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Web Letter

Isn’t the situation in Israel significantly different than that in South Africa? In many ways, the segregation of the Palestinians and the unsustainable Swiss-cheese Palestine looks like the South African Bantustan. I have been concerned by this for over twenty-five years. But this war in Gaza… Could this not be the outrage of two suicidal nations?

If Palestinians--everyone likes to differentiate Hamas from the Palestinians although they did win a legitimate election--fire rockets on Israel, is this not an act of war? If rockets flew from Mexico and the government of Mexico could not or would not stop it, then the United States would have a right to defend itself. Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter declares that it is justified to go to war to defend your borders.

Israel has an apparent strategy of total annihilation. Being justified is different than overwhelming force. Is it unreasonable force?

Rumors fly, saying that they are using human shields in Gaza. Firing rockets from schools and population areas to put children and civilians at risk. How much of the Palestinian death toll are civilians being put in the way of harm as a tactic?

I receive Israeli propaganda that asks for sympathy for the soldiers forced into harm’s way to protect Israel against rockets flying from Gaza. It uses various devices to make you feel sympathy for the soldiers. But it never once mentions Palestinian civilians and sympathy.

I receive Palestinian propaganda that asks for condemnation of the brutal attacks of Israel upon Gaza. It complains about the inordinate amount of force used and the numbers of women and children killed. But never once does it mention the rockets that precipitated, and keeps on flying, the fighting.

Naomi Klein, you are wrong. Your comparison with South Africa is false. In South Africa, the manifesto of the Liberation Struggle was the Freedom Charter that called for a non-racist, non-sexist South Africa. The peace in South Africa was a negotiated settlement. In Palestine, the PLO charter calls for driving the Zionists into the sea. This makes for a difficult negotiating point. If Hamas is actually putting their own people at risk as human shields, then this is not the leadership to be negotiating for you. Israel could possibly even create a case for liberating Palestinians--of course, not under the present circumstances.

"We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children.We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us." Golda Meir said that. It almost seems quaint today. At face value, it would seem that the Palestinians have not changed, but the Israelis certainly have. No leader today could ever be caught dead saying this.

Howard Katzman

Brooklyn, NY

Jan 14 2009 - 1:45pm

Web Letter

I do believe Ms. Klein's article was written as a passionate response to terrible events at Gaza, but surely passion should not prevent us from contemplating chances for success and possible consequences. Which she hasn't. So here I go:

Chances for success: not good. Economic sanctions do not make nations change their government or their basic policies. Didn't work in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Iran nor North Korea. Wouldn't work in the US if the world decided to punish them for the unspeakable acts they have been committing in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, sanctions make it easier for the government to control the population, both politically and economically. See above-mentioned examples.

Perhaps, however, Klein holds Israel to be more flexible or "rational" than nations that have been sanctioned in the past. I doubt it. Let's remember: Israel is arguably the only nation in the world that can justify its paranoia (see WWII). Israelis are insensitive to moralizing and judgment of the '"world community," because of lack of it when they were in trouble. So, no, I don't think economic sanctions would change Israelis' minds.

What sanctions could achieve, however, brings us to consequences. What sanctions are good at is weakening a nation's economy. Ultimately, they might make a nation an easy pickings for a military invasion (Iraq, for example). Israelis know this, they do read. So, what do you think would happen in Israeli politics if they were to face such prospects? What sort of political parties would win power? What actions would they take? Would they go for a total annihilation of their "enemies" before their economy collapses? Do they have nuclear weapons (yes, they do!)? Is Ms Klein trying to start WWIII?!

Don't be silly, of course she isn't. Like I said, it's a passionate reaction to terrible suffering of Palestinians. A scream for some sort of justice. But when we seek peace, I'm afraid sometimes justice is the last thing we can afford...

(Unless it's poetic justice. Poetic justice is above all, surely! To achieve it, Israel must apply to Palestinians a solution Europeans applied to Jews: give them a spot far away where no one likes them. Yes, we can: Palestinians get Utah!)

Peter Jugovic

Brisbane, Australia

Jan 14 2009 - 9:37am

Web Letter

Naomi Klein is the most misinformed writer on The Nation's generally well-guided staff. How dare she compare Israel's existence since its inception to South Africa, or any other country?

Israel has already faced sanctions--it was called the Holocaust, and since that time her neighbors have continually called for its total extinction, a second Holocaust.

Israel is not perfect and most clear-thinking Jews will admit to that. However, it is and always has been a model of a free society that only wants to live in peace with its Arab neighbors.

Israel is America's staunchest ally in a part of the world that has never known peace. It might very well be the launching point of Armageddon. Only a fool can't see or understand that, and your column was anti-Semitic.

How often do both of our national parties, the left and the right, virtually every cable news outlet, and most churches and synagogues all agree on anything? That's a rhetorical question; it just doesn't happen. For the very first time, those who think they know and have a voice, are in perfect harmony and insisting that like us, Israel has a right to defend itself.

Naomi... get on your keyboard and look at a map of the Middle East. We have Mexico and Canada on our borders, and, we'd nuke them too if they attacked, and at the very same time swore to destroy us.

Israel's neighbors consist of almost every rogue terrorist group known in the world. That's the mandate of most if not all of the Mideast leaders willing to sell their souls to get the Bomb. Once you include the other evil empires of power scattered around the globe, this new generation of Americans will become as familiar with air-raid drills as I was.

Do you really believe that America's enemies will suddenly become our friends if we disown Israel? Are you that naïve?

Why can't you see the many ways the United States benefits from our relationship with Israel? The exchanges of technology and information that takes place daily could never be replaced.

And I hope Mr. Obama understands that.

Steven Waxman

Chicago, IL

Jan 13 2009 - 5:05pm

Web Letter

I don't care how brilliant Ms. Klein is (and she is). Her call for a boycott of Israel and, similarly, the marches by tens of thousands in support of Hamas are just, plainly said, morally wrong. Horrifically morally wrong.

This is not about Israeli "occupation"--it certainly predates the resurrection of a Jewish national presence in the Holy Land.

It's about stopping tyranny and genocide. It's about stopping misogyny and maniacal hatred. Hamas is part of a movement aimed to wipe out basic human rights and the religiously justified murder of non-believers, especially Jews. It is not born from "the occupation" (it's not even born from the existence of Israel, although that fact does represent a thorn in the side of the movement). And Jews alone are not its only victims. God help women caught up in this, and God help gays and others who don't "conform." And they want the world, not just some lousy piece of scrub land joining Africa and Asia.

No, Hamas is, along with the Taliban and the Muslim Brotherhood, the twenty-first century Nazis. They hate, they want to kill Jews and others, and they want to subjugate women. It has nothing to do with Islam, just as Nazism has nothing to do with socialism. Just ask the Muslim women of Afghanistan who were forced into illiteracy as a matter of policy. Just ask the Muslim gay community of Iran. And they are not ashamed of it either, just as the Nazis were not ashamed of it. Read their materials and policies. Watch their videos. Attend their rallies. It's all there to see, read and hear (did you ever wonder why pro-Hamas rallies call for "death to Jews," while pro-Israel rallies call for peace?)

This is a truly sick ideology. And when Ms. Klein calls for a boycott, or when thousands march in support of Hamas in the cities of the world, then they are (I hope for most it is unwittingly) supporting pure, unadulterated hate.

Let us think of this situation in the context of sixty-five years ago. The Jews of Warsaw, surrounded by tyranny, fight back against a majority that is either actively determined by ideology to exterminate them or by masses who care not to rise up in defense. And further, in defense of their ideology, it is the Nazis who claim to be oppressed--Hitler's justification for his actions is that the nations of the world, led by the Jew, have kept the Aryan down.

According to Ms. Klein's position, she would have condemned the Jews of Warsaw for resisting the tyranny.

Why do I suggest this conclusion? Well, here we have a group of Jews, a minority surrounded by millions of Muslims. And there are arises a group (Hamas, et al.) who, by open ideology, is determined to exterminate the Jews. They resist. They fight back. And Ms. Klein suggests a boycott against the minority, supporting Hamas instead. She is, by all historical analogy, supporting Nazism. My God, what has happened to us human beings, have we not learned a thing from the past?

(Incidentally, in supporting Hamas, we are doing a disservice to the rest of the Muslim world--they too are victims of this tyranny, just as many Germans were victims of Nazism).

I pray for a revelation for Ms. Klein, so she may see that she has been supporting the Nazi-like hatred of Hamas. I pray that she will see she has made a fundamental mistake and that her next article calls for a boycott of Hamas and and Nazi-like tyranny. Even better, I hope her next article calls for supporting Muslim resistance against the shackles of tyranny--it's time we helped them throw off the burden of Hamas and their ilk!

A.J. Hyman

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Jan 13 2009 - 4:10pm

Web Letter

The Turks governed what is now Israel and Palestine from 1517 to 1917. In 1917 the area was assigned to Great Britain by the League of Nations.

Then in 1948 two states were created, Palestine and Israel. The Palestinians decided all the land should be theirs, did not recognize Israel, and invaded Israel. They, surprisingly, lost and have been losing ever since.

The Israelis want to give them their original UN-mandated state. But they consistently reject that. Instead, they doggedly insist on not recognizing Israel's right to exist.

Until Israel's right to exist is guaranteed by secure borders, and Hamas and Hezbollah drop their goals of destroying Israel, the violence will continue.

Tragic but true. Israel has returned the Sinai and Gaza. At least with the Sinai they achieved peace with Egypt.

An Israeli boycott will solve nothing. That is because the pathway to peace first must include Hama and Hezbollah recognizing Israel and stopping their continuous state of war.

Hamas broke the six-month treaty, not Israel. Arafat refused to accept a very generous settlement in 2000 negotiated by Bill Clinton.

After that the Israeli peace movement collapsed, since the flexibility and tolerance Israel demonstrated was rejected by Arafat. Arafat was offered 95 percent of his demands. What to do?

David Scheinman

Houston, TX

Jan 13 2009 - 3:49pm

Web Letter

Regarding Klein, I think we should deal with her bigotry this way: beat, ravish, rape!

eli wurtziger

Haifa, Israel

Jan 13 2009 - 3:11pm

Web Letter

Shame on you, Naomi Klein. For eight years Hamas, whose very charter calls for the destruction of Israel, bombards Israel with rockets. Where is your outrage over this? Where is your outrage as Palestinian children are trained to grow up to be suicide bombers, and taught to repeat mantras about how they want to "kill the jews?" Where is your outrage over Hamas deliberately hiding their weaponry and attack machines among civilian populations, and then staging photo ops by dragging corpses onto piles of rubble?

What would you have Israel do? Do you not realize that when Hamas refers to the "occupied territories" or to the "Zionist entity" they mean all of Israel, and not just Gaza and the West Bank? Do you not realize that if they could they would exterminate all of the Jews in the region?

As a Jew myself, who is generally liberal and aligned with leftist policies and thought, I am forever baffled by my left-leaning colleagues who have somehow taken it upon themselves to see the Palestinian cause as one of martyrdom. Certainly, I feel sympathy for the Palestinian people who are suffering under the regimes on the West Bank and Gaza. But I must also take into account the history of how they got there, and why they are in this situation, before simply blaming mean old Israel. The fact remains that the initial charter for partition, had the Arabs accepted it, would have given the Palestinians a territory much larger than they will ever now have (excluding the very real possibility of a destroyed Israel), and larger than pre-1967 Israel. They rejected it because they would have rejected any plan that included any territory at all for the Jews.

The very reason that Gaza and the West Bank were occupied in the first place is because Israel's neighbors were massing their armies on her borders, with the intent of launching a coordinated attack to wipe her out once and for all, having failed to do so in previous confrontations in 1948 and 1956. Israel launched a pre-emptive strike, and took the territories as a defensive measure.

I agree that it is long past time to give those territories back--but to whom? They were not taken from any Palestinian state. They were taken from Egypt and Jordan. Why was it that neither of those countries ever integrated the refugee populations in those territories into their nations? Where does their responsibility come into play? Why were those countries never boycotted?

To take matters further--why are there no calls for boycotts of Egypt for its flagrant human rights violations? I think that you have been blinded by misguided sympathy for what you see as the "underdog," failing to recognize that that very underdog would annihilate your people given the chance. Their response to Israel's withdrawal from Gaza was a barrage of rockets.

The only hope for peace in this region starts with the removal of Hamas from power. If the party with whom you are trying to make peace has no interest in that peace, and is concerned only with your destruction, you do not have a partner for peace. While I too am saddened by what I see the people of Gaza going through, I believe Israel is doing what it must if it is to have any chance at all of a secure future.

Andrew Schreiber

London, England

Jan 13 2009 - 2:18pm

Web Letter

Although the idea of a boycott isn't itself bad, coming from the United States, when we invaded Iraq without any justification or provocation, it might seem a tad hypocritical.

Thomas Paul

Plainview, NY

Jan 13 2009 - 2:06pm

Web Letter

The incredible naïvté and moral blindness of Ms. Klein is clear to see in her failure to distinguish between a state and people threatened by extinction by a neighboring tyranous entity whose very ethos incorporates the murder and extinction of her neighbor.

Where is it required in international law (or common sense, for that matter) that a state constantly attacked by her neighbor and experiencing the killing of its citizens thereby should provide free passage through her border of goods or services to such a neighbor?

Was the British blockade of shipping of all kinds during the First and Second World Wars to her avowed enemy Germany illegal or immoral? And the Germans were not advocating the slaughter of each and every Briton.

Such far leaning leftist posturings of moral equivalence in the struggle of the Israeli people to survive again another threatened Holacaust has only the effect of sound thinking liberals washing their hands of such "liberals" as Naomi Klein and her ilk.

Benjamin Copito

West Palm Beach, NY

Jan 13 2009 - 9:21am

Web Letter

Dear Ms. Klein, your utter disgust and deep-rooted hatred of your own people and most likely yourself is driving this mindless desire to boycott Israel. Your claims of being joined by some other radicals in Israel merely proves that there are a few crazy self-hating individuals there too. I understand your concern for the loss of life, it is a concern of mine too, though I am a staunch supporter of Israel and the current military campaign. You are not helping peace or the Palestinians you care so much about with this boycott. Your comparisons of Israel with apartheid-era South Africa are small-minded and simplistic. Every country and every conflict has its own dynamic. For example, Nelson Mandela never spoke of killing all the whites of South Africa as the Hamas leadership speaks of killing all the Jews. Nelson Mandela never sent suicide bombers into crowded cafes. He had a vision of a united and peaceful South Africa even when he was fighting against apartheid. Hamas has no such vision.

Also, enough with the Gaza concentration camp analogies. They're insulting and ridiculous. If Israel wanted to do to the Palestinians what the Nazis did to the Jews, they could have done it with one massive bomb and avoided endangering their soldiers. Your hateful writing may inspire some socialists and "peace" activists to boycott Israel, but it also encourages people like myself and others, who see the injustice and bias in your calls, to purchase more Israeli products. Personally, after reading your article in the Guardian I went out and purchased two cases of wine from a Golan Heights vineyard called Yarden. I don't like Israeli wine but I did it as an act of defiance. You inspired me. I was sitting at my computer and thinking to myself what have the employees of Yarden (half of them Arab) done to deserve your wrath?

I'm not a hypocrite, I don't support any boycotts. They are foolish, hateful and rarely effective--and completely uncalled for in this case. You should also be careful, as you are playing with fire. An Italian labor union in Rome started out boycotting Israeli businesses a couple years ago and has recently upgraded to Jewish businesses. Something last done during Mussolini's time in charge. Just in case you've forgotten your name is Naomi Klein, so its just a matter of time until your followers turn on you and decide to boycott you too. Please stop the ignorance! Learn a little about the issue from the other's perspective and you'll see it's a lot more complicated an issue than you make it out to be. You are not helping, just pushing both sides farther apart and Israelis and Palestinians farther from peace.

Mark Rabinovich

New York, NY

Jan 12 2009 - 10:07pm

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