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With Israel Under Threat, U.S. Jews Turning to Their Computer Keyboards

April 3, 2002
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

American Jews are flexing their typing muscles, inundating the White House with e-mails in support of President Bush’s Middle East policy.

American Jewish organizations and concerned citizens have been circulating e-mails to Jews across the United States, urging them to contact the White House and make their voices heard.

One e-mail from a Jewish federation notes that the White House has been besieged by phone calls, e-mails and faxes from Arab groups protesting the Bush administration’s support for Israel, and that Jews need to counter that campaign.

“Let’s show them that we will not sit still and allow for the destruction of Israel by tying its hands behind its back,” another e-mail said. “It is of the utmost importance that we show our support for the president’s pro-Israel stand.”

Lee Milstein, a New York University law student, received the message from his sister and sent an e-mail to the White House on Monday.

“I am sure you do not need a history lesson on how fragile the very existence of the Jewish people has always been, so I just wanted to thank you for supporting their efforts,” Milstein wrote to President Bush. “It is important to stand against terrorism and behind the state of Israel.”

Milstein said he does not usually participate in this type of activity, but felt “it was important that Bush not waver, especially when his advisers seem to be against him.”

White House officials wouldn’t say how many e-mails they have received on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, only that they receive approximately a total of 10,000 e-mails a day on all subjects.

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Reform movement’s Union of American Hebrew Congregations, sent an alert to most of UAHC’s 900 congregations asking them to e-mail the White House, and says he expects a significant response.

“My sense is that people are very anxious to do something, looking for a way to be supportive of Israel,” Yoffie said. “We want to give them something positive and constructive to do.”

While it is understood that Bush or his aides are unlikely to read individual messages, Yoffie said, a large number of e-mails will “demonstrate that the Jewish community feels particularly strong about this.”

At a rally in front of the PLO’s Washington office Tuesday, Rabbi David Rose spoke of the e-mail he had sent to the White House, and how he encouraged congregants to do the same.

“We are appreciative of the Bush administration understanding that the Israeli actions are the same as their war against terrorism,” said Rose, of Congregation Har Shalom in Potomac, Md.

The rally was similar in some respects to the e-mail campaigns — short on form but long on content, and eager to get the point across.

Sponsored by the Friends and Family in Israel Committee, the rally, attracted a little over 100 people.

Participants chanted “Arafat Must Go” and sang Israeli songs, and urged passing cars to “Honk Against Terror.”

They held signs with slogans such as “Arafat and Bin Laden — Twin Towers of Terrorism” and “No Cause Justifies Suicide Bombers.”

Peter Hebert, an organizer, called the PLO office “the headquarters of suicide bombers.”

“We need to get off the idea that Israel is Goliath and the Palestinians are David,” he said. “Palestinians are trained killers.”

Rabbi Jack Moline of Agudas Achim in Alexandria, Va., called for an end to suicide bombings.

Both sides must work for peace, he said, and Israel can not be expected to negotiate or compromise with those who do evil. “How can I sit and dream with someone who is as likely to take my life as my offered hand?” Moline asked.

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