Howard Brenner (2/21) refers to "so-called 'Jewish' reader comments" from those of us who criticize Israel. Of course, the fact that I am Jewish is irrelevant to the accuracy of my critique of Israel. But I do feel that it is important for both Jews and non-Jews to be aware of my background. For Jews, it is important to separate Jewish and Judaism from Zionism and unqualified support for Israel. Perhaps those Jews with their own doubts will draw some impetus to challenge the assumed support of Jews for the Jewish state, or at least do some serious research. For non-Jews, it is important that they understand that not all Jews take their marching orders from Jewish institutions and leaders who give Israel their unqualified support. To criticize Israel is not to be anti-Semiticit is to be pro-human rights. Those who are morally outraged by the reality of what Israel has become need not withhold their criticism on account of the "sensitivities" of those who, for the most part, lead privileged lives in this country.
Such ad hominem attacks by Mr. Brenner only serve to distract us from the weakness of his argument. Israel has not turned 40 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinians, but 3 percent. They did not offer to turn over 95 percent, but at most 60 percent, and not contiguous territory at that. If they offered to turn over 100% of Gaza, then why do they feel it is important to continue to occupy one-third of that territory with 6,000 settlers, while one million Palestinians occupy the rest, which is also divided and controlled by the Israeli army? If Israel offers "even the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem," then why will they not allow those Arabs to lead normal economic lives, improve their houses, and be free of constant harassment by Israeli soldiers. But more important, why does Mr. Brenner assume moral equivalence in all this? Israel is not being asked by the Palestinians to "compromise" or make "concessions," and in any event Israel has done no such thing by any stretch of the imagination. They are justifiably asked to leave land that they have illegally occupied and settled as the result of military conquest, this land (the West Bank and Gaza) being only half of what was promised the Palestinians in 1948. The other half has already been "conceded" to Israel in acknowledgement of Irreversible "facts on the ground."
Mr. Brenner hopes that the Tribune can find "scores of letters from Jewish people who have the guts to support the beleaguered nation of their co-religionists." Is he referring to those 90 percent of Israelis who do not practice Judaism at all, or to the small but growing percentage who practice it fanatically and violently? Indeed it takes no guts at all to support the Jewish partly line on Israel, which is also the policy of the American government. What takes at least a small amount of gutsbut primarily just the ability to feel indignantis to not agree to be just another Jewish sheep who bleats when he or she is told, who remains silent in the face of a starkly unjust reality.