Monday, July 28, 2014

Open letter to the Atlanta Journal Constitution

As a citizen of this glorious country, a member of the Atlanta community, and a proud Jew, my heart ached when I saw the cartoons that your prestigious newspaper (what I consider The Voice of Georgia) published on July 15 and July 22. These cartoons were created by Mr. Mike Luckovich.

The cartoons portrait a State of Israel which takes advantage of the American society through its friendship and loyalty (July 15), and Israel’s view on the Two State Solution incarcerating the people of Gaza sieged by barbed wire.

Let me understand these two images and remind Mr. Luckovich that one image or picture speaks more than a thousand words.

I would not challenge Mr. Luckovich's creative mind in regard to his ability to draw, but let me clarify his ignorance regarding geopolitics.

Let me elucidate the erroneousness conveyed in his cartoons:

1. The relationship between the State of Israel and the United States of America is strong and steady because the values of this country based on democracy, freedom of speech, patriotism, progress, intellectual stimulation and spiritual growth are values that prevail in the State of Israel, a land that welcomes all the religions and embraces its inhabitants. The unwavering bond between these two countries is based on mutual trust and loyalty (referring to the cartoon on July 15).

2. As far as Israel’s attitude towards Gaza is concern after the Disengagement in 2005, let me tell Mr. Luckovich that Israel provides assistance to the Palestinians living in that area. Allow me to quote Israel’s UN Ambassador Don Prosor back in 2011 when he spoke about myths and facts

“Myth: there is a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. In fact, numerous international organizations have said clearly that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, including the Deputy Head of the Red Cross Office in the area. Gaza 's real GDP grew by more than 25% during the first three quarters of 2011. Exports are expanding. International humanitarian projects are moving forward at a rapid pace. There is not a single civilian good that cannot enter Gaza today.

Yet, as aid flows into the area, missiles fly out. This is the crisis in Gaza.

And that is what keeps Gaza from realizing its real potential. It is a simple equation. If it is calm in Israel, it will be calm in Gaza. But the people of Gaza will face hardship as long as terrorists use them as human shields to rain rockets down on Israeli cities. Each rocket in Gaza is armed with a warhead capable of causing a political earthquake that would extend well beyond Israel 's borders. It will only take one rocket that lands in the wrong place at the wrong time to change the equation on the ground.

If that happens, Israel 's leaders would be forced to respond in a completely different manner. It is time for all in this Chamber to finally wake up to that dangerous reality. The Security Council has not condemned a single rocket attack from Gaza. History's lessons are clear. Today's silence is tomorrow's tragedy”.

Israel has been offering humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza: food, medicine, cement to build their own infrastructure and to teach then “how to fish”, but they are victims of their own government, the terrorist organization Hamas has robbed them of their own future.

The people of Gaza run for their lives and are treated in Israeli hospitals because our Jewish values do not discriminate on race, religion, color and social status. Israel nurtures them, heals them, cures them, while their own regime uses them as shields to protect their weapons, Israel uses its weapons to protect the human beings.

As a Rabbi involved in interfaith events in Georgia and nationwide, my soul cries when I see these cartoons, they destroy tireless constructive hours of honest dialogue and mutual understanding. As a medical doctor who finished her fellowship at the Hadassah Medical Hospital in Jerusalem my heart aches to witness these cartoons while I remember that 40 percent of my patients were Palestinians treated in Israeli hospitals with the same efficiency and professionalism as the Christians and the Jews who live in Israel.

I truly hope that Mr. Luckovich publicly apologizes for these cartoons.

I don’t expect him to counterbalance these cartoons with one that shows terrorists from Hamas hiding in the tunnels and getting to their “Promise Land” while attacking a kindergarten of the Kibbutz on the other side of the border, or thanking the Iron Dome for protecting the American citizens that just landed from a safe Delta flight.

It’s time, Mr Luckovich to get informed, to get your facts right, to stop repeating deceptive myths.

We will welcome your public apologies.

Shalom, Salam, Peace!

“The Lord detests lying lips, but delights in people who are trustworthy” Proverbs 12:22

Rabbi Dr. Analia Bortz

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