Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Sept/Oct 2009, Pages 5-6
Letters to the Editor
Israel’s Illegal, Inhumane Action
I am writing to express my horror and disgust about the eviction of Palestinian people from their homes in occupied East Jerusalem. This action is both illegal and inhumane.
Elizabeth Snyder, Birmingham, MI
Since its been getting away with such actions for more than six decades now, Israel undoubtedly believes it can act with impunity in its determined dispossession of Palestinians. Times do change, however—albeit too slowly for many who have lost their family homes. We hope the day is not too far away when the world will say, “Enough!"—and back up its words with action.
Speaking Louder Than Words
In view of the continued Israeli attempts to prevent Gaza from contact with other nations—by destruction of its airport, harbor, tunnels from Egypt, and shipping from Cyprus—it becomes urgent to awaken the world to this hostile behavior. Removal from the body of the UnitedNations, to be accompanied by financial sanctions and interdiction of flights by El Al Airlines to countries other than Israel are examples. Just as Somali pirates are attacked at sea, so should illegal actions by Israeli ships result in destruction of said rogues.
Prisoners held in Israeli prisons without due legal cause must be released. Compensation must be paid for destruction to the Palestinian economy. The settlements must be turned over as part of this to the “PLO." If the Hebrew population of the Holy Land wishes to remain resident, it must abandon all notion of a Zionist state. It can live in peace with other faiths, but it must change behavior.
John G. Goelet, Meru, France
The irony is that before the onset of Zionism the Hebrew population of the Holy Land did live in peace with their neighbors. Now these Sephardic Jews live as second-class citizens in Israel—but still far better off than their Muslim and Christian former neighbors. Meanwhile, as you note, the West might want to demonstrate its commitment to the rule of law and hold Israel to the same standards as, for example, Sudan, Somalia or South Africa former apartheid government.
Settlements’ Rightful Owners
Those of us committed to justice in Palestine should promote the transfer of all the settlements to their rightful owners—the Palestinians. This in effect, would be partial reparations to the Palestinians for the loss of their land, homes, water, farms, orchards, businesses, and their possessions that they could not carry when they were driven from Old Palestine. American leaders should stop playing patsy with these Israelis.
Let’s be honest—our U.S. Congress is the most “legally corrupt" body in America. Recently, while 1.5 million home loans were being foreclosed on U.S. homeowners, U.S. taxpayers continued to fund Israel’s building of homes and the expansion of so-called settlements that are built on Palestinian land. Too damn bad taxpaying Americans don’t know this!
We have been writing letters for 20 years to our congressional representatives, asking them to pursue a peaceful resolution to the lingering Israel-Palestine conflict. The responses to our letters are always the same. “Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East surrounded by a sea of Arab fanaticism." Finally, we wrote to both senators and our lone congressman, asking them one simple question: “If Israel really wants peace, then why are they building [settlements] and expanding others on someone else’s land?" We asked each one of them this question three times and they refused to answer the question. Their AIPAC aides don’t have an answer.
Obviously, those who accept money from AIPAC have betrayed our country and need to be held accountable. More than 4,325 Americans have been sacrificed because those in Congress sold their souls for campaign contributions. Generations of good works by American ambassadors, diplomats, foreign service personnel, businessmen, teachers, missionaries, and others have been squandered because of our Middle East policies, particularly our blind support of Israel.
Enclosed is our check for $2,000 made out to American Educational Trust. We again thank you for your tireless efforts to bring peace and justice in the Middle East.
Vince and Louise Larsen, Billings, MT
We thank you for your angelic vote of confidence and for reinforcing our conviction that we’re all in this together.
The “Right to Exist"
Why do Israelis insist that the Palestinians recognize the right of Israel to exist? Why does the robber demand the blessing of the victim? Because the demand makes the victim angry, and angry people hit back. People who hit back can in turn be beaten, and people who are beaten hard enough and long enough will, the Israelis think, crawl away.
From before 1900 the Zionists planned to have all of Palestine to themselves, and they still intend to have it. Israeli decision makers do not intend to have peace with the Palestinians—ever. If they had wanted peace they would not have talked about a right to exist.
Charles McCutchen, Bethesda, MD
We often wonder what happened to Rhodesia’s right to exist.
A Disturbing Observation
Readers should find problematic and somewhat alarming lead writer Rachelle Marshall’s new bio, indicating she is a member of Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization that Mearsheimer and Walt have in essence identified as part of the Israel Lobby. They write [London Review of Books, March 23, 2006]: “The bulk of U.S. Jewry, meanwhile, is more inclined to make concessions to the Palestinians, and a few groups—such as Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) strongly advocate such steps. Despite these differences, moderates and hard-liners both favor giving steadfast support to Israel."
Indeed, from JVP’s Web site it’s clear that this group supports Israel’s legitimacy, when they should be questioning it. They do this by creating false dichotomy of "Israelis and Palestinians—Two Peoples One Future"; they should more correctly define “Jews and Palestinians" as the two peoples in Palestine.
Likewise, a review of the last half-dozen articles by Ms. Marshall [about 25,000 words] reveals no use of the word “Zionism." This is equally troubling, for readers are entitled to demand a high bar of acceptability from Jewish leaders and writers on Palestine. We would expect that German peace activists in 1940 reject and repudiate Nazism; we should place the same demand of Jewish leaders today that they reject and repudiate Zionism.
Jewish supremacism in Palestine, like white supremacism in South Africa, is at the core of the issue, which results in the ongoing genocide of Palestine. Neither Ms. Marshall nor Jewish Voice for Peace seems to address this obvious cause. Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, readers deserve to know which team our Jewish leaders are playing for.
Henry Herskovitz, Ann Arbor, MI
Before we turn the podium over to Marshall, we confess that her articles infuriate us—because she is unflinching in her documentation of Israel’s crimes against humanity. We think it would be difficult for any human being not to be repelled by her descriptions. (No doubt this is why you both serve on the board of Deir Yassin Remembered.) As for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, you may be interested to know that, in our biannual computations of pro-Israel PAC contributions to congressional candidates, we count the “pro-peace" JStreet as a pro-Israel PAC.
Now to Marshall’s response: “I appreciate Mr. Herzkovitz’s thoughtful criticisms, and especially the fact that he reads my articles so faithfully. Like him, I regard the idea of a Jewish state as abhorrent, as is the idea of a Christian or Muslim state. But my job is to try to report what’s going on in the Middle East, and to do so as fairly and accurately as I can for a magazine that is dedicated to values and goals that I share. I’m also a proud and grateful supporter of Jewish Voice for Peace, which includes on its advisory board Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Howard Zinn, Adrienne Rich and Michael Ratner. JVP and other Jewish peace organizations tell U.S. policymakers that the pro-Israel lobby does not speak for all Jews, and that large numbers of Jews both in America and Israel favor a just peace. Instead of arguing about Zionism, it is especially important that all critics of Israel join together to demand freedom and independence for Palestinians, either in a truly sovereign state of their own or in a single secular state together with Israelis. As Mr. Herskovitz knows, critics of Israel often pay a heavy price. The existence of Jewish peace organizations, whether or not they are Zionist, sends a signal to both Jews and non-Jews that their criticism is legitimate and that they are not alone."
An Early Humanitarian
Thank you for the excellence of your Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, especially the April 2009 issue. I admire you and I also very much appreciate Ambassador Andrew Killgore’s December 1997 article on Bertha Spafford Vester. I met this true humanitarian and have created an outline of her book Our Jerusalem, the edition published in Lebanon in 1950 that contains all the chapters. I feel that her example, and that of her parents, are what is needed to help bring peace in Palestine/Israel—and in the world.
Georgianne E. Matthews, Carmel, CA
Bertha Spafford Vester’s family home in East Jerusalem became the core of the venerable American Colony Hotel. See Richard Silverstein’s article on p. 10 about the ominous plans a latter-day American, Dr. Irving Moskowitz, has for another Jerusalem landmark, the Shepherd Hotel.