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March 14, 2003

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PAGE4 By David Bornstein The ethics of war The wonders of e-mail. How'd we ever live without it? I divide my reading these days between good books, work documents, and e-mail. From the Torah commentary of the Jewish Theological Seminary to political speeches to bad jokes, I never know what will cross my desk or fill my mind. Today I want to consider three varied messages. The first comes from the JTS Distance Learning Project ( This week's Parasha commentary by Ismar Schorsch talks about how Moses accounted for the inventory of metals used in the construc- tion of the Tabernacle. "Judaism is nothing if not a set of insistent reminders that we humans are accountable for our actions," By Carl Alpert The case against a Palestinian State HAIFA--The proposal to establish an in- dependent state of Palestine to be located alongside the kingdom of Jordan and the state of Israel continues to make headlines and to draw support in some circles. It is doubtful if the advocates of such a state have ever made a serious and thoughtful study of what that means and what is in- volved. True, objections have been voiced but even these fail to deal with a basic and fundamental flaw in the whole matter. First, the usual objections. There has never been such a state. It never existed, was never destroyed. There is no history, no tradition, no literature, no past. There is no native population. The great majority of the present population here are descended from Arabs who immigrated into the area from surrounding countries, attracted by the prosperity created by Jewish settlement. If the demand for a state continues, it must be pointed out that it was already created in three quarters of the territory which the British mandate undertook to develop as a Jewish homeland. It is known as Jordan, and is distinguished by its Arab inhabitants, Arabic language and Muslim religion. But little attention is being given to the most crucial fact: Even if artificially brought into existence, such a state will be utterly non-viable. First of all, no matter what boundaries are set, it will always be a di- vided unit, part in Gaza and part in the West Bank, separated by central Israel. There is no possibility of uniting the two, because any territory serving that purpose would bisect Israel, separating the Negev from the rest of the country. Look at the map. Further, there is absolutely no economic justification for its existence. There is no industry to speak of. When a local family opened a meat processing plant not long ago, employing 88 people, it made head- lines. It is the Palestinians' largest indus- try. Agriculture is marginal economically, exports minimal, natural resources none. No one With a head on his shoulders is going to invest any money in developing this hope- less area. Before the intifada, the income from employment in Israel constituted over 40% of the Palestinian population earnings. By declaring war on Israel and practicing terrorism, the Palestine Authority cut off most of this income and practiced economic suicide. In the meantime, Israel has learned to use the services of foreign workers who come from afar, and are not security risks. Thus far the Palestine Authority, though rent by bitter internal dissension, has been able to maintain the appearances of exist- ence thanks to the liberal financial support from European countries and the U.S. The rest of the Arab world is not the least bit interested, and has reneged on pledges of support. Thus, the several million inhabit- ants, including perhaps an equal number of Arab refugees who the other Arab states will quickly dump into the new "homeland," will be constantly on the verge of starva- tion, They will become a perpetual interna- tional burden, but how long will the world be willing to support the illogical, artificial and economically destitute state? It is significant that even when sugges- tions are made to cede to the infant state some adjacent areas of Israel with heavy Arab population, the Israeli Arabs who would be affected rise up in vehement and unani- mous objection. They insist on remaining citizens of Israel, with all its social welfare benefits, rather than patriotic residents of the new, questionably viable Palestinian state. Conditions in such a state will lead to perpetual instability, hostility and contin- ued terrorism and wars. Are there intelli- gent, thoughtful Arab leaders who realize all this? Are American and European lead- ers who advocate creation of a new state aware of what the consequences will be? Even if we accept and recognize all of the above, that does not solve the problem of Several million unfortunate Arabs who are resident in the area. Obviously Israel cannot accept them as citizens, since they would soon outnumber the Jews in the Jewish state. One possible solution would be to create a U.N. mandated territory, under international auspices. Another would be to encourage absorption of the population within the neighboring state of Jordan. If nothing is done, the population there will gradually dwindle as people seek more economically feasible homes in any of the close to 20 Muslim states around them. Again, interna- tional help could assist in this move, in the best interests of the people concerned. THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. CENTRAL FLORIDA'S INDEPENDENT JEWISH VOICE O O ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 36 Press Awards Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Gene Starn Kim Fischer HERITAGE Florida Jewish News ( ISN 0199-0721 ) is published weekly for $34.95 per year to Florida ad- dresses ($41.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News, inc 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL32730. Periodicals postage paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787 Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831-0507 email: Society Editor Bookkeeping Gloria Yousha Elaine Schoopmg Circulation Rachel Hughes Account Executives Barbara do Carmo Marci Gaeser Sara Crusade Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Carl Alpert Tim Boxer David Bornstein Gall Simons Production Department David Lehman Teri Marks Rachel Levy HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS he says. "The ethos of Scripture aims for the same balance. Power needs to be checked. "Would you murder and also take posses- sion?" (I Kings 21:19), words that would reverberate through the ages as a warning to tyrants of all stripes." In another e-mail sent by a friend and written by an anonymous author: "How can a people who have no respect for the dead respect life? What are our symbols of power? When you think of power, do you think of knowledge, or of the Atom Bomb? When you think of a higher power, do you think of motherhood, or of dying and going to Heaven or Hell? When you think of sacrifice, do you think of a mother going hungry so her child's belly can be filled, or do you think of dead boys on foreign soil, in the name of God and country? Which God would that be? The one who says, THOU SHALT NOT KILL? We have made a false god of dead things. Three thou- sand dead in the nation that uses the most dead things in the most inefficient manner possible is a world wide tragedy that every- one must mourn or be scorned, but thirty six thousand dead each day from hunger, thirst, and treatable illness, dead as a direct result of monetary policies from the nation that uses the most dead things only rates as un- fortunate. And we do nothing to fix it." And finally, words from a speech by West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd: "This nation is about to embark upon the first test of a revolutionary doctrine applied in an ex- traordinary way at an unfortunate time. The doctrine of preemption - the idea that the United States or any other nation can legitimately attack a nation that is not im- minently threatening but may be threaten- ing in the future - is a radical new twist on the traditional idea of self defense. It ap- pears to be in contravention of interna- tionai law and the UN Charter. And it is being tested at a time of world-wide terror" ism, making many countries around the globe wonder if they will soon be on our -or some other nation's - hit list. High level Administration figures recently refused to take nuclear weapons off of the table when discussing a possible attack against Iraq. What could be more destabilizing and un" wise than this type of uncertainty?" And so out of the e-mail blue I am struck by conflicting thoughts. While I know, as the world does, that Saddam Hussein is a vile man who must be deposed, my yell, light of ethical caution blinks We will, for the first time since we overran Native Americans out West (practicing an American form of genocide), be invaders d a country whose population consists of more than 50 percent children. Our leaders be- come spin doctors and preach the need for war without reciting its consequences, and our moral compass goes astray. I don't know if we should invade Iraq. I don't know how Israel will fare before, during, and after this war. I don t know the face of America'. What I do know is that as Jews and decent human beings, we are accountable for our actionS, that war should never be taken lightly, and that like the prophets of old we can question our leaders as well as throw down despots like Saddam Hussein who possess power through terror and rfiurder. The waters arc murky, and I'm confused, but at least I'r~ asking questions. So should you. The opinions expressed in this colurn~ are the writer's, and not those of the Herr" tage or any other Jewish organization. That's the good word until next week. Write the Heritage, or e-mail your commentS, critiques, and concerns to not fodd for the rights movement By Jonathan S. Tobin For some Jewish educators, the quest to universalize the lessons of the Holocaust represents the desire that the crimes com- mitted against the Jewish people will never be repeated anywhere against anyone again. That's a noble goal. But sadly, history has shown that hope to be a forlorn one, as genocidal crimes in Africa and even Europe have proved. Such efforts run the danger of diminish- ing the specifically Jewish tragedy of the Holocaust. Debates have raged among schol- ars over the question of just how far you can go to draw the analogy between anything that smacks of prejudice and mass murder. The push to ensure that this tragic history is not forgotten has produced one especially unfortunate dividend: the popularization of Holocaust metaphors. Rather than reserving references to the murder of six million Jews to only the most terrible of crimes, the fashion of using inap- propriate and even egregious references to the Holocaust is growing. It is an unhappy fact of modern American discourse that any- thing that someone opposes can be called a "Holocaust" and anyone whose politics we don't like can be called a "Nazi." Examples of this proliferation of Holo- caust metaphors are everywhere. Any ter- rible event can now be called a "Holocaust." One especially stupid example occurred in an episode of the television sci-fi series "The Ex-Files" a few years ago. In it, the main characters were investigating strange hap- penings around a rural lake. When told that local frogs were dying in large numbers from an unknown cause, one of the heroic federal agents on the show portentously intoned that this was "a frog Holocaust." Laugh at that if you like, but this month we received confirmation that this sort of idiocy has crossed over from popular culture to the fashionable political counter-culture. In fact, the latest entry into the competi- tion for most outrageous use of the Holo- caust to make a point is an ad campaign run by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. In it, PETA makes a direct compari- son between the slaughter of animals for food and the murder of Jews in the Holo- caust, as well as comparing the treatment of Jews in ghettos and Nazi murder camps with factory farms. Opposing the abuse of animals for any reason is an honorable cause that engages the sympathy of decent people everywhere. Such sentiments also find strong support within Jewish tradition which regards such practices as both an ethical and religious transgression. Animal rights groups are also on solid ground when they protest needless experi" mentation on animals by scientists. Hope" fully advances in science and the technolo" gies available to test drugs will soon make such abhorrent practices obsolete. That said, to jump from that position to one that makes a direct analogy between the effort to exterminate the Jewish people and raising animals for meat is an absurdity that only an extremist could accept. It is one thing to believe, as vegetarians and veganS do, that the consumption of animal productS cannot be justified. It is quite another to assert, as Princeton University"philosopher. " I IS Peter Singer once wrote, that a rat is a p'g a dog is a boy." To maintain no distinctions between ani" reals raised for food and the deliberate tour" der of six million Jews is more than merely ridiculous. It is asign that the animal rightS world is abandoning rational discourse. The Nazis and their rigorously vegetaria~ lunatic leader once denounced Jews as beirls subhumans who deserved the same treat" ment as lower life forms. Today, that sa#~ argument is being used by PETA. In their case, they wish to elevate all animals to human status. But by seizing onthe example of the extermination of the Jews, they ha.Vf blundered, whether on purpose or unwiv tingly, into dangerous territory. We should cherish and protect animals, but there is no moral equivalence betwe ~ eating meat and the mass murder of huma~ beings. By asserting such an equivalence' PETA has deeply offended the remaining sU,r" vivors of the Holocaust, as well as all thin~" ing persons, both Jewish and non JewiSll alike. We can only hope that the denunciatiOn~ that PETA receives for this vile attempt to hijack the Holocaust will serve as a warni~ for all those who do not fear to invoke tile greatest of human crimes to denounce fat lesser offenses. This is one misused that should not be allowed to pass condemnation. Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor the Jewish Exponent in be reached via e-mail Q