an impact on one another and do not exist in a vacuum. If you publicly endorse and fund extremists who endanger our democracy, then you take on significant responsibility for their actions. Here in Pennsylvania, we are particularly concerned with AIPAC’s decision to endorse Scott Perry, who has championed the antisemitic conspiracy theory of “the great replacement.”

Additionally, many of these representatives who AIPAC has endorsed (including Jim Jordan and Kevin McCarthy) have explicitly sought to obstruct accountability or investigation into what happened on Jan. 6.

J Street, an organization we are active in, has a mission to uphold and promote our Jewish and democratic values both at home and abroad. With American democracy facing unprecedented peril from politicians who refuse to respect or uphold free and fair elections, it is vital that we only support and raise funds for candidates who will defend democracy. That is why J Street launched its pro-democracy pledge.

J Street’s pro-democracy pledge is a public call on all pro-Israel organizations with affiliated PACs to take a public pledge not to endorse any electoral candidates who voted against Congressional certification of the 2020 election results on January 6 or otherwise supported the “Big Lie” which falsely claims that Donald Trump actually won the 2020 election.

AIPAC’s decision not to join J Street’s pledge, by endorsing a large number of candidates sympathetic to the aims of the violent insurrection threatens the very nature of our democracy.

Don’t just take our word on this misguided decision. Richard Haass, president of the Council of Foreign Affairs says: “Sorry AIPAC, but it is morally bankrupt and shortsighted to back pols who undermine democracy just because they support Israel.” And the former head of the Anti-Defamation League Abe Foxman called the decision by AIPAC a “sad mistake,” and said, “those who undermine America‘s democracy undermine America and a weak America will not be able to stand and support its ally Israel.”

In AIPAC’s defense of the endorsements, they stated that “This is no moment for the pro-Israel movement to become selective about its friends.” But those who threaten democracy are no friends of the United States, and they are certainly no friends of Israel.

Nancy Bernstein
Ronnie Cook Zuhlke
Ed J. Feinstein
Mark Fichman
J Street Pittsburgh

Israel is homeland for every Jew
Rabbi Danny Schiff is indeed a fine educator. (“Ready to teach in person and online, Rabbi Danny Schiff returns to Pittsburgh,” April 8). Israel, however, is not his “adopted” homeland. It is his homeland, as it is for every Jew.

Lorraine Mackler
Squirrel Hill

Echoes of Antony for Albright
Stuart E. Eizenstat’s column (“The advice I gave Madeleine Albright when she found out she was Jewish,” April 1) reminded me of Antony’s oration at Caesar’s funeral — except that he came to praise her not to bury her. Imagine, she came to ask him what to do (presumably to save her nomination/career) and his sage advice was to tell the truth (which she bravely did). Ahem!
I write not to bury Albright or to criticize her or her parents, who did as so many “had” to do, but to ask how could such an intelligent woman either not know or not have the curiosity to find out why her parents fled or find out anything about her grandparents.

As Jerry Seinfeld said about something else, “not that there’s anything wrong with that.” But, Eizenstat should have left the subject in the past rather than raising it anew with a shallow “defense.”

Jack Mennis
Hampton Township

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