Respect American Jews; keep open discussion on Israel
Regarding the Sept. 15 article "350 years of Jewish history in America": I am a Muslim American and I am impressed by the accomplishments of the Jewish people in America. Their early arrival and their committed efforts to survive and lead have paved the way for religious pluralism to exist in America. Every new faith to this land has had to endure in order to be accepted. Muslims have also gone far over the years, but have felt really set back after 9/11. The lesson here is to keep our identities and our faiths strong as we all live and share in this country together.
Studio City, Calif.
Regarding the Sept. 15 article, "Behind a growth in anti-Semitism across the US": Disagreeing with Israel's policies is not anti-Semitism. As an ex-New Yorker who knows the anti-Semitism drill cold, I am now fed up with such a small country getting a free ride on our foreign policy and US taxpayer dollars, and causing such enormous destruction and heartache in the process.
Despite the conduct of Israel, it is not an excuse to hate Jews and subscribe to the lowly ranks of anti-Semitism. It is imperative that law-enforcement agencies track down and prosecute to the full extent of the law all those who commit illegal racist acts.
That said, criticism of Israel's occupation and its army's conduct in the occupied West Bank and Gaza is - and should be - an integral part of our discussions in the quest for peace and justice in the Holy Land. Those who say that criticism of Israel's occupation is nothing but "not-so-thinly-veiled anti-Semitism" are not doing Israel any favor, for only true and honest discussions will lead to lasting peace.
I am a gay, Muslim, Arab-American, and know what it feels like to be singled out because of membership in a social group (real or perceived). However, I am also concerned that critiques of US policy or Israeli policy are too rapidly labeled "anti-Semitic."
I believe one can be critical of the policies in question (and AIPAC's apparent success in lobbying), but not be motivated by anti-Semitism. Israel can - and sometimes does - do wrong, and sometimes US policy in the region, in what is supposed to be support of Israel, is flawed.
I believe the threat of being labeled anti-Semitic has too often been used to silence dissent on US and Israeli policies in the Middle East, just as the threat of being labeled unpatriotic has been used to silence questioning of post-9/11 "security" policies in this country. Ad hominem attacks (categorizing those who don't agree with us as bigots) simply function to shut off debate on very important matters. However, the solutions to social problems and conflicts will come only from more rational discussion and debate.
Regarding your Sept. 17 editorial "After the 'Road Map'": Perhaps it's time to put aside all the past failed attempts to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - the Oslo accords, the road map, etc. - and face the reality that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's unilateral plan is the only viable one on the table. Since he announced his intention to withdraw from Gaza, a thaw of a frozen stalemate has produced considerable foment, forcing both sides to confront the stumbling blocks to any negotiated settlement. Israel will have to deal with its settlers, while the Palestinians will have to deal with a corrupt, dishonest leadership incapable of saying yes to peace. Mr. Sharon's plan needs international support.
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