Readers respond to Matt Bivens's "Nuclear Power & Terrorism."
New York City
On October 11, an alliance of Latinos, blacks and union members came close to a historic victory in New York. Alas, media ranging from The Nation to the New York Post rallied enough white votes to keep Fernando Ferrer from becoming mayor. Even after Mark Green cravenly agreed that Rudolph Giuliani's term of office should be extended, The Nation reaffirmed its endorsement in an introduction to an editorial by Michael Tomasky that correctly identified Green as "the white-backlash candidate" ["NYC's Mayoral Muddle," Oct. 22]. Green played that role with vigor. After having groveled for the support of the Rev. Al Sharpton, he then invoked Sharpton as an evil shade in a Ferrer administration. He denounced Ferrer's talk of serving "the other New York" as divisive--the classic Republican retort to criticism of legislation favoring the rich.
It is true that Ferrer and Green are both flawed men who have changed their positions. But Ferrer has turned to the left, Green to the right. The Nation's editors were evidently muddled by what has lingered of Green's Naderite past. They overlooked his climbing aboard the Clinton bandwagon in 1990 and his advocacy, in The Nation itself, of "pragmatic idealism," a neoliberal equivalent to "compassionate conservatism." If, as Tomasky wrote, many white liberals have been voting for Giuliani, Tomasky himself is partly at fault. He wrote a whole bookaccusing liberals of having all but destroyed New York with their political correctness and their misguided generosity.
Only recently, many good liberals were berating Naderites for clinging to their ideals. They had a chance to go for reform within the Democratic Party, and they blew it. We'll just have to try again, won't we?
JOHN L. HESS
We agree with Ferrer that between Green and Michael Bloomberg there's no contest. We also believe that both our candidate, Green, and Ferrer, regrettably, made it possible for racist demagogues to distort and exploit their nonracist positions; and now Bloomberg, in an ill-advised TV commercial, has entered the demagogy business too. We stand by our endorsement of Green and are pleased that most elements of the Democratic Party, including people of color, seem to be getting behind his candidacy.
THE RIGHT TO DIE IN DIGNITY
Carol Bernstein Ferry, in her well-written posthumous essay, "A Good Death" [Sept. 17/24], exemplifies high intelligence, clear insight and a firm resolve that goes beyond courage. By acting with steadfast adherence to the essence of the creed below, Ferry manifested the strength of character it takes to honor in action the axioms of a secular morality worthy of a truly civilized society, tragically not the one we have today. The following four-point creed of a free human being has to be the guide for my colleagues and me, as well as for the patients we have helped:
(1) I know myself.
(2) I have sovereignty over myself.
(3) I will do and say what I firmly believe to be correct.
(4) I will in no way unjustifiably harm other beings.
JACK KEVORKIAN, MD
GIVE PEACE A CHANCE
Santa Monica, Calif.
Following your publication of my letter and Katha Pollitt's mention of our Peace Flags website, Peaceflags.org ["Letters" and "Subject to Debate," Oct. 22], we received a barrage of hate e-mail ("the Taliban is first, you and your peacenik buddies could be next!"). Complaints were filed against us to Yahoo, to our web host and to our own e-mail boxes. A businessman threatened to do everything in his power to see that we were put out of business. Someone hacked into our computers and prevented us from communicating with customers. Domain Direct shut us down because someone sent a series of porn spam from our website to create a backlash of complaints. Before all this, orders were swelling daily, and hundreds of people were expressing relief to find that we existed. We started Peaceflags.org to prove a point--that people are conscious, and have a right to dissent against this "war." We're now back in business again, very much sadder but wiser.
RELIGIONS [HEART] WOMEN--REALLY
Katha Pollitt is incorrect when she states that all major religions attempt to subjugate and marginalize women from the very first ["Subject to Debate," Oct. 22]. I am an atheist, but I'll point out that, for example, early Christianity was fairly liberal in its treatment of women (agape being as close to genderless communism as you're likely to see in human history), even if the establishment church in Rome later became virulently "antifeminist" and produced misogynist ideologues like the notorious St. Jerome. Buddhism and Hinduism are also, at base, not antifemale. Rather, as happens with any system of belief, secondary interpreters and "scholars" introduce their own biases, and patriarchy being what it is, those biases come out as antifemale dogma in secondary texts.
BACK INTO THE QUAGMIRE
Mount Vernon, Wash.
I was impressed with your editorial "A Great Wound" [Oct. 1]. It is painfully clear that George W. Bush is using this tragedy to crush all violent opposition to US and Israeli domination of the Muslim world. There will be no national debate; Bush has already decided for us. George and his party have accepted $400 million in bribes from the energy lobby, among whom are the "Seven Sisters"--American oil companies operating in Saudi Arabia. I'd like to know how much George and his party received from the Jewish lobby and how many Americans will die in battle as a consequence of this bribery.
Bush & Co. believe they can destroy the terrorists, just as LBJ & Co. believed they could crush the Vietcong. So now we're back in 1964: The Tonkin Gulf Resolution has been passed by Congress; our carriers, special forces, CIA and troops are ready to go in, allies are being cajoled to join. Only this Vietnam stretches around the world, and no place on earth will be safe.
We can end this conflict by working through the UN, Interpol, the Arab League and the World Court to attain justice. We can pull out of the Persian Gulf and allow the UN to bring peace to that region. We can "bomb" Afghanistan with water, food and money. We can land troops of experts and equipment to get Afghanistan back on its feet. Or we can seek a worldwide military solution and go back into "Vietnam."
'ENLIGHTENING & COMPASSIONATE'
The reverberating trauma of September 11 called for a poet, and Yevgeny Yevtushenko's "Babi Yar in Manhattan" [Oct. 15] was enlightening and compassionate, pointing us with the language of poetry to a reasoned response to crimes against the sanctity of life. The smart bombs are falling on Kabul, but will they remove the cancer in the hearts and minds of those so committed to their cause that suicide is an accepted weapon of war?
OUR OWN ANTHRAX TERRORISTS
Anthrax suddenly has become major news [Bruce Shapiro, "Anthrax Anxiety," Nov. 5]. The media and the legislature now face the same fear as abortion providers, who have received anthrax letters and threats from "right to life" extremists for at least five years. But it was never front-page news because it "only" involved abortion clinics. From January 1998 to April 2001 there were 172 anthrax threats in the United States, a third of them against abortion clinics. In one recent week, 110 Planned Parenthood affiliates received envelopes of white powder and a letter stating it was anthrax. The media report these threats under the general category of "terrorism," which they have made synonymous with "Muslim terrorism." Antiabortion terrorism is not by Muslims but by our own home-grown Christian terrorists. The violence at our clinics is the product of religious extremism, no different from the mindless extremism that brought down the twin towers.
Perhaps when Americans must routinely wear bulletproof vests to go to work, as abortion providers do now, they will understand the meaning of terror and the determination not to let the terrorists win!
Oklahoma National Abortion and
Reproductive Rights Action League
FROM THE BELLY OF THE AGRO-BEAST
Thank you so much for your attention to the Slow Food movement [Alexander Stille, "Slow Food," Aug. 20/27]. It is often surprising to many that slow food has become so strong in America, the birthplace of fast food. Even more surprising is discovering that it is not merely a bicoastal phenomenon but that it's here in the heartland. We have branches in Champaign, Illinois; Madison, Wisconsin; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and even here in Iowa. It's quite appropriate that slow food established a "beachhead" here, because it is certainly the belly of the agro-industrial beast.
Slow Food Iowa
I'd like to pass on to your readers a brief description of an excellent nutrition group, the Nutrition for Optimal Health Association (NOHA), located near Chicago, and the URLs of two websites. NOHA has always opposed the use of toxic pesticides in agriculture and has tried to encourage more consumption and growth of organic food. For more information, visit www.nutrition4health.org and www.puregrassrootsinfo.org.
ANDREW T. FISHER
ABOUT THAT $43 MILLION...
Christopher Hitchens, in his October 8 "Minority Report," referred to the Bush Administration's $43 million "subsidy to the Taliban." Many readers have asked for more information. At a May 17 press briefing, Secretary of State Colin Powell announced a "package of $43 million in new humanitarian assistance for the people of Afghanistan" that "bypasses the Taliban" and includes wheat, food commodities and a search "for ways to provide assistance to farmers who have felt the impact of the ban on poppy cultivation, a decision by the Taliban that we welcome."
TERRORI$T CA$H--$TAY$ CLEAN
St. Clairsville, Ohio
Lucy Komisar's June 18 "After Dirty Air, Dirty Money," on money-laundering [posted on the Nation website after the September 11 attack], does not really apply to Middle Eastern terrorist networks, for these two reasons.
First, money laundering in the Indian Ocean basin relies upon a traditional alternative banking system known as hawala or hundi, which makes it difficult to trace money transfers. Hawala has been integrated with gold smuggling for centuries. Wealth can be stored and payments can be made with gold; currency--much less a bank account--is unnecessary. When accounts are needed, neither numbered accounts nor shell corporations are necessary to camouflage the actual owner. Somebody's grandmother can nominally hold the account.
Second, we can enact all the money-laundering legislation in the world, but it will avail nothing unless the police and the judiciary are willing to enforce it. Bribery is rampant. Countries can profusely pledge support to the war on terrorism, be "shocked, shocked" when terrorist activities in their locale are brought to their attention and promptly "round up the usual suspects," as Pakistan appears to be doing right now.
DUNCAN C. KINDER
New York City
Jesse Gordon and Knickerbocker's insightful graphic "The Sweat Behind the Shirt" [Sept. 3/10] left the impression that no one gets rich working for the Gap. The authors should have used a final arrow to track how the $48 spent on the shirt ends up as part of the Gap's $14.4 billion annual revenue; almost $1.5 billion in gross profit; and, of course, $15.7 million in annual salary, bonus and stock options for president and CEO Millard Drexler. Clearly, the labor capital invested throughout the process is all there--one person just gets most of the wages for it.
FLY THE COMPASSIONATE SKIES...
I'm beginning to understand "Compassionate Conservatism" [Robert Borosage and William Greider, "Calling All Keynesians," Oct. 15]. It is cash for large airline corporations in financial difficulty and compassionate, comforting speeches for everyone else.
New York City
However imaginative the "modest proposal" to use Martha's Vineyard instead of Vieques as a naval bombing range ["Letters," Sept. 3/10], the US Navy thought of it first. From World War II until 1996, the Navy used Nomans Land, a 628-acre outcrop close to the Vineyard, as a military target range. More than 250 tons of 33-millimeter rounds, rockets, aircraft flares and bombs were cleaned out in the process of turning it over to the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 1998 (www.s-t.com/daily/07-98/07-09-98/c01lo060.htm). Claiming continued contamination and the presence of unexploded ordnance, the Wampanoag tribe of Gay Head, whose ancestors lived on the site, called the cleanup "an environmental and public safety outrage" (www.wampanoagtribe.net/news/). The tribe has pressed the Navy to allow community members to participate in an ongoing cleanup review (www.capecodonline.com/cctimes/archives/2001/jun/20/tribeseeks20.htm).
'SPEWING' IN PALESTINE
In "Letter From Palestine" [July 23/30] Roane Carey spews falsification upon falsification. He writes that "Israel made it clear that there would be no full withdrawal to the June 4, 1967, borders, as required by international law." Nowhere does UN Resolution 242 say that Israel must withdraw from "all" territories captured in that defensive war. It refers to "territories," not "the territories." Further, the Oslo "peace" process has superseded this resolution with respect to the Palestinian Arabs, and the extent of any territory transferred must be through negotiations. The world has acknowledged that, but apparently Carey hasn't. By the way, in 1979 Israel gave up 91 percent of the territory it had won in 1967. The difference between 100 percent of the West Bank and the 93 percent Barak offered is a difference of 0.5 percent of the land. You have to question a people that aren't happy with 99.5 percent and whether only 100 percent is their goal, or whether they desire all of Israel. Finally, when one speaks of "occupation" of the "West Bank" the obvious question is "occupation from whom?" Palestine? There never was a country of Palestine, there never were a Palestinian people, until it was invented in the 1960s. Maybe occupied from Jordan? Jordan illegally invaded 100 percent of the West Bank in 1948 and illegally annexed it in 1950. No country recognizes the legitimacy of that annexation, with the exception of Pakistan and Britain. From 1948 until 1967, when Jordan renamed Judea and Samaria as their West Bank and expelled all the Jews, there was no talk of making another state in the area for Palestinians--because there were no Palestinians. There were Arabs, living in the area of Palestine. These Arabs should be absorbed into the surrounding Arab states just as the 600,000 Jews expelled from Arab states found their home.
ROGER DAVID CARASSO
Altamonte Springs, Fl.
My family is from Aboud, near Ramallah, and after having three chunks of our olive farm confiscated (the biggest one being 158 acres in 1997), we have had it. We are not going to live like this. We'd rather fight back or be expelled than live in such humiliation. Thank you, thank you, thank you again for this article. It sure is refreshing to read a fair depiction of home.
New York City
Roger David Carasso hauls out an old whopper about Resolution 242 that has no basis in the historical record. Almost all members of the Security Council at the time--including British ambassador to the UN Lord Caradon, who devised the wording; US Secretary of State Dean Rusk and US ambassador to the UN Arthur Goldberg; as well as the French and Soviet delegations--were crystal clear in their interpretation of the resolution, both at the time of its adoption and afterward: The crucial preamble, "emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war," mandates full Israeli withdrawal, including from East Jerusalem, with the allowance of only minor and reciprocal border adjustments to rationalize the haphazard 1949 armistice lines. Propagandists for Greater Israel frequently harp on the missing "the," conveniently forgetting to point out that in none of the four other official languages of the UN (French, Russian, Chinese and Spanish) is there any ambiguity; the French version of 242, for example, refers to "des territoires occupés." It should be noted that in 1968 Moshe Dayan, Israel's defense minister during the 1967 war, urged Israel's rejection of 242, as did opposition leader Menachem Begin, precisely because it was understood to mean withdrawal to the June 4, 1967, lines.
With the Oslo accords, Yasir Arafat undermined this international consensus and betrayed his own people, as Carasso indicates. But the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949--which was established in the wake of Nazi crimes against humanity to prevent a reoccurrence of such depredations--specifically invalidates any quisling abrogation of an occupied people's fundamental rights (for a fuller discussion, see human rights attorney Allegra Pacheco's essay "Flouting Convention" in The New Intifada, published this month by Verso). Furthermore, the convention enjoins all High Contracting Parties, among them the United States, to "do everything in their power" to make sure the convention isn't being violated. Thus Israel's chief bankroller and patron is also culpable for the grave breaches of the convention that Israel is carrying out.
Carasso not only irrelevantly mixes in Palestinian land with Egyptian territory properly returned two decades ago. He actually denies the existence and history of Esam Samara and millions of other Palestinians. He then calls for another massive round of ethnic cleansing. (If Carasso were to apply his argument consistently, he would also point out that "there never was a country of Israel...until it was invented in 1948." Would he then make the absurd demand that Israelis now be "absorbed" elsewhere?) Such nonsense might be dismissed as the ravings of an escapee from a lunatic ward or of a member of Milosevic's goon squads itching to apply his sanguinary talents elsewhere, except for the terrifying fact that important sectors of Israeli public opinion, even recent members of the Cabinet, are now calling for the same thing. Such a "final solution" to Israel's Palestinian question is no solution at all; it's the abyss. Sanity demands that Israel end the occupation and recognize the legitimate national and human rights of the Palestinian people, who have already recognized the legitimate right of Israelis to live in their 1967 borders.
ISOLATED NO MORE
I am a 15-year-old boy. Up until a few months ago, thanks to my left-leaning philosophies, I had felt politically isolated. After complaining about this to my parents, they suggested I subscribe to The Nation. As skeptical as I was that any media product would agree with me politically, I decided I would give it a whirl. A few months later, I have found your magazine to be a godsend. Finally, I have found people who think the same way I do. Incredibly, The Nation and I agree on so many issues--trade, the Democratic Party and many others. Thanks for the great articles. Keep up the good work!
UNICEF AND TEXTBOOKS IN PALESTINE
Fouad Moughrabi's "Battle of the Books in Palestine" [Oct. 1] incorrectly states that UNICEF evacuated its staff from the West Bank and Gaza at the outset of the intifada one year ago. In fact, staff were not evacuated but remained on the job in order to insure UNICEF's longstanding support to Palestinian children. Only relatives of some staff members, a volunteer and a consultant at the end of her assignment were sent home. The article also gives the mistaken impression that international agencies like UNICEF have not extended any help to Palestinian children suffering psychologically as a result of this most recent period of conflict. This is not true. UNICEF promptly mobilized up to $480,000 at the outset of the current situation to assist children suffering from stress and other psychological problems, in cooperation with our Palestinian partners. We continue to do so. Our most recent effort is to help others working to help children reach a consensus on practices and ethics for this important work. Rather than being left to "cope on their own," as Moughrabi states, children in the West Bank and Gaza can continue to rely on UNICEF's support during this difficult period.
UNICEF West Bank and Gaza
Professor Fouad Moughrabi's article is, in fact, a reprint of a piece to which the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (CMIP) has already responded. We invited Professor Moughrabi to "openly and honestly examine and discuss the content of the textbooks themselves." To date we have received no response from him.
Moughrabi is disturbed that CMIP has placed the issue of the educational policies inherent in Palestinian and Israeli school texts on the public agenda. Textbooks are not simply another educational device but a clear expression of what governments instill in the minds of the young to further their long-term agenda.
Nothing in Moughrabi's article does anything but reinforce the conclusion that he has no real answer to the analysis put forward in the CMIP report. The objective reader is still left with the conclusion reached in the report that Palestinian textbooks incite against Jews, against Israel's very existence and coexistence with its neighbors. Certain Palestinian textbooks still depict Jews as greedy, treacherous, racist liars and thieves. They are the "enemies of the Arabs," of "the prophets and believers" and even of God. They aspire to rule and control the world, and they view the "non-Jews as pigs just fit for servicing them."
With regard to the work by Mustafa Dabbagh, CMIP would like to clarify the following points: (1) Our Country Palestine was not originally printed in 1947. In 1947 there existed a manuscript, which was lost at sea during Dabbagh's flight from Jaffa to Egypt. This volume was first printed in 1965 by the Dar al-Taliah printing house in Beirut. The same house printed Volume 2 in 1966. (2) Our Country Palestine is not "merely mentioned" in the chapter of the Palestinian Authority's sixth-grade textbook Our Beautiful Language, devoted to Mustafa Murad Dabbagh. Most of this chapter is actually a long quote from the introduction that Dabbagh wrote in 1964 for the first edition of his work. Moreover, in the eighth lesson, for example, the pupils are asked to write a detailed account of the importance of their cities or villages. The lesson suggests using Dabbagh's book to perform this task. So, the pupils have to use Dabbagh's work, which provides a detailed account of each town and village in Palestine from the archeological, historical, geographical, geological, botanical and economic point of view.
(3) Our Country Palestine was reprinted by the University Graduates Union of the province of Hebron, Volume 1 in 1973 and Volume 2 in 1985. Also, one of the copies of Our Country Palestine that was used by CMIP during its research came from the library of one of the intermediate schools of Hebron. (4) The quote "There is no alternative to destroying Israel" appears in the 1965 edition. In the 1973 edition this sentence was changed to "There is no alternative to the complete destruction of Israel." In spite of the Oslo accords, the State of Israel still does not appear on any map in any of the Palestinian textbooks or teachers' guides. One cannot find the slightest hint of recognition of the State of Israel, within its borders of 1948 or even within the framework of the 1947 UN Palestine partition plan. There is no reference to the peace process or to the content of the Oslo accords, to the mutual recognition between Palestinians and Israelis, or to their mutual commitment at Oslo to solve their conflict exclusively by negotiation. Unfortunately, certain Palestinian educational materials advocate the opposite approach--the obligation to liberate Palestine by jihad.
One can find numerous quotes propagating this indoctrination, including excerpts from Palestinian textbooks on the CMIP website (www.edume.org).
DR. YOHANAN MANOR
Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace
Ramallah, West Bank
In October 2000 most international agencies in the West Bank and Gaza evacuated what they call their "nonessential" staff. In those grim days, UNICEF in particular was not answering our phone calls or responding to our e-mail requests. More significant, however, is the fact that UNICEF's intervention here was minimal, mostly geared to increasing general awareness about the psychological effects of trauma on Palestinian children, by placing ads in newspapers and by distributing a useful booklet designed to help teachers and parents recognize the symptoms and try to deal with them. Pierre Poupard recently sent us a letter in which he claims that UNICEF has also done a limited amount of training of teachers. In other crises throughout the world, UNICEF intervened immediately by conducting large-scale screening and by devising intervention strategies, thereby gaining a wealth of experience in responding to children who suffer the effects of trauma. Excellent and useful work was carried out in neighboring Lebanon with the help of Dr. Mouna Macksoud, who translated screening measures to Arabic and adapted them to local needs. This was not done here, despite the nearly half-million dollars allocated to the task. Palestinian children and their parents continue to cope on their own.
Dr. Manor's response is consistent with a pattern of lies that permeates the entire work of CMIP. He claims that CMIP responded to me and invited me to "openly and honestly examine and discuss the content of the textbooks themselves" and that I have not answered. This is another lie. I never heard from them.
A much longer version of my Nation article is forthcoming in the Journal of Palestine Studies. It will contain even more proof, on the basis of text analysis, of CMIP lies and distortions.
If textbooks are indeed a "clear expression of what governments instill in the minds of the young," as Manor suggests, then I invite him to take a look at Israeli school textbooks, which to this day view Arabs as thieves, killers and marauders; present a map of Israel that includes the entire area from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River as the eternal Land of Israel; and describe the occupied Palestinian West Bank as Judea and Samaria, where no Arabs are said to exist. His obfuscatory remarks about Our Country Palestine notwithstanding, the fact is that CMIP deliberately misquotes and badly translates in order to force a point about a book that various scholars consider to be a classic reference work on the history of Palestine during the British Mandate.
I am more than happy to enter into an honest and open debate on the issue of Palestinian and Israeli school textbooks with knowledgeable and professional Israeli colleagues, but not with extremists whose political agenda is to show that peace and coexistence with the Palestinians are impossible.
I don't think it was fair for Katha Pollitt to object to my observation that embryonic stem cell research, "'rightly or wrongly' summons up visions of Dr. Mengele's Auschwitz experiments" ["Subject to Debate," Aug. 20]. That's exactly how many people feel, and for those debating the issue it's important to know what motivates all sides. Nevertheless, I must say Pollitt made some good points in illuminating the inconsistencies of some of those favoring funding for embryonic stem cell research.
She correctly summarizes Orrin Hatch's position as: It's "OK to destroy a frozen embryo because the embryo is only a person if it's in a woman." Dubbing this the "location theory of personhood," she notes that by this logic, "You put the cells in the woman, it's a person, you take them out, it's not a person, you put them back in, voilà!--it's a person again. You might as well say Orrin Hatch is a person in his office but not in his car." Well put. But it would be nice if Pollitt would apply her wit and reasoning to the "convenience theory of personhood." If the mother wants it, it's called a "baby," cards are sent out, the empty bedroom is decorated with stuffed animals and a crib is installed. If the mother doesn't want it, it's called a fetus and aborted.
The Hudson Institute
Katha Pollitt suggests that antichoice women be recruited to gestate the 100,000 frozen embryo children in need of homes. But how responsible is this? If half of all fertilized eggs fail to implant, we would be condemning 50,000 embryo children to death. Really, the safest place for an embryo child is the freezer. In fact, we might require all fertilized embryos to be removed and frozen for their own safety. What responsible parent would want an embryo child to be faced with the perils of gestation and birth--and ultimate death? Besides solving the problem of death, freezing all embryo children would save money spent on education, medical care and other things that we are too prone to provide for unruly children. Frozen embryos are certainly the best behaved, least troublesome children we will ever get.