Letters to the editor August 21

Letters to the editor August 21

Jewish guilt in a time of war

The war in Gaza has been a difficult one. Our hearts soared with victories and sank with big losses. As a Jewish mother I fully expect to feel guilty every day about something. But this kind of guilt was unfamiliar.

I should have been in Israel. I should have stood with my cousin in her bomb shelter. I should have been there to bring supplies to the soldiers. I should have attended the funerals. Yes, I give to Jewish charities, volunteer for Jewish organizations … and I even have skin in the game, a son in the IDF. But I should have been there. The lone soldiers, as well as the Israeli soldiers, have given so much — in time, sweat, fear and life. As I watched anti-Semitism rise around the world these past weeks, I feel I have not given enough. It’s time to be there. It’s time to show Israel I stand with you, behind you, beside you. You are our safety net. Ultimately, you are the home we know we will have if we need you. I have vowed to myself that I will give more of me to Israel, especially, in time of war.

Jennifer Olbum


The heavy price of the Gaza war

Recent articles in The Jewish Chronicle extol the Jewish community for its support of the State of Israel. However, this support carries a heavy price, as it includes support for the following:

>> Support for the actions of the Israeli military in Gaza, which thus far have killed more than 1,400 Palestinians and wounded more than 6,000 others. Seventy percent of these casualties have been reported to be civilians and include the deaths of more than 300 children. The United Nations has described the Israeli bombings in terms that constitute war crimes under international law.

>> Support for the embargo and siege of Gaza by Israel subsequent to its withdrawal. Israel has conducted this without letup for many years, and it has been characterized frequently as having turned Gaza into a large, outdoor prison. The siege under international law amounted to a continuing act of war and has wreaked havoc on Palestinian civilians and reduced their economy to shambles.

>> Support for the military occupation by Israel of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. These lands were supposed to be part of a future Palestinian state. However, Israel has built a vast network of illegal settlements on these lands. The building of these settlements has been

accompanied by the Israeli military’s forcible eviction of Palestinians from their homes and lands to make way for these settlements. In the meantime, Israel has established a system of apartheid under which the Palestinians must live.

>> Support for the denial of the establishment of a Palestinian state. Israel has thwarted any hope of the Palestinian people to have a state of their own. Negotiations with Israel for such a state lead nowhere. Israel insists on building new settlements up and down and across Palestinian territory. It is obvious that Israel will not dismantle these settlements to make way for a Palestinian state. Moreover, the mindset of Israeli leaders reveals attitudes hostile to the formation of a Palestinian state.

Finally, there is the matter of Jewish morals, ethics and righteousness. It appears that the Jewish community and its clergy have tossed these concepts into a cesspool of hypocrisy.

Allan H. Cohen


Time for the insanity to end

As a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, I’ve been around for a long time praying for an end to the violence and for an opening for peace in the Middle East.

I am a past national president of NA’AMAT USA, a nonprofit organization that partners with our sister organization in Israel. We provide essential social services for working women and their children, Jewish and Arab, in Israel, including day care, vocational education and protection from abuse.   

On my many visits to Israel over the years, I have made many friendships with Arab women and have dined in their homes. I’ve visited day care centers and other facilities, where Jewish and Arab women work together and Jewish and Arab children play together on a daily basis.  We know from this experience that living with one another is both possible and rewarding.

The latest cycle of violence in Gaza is particularly disturbing. There appears to be no end in sight.

War is indeed hell.  The loss of even one life is one too many.  I am convinced that the people of Israel and the people of Gaza and Palestine, deep in their hearts, want to prosper and live in peace.  Sadly, opportunities to achieve such a peace have been squandered over the decades.  I’ve been waiting all of my life for that day to come; yet, I fear that I may not live to see it come to pass. When will the hatred and killing of innocents end?

Gaza has been, as Shimon Peres recently said, hijacked by Hamas, an organization that refuses to compromise and even accept the reality of the State of Israel.  These radical Islamists use the Gazans to garner world sympathy.  They are willing to sacrifice innocent women and children to achieve their stated goal of driving all the Jews into the sea. They hide their rockets in schools and mosques and fire them from densely populated areas. The people of Gaza become collateral damage.

There have been reports over the past month of at least three schools in Gaza where the U.N. has discovered caches of rockets. I’ve been around too long to believe that these are the only three such places in which Hamas has hidden its weapons. How many other schools, mosques and hospitals are used in violation of international law?

Hamas is not the first to use the Gazans as pawns to further its goals. Way back in 1967, shortly after the Six Day War, my family briefly visited Gaza.  We observed horrible conditions then; Gaza City was little more than a vast refugee camp.  Arab leaders, at that time, made little effort to upgrade the standard of living for the men, women and children in Gaza.  

Going back even further to 1947, not one of the six Arab countries that unsuccessfully attacked the newly founded State of Israel offered to resettle any of these people. They were pawns then, just as they are pawns of Hamas today. If the people of Gaza complain about their standard of living, Hamas, not Israel, is responsible.

How much money has been spent on the rockets that Hamas and other jihadists are firing daily and indiscriminately on Israeli civilians?  How much concrete was poured to construct the vast underground tunnel network?  How many schools, playgrounds, houses, hospitals, factories and power stations could have been built with this money and concrete?

Israel awaits a true partner to forge that future — a leader or a movement that advances the true aspirations of the Palestinian people, not another group of thugs promoting a radical religious agenda bent on driving her into the sea.  Hamas, until it is willing to accept Israel’s existence and honestly work toward a peaceful solution, is not such a partner. As the old saying goes, “it takes two to tango.”

It is time for the insanity to end.  I pray that I will live to see the day that the swords of Gaza are turned into plowshares and that the people of Gaza finally are free from grips of their brutal Hamas masters.

Gloria Elbling Gottlieb

Squirrel Hill

The commute is easy, trust me

As one who, for a host of reasons (primarily the unfavorable tax climate where I currently reside), is seeking a home in Cranberry Township or Seven Fields, it was with particular interest that I read “Seeking a connection: Being Jewish in the northern suburbs has its challenges” (Aug. 7).

Although it is true that there are few Jewish families or institutions in the northern area, the story inaccurately gives the impression that the southwestern Butler County resident is cut off from civilization, living in “the boondocks,” “too far” from the Pittsburgh area. I respectfully disagree.

All areas of Cranberry Township and Seven Fields are 20 miles or more from downtown Pittsburgh; however, the travel is not overly taxing or lengthy, and it involves primarily driving on interstate highways that are often not as clogged as city streets.  My wife and I have made the journey to Cranberry Township in less than 30 minutes from her North Shore office at 5 p. m. on a weekday, the height of rush hour, and we did not drive at excessive speed. As we both work in the city of Pittsburgh, we would not be willing to move to a new residence that involves a monstrous commute each day.  I will find no barrier to attending events at my Pittsburgh synagogue if and when I move to Butler County, and I know that there are a host of commuters to Pittsburgh who reside there.

Oren Spiegler

Upper St. Clair