Los Angeles

Alexander Cockburn concurs with Representative James Moran that “if it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this” [“Beat the Devil,” March 31]. Cockburn’s evidence is that “at the elite level…the Jewish voices one hears are overwhelmingly pressing for war.” He cites the prowar stance of Perle, Wolfowitz, Feith, Abrams and others. Embedded in Cockburn’s logic are the premises that the Jewish elite imposed themselves on Bush–that Bush would be of the same mind as the protesters in the streets were it not for these influential Jews. Does Cockburn conclude that since Bush’s senior foreign policy advisers Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice are African-American, we would not be at war were it not for blacks?


Silver Spring, Md.

To claim that American Jews are leading our nation into war is not only anti-Semitic but antidemocratic. Jews have long been known for their independent thinking. Influential Jewish voices have been raised on both sides of the war issue, with leaders of the Reform and Reconstructionist movements almost monolithic in their opposition and with the chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, the most prestigious school for the Conservative movement, also opposing war. Many secular and unaffiliated Jews have also voiced their opposition, while Jewish Republicans for the most part have supported the invasion of Iraq.


Oakland, Calif.

Alexander Cockburn has performed a useful service with his semi-defense of Representative Moran. Cockburn calls attention to the fact that Jewish lobbying organizations and Jewish neoconservatives in high places in the Administration have an inordinate amount of influence on government policy. To do this is no more anti-Semitic than it is anti-Muslim to recognize that the Koran condones violence as well as peace, anti-Christian to condemn the fifteenth-century Spanish oppression and expulsion of Jews and Moors by Catholics or anti-Hispanic to deplore the significant role Miami’s Cuban refugees have played in preserving an irrational US policy toward the Castro regime.




Tom Schiff’s letter is silly. James Moran, in a casual Q&A session in his district, somewhat overstated his point and duly elicited an incredible, albeit carefully concerted, overreaction that showed just how sensitive the pro-Israel lobby is to public remarks about its clout–which, of course, is vast in both parties. Central in George W. Bush’s mind is that his father directly challenged the pro-Israel lobby on settlements and paid the penalty at the polls in 1992. The role of the pro-Israel neocons in pushing for war on Iraq has been exhaustively documented over the past few months.

As for Nelson Marans, yes, the Reform movement has major leaders stoutly and vocally opposed to the war. But according to Ha’aretz, a recent resolution that was adopted “is very far from constituting criticism of” the war. In Los Angeles the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly issued a resolution in support of the war. And the Orthodox movement is overwhelmingly prowar. The Orthodox Union lauded Bush and described the war as having “noble aims.” But added to this, one has to calculate the extent to which each congregation has disproportionate clout relative to its presence in the entire Jewish community. And the greatest influence over policy-making has always been the pro-Israel lobby groups–AIPAC and the Conference of Presidents and their many offshoots–not the religious leaders. The big lobby organizations, in their rabid support of extremist Israeli policies, do not fairly represent ordinary American Jews, as I remarked in my column.

Much of the energy and dedication in this antiwar movement, as with every other leftist, antiwar, progressive and peace movement in the past century here, is provided by Jews and Jewish organizations. To take the issue of Israel/Palestine, look at Jews Against the Occupation, Jewish Voices Against the Occupation, Not In My Name, Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, etc. One of the founders of the amazingly courageous International Solidarity Movement is Adam Shapiro, and a significant percentage of their activists are Jewish. These people are putting their life on the line every day in the way Rachel Corrie did.

Franklyn Haiman makes a good, if simple, point. To discuss the influence of a lobby, baneful or beneficial, is not in itself a slur. The US political system is fueled by lobby groups, whether pro-Israel, pro-gun or pro-abortion. The reaction to Moran’s remark is a clear indication of the influence and power of the pro-Israel lobby. Compare Moran’s slight overstatement with remarks by, say, Schumer about the power of the gun lobby, or DeLay about the abortion-rights lobby. Can we imagine that they’d be dumped from their leadership posts and told they shouldn’t run for re-election?




The FOX News Channel is to news as the Sex Pistols are to Stravinsky. I hope you will continue to let those kids advertise in The Nation whenever they like. To show you that I mean it, I’d like to renew my subscription. It doesn’t expire for another year, but I’m proud of you. And I’d like to purchase another subscription and ask you to send it to Roger Ailes.


P.S. My apologies to the Sex Pistols.


ein folk ein reich ein fox May I suggest that the next time you run that ad, you run this on the inside back cover?

(I’m sure puzzle fans will understand.) For more see



New York City

In “The Vision Primary” [March 31], you present guidelines for evaluating candidates for 2004 “in terms of how forward-looking their ideas are.” How closely your criteria for “forward-looking”–universal healthcare, living wages, ending the drug war, a foreign policy based on justice and cooperation, renewable energy, economic sustainability, publicly accountable broadcast media, pro-democracy electoral reform–accord with the platform of the Green Party! I can only wonder why The Nation expends so much energy pleading with one party to adopt positions it has yet to show any real interest in while withholding support from another that’s already there. Many progressives fail to back up their policy beliefs with their votes, endorsements and/or financial support when citizens who espouse such views stand for election, instead doing the frightened-liberal lesser-evil two-step.

Green Party of New York State


Washington, DC

It is disturbing to watch presidential candidate Howard Dean spout doublespeak on medical marijuana. In David Corn’s “Meet The Nation” [March 31], Dean says, “I hate the idea of legislators and politicians practicing medicine,” adding that he would press the FDA to study marijuana. The eight existing state medical-marijuana laws (like the proposal Dean killed in Vermont last year) simply say that under state law, people with AIDS, cancer or other serious illnesses won’t face arrest and jail for using marijuana for medical purposes with their doctor’s recommendation. It has been FDA policy since the mid-1980s that Americans have the right to go overseas, purchase drugs not approved for sale here and bring them back for their personal use. Many of these drugs are far more toxic than marijuana, a medicinal herb that has never produced a fatal overdose in 5,000 years of use.

Marijuana Policy Project

Howardsville, Va.

Howard Dean foolishly calls for yet another study. Cannabis has been studied for decades, most recently in 1999, when the Institute of Medicine presented the drug czar with a definitive study he had requested. Every government study commissioned by any country over the past 100-plus years, including this one, has concluded that marijuana should not be prohibited (

Patients Out of Time

Scarsdale, NY

Implicit in the report on Howard Dean is the belief that a good Democratic candidate ought to push for more gun restrictions. I used to feel the same way, but now I’m conflicted. Most likely we are one major terrorist act away from passage of Patriot Act II, then III, IV, etc. Many of our esteemed Representatives will sell their first-born wrapped in the Bill of Rights for the privilege of standing next to John Ashcroft at the signing. If/when this comes to pass, gun ownership will, sadly, be one of the citizenry’s few remaining tools for deterring the Feds from installing absolute tyranny. Therefore I gladly absolve Dean (and others) from position purity on guns.



Batavia, NY

Apparently, the ugly nightmare is only going to get worse. Time to wake up, America! The intended Domestic Security Enhancement Act (DSEA) goes far beyond even the outrage of the Patriot Act [David Cole, “Patriot Act’s Big Brother,” March 17]. Stripping Americans, including natural-born, of their citizenship so they can be deported or indefinitely detained is the last straw. Any Congressman who is spineless enough to entertain the notion of such intolerable tyranny should surrender his/her own citizenship forthwith. As for me, my citizenship, like my copy of the Constitution and my weapon, will have to be pried from my cold, dead fingers. “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”–Benjamin Franklin.




In his review “Guns in the Courtroom” [March 31], Carl Bogus, author of important works on guns, the Second Amendment and product liability, made a “somewhat educated guess” that I was the source of the 1997 leak that revealed Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell’s plans to bring an innovative city lawsuit against handgun manufacturers. The leak derailed that effort, in which I conceived the case and was counsel for Philadelphia, just days before the suit was to be filed (although more than forty cities and counties and one state took up the idea and later sued). In any event, I was not the source of the leak.



In Eric Alterman’s “Stop the Presses” last week, a fact-checking error caused the word “owner” to be removed from a reference to the Jewish “owner-editors” of U.S. News & World Report and The New Republic. This may have made it appear as if Alterman was addressing the issue of Jewish “editors” in general with regard to media coverage and Israel, rather than merely the two men he cited.