Suissa on the edge, gay marriage, ice on Mars

Same-Sex Marriages

In the cover story (“Same Sex Marriage and the Fabric of Society: What Does it All Mean?” June 20), the section, “The End of Morality,” is devoted to anti-gay viewpoints (including Dennis Prager, perhaps inserted as deference to some aberrant sense of balance).

The argument made by Rabbi Daniel Korobkin that “broadening the definition of [marriage] actually weakens it, just as broadening the definition of homicide to include animals would weaken the crime of murder” has the ring of a nice soundbite but is both bigoted and specious, with at least two fallacies.

1) The premise behind Korobkin’s argument is that a human life is worth more than that of an animal, a point few would contest. Notwithstanding, logic might just as easily have led Korobkin to the opposite conclusion: If it is forbidden to kill an animal, how much more is it objectionable, then, to murder a human being, an interpretation which would strengthen his homicide law.

2) Because Korobkin’s aim is to use his homicide argument to justify the exclusion of same-sex couples from civil marriage, the working principle here is the assumed inferiority of a class of people. In Korobkin’s paradigm, heterosexuals would be the “human beings” and gay men and lesbians would the “animals.”

His is the psychological threat felt by members of an established, dominant group with regard to the exclusive sense of entitlement for rights that only they have long been afforded.

Scott Portnoff
Los Angeles

Thriving on the Edge

David Suissa presents his recent column as covering all Israeli worldviews on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (“Thriving on the Edge,” June 27). But he misses a worldview that provides a way forward that combines the dovish view of Rabbi Michael Melchior with the pragmatism of Michael Oren. I call this worldview “halfway,” to suggest that Israel can create a secure future if it responds to Palestinian needs.

I think Israel can create a secure future by cooperating with both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. Obvious first steps would:

1) Extend the Gaza truce to the West Bank.
2) Stop all settlement expansion, even in those settlements that Israel thinks will eventually become part of Israel.
3) Remove settlement outposts.
4) Remove checkpoints and roadblocks that do not contribute to Israeli security.
5) Stop extrajudicial execution of Palestinian leaders.
6) Find a compromise on a prisoner exchange to free Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit.

Jeff Warner
L.A. Jews for Peace

Qassams for Israel; IDF intrusions into Gaza. Is it possible that for more than a year, this cycle of violence is the result of Israel’s military encirclement of Gaza, resulting in its peoples’ escalation of human misery?

Now a fragile truce. Enter David Suissa’s article titled “Thriving on the Edge.” Being pro-Israel, pro-security and pro-peace, the article satisfied none of these sensibilities and left me feeling hung out to dry.

Moving from one frame of reference to another, Suissa disavows Knesset member Rabbi Michael Melchior’s “let’s give truce a try” to the philosophy of Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post denigrating the government’s efforts to engage Hamas, identifying Israel as charged in fighting a global jihad that can only be won militarily, to Michael Oren, a historian of merit who contends Palestinians unable to manage their own country are in no position to offer a substantive peace.

In the end, Suissa throws up his hands, in a sense advocating a policy of do nothing, which in effect is what the Israeli government has done since the Annapolis agreement in late October of 2007 — this despite endless negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and the government of Israel.

During this period of time of negotiation, Israel has offered the PA not one iota of hope — no withdrawals of illegal outposts, no removal of checkpoints that seemingly exist only to harass and intimidate, no letup in the continued planning and construction of settlements in the West Bank or the numerous archaeological digs in Silwan, East Jerusalem.

In order for the Jewish people to assert its moral claim as being a light unto the nations, it must first employ courage when taking the necessary risks involved in fostering peace with its neighbors.

Wally Marks
Los Angeles

David Suissa responds:

Wally Marks chides Israel for not employing “courage when taking the necessary risks involved in fostering peace with its neighbors.” If uprooting 8,000 settlers and risking a Jew vs. Jew civil war is not an example of employing courage and taking risks for peace, I don’t know what is. Perhaps he should spend more time watching the hatred for Jews that is regularly spewed in official Palestinian media, schoolrooms and summer camps, and ask our Palestinian peace partners why they don’t have the courage to teach peace to their people.

Marks and Jeff Warner both seem to suffer from what I call “if-only-itis.” If only Israel would do the six “obvious first steps” Warner outlines, then Israel could “create a secure future.” The problem is that those steps have nothing to do with the Palestinian desire to eliminate the Jewish state. Accepting a Jewish presence in their neighborhood is something that can only be taught by Palestinians to Palestinians. When our Palestinian partners start teaching peace to their people, they will find a courageous partner in Israel.

New Columnist: Marty Kaplan

I have enjoyed your blogs on for some time. Your insight (“Ice on Mars: Good for the Jews?” June 27) was a special gem, and I thank you for it. So clear, so educated, so down to earth and accessible to any thoughtful person. A wonderful reminder of the possibility of wonder and of heartfelt thanks, both in the morning and when paradigms are cracked open.

Daniel O. Dugan
via e-mail

I enjoyed your article on cosmological breakthroughs, as I do all your articles (and movies). It is one of the rare articles written on the subject without a snicker of condescension and that does justice to its subject.

If the phylogenetic journey from bug to man is but the beginning of the beginning of consciousness, whither goeth evolution and destiny? Personally, I believe there is intelligent life on Earth, and that some of its beings walk among us. Quite frankly I suspect you are one of them.

Walter Miale
via e-mail