Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

Thanks to Eric Alterman for pointing out that Abe Foxman is the only functioning member of the Anti-Defamation League. Anti-Semitism is whatever the $500,000/yr. Foxman says it is, and as long as Jewish donations keep his fat salary funded, he will keep on embarrassing them with public absurdities such as his risible attack against Bill Moyers.

Doug McMillan

Malone, FL

Feb 9 2009 - 10:18am

Web Letter

The problem with Moyers's presentation was that it was so one-sided. It failed to take into account Israel's dilemma: how to destroy Hamas military installations raining rockets on Israel that were deliberately installed in schools, mosques and civilian areas. It failed to recognize that Hamas has the objective of destroying Israel. Hamas broke the cease-fire. "Now, really: is it so hard to imagine that the checkpoints, security fence and Gaza operations are tactics of both humiliation and counterterrorism? Where, exactly, would be the contradiction?" I don't remember Mr. Moyers making the point that the checkpoints, security fence and Gaza operations were there to protect Israel from terrorist attacks. My perception of The Nation is that it is constantly attacking Israel and never has defended its right to protect itself.

Herbert Silverman

Laguna Beach, CA

Feb 5 2009 - 6:16pm

Web Letter

Mr. Alterman's piece is cogently argued and well-written.

However, I am somewhat saddened and disappointed that what moved Alterman to write this piece is not necessarily any sympathy for Palestinians or the brutal punishment meted out to them recently in Gaza--he is on the record (in this publication) as saying he firmly supports Israel--but rather his friendship with Mr. Moyers.

Certainly, Alterman is justly outraged at the smear job faced by his friend (and countless others who dare to criticize Israel). But because Alterman appears more motivated by his friendship than by a true understanding of the Palestinian plight, he approvingly repeats Moyers's mistaken, hyperbolic assertion that Hamas aims to see Israel's Jewish population exterminated.

How have either of these gentlemen divined the position of Hamas? Clearly not by asking them: the organization's spokesmen have repeatedly said--in public statements and op-ed pieces--that they support a long-term truce with Israel along 1967 borders.

(2006 BBC Interview, Hamas leader Khaled Mashal: " If Israel withdrew to the 1967 borders and recognised the rights of the Palestinian people--including the right of those in the diaspora to return to their land and to East Jerusalem and to dismantle the settlements--Hamas can then state its position and possibly give a long-term truce with Israel.... There are roots to the problem. But in reality, we now say that if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders there could be peace and security in the region and agreements between the sides.")

I find it somewhat troubling that Alterman can take Foxman to task for the latter's narrow ethnocentrism and "Manichean mindset," but cannot see that he himself buys into the same mentality when he accepts the blatant mischaracterization of Hamas's actually stated position.

The point here is not that Hamas should be invited to join the Boy Scouts or nearest quilt-knitting club.

Rather, the point is that when Israel, the occupying power, is actively erasing the basis of Palestinian existence through settlements and ethnic cleansing, it is disingenuous and irresponsible to falsely attribute exaggerated rhetoric about exterminating Jews--with its obvious historical connotations--to Israel’s victims.

Indeed, this deplorable tactic--silencing sympathy for Palestinians by painting them in the hues of those who carried out the Holocaust--is one that Foxman himself has happily engaged in.

(I invite readers to visit my blog, "Crossing the Crescent: Reflections from an American Muslim Mind of the Left.")

M. Junaid Levesque-Alam

New York, NY

Feb 3 2009 - 10:34pm

Web Letter

Others have written to give the following analogy: "What would the US do if Mexico were lobbing rockets into the US?" Well, there is a point, except for this: the US did not expel from our soil by arms and intimidation almost a million Mexicans; it has not yet planted settlements deep into Mexico with the ruse that it is for "protection"; the US makes no bones about its nuclear capability; the US does not control the air, sea and land lanes into Mexico, nor its water supply and all of its food and medicine; the US does not receive billions annually for weapons etc., etc.

Until Israel gets all of its citizens behind the "green line," the US should cease its support of Israel---period. Then, and only then, can Israel cry "defense" for any and all actions it takes. Israel is drawing the US deeper and deeper into a turmoil not of our making. Soon enough the citizens of this country will wake up and see the truth.

robert g. wilson

Carefree, AZ

Feb 3 2009 - 7:24pm

Web Letter

Since someone has brought up the "what if rockets were being fired on the US" scenario yet again, let's look at a more apt analogy. In fact, I can't write it better than Prof. Russel Kuhn has already done:"Think about what would happen if San Diego expelled most of its Hispanic, African American, Asian American, and Native American population, about 48 percent of the total, and forcibly relocated them to Tijuana? Not just immigrants, but even those who have lived in this country for many generations. Not just the unemployed or the criminals or the America haters, but the school teachers, the small business owners, the soldiers, even the baseball players.

"What if we established government and faith-based agencies to help move white people into their former homes? And what if we razed hundreds of their homes in rural areas and, with the aid of charitable donations from people in the United States and abroad, planted forests on their former towns, creating nature preserves for whites to enjoy? Sounds pretty awful, huh? I may be called anti-Semitic for speaking this truth. Well, I'm Jewish and the scenario above is what many prominent Israeli scholars say happened when Israel expelled Palestinians from southern Israel and forced them into Gaza. But this analogy is just getting started."

I. Ahmed

New York, NY

Feb 3 2009 - 3:27pm

Web Letter

I have long respected Bill Moyer and his work. However he misrepresents Hamas when he claims that they "would like to see every Jew in Israel dead." While I dislike the ideology and methods of Hamas, he is very wrong on this point. Hamas wants to replace the "Jewish state" after liberation with an "Islamic state" but only through election. They also do not support the expulsion of Israeli-born Jews (although their attitude about recent immigrants and the settlers is less compromising). This makes them a more enlightened bunch than the Zionists who expelled the native Palestinians and robbed their land to create an artificial Jewish majority. It is a sad commentary on the supporters of Israel when Hamas holds the “moral high ground.”

Rafeh Hulays

Vancouver, BC, Canada

Feb 3 2009 - 10:02am

Web Letter

Why is it that Palestinian apologists like you are so blinded and always seem to have such a don't-notice-the-elephant-in-the-room double standard when it comes to Israel defending itself and its citizens?

Get real! Should the Israeli Army throw rocks at the Hamas/Palestinian terrorists who have continuously fired deadly rockets into Israel for the past three years, thus ignoring and breaking a cease-fire that those same Hamas/Palestinians agreed to and signed? Real trustworthy folks, those sociopathic Hamas, whose only reason for existence is their belief that they can destroy Israel regardless of the fate of their so-called "people," instead of building a civilized, productive future for their citizens. And, let's get it straight: the so-called Palestinians elected a self-professed terrorist group to run their government! What did you think was going to happen? High tea?

Now, let me pose a closer analogy, for an American. Let's say that (hypothetically of course) Columbian drug lords, or Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda or one of the other known professed-terrorist groups was "democratically elected" to control and run the government in Tijuana, Mexico. Because of their hatred of Americans, and their denial of America's right to exist, the Hamas/Tijuanians secretly import rockets, missiles, explosives, and automatic weapons from Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia and continue to fire these missiles and rockets by the hundreds per month over the border into the USA at cities and civilians in San Diego and the surrounding areas while hiding in Tijuana schools and civilian apartment buildings. They also drive car bombs over the border and have undercover soldiers (wrapped in explosives) walk into San Diego, Coronado, Chula Vista and blow themselves up on public buses, schools and public square shopping malls murdering hundreds of American citizens, on a never-ending, ongoing basis.

How exactly would you think that the USA would react? What should they do? I mean, really? Would the US Army throw rocks? Would they invite their sworn enemies to come and live in their back yard? Or would the USA shut down and fortify the border, set up checkpoint inspections of Tijuanans and suspected Hamas terrorists, and regulate trade routes into Tijuana in order to shut down smuggling of weapons ultimately used to kill Americans? And, as the rockets and car-bombing events escalated, would the US Army then retaliate in kind, firing their sophisticated rockets from the ground, and missiles from jets, into Tijuana to target the terrorists, followed by a deployment of ground forces to take out the terrorists where they live?

You are damn right we would. We'd kick the holy snot out of them. So tell us about the poor, poor so-called Palestinians, who chose a terrorist group to do their bidding. Once again, these people are being used by the greater anti-Israel Arab world. Can't Israel protect itself and its citizens as well, using their advanced controlled means, under these same circumstances? Only in Israel's case, it is not hypothetical. It is real. It sure seems hugely hypocritical to deny Israel the same right to defend their country against terrorists as we Americans so staunchly assert and protect ours.

Peter Kimmel

Sherman Oaks, CA

Jan 29 2009 - 5:26pm