The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Grantsville, Md.

Thanks for Christopher Hayes’s “Tuesdays With Rahm” [Oct. 26]. It was insightful, even though Hayes had to keep his sources anonymous. I worked in four states for the Obama campaign. As rugged as that was down in the trenches under the grassroots, it was much simpler than trying to deal with the entrenched conservadems/Blue Dogs in our community Democratic Party organizations. Now that we progressives have segued to become OFA (Organizing for America) community organizers, it’s eye-opening to see how far to the right the Democratic Party is. The conservadems are so delusional as to believe that it was their efforts that got Obama into the White House. These people are so obstructionist, we should write them off as DINOs (Democrats in Name Only) and hand them over to the Republicans no matter what Rahm Emanuel says. Be it known that OFA and the progressive groups are now a well-honed organizing machine, and our voices will be heard.

ANDREW J. Di LIDDO JR.



Appalachian Fall

Brandon, Fla.

I was glad to hear a little positive news about the coalfields of Appalachia [Jeff Biggers, “The Coalfield Uprising,” Oct. 19]. I spent a year in eastern Kentucky and saw firsthand the devastation of mountaintop removal. It seems the people of Appalachia are seen as a commodity to be used to dig out the coal and then removed when they get in the way. Most of these families go back nearly two centuries, and many have their ancestors buried on their land. One man showed us that the sludge that was pushed down the mountains had unearthed the coffins of family members buried on his hillside. These “hillbillies” are some of the most beautiful people, living in a beautiful part of the country that is being destroyed by greedy coal companies.

LUCY FUCHS


Nashville

I have recently done a project for a class on the subject of mountaintop removal, and through my research I have discovered much of the ugly truth about it. I am really excited that people are finally starting to publish the truths and are bringing people into the light about the destruction of our beloved mountains. We can only hope that others will read this article and help all of us to take back our mountains, and our well-being. Thank you so much.

REBECCA HOFEMISTER



Turning on a Dine

Los Angeles

Helena Cobban’s profile of Tom Dine, “Confessions of an AIPAC Veteran” [Nov. 2], should’ve been titled “Encomium for an Unrepentant Careerist Pol.” It’s sour grapes, I guess, but, probably like other Americans without steady jobs or healthcare, I found it hard to relate to a guy who takes a big gig at one of the most notorious lobbying outfits, gets ratted out and skips to a series of cushy jobs. An epiphany follows; after eight years of dealing with “these people,” Dine “could look with fresh…eyes and sensitivities at the Palestinians…and ask what was this hate all about?” Learn while you earn. WTF?

GENE SCULATTI


Durham, N.C.

I’m glad that Helena Cobban has recovered from the sleepless nights caused by Tom Dine in the 1980s when she was trying to argue the outrageous concept that Palestinians are human beings. Dine and his ilk caused me and officials such as Senator Paul Findley and President Carter far more than sleepless nights. After I published an article in Newsweek (September 15, 1980), my career was broken and my life was changed forever. Like Cobban, I posited that it might be “good for the Jews” to “open conversations with our Palestinian neighbors and treat them with respect” and was virtually blacklisted by my Jewish musical colleagues. (Isaac Stern was sympathetic, but even he couldn’t buck the tide.)

JOSEPH EGER, conductor/music director
Symphony for United Nations



Israel on Our Mind

Berkeley, Calif.

Re “American Jews Rethink Israel” [Adam Horowitz and Philip Weiss, Nov. 2]: I am a young practicing Ashkenazi Jew who has been “rethinking” Israel for years. I support the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, which goes beyond questioning the massacres Israel regularly engages in to lay bare the truth: that like all colonial settler states, the existence of Israel is based on stealing the land, water, self-determination and other vital resources of Palestinians and crushing resistance through apartheid, displacement, militarization, policing and other state violence. It is also based on immense military and diplomatic support from the United States because of our oil interests in the region.

The idea of Israel is fundamentally flawed, because: (1) Zionism is inherently racist, and (2) the safety of Jews, or any group, can never be based on compromising and denying the safety of others. I support the right of return for all Palestinians, the right of Israeli Jews to stay and a redistribution of power, land and wealth in the new state.

STACIE SZMONKO


New Britain, Conn.

I can appreciate that people on the left want to hold Israel to a reasonable standard with respect to disproportionate use of force. I can further appreciate that Israel, because it feels itself to be under siege, has developed a kind of siege mentality, and that what comes with a siege mentality is often a willingness to overlook common standards about the disproportionate use of force. Israel ought to be held accountable for the disproportionate use of force, like any other country.

But this article is one of many on this subject that I routinely tune out. You want to know why? Because nowhere do the identified “American Jews” who are “increasingly critical of Israel” state unambiguously that they differ from other critics of Israel in that they actually believe in the concept of human rights.

If you want someone like me to tune back in, all you need is a paragraph saying, “Of course, the UN Human Rights Commission is a ludicrous grouping of major world offenders against the concept of human rights, and whatever they have to say about Israel is going to be biased by their hostile worldview–but here are some things that are true about Israel’s behavior in Lebanon, the Gaza war, etc., despite the fact that Israel’s opponents are not even remotely credible defenders of human rights.”

It might help if you also dropped in a couple of lines about how “Hamas wants to bring back the Caliphate and treat Jews in the Middle East as dhimmis rather than equal citizens.”

Failing that, I’ve got my hand on the tuning dial.

ZACHARY KLAAS