Jews who make excuses for not really speaking out

Following the revealing article in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald on Jewish dissent, these letters appear today:

It saddens me that Peter Slezak wants to be a “non-Jewish Jew”, apparently glorying in some weird self-imposed excommunication (”Promised land needs home truth”, June 8). If he was an activist in the Australian Jewish community he would know that dissent and debate in that community are as Jewish as chicken soup. Hannah Arendt was a proud Jew. She took her role seriously in sparking stormy debate and saw no contradiction in doing so as a Jew, but also as a citizen of the world.

He would also know there are many steadfast friends of Israel who, like me, want its government to stop supporting extremist settlers in the West Bank, using young Israelis in the army to protect those settlers and to enable the establishment of a Palestinian state by withdrawing the army from the West Bank.

He would also know there are many Israelis and Jewish Australians (also Zionists) who are as deeply perturbed by the short-sighted and block-headed attitude of the Netanyahu government as they are by the determination of those on the “anti-peace flotilla” to precipitate a violent confrontation.

Irving Wallach Bronte

Peter Slezak’s article and the accompanying image distort the truth. Israel was, and is, the David to the Goliath of those Arab nations that are committed to its annihilation.

I have some sympathy with much of what he says. But it all falls down by failing to represent the truth that Israel has ”lurched” to a far-right position only because it is the right that promises strong action against the rocket attacks on civilians and the infiltration across its borders of suicide bombers. Without this aggression, Israel would not be blockading Gaza.

It is also untruthful to represent the famous Jews he cites as ”heretics”. None espoused alternative religious formulas against Judaism. They were secular Jews who – like so many others – did not practise their religion yet remained identified as Jews, having been nurtured in the culture of their parents.

The sophistry of much of Slezak’s article can only perpetuate the deplorable cycle of violence in the Middle East.

Ron Spielman Paddington

Lee Rhiannon (Letters, June 8 ) says she does ”not support Islamic militancy”. But when she stands happily surrounded by Islamic flags and an angry mob shouting ”Allahu Akbar”, what other conclusion can anyone draw?

Daniel Lewis Rushcutters Bay