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Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, March 2006, pages 5-6

Letters to the Editor

FLAME in Context

Gerardo Joffe’s (president of FLAME) response letter (Dec. 2005 “Letters to the Editor”) accusing the Washington Report of obsession with investigating the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty and “editorial hatred of Israel” (code for prejudice against Jews) cannot be read without considering the record of cultural ignorance shown in how FLAME has carried out its primary mission—to produce and place ads to “educate” people about the Israel-Arab conflict. FLAME calls the ads “educational and clarifying ads, which appear monthly in major national magazines and metropolitan newspapers” in its own fund-raising materials. One ad that ran in magazines between 10 and 15 years ago, began with the tagline “Myths About Israel and the Middle East (1)” and stated “Myth: The ”˜Palestinians’ are a nation and therefore deserving of a homeland.” The section of the ad ended with the claim that “[t]he so-called ”˜Palestinians’ are no more different from the Arabs living in the neighboring countries of Lebanon, Syria and Jordan than Wisconsinites are from Iowans.” The html version of the ad on the FLAME web site is signed by Mr. Joffe.

Other “educational and clarifying ads” highlighted in their past fund-raising materials have “educated” about subjects such as “Jordan: Is it or is it not Palestine,” “The ”˜Troubles’ in Israel: Should Israel withdraw from the ”˜West Bank’ and Gaza,” and “Gaza: Are its inhabitants being ”˜subjugated’ by the Israelis.”

Joffe’s monolithic descriptions of those who commit acts of terrorism, as done by “Arabs” and “Jihadists,” continues such a lamentable record of cultural and historical ignorance. Spreading it again will not serve to create conditions that create a just, sustainable, lasting, durable peace even Mr. Joffe should hope to live long enough to see.

Jonathan Gubits, Bethesda, MD

We don’t believe Mr. Joffe is “ignorant.” That’s why we contend that FLAME stands not for “Facts and Logic...” but rather “Fallacies and Lies About the Middle East.” While we plan to continue reporting on Israel’s 1967 attack on the USS Liberty—which seems inevitably to generate a missive from Mr. Joffe—we do take the point of you and other readers that his poisonous prevarications no longer should take up precious space on these pages—unless in the following form:

Revolting Pack of Lies

Saw this revolting pack of lies as a full-page [FLAME] ad in a recent U.S. News and World Report. As a long-time subscriber, thought you might be interested!

And God bless you for all your wonderful work.

Elizabeth A. Bernstein, Paradise, CA

Fallacies and Lies in The Nation

I am enclosing an article from my recent copy of The Nation. I am outraged at the false information contained in this “advertisement” in The Nation magazine.

Frances Matthews, Glen Burnie, MD

P.S. A number of years ago I read a book that claimed, rightly so I believe, that the people living in the area now called Palestine intermarried with the local tribes. Therefore, the Jews who lived in this area intermarried with the other “tribes” in the area. These people became known as “Arabs.”

We’re not surprised that FLAME ads are a staple of a publication owned by fellow Israel-firster Mortimer Zuckerman. More distressing was to see them in the Nation—which, despite numerous protests from readers, continued to publish the ads in the name of “freedom of speech.” Only when the revisionist Institute for Historical Review sought to run an ad, presumably on the same principle, did the Nation decide it was time to “re-evaluate” its advertising policy. We’d be interested to hear from readers if they see an IHR ad in that publication.

P.S. We’ve always believed that, if there are Palestinian Muslims and Palestinian Christians, there must be Palestinian Jews as well. In fact, we met a member of the Orthodox Jewish group Neturei Karta who described himself in those very words.

Missing Coverage

I got my January/February 2005 issue of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, today. I don’t know when you go to press, but I noted that you have no coverage of the story about support for Holocaust revisionism expressed by the president of Iran and some others in the Middle East during December. The story got quite a lot of media play in the U.S. and Europe as I’m sure you know, all unfavorable as far as I can tell, but it certainly would seem to be a matter for notice in a magazine devoted to Middle East Affairs. Since the initial comments by Iranian President Ahmadinejad were made on Dec. 8, I expected some mention in this issue. Maybe it missed your deadline. In any case, can we expect something in the future because I’m sure many readers would like to hear your views?

I see now that Iran may sponsor a forum where the events of the Holocaust can be examined free of censorship of study of that subject which exists in the West, where scholars who dare question any aspect of the conventional stories are subject to criminal prosecution in many European countries, a situation again of which I’m sure you are aware. See the recent cases of David Irving, Germar Rudolph, Ernst Zundel and others.

I look forward to your views on all this.

Albert Doyle, Sanibel, FL

Just before the last issue went to press, we tried in vain to find a transcript of President Ahmadinejad’s remarks. After we went to press, however, we came across an excerpt from a 1963 article by Arnold Toynbee, “Two Aspects of the Palestinian Question,” in which the British historian wrote, “If the creation of a new state of Israel was judged to be a legitimate form of compensation to the surviving Jews, the territory for this state should have been taken from the Europeans, not from the Arabs. The new Israel should not have been carved out of Arab Palestine; it should have been carved out of Central Europe.” So President Ahmadinejad was not the first to point this out.

With regard to the Holocaust, this magazine’s focus is on the current situation in the Middle East, and the U.S. role in perpetuating the injustice there—rather than on the number of European Jews killed by Nazi Germany, in which neither the U.S. nor the Middle East played a part. However, we are fiercely committed—along with The Nation, we hope—to freedom of speech and the inalienable right to debate facts and fallacies alike. We find the prosecution of those who question an accepted version of history deeply troubling—especially when men who actually committed war crimes (Ariel Sharon’s name comes to mind) are honored as “men of peace,” rather than the murderers they are.

Smearing Assyrians

Regarding Richard Curtiss’s article “Will Ariel Sharon’s Latest Bombshell Be a Dud?” (Jan./Feb. 2006 Washington Report, p. 22.)

He wrote, “Sharon reminds this writer of the Assyrians of more than 3,000 years ago who made a point of carrying out bloodthirsty acts of terror. They then made sure that everyone knew the details of what they had done. As a result, their Near Eastern neighbors were so frightened and intimidated that they would do anything to keep the Assyrians out of their neighborhood.”

I really think your comments were uncalled for and harsh toward Assyrians.

Comparing Assyrians who were advanced and the superpower of their time to Sharon or describing their acts as “bloodthirsty and terror” was also unjust.

Let us not forget that Assyrians 3,000 years ago:

  • Did not invade the world like Hitler.
  • Did not drop anything on their Near Eastern neighbors similar to what was dropped on Japan twice in the 20th Century.
  • Did not slaughter people for not believing in God like Arabs did during the early Islamic invasions.
  • Did not start WWI or WWII.
  • Did not kill two million in the name of God, like Iraq and Iran were claiming in eight years of war. ( I am sure you know that Iran was distributing keys to heaven to their soldiers during that war.)

Surrounded by barbaric bloodthirsty nations 3,000 years ago, Assyrians had to be strong to survive.

I believe the presence of the international military coalition today on the land where Assyrians used to live (Iraq) is another proof that the people of that area had and still have serious issues.

I hope you will get a chance to visit the Institute of Oriental Museum in Chicago, Paris or the Berlin Museum to get the full picture and to see how Assyrians were scientifically advanced and not bloodthirsty.

Comparing Assyrians of 3,000 years ago—the losers (since they repented at the hands of Jonah)—to what other nations have done in the last 50 years and are still doing on this planet might be a good reminder to those who believe what the “winners” wrote in the twisted history.

Albert Gabriel, Nineveh On Line, <>

Draw-Down Doesn’t Add Up

On the face of it, Donald Rumsfeld’s speech touting a draw-down of troops in Iraq sounds like a step in the direction advocated by most Iraqis and a majority of Americans. A closer look, however, reveals that we maintained approximately 140,000 troops in Iraq until just before the elections, when 20,000 additional troops were deployed. The proposed withdrawal of 7,000 would bring the total U.S. contingent to 150,300, which obviously is not any kind of a reduction, but just another spin, presumably in an attempt to boost sagging White House poll numbers.

Donald—you have fooled most of us some of the time, and some of us most of the time—but you blew it this time.

Olga Basayev, Hermosa Beach, CA

A Comment on Maxine Waters

I guess a donation allows me to make a comment....

Congressman Maxine Waters?...Some months ago I attended an anti-war rally on Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles. Waters and others spoke before a sea of Palestinian flags and banners. I know because I was holding one! Never once did Waters comment on the plight of the Palestinian people, a plight exaggerated by the Congress in which she serves. Indeed her focus was on the return of Aristide to power in Haiti.

If Congressman Waters wants to really appear courageous, let her come out of the closet and take up the just cause of peace and justice for all the people of Palestine and Israel. If her Voice were raised on this issue, all of Washington would hear of it by nightfall.

Richard H. Curtiss, Boynton Beach, FL

By coincidence, there are two Richard H. Curtisses—both activists on behalf of the Palestinians—writing in this issue. They met for the first time many years ago, and probably have ancestors in common, but one (above) usually writes from Boynton Beach, FL and the other (p. 24) from the Washington, DC area.

With Friends Like Israel...

Most of your readers probably know of the 1948 assassination of Count Folke Bernadotte by members of the Stern Gang. Less well known is the attemped assassination of John Gunther Dean, our ambassador to Lebanon.

On Aug. 27, 1980, the ambassador and members of his family were on their way to the home of the acting president of the American University in Beirut when their three-car motorcade was attacked with rifle fire and grenades. The unsuccessful assassins fled, leaving their weapons behind. The serial numbers of the weapons showed that they had been made in the U.S. and shipped to Israel. In Dean’s own words, “The most likely group behind the attempt were surrogates of Israel.” Although both of Dean’s parents were Jewish, he was seen as a defender of Palestinian resistance against Israel.

As with the attack on the USS Liberty, there was no investigation. 1980 was an election year.

Henry C. Clifford, Wainscott, NY

See publisher Andrew I. Killgore’s article, “Israel’s Failed Assassination Attempt on U.S. Ambassador Documented,” in the May 2004 Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.