It is hypocritical of President Bush to demand that Israel pull back from its efforts to eliminate the terrorist infrastructure on the West Bank (April 7). After Sept. 11, after declaring war on terrorism, after the military campaign in Afghanistan (still ongoing), after declaring that he would never negotiate with terrorists, he now insists that Israel must negotiate with terrorists and does not have the right to protect its own citizens.
Israel's fight against terrorism is our fight too. After Sept. 11, how can anyone doubt that the terrorists training and practicing on the West Bank will come here next?
Regarding Sunday's attack on Jenin: Is Bush's good friend Israel thumbing its nose at him and us? Or is the president conspiring with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to deceive the American people and the other Arab countries?
Re Yossi Klein Halevi's "Christian Bias Against Israel Has a Resurgence," Commentary, April 8:
From what I can tell, the Palestinians inside the Church of the Nativity invoked an ancient Christian tradition of sanctuary in entering the church to seek escape from their persecutors.
When Jews associate themselves with Israeli human rights abuses, we can hardly be surprised that people around the world get angry. Many of us don't support the occupation of Palestine and don't support the suppression of the Palestinian people. Israeli leaders like Sharon and, indeed, Halevi do not speak for us. We support those in Israel who, like us, work for peace and an end to the occupation.
Re "Memory and Destiny," by Lynn Cohen, Opinion, April 7: As a Jew, I feel ill at ease, to say the least, when I hear comparisons drawn between Hitler's reich and the Jewish state. But to see the current Israeli government policy of self-defense likened to Hitler's Gestapo tactics by a Jewish writer is downright nauseating. The logic behind the claim that since our grandparents were tortured and murdered by the Nazis, Israel has no right to defend itself as it sees fit is spurious.
If Cohen believes that by defending itself against terror Israel is committing suicide, then perhaps she can offer some alternative course of action. How about offering the Palestinians a state over 95% of the West Bank and Gaza? Oh wait, Israel tried that already. Unfortunately, like most Americans, Cohen is quite out of touch with the realities of the situation on the ground. I used to share her belief in peace at all costs, that is, until I spent the last 18 months in Israel.
Cohen's article expresses the outrage I feel. I am not Jewish; it doesn't matter what we each are. We know in our bones that retaliation will not work. Anywhere. It is time to change. We seem to be given so many chances to do so. Are we going to muff this one too?
I read Cohen's column with horror and then anger. She describes Israeli soldiers engaging in "Gestapo-style" tactics. Cohen is clearly ill-informed about Gestapo-style tactics. If the Israeli army actually were using Gestapo-style tactics, all the Palestinians would be dead, Arafat would not be giving interviews on television and reporters would not be reporting. They too would be dead.
The last thing the Middle East calamity needs now is more fantasies, whether they are David Perlmutter's apocalyptic terrors ("Dark Thoughts and Quiet Desperation," Opinion, April 7) or--actually much more offensive because lacking any self-awareness or humility--the vapid arrogance of Cohen, who somehow believes that being a Conservative Jew, learning about the Holocaust and having an utterly ethnocentric, romanticized fling with exotica by spending a year in an elite area of Jerusalem and exchanging back-room "hungry kisses" with a poor Arab entitle her to lecture us on Israel's behavior.
Regarding Perlmutter's article: All Americans should ask themselves if they are willing to place their lives, and the lives of their loved ones, in the hands of a man like Sharon. It's enough to send chills down one's back to ponder the fact that this man has his finger on the button that could doom all mankind to a "nuclear winter."
Alvin L. George Jr.