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.



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.




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).



San Francisco

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.


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.




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