Letters to the editor: 1/8

Letters to the editor: 1/8

Israel needs our help
Volunteers are desperately needed in Israel to support the military effort being made to stop the rocket fire into the Israeli cities from Gaza. We recently returned from a three- week tour of duty with Sar-el. Sar-el is a program offering volunteers the opportunity to work on military bases performing noncombat civilian support duties. We worked alongside Jews and non-Jews from the United States, Canada, Serbia, Norway, France, Spain, England and Australia, packaging medical supplies for medics and mobile hospitals. This base depends on 40 volunteers each week to supply the army with medical supplies and we were a group of 25. The base was asked to step up the pace. We worked hard to provide medical packs that were sent to the Gaza area.
Volunteers work side by side with young men and women of Israel Defense Forces to help Israel shoulder its defense burden. The duties of volunteers is dependent on the base to which they are assigned. A general visiting our base thanked us for all that we did. He said that our work will help his soldiers survive. Those words keep repeating in my mind. The air assaults began the day we returned home. We realize the importance of the work we did. The medical supplies unfortunately will be used. We would prefer to unpack expired supplies.
The feeling of contributing to Israel, to the land of our people, is one of the best feelings we’ve ever had. Putting on the IDF uniform each day really gives us a feeling of belonging to Tzahal, the IDF.
Volunteering with Sar-el is a life changing experience. You get more out of the experience than you give. We volunteered in 2007, 2008 and plan to return this year. Israel needs your help now. To volunteer, contact
Volunteers for Israel at

Nancy and Morry Cohen

Israel must provide humanitarian aid to Gaza
As a member of the Jewish community, I am deeply concerned that the Israeli government, like our own at times and like governments throughout human history, has abandoned basic humanitarian principles and has committed deep violations of international law. No provocation justifies the massacre of civilians that is going on in Gaza. Neither does it justify the years of keeping 1.5 million Gazans in an open air prison with a blockade preventing them from getting adequate food, water and medical care, and keeping their economy in shambles. Over the past eight years, thousands of Gazans have paid the ultimate price as victims of this policy. The deaths of hundreds of civilians in the latest assault, including many children, and the maiming of thousands of others, are a record of shame — not just for the Israeli government, but for the rest of us who may have supported this action out of loyalty to country over principle.
Democratic constitutions and principles were created because history taught us that left unchecked, societies often abuse their powers and act in a totalitarian manner. Whether as Americans or as Jews, we must remind ourselves that our first loyalty is to democratic and humanitarian principles, not to the blind support of a country or government.

Robert Kraftowitz
Point Breeze

Israel’s not to blame
I wonder if the many Gaza Strip conflict protesters throughout the world, including those who chant “Death to Israel,” would be tolerant and understanding of incessant rocket attacks into their countries that target innocent civilians, and whether it would be acceptable to them if their nations launched only a “proportionate” response to the bombardment. I also wonder how many of these individuals took to the streets in protest as over the years Arab suicide terrorists have blown themselves up on Israeli buses, in places of business and at celebrations.
It is tragic that Palestinian civilians are being killed and maimed. This is something that is distasteful to me, to the Israelis, and to any civilized human being. The blame for these casualties, however, must be placed where it primarily belongs, on the ugly head of Hamas, which chooses to sacrifice its people as it continues its quest for the destruction of Israel. I would also prominently note that it is Arabs who have danced in the streets to “celebrate” the death and maiming of Westerners, including on the United States’ day of infamy, Sept. 11, 2001, and that no such glee is displayed in Israel when innocent Arab civilians suffer and die.
Why should Israel restrain its actions when there is a terrorist plague in its midst that is dedicated to the obliteration of the Jewish state?

Oren M. Spiegler
Upper Saint Clair

Innocent children are the victims
As a mother, grandmother and teacher, I write these words with a saddened heart after hearing a Hamas leader state that they will “never allow even one Jew to remain alive on Islamic land.”
Thousands of rockets have been launched from Gaza, and still the people of Israel have been denounced for a “disproportionate” response. Does that mean that murderous intent must be endured because the objective failed? If Hamas had their way, every rocket fired would kill an Israeli child! What would be our country’s response if Cuba launched a rocket into the Florida Keys? Would Cuba be exonerated because they missed? After an American child was maimed, would we simply sit down and negotiate? A bomb in only one pizza parlor would have us at war.
When the State of Israel was formed, 800,000 Jews were forced out of all the other Middle Eastern countries. They left penniless; their dignity, their livelihoods stripped away. Where was the world’s outrage for their “right of return?” When we’ve been driven out, we have thrown away our old keys. Like Lot, we do not look back but force ourselves to look into the future. We have not only survived; we have succeeded.
I want that mindset for the people in Gaza. I don’t want to see anymore of their young people or ours harmed. But it is the people of Gaza who must choose between their children and Hamas. Clearly, Hamas has chosen to sacrifice their children’s lives in order to destroy ours. The people of Palestine must decide. Will they join with us to guarantee prosperity and healthy futures for all of our children or will they carry forever the knowledge that they, and they alone, have destroyed everything that we all hold dear?
I want to believe that the mothers, grandmothers, and teachers in Gaza would choose their children. May their voices be heard.

Marilyn Bricklin Lebovitz

U.S. must help broker cease-fire in Gaza
We have all watched in anguish as crisis has unfolded in Gaza and southern Israel. More than 500 Palestinians have died, including Hamas terrorists and innocent civilians. And despite the Israeli military’s Operation Cast Lead, rockets continue to fall on Israel, already killing five and wounding dozens more.
Although the Israeli action is understandable, the air strikes and ground invasion represent a huge escalation. Black smoke spirals over Gaza and hospitals fill with wounded. Israelis hover near shelters and send family into life-threatening danger.
The now familiar sequence of mutual hostility, invasion and withdrawal without security arrangements has never worked; it won’t work now. If the international community fails to plead the case of peace and resolution, the situation will only grow more calamitous. The U.S. and world community must intercede to help re-establish a cease-fire, and facilitate humanitarian aid to Gaza. After decades of violence on both sides, it should be abundantly clear that bullets and bombs will not nurture olive branches; true peace cannot be achieved by military means.
Our Sages teach us to “love peace and pursue it.” “Pro-Israel” and “pro-peace” can be — in fact, are — synonymous. Do not sit idly by, our neighbor bleeds, our family bleeds and human lives are lost.
Concerned Americans who want to support Israel should call their U.S. senators and representatives, and urge American leadership to negotiate an immediate cease-fire and, in concert with the international community, bring an end to hostilities and violence from all sides.

Rabbi Art Donsky
Allison Park