Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

I write to you as the composer of a symphonic work titled A Camp David Overture (Prayer for Peace). I hope you might find interest in this work and in my efforts for peace through music. A Camp David Overture was inspired by the Camp David Peace Accords and is dedicated to Prime Minister Begin (who called this music "beautiful") and President Anwar Sadat.

Since its premiere with the Sacramento Symphony in 1996, A Camp David Overture has been performed frequently in the United States. Its 2007 Washington DC premiere drew representatives from the Embassies of Israel, Egypt, France and Canada (the latter two countries have peacekeepers in the Sinai as part of the accords). The most recent performance took place with the University of Wyoming Symphony Orchestra this past November 19.

To bring the message of A Camp David Overture (Prayer for Peace) to a broader audience, I have placed part of this recent performance (the finale which is subtitled "International Anthem of Peace") on YouTube along with inspiring quotes.

It is my hope that this music can foster closer cultural ties between Israelis, Egyptians and all peoples in the region. Towards this end, I am exploring ways in which my music can be performed in the two countries that inspired it. I hope you might find this of interest.

Bruce Craig Roter

Albany, NY

Feb 2 2010 - 7:29am

Web Letter

Does anyone really imagine that a two-state solution will mandate that Israel share air, sea and fresh water dominion? If so, I have a plot of land in Haiti to sell.The fact is, Israel never ever intended to have a two-state solution. It suits Israel just fine to have a permanent police state, even when the Palestinians dominate in numbers--after all, South Africa managed very well with apartheid--because this way they can kill every Palestinian off over time and deport the rest. Because Israel has infiltrated every aspect of US governbment, including its judiciary, it will never be subject to international sanctions like South Africa was. And if financial aid is withheld, they have the goods on America and every politician.

stanley hersh

New York, NY

Jan 14 2010 - 5:18am

Web Letter

I read this article with great anticipation. I thought that for once, with a former prominent Jewish public figure, The Nation would have a writer find some fault with the Palestinians. Israel would not be an obstinate barrier to peace and there would be a constructive dialogue on steps both sides can take towards peace. But alas, my hopes were dashed. While Mr. Siegman has strong credentials as a Jewish public official, he adheres to the same standard on the Arab-Israeli conflict as every other writer The Nation publishes or employs.

The same tired diatribe is repeated: Israel says something and does the opposite. The Israelis continue to harass the Palestinians without cause and deny them a state. The story is old and stale. The revisionist history has been exploited already.

Instead of castigating Israel, like always, how about some constructive criticism? How should Israel have dealt with the withdrawal from Gaza? After thousands of rockets rained down on Sderot, should Israel have continued to allow their citizens to be terrorized? What can the Palestinians do to bring about peace from their side?

The real questions on the West Bank are not asked. If the Palestinians are given a state in the West Bank, what should happen to the Jews there? Will they be denied Palestinian citizenship or will they be allowed to vote? The Arabs in Israel vote. They have members in Parliament, but Mr. Seigman thinks that the having Jews in the West Bank is a problem for a democratic Palestine. Isn't it a requirement of democracy? Why does Mr. Seigman take a contradictory stand on Palestinian democracy as compared to Israeli democracy?

dustin stein

Manalapan , NJ

Jan 12 2010 - 7:39pm

Web Letter

I've just read the text of Mr. Jason Kenney's speech at the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism in Jerusalem on December 16, 2009. In it he says the Jews are different. How so? Then again, isn't that the problem we've always had in this world, and isn't that the biggest threat to world peace today--people thinking that they're special or different? Wasn't that Hitler's idea as well? A "Master Race." It's the same psychological profile, no matter how you cut it. A distorted sense of entitlement.

Peace will only come when religions and nations stop considering themselves special or different, and work together, stand up for "all of humanity" and recognize our "equality" in the eyes of God. If the Spirit of God is truly with you, it will only be known by acts of "unconditional" love and charity.

The plain truth is, God doesn't have a religion and God doesn't discriminate. Any religion that preaches they're the only "true religion," or that they're "special," in God's eyes, preaches false doctrine. And to foster a belief in, "us" and "them" is to divide humanity, not unite it.

And so it will be in The End, that those who have set themselves apart from their fellow man will find that they have set themselves apart from God. The worth of a soul will only be measured by how much it has loved. Nothing more, nothing less.

Gary Markle

Brampton, Ontario, Canada

Jan 10 2010 - 8:26pm

Web Letter

The paucity of letters responding (at least online) is symptomatic of how peace has become just another name for war. Gaza is again under air attack by Israel, despite having suffered a genocidal assault on its civilian population last year at this time. The US cannot bring any solution to the region due to its status as a co-belligerent. Yet it will insure that the UN is kept out. We are now on the long road to a one-state solution, with plenty more bloodshed ahead. This impotence of every US administration vis-à-vis Israel, to whom we give the largest share of our foreign aid, is both comedic and tragic at the same time, because it is based on pure and simple dogma about a supposed Jewish state, except that this state has no boundaries and seems to have no beginning or end; it's a phantasmatic object, since Palestinians compose 20 percent of its citizens and since we have reached a point where the majority of people living in Israel and its Occupied Territories are Palestinian Arabs.

The weirdest thing about US policy on this longstanding conflict, which could have been solved, is that each year, rather than becoming more rational, it becomes more irrational. Each year, Israel's liberal and left supporters in the US grab at more straws to find some Israeli "peace" movement and chide those of us who think that nonviolent intervention from outside is needed--as in Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions--to bring Israel to some kind of political sense. Meanwhile, through bricks and mortar, all of this irrationality and sentimental attachment to a state whose pariah status grows have ruined all chances of a viable two-state solution.

This will forever go down in history as the US's more bizarrely racist policy in the history of the latter part of the twentieth century and beyond.

What a strange set of conceits about democracies on the part of the US and its European allies has produced this oddest of conclusions.

Deborah A. Gordon

Wichita , KS

Jan 10 2010 - 5:26pm

Web Letter

This assessment is based on reality, not obfuscation. President Obama knows the reality but not many in Congress do because they are in thrall of the Israel lobby and would not take the time to educate themselves anyway. I believe it is too late for a two-state solution. Israel has painted itself into a corner, and now a one-state solution is the only option.

gordon reed

Huntington Beach, CA

Jan 10 2010 - 2:01pm

Web Letter

"President Obama is uniquely positioned to help Israel reclaim Jewish and democratic ideals on which the state was founded..." It would stand to reason that a state based on ethnic or religious exclusivity would view its national security priorities in terms of that exclusivity. As the woman settler said before Gaza was turned into a detention facility, "If we give up Gaza, we might as well give up Israel."

Christopher Rushlau

Portland, ME

Jan 9 2010 - 7:28pm

Web Letter

Henry Siegman writes about imposing peace but practically calls it hopeless (as requiring "international intervention, an eventuality until now considered entirely unlikely"). While a full peace may not be imposable, there is a middle strategy that the United States and European Union should adopt, and quickly--requiring Israel to remove its apartheid wall and all the settlers within a time certain (say, one year) on the dual grounds that they are present in occupied territories illegally (at international humanitarian law) and also that (as is now so widely admitted) they not merely impede peace but prevent it.

If Israel were forced to remove the wall and the settlers by governments seeking peace but not willing to impose its terms, it would (in Israeli terms) be removing not the occupation but the forbidden (if for some Israelis beneficial) fruits of the occupation.

Israel would then face the possibility that peace terms might later be imposed. But just the cost and disruption of removing the wall and settlers might be sufficient to get a reluctant Israeli people (and government) to grit its teeth and make a peace offer that the Palestinians could actually and reasonably accept, a type of peace offer not (to my thinking) as yet made.

Peter Belmont

Brooklyn, NY

Jan 8 2010 - 4:58pm

Web Letter

In several web letters here in the past two years I have expressed my fervent support for Israel, but I now find myself in agreement with Henry Siegman because I believe the extreme right wing is taking over that country and preventing any hope for a settlement of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. I am also disgusted that President Obama caved in so quickly to Netanyahu and that Israel is now building more settlements than before, sticking their finger in the president's and America’s eyes and getting away with it. Israelis are clamoring for Obama to strike Iran militarily, which would cause oil to increase to $300 a barrel and throw America and the West into a deep economic depression.

In thousands of postings by Israelis as well as some right-wing American Jews on Ha'aretz, the Jerusalem Post and other Israeli online media sites, the vitriol, venom and hatred towards Obama spews forth every day and, quite frankly, is a bit frightening. In a given month there are thousands and thousands of posters insisting Obama is a Muslim out to destroy Israel, and any American Jew who supports a two-state solution or a settlement freeze is called a self-hater out to destroy Israel--thousands of posters every day!

Israel is now being controlled by the extreme right wing and the religious parties. You see and hear things in Israel now you rarely heard before. Religious soldiers refuse to evacuate illegal outposts and settlements and when Defense Minister Barak and Netanyahu say Israel cannot acccept insubordination in the army, even they are called anti-Israel and their allegiance to Israel is questioned. Just this week Israeli media reported that the security for Barak had to be doubled because of death threats against him and his family because he favors dismantling illegal outposts and some outlying settlements. Even the recent annual commemoration of the murder of Yitzchak Rabin saw hundreds of posters on Israeli media sites calling Rabin a traitor.

In a time of economic downturn with millions of Americans out of work and Islamic terrorism apparently on the rebound, the American people need to ask themselves if they favor a policy of giving more foreign aid to Israel than we give to the ten poorest countries in the world combined, and whether we favor giving Israel a green light to conduct policies that are inflaming jihadists around the world who are targeting American citizens because of this. With an economy better than most European countries', a high-tech industry in the top five worldwide, the region's best army, the second-best airforce in the world and nuclear weapons, Israel is in the strongest position ever to extend its hand in peace and territorial compromise. If Israel cannot do that now, America and the West need to reconsider their policies in behalf of Israel before it's too late--for Israel and for America.

Mark Jeffery Koch

Cherry Hill, NJ

Jan 8 2010 - 10:43am

Web Letter

Before we worry about the condition of Israeli democracy, we ought to be worried about our own governance--hardly democratic, not even republican (representative government).

We suffer from somewhat similar conditions to those described by the author about Israel: rule by a military-industrial-congressional cabal, each supportive of the other to the exclusion of other influences--even majority ones, let alone minority voices.

If we fixed our own house, the Israelis would have to fix the one they share with the Arabs.

Alvin D. Hofer

St. Petersburg, FL

Jan 8 2010 - 10:31am