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Letters to the Editor

Bipartisanship = GOP + Joe

All of Washington seems amazed that activist Democrats are opposing Senator Lieberman's reelection. He was just your party's nominee for vice president, they say, it's disloyal and impertinent, and he's had a good voting record on traditional Democratic issues for a long time.

As an activist Democrat who has followed Connecticut politics, I think I can shed some light on this matter. Whenever I turn on the television, I see Senator Lieberman supporting the Bush administration on seemingly every fool idea it comes up with. Then Republicans and the talking heads trumpet "bipartisan support for the president's" nomination, budget, whatever. If the senator takes over as secretary of defense, as is rumored to be his desire, then perhaps we will see an end to this barrage of "bipartisanship," which means Republicans plus Joe.

Another matter that has infuriated some Connecticut Democrats is his anti-choice stance. Some Connecticut hospital emergency rooms, apparently because of the religious affiliations of the owners or their staffs, refuse to provide morning-after contraceptives to rape victims. When asked about this problem, Senator Lieberman's answer was that the raped woman or girl has the option of leaving and going to another hospital emergency room, of which there are many in Connecticut. He doesn't seem to have any sympathy for an emotionally and perhaps physically traumatized crime victim being told to go find someplace she likes better, if she is not willing to spend the next nine months and then the rest of her life reliving her rape if "God" blessed her with a pregnancy. His sympathies lie with the powerful providers who choose to unscientifically and irreligiously equate a morning-after pill for a rape victim with murder.

No doubt every Democrat in Connecticut would vote for Joe if the ballot listed Lieberman versus Santorum, but I can understand why they'd want a senator who has more empathy for women and less sympathy for the White House, even if he is a famous establishment figure.

-- Joy Matkowski, Enola, PA

Pandering To Israel

Anita Stitt (Philadelphia Inquirer, Letters, 7/24) derides the kidnapped Israelis as prisoners of war, but does not mention that these prisoners are unavailable to the Red Cross, where their humane treatment can be verified. She does not mention that these Israeli prisoners are being ransomed for the freedom of convicted civilian killers. She does not mention the double standard that Israeli military installations within their own borders are military targets, but that Hamas and Hezbollah shield their launching sites and bomb factories in civilian areas in defiance of the Geneva Conventions. She does not mention that Israel goes to great expense to purchase guided weapons, to minimize civilian casualties; but that Katyusha rockets cannot even be aimed with any real accuracy, and so constitute a targeting of civilians because no military target is even 
possible. Perhaps she does not realize that Jews have been kidnapped for centuries, because their enemies know it is a commandment that Jews redeem them. Most of all, Stitt ignores the invasion of Israeli territory to achieve these kidnaps, an act of war by "militant" wings whose political operatives help constitute the government of Gaza and Lebanon. It is a thin fiction that the militant wings of these parties are somehow different from their political wings -- somewhat like 
claiming that Rice's State Department disavows the action of its militant Rumsfeld Defense Department. This is not to say that Israel should have a blank check from the United States for bombing civilians fleeing the conflict; but to claim that Israel has no justification for any action whatever is pure nonsense.

-- Ben Burrows, Elkins Parks, PA

Debunking Myths About Hezbollah

Since the first day of the Israeli-Lebanon conflict, U.S. media coverage has been plagued by major errors, misreporting or not reporting facts that are essential to understanding the crisis.

The most pervasive myth that still dominates press reports is the idea that Israel attacked Lebanon in retaliation for the kidnapping of the two soldiers. In reality, the crisis began with the largest katyusha missile strike against Israeli civilians since Israel withdrew from Lebanon six years ago. This strike went largely unreported. Instead, journalists stuck to a retaliation myth that obscures the defensive nature of Israel's response while portraying the Jewish state as petty, vengeful, callous, and all-too-powerful. 

Combine this with the fact that many media sources underreported the number of Hezbollah katyusha missile strikes, Israeli casualties, and locations hit by a whole order of magnitude during the first few days of the war and you get a fairly compelling argument for a substantial media bias that reflects the reawakening of old anti-Semitic sentiments.

The problem of media bias, however, is more complex than most people think. It not only involves the personal political biases of media personnel but other factors such as commercial bias?what story will attract the greatest listening audience and other economic interests of the media organization. 

An even more significant but less known factor is media access to information?what information the reporters have an easy time getting, how many reporters a media source has in an area to gather information, and the background knowledge that reporters may or may not have.

Due to this complexity, there are a number of simple, very effective steps that supporters of Israel can take to improve the situation. 

  1. Rely on Israeli media sources to get information. U.S. media sources often have not more than a handful of reporters covering the Middle East. Israeli media sources have a number of experts on every topic.
  2. Contact local and national media sources as well as organizations and individuals in your community to inform them of errors.
  3. Invite Israeli media experts to speak in your local community.
  4. Study the book selection at your local library and bookstores and make sure the public has access to books and journals that provide factually correct, in-depth information from a Zionist perspective.
  5. Attend events or lectures on Israel and check the facts that are reported. Inform college newspapers or sponsoring organizations of these errors.
  6. Check out reports by pro-Israeli media bias organizations such as Honest Reporting and CAMERA.

Exactly this type of grassroots action has already impacted the media encouraging them to correct reports. Yet widespread action is needed to confront entrenched myths and provide information that the American public desperately needs to make well-informed decisions regarding Israel and the Middle East.

-- Naomi Friedman, Asheville, NC

Hizbollah Is Ultimately Responsible

Let us hope and pray that the horrible destruction to Israel and Lebanon caused by this war does not result in Hizbollah becoming more popular or radical. After all, it was Hizbollah's unending rocket attacks against Israel, and the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers that started this war. Ultimately, it is Hizbollah's fault that Lebanon is being destroyed.

-- Ron Bihovsky, Wynnewood, PA

The Philadelphia Jewish Voice welcomes the submission of articles and letters to the editor  editor @ pjvoice.com. Please include name, address and phone number for identification purposes.  We cannot publish every submission we receive. We also reserve the right to edit submissions for length, clarity, grammar, accuracy, and style, though we will never intentionally distort the author's intent.