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Article Ignores Facts

On behalf of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, we are writing to express our extreme displeasure with this week's front page article entitled "Massachusetts Women March For Freedom in the Middle East." The inaccuracies in this piece promote mistruths which only serve to escalate the conflict. Those who are truly committed to a meaningful peace do not blatantly distort the facts or choose to present such a one sided biased version of the current situation in Israel. The Reminder has ignored the salient information addressed in this letter. In August 2005, Israel disengaged from the entire Gaza Strip and turned the area over to Fatah, Palestinian Authority (PA) control. At that point, Israeli civilian and military presence in Gaza ended completely. The hope was that this action toward peaceful co-existence would restore stability, open up opportunities for advancing the peace process and the realization of a two-state solution. In 2007, Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip by coup after rejecting a unity government with Fatah. Hamas is a terrorist organization, backed by Iran, which openly seeks Israel's destruction. As a result, Israel and Egypt then partially sealed their border crossings with Gaza. Fatah was no longer providing security and Hamas was continually bombarding southern Israel with rockets, putting the lives of one million Israeli citizens at risk. Instead of state-building in Gaza, Hamas dedicated its resources, including international aid, toward terrorizing Israel's civilian population centers. Israel's southern cities and towns within 20 miles of the Gaza Strip, including Sderot and Ashkelon, have suffered the brunt of this terror. Since 2001, Hamas has deliberately and indiscriminately attacked Israel by rockets, often dozens of times a day aimed at civilian centers in clear acts of terrorism. We want peace and an end to the conflict. The way to achieve this is to have Palestinians stop the violence, recognize Israel and negotiate a two-state solution. There is nothing to suggest that Hamas has transformed its strategy into non-violence. And, Hamas remains on the United States list of recognized terrorist organizations. It is telling that peace activists involved in the "Gaza Freedom March" do not condemn Hamas, but rather, put all their efforts into condemning Israel. Hamas, a terrorist organization committed to Israel's destruction, is the main obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace with no regard to those killed along the way. On a personal level of observation of the devastation which Hamas rockets visited upon the Sderot community in November '08, just prior to the war, we can tell you first hand of the fear families in this community must contend, day in and day out. Our visit to the local day care center where the children were not allowed to play outside all day, but sequestered inside a concrete bunker, poignantly tells another important part of this story that has not been shared. For those who truly care about bringing peace and stability to the region, resources are better spent by investing in economic development in the region. Right now the development and economic prosperity occurring in the West Bank under Fatah's leadership demonstrates that cooperation and commitment to peaceful co-existence is the path for success. Any other efforts only serve to promote more loss of innocent lives. If the desire of The Reminder is to educate the public on issues of importance in the community, it is very disappointing that the publication has chosen to ignore the facts of this difficult situation and promote misinformation and mistruths. Ed Greenbaum President, Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, and Meredith Dragon Executive Director, Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts Codepink Article Was Puff Piece Last week's Reminder presented the story of women going to the Middle East under the auspices of Codepink. Their stated purpose was to "take a stand for the people of Gaza." Although much was said about Israel and Gaza, what wasn't mentioned was the nature of Codepink. A quick look at the Codepink Web site and materials makes it clear that it is a one-sided organization that does not recognize the right of America to defend itself against al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Nor does it recognize the right of Israel to fight a war of survival against the terrorist group Hamas, armed by Iran. Hamas seeks to destroy the state of Israel and has a history of launching missiles deeper and deeper into Israel. The distance between Gaza and Tel Aviv is about the same as between Springfield and Worcester. Would we in America give up the right of self-defense if a hostile force controlled territory that close? How is it that the Codepink Web site is silent on these rockets falling well within the state of Israel? How is it that Codepink expresses concern and sympathy for the Palestinian women and children who died or were injured during the war in Gaza last year, but it ignores the fact that innocent Israeli women and children died as well? How is it that Codepink is silent when bombs explode in the middle of Israel at university cafeterias, pizzerias, coffee houses, or near the beach in Tel Aviv? Why is there silence when innocent Israelis suffer? The answer is that Codepink does not promote peace for all humanity, it spews hatred of Israel as it expresses its support of the Palestinians. There is even a section on the Web site protesting the cosmetic company Ahava and its use of the natural resources in Israel. Just what does the Ahava cosmetic company have to do with promoting peace? Further the links on the Codepink Web site are to organization that call to end all trade with the "racist state of Israel." These groups are seeking to delegitimize and destroy the Jewish people's homeland. Those who truly pursue peace recognize the need for a two state solution, care deeply about the pain of the innocent Israelis and Palestinians, and recognize that both sides have suffered for too long. We do not expect much from Codepink. We were disappointed that The Reminder would write a front page puff piece that glamorizes Codepink. We expect The Reminder to publish thoughtful, balanced and nuanced articles. Rabbi Amy Wallk Katz, Ph.D, Temple Beth El Springfield Rabbi Mark Shapiro, Sinai Temple Springfield Rabbi Fred Hyman, Temple B'nai Torah
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