Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

I am a retired naval officer who served my country for thirty years. My wife and I visited the Holy Land a year ago and saw the effects of the separation wall on the people of Bethlehem and the Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Since the year 2000, I have proposed a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In my video, which can be seen on YouTube, I propose doubling the area of the Gaza Strip by a landfill extending into the Mediterranean Sea. Since reading Jimmy Carter's book We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land, I have modified my proposal by adding a landfill located on the west coast of Israel to facilitate the relocation of the Jewish settlers from the West Bank.

I do not consider these proposals pro-Palestinian or pro-Israeli. They are pro-peace. There has been enough bloodshed and suffering in the name of "causes." Let us go forward in the name of humanity.

Pickens W. Irvine

Oak Harbor, WA

Sep 24 2009 - 6:08pm

Web Letter

It disgusts me that a self-hating Jew like Naomi Klein and her far-left liberal friends single out the State of Israel for their hatred against their own people while they keep silent about the denial of human rights in many other countries.

I am a Jewish American who is for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and I intensely dislike the settlers, but I know from firsthand experience that the overwhelming majority of Israelis badly desire peace and they do not discriminate against their fellow Arab citizens. The fact, which the Hollywood leftists who signed the boycott letter conveniently forget, is that the Israeli governments under Prime Ministers Rabin, Peres, Barak, Sharon and Olmert all were for a two-state solution and all of them gave land back to the Arabs. Every Israeli government has been a democracy, unlike every other country in the Middle East, and if you go online you can read several different Israeli media that criticize the Israeli government and leaders every day. Israeli filmmakers have continued to put out artistic works that are antiwar, anti their own government and pro-peace. There is total freedom of religion, assembly, speech and the press in Israel, and there are Arab members of the Knesset, Israel's parliament, that severely criticize their own government. There is no apartheid in Israel. Go to a clinic and you will see Arabs and Jews sitting side by side in the waiting rooms receiving equal treatment in the state-run health care system.

The far-left-wing fanatics mask their anti-Semitism by declaring support of a boycott against Israeli universities and entertainers and artists, but they are strangely silent about the oppression and denial of freedom in the Sudan, Iran, North Korea, Saudia Arabia, Syria, Russia, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Burma and Cuba. They never opened their mouths when Moslems were being slaughtered in Kosovo by the Serbs or when Russia murders journalists who dared to criticize Putin. They reserve all their animus and hatred for the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel, the only state where there is freedom for everyone. Israel is far from perfect, but Israel is a democracy, and it is because of this fact that whatever imperfections Israel has can be corrected.

Mark Jeffery Koch

Cherry Hill , NJ

Sep 16 2009 - 4:17pm

Web Letter

I'm not sure I really understand your article. I agree that all people should be held accountable for their actions, especially democratically elected governements, such as that of Israel.

Yet the article fails in its entirety to address the specifics of why Toronto would not want to show films about Tel Aviv. There is no connection between Gaza and Tel Aviv, they are many miles apart. The walls, barriers and settlements are in the West Bank. And, of course, even the most na&ium;ve of observers knows that Israel pulled out of Gaza years ago. What did Isreal gain in return, an extremist regime based there determined to not change Israel for the better, but to literally wipe it off the map.

So, in the ongoing intifada, Gazans kill Israeli, Isrealis fight back. There is a story, and good documentaries can be made about this. Yet, for sane people to try to reject other Israel or Tel Aviv focused films is preposterous.

Such empty articles are converting me from a peace-loving liberal to a conservative (well, not that far). I just hope you can truly embrace diversity and learn to respect both sides.

Adam Haller

Richmond, VA

Sep 16 2009 - 3:58pm

Web Letter

While there are glaring differences, it's very difficult to think of the diversion of the "pretty face" of Israel in a Toronto film festival while Israel commits war crimes and not to think of the "pretty" propagandistic films of Leni Riefenstahl. Or even of the ten Hollywood films about the Holocaust timed to be released exactly at the time of the Gaza massacre in December 2008. Indeed the "pretty" Israeli animated film Waltz With Bashir was pure propaganda, created to extract as much sympathy for Israel as possible while it was killing Palestinian children with white phosphorus.

Propaganda is what Israel does very well, but the world is finally seeing through this smoke and mirrors. The Starbucks boycott in the UK is showing results and its UK shares have declined significantly.

It's hard to do damage control at film festivals after exposés like the plundering of organs from Palestinian corpses since the 1970s. That's because countries like Sweden are not intimidated by propaganda. And showcasing Tel Aviv while committing war crimes is pure propaganda.

I never ever enter Starbucks. That's a start. That's how the world dealt with another apartheid regime, South Africa. And it was successful.

stanley hersh

New York, NY

Sep 15 2009 - 9:08am

Web Letter

One other little ripple here: As is true in many "cosmopolitan" locales, cultural producers in Israel also tend to be more leftist than the general population/government, so there are indeed critical Israeli voices inside the city. It would have been quite easy for the Toronto film festival to present a sort of warts-and-all view of Tel Aviv rather than an escapist one. This is a real missed opportunity. If some critical voices had been included, the events might not seem like such a whitewash, and the grave issues would be still out there alongside the creativity..

K. Leander Williams

Brooklyn, NY

Sep 14 2009 - 8:45am

Before commenting, please read our Community Guidelines.