From the Jewish Students’ Union at U of T

(Re: “Israel and terrorism,” letter, 14 January 2002)

I would like to express my disgust at Mr. Deineka’s absurd and baseless claims that Israel is responsible for the September
11 attacks on the United States. Mr. Deineka says the notion that “Islamic extremists hate the Western democracies so much” is insufficient as a so-called justification for the bombings. He asks whether that is “a good enough reason even for an extremist to commit suicide.” One surely must wonder how we are to judge what is a “good enough” reason for an extremist to commit suicide. I question his focus on the rationale for the suicides of September 11, rather than the rationale for the slaughter of upwards of 3,500 men and women who were going about their daily lives. Mr. Deineka attempts to justify the attacks though the distortion of several historical events, devoid of a shred of context, and tailored to the needs of revisionist history. I encourage him to revisit books of historical fact. It is upsetting that Mr. Deineka not only distorts the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Israeli history, but that he uses them to attempt to justify the “suicides” of September 11. There are indeed frustrations on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—in the present day and based on history. However, in a civilized society, we cannot tolerate terrorism as a means of dealing with a situation.

Terrorism yields no potential for a positive and sustainable outcome.

He seems to suggest that anyone who is frustrated with his or her perception of history, misconstrued or not, has the right to exact revenge against any people and in any manner he or she chooses.

This is simply preposterous.

Aaron Kasman,
President, Jewish Students’ Union,
University of Toronto

A question for Stan Deineka

(Re: “Israel and terrorism,” letter, 14 January 2002)

I have a question for Stan Deineka. What gives him the right to speculate on the reasons as to why September 11 occurred? Because the truth is, you can take sides and make snide remarks, but the bottom line is that it happened. People are dying all over the world and the only thing that I see is everyone blaming everyone else.

The Arab world blames the Western world for its imperialist views, the Palestinians blame the Jews for taking their land, the United States blame terrorism. Maybe if some responsibility was taken then we could move on. The hunt for Osama bin Laden takes over the front pages of Canadian newspapers for months, and everyone focuses on that and nothing else. Why? Because… and yes, it needs to be said… Canada and the U.S. need a scapegoat. I’m not saying that what bin Laden did was right in any way, but I am saying the destruction of the twin towers and the thousands of deaths did not come out of nowhere.

The same concept applies to the Palestinians vs. the Jews. Both parties have provoked one another from the very beginning. All I can think to myself is what an excellent opportunity the Palestinians had to embrace a rejected people, like the Jews. It could have changed history. Look, I may have a very utopian way of thinking, but then again, maybe not.

As children, most of us are taught to take responsibility for our actions in order to find a solution.

Maybe our world leaders should do the same.

Jaqlin Walters

There is never a good reason to kill

(Re: “Israel and terrorism,” letter, 14 January 2002)

Firstly, this letter seemed to be legitimizing reasons for terrorism, including September 11.

This, in my mind, is nauseating. Nothing is a good enough reason to kill innocent people. There is no reason that [close to] 4000 people were killed on September 11th. Secondly, some myths need to be debunked.

In 1948, Deir Yassin, a small Arab village harbouring snipers and foreign troops, overlooked the only highway into Jerusalem. It was used to gun down Jewish convoys of food heading to Jerusalem to alleviate the food shortage.

Menachem Begin’s fighters, in a preemptive move to gain the vantage point, entered Deir Yassin and broadcast over a loudspeaker a warning for the civilians to evacuate the area, which many did. Begin’s group was fired upon and was forced to return fire, resulting in casualties on both sides, the vast majority being Arab.

There was no “massacre” and no “women, children and elderly were butchered in cold blood,” as the letter reported. Begin’s group even helped evacuate old men, women, and children to a nearby base in Sheikh Bader or into British control.

In 1982, there was a tragic massacre in Sabra and Shatila that was carried out by the Lebanese Phalangist militia, not by Ariel Sharon [as the letter writer seemed to suggest].

Over 300,000 Israelis demonstrated in Israel to protest the killings, while little or no reaction occurred in the Arab world. The US, Israel and the world should have the same goal: to eradicate terrorism.

Bram Bregman

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