Letters / March 12, 2024

Letters From the March 2024 Issue

Plain speaking… Buck Big Ag…

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Plain Speaking

Re “Stop the War”: D.D. Guttenplan makes several important points in his December 11/18, 2023, editorial about the conflict in Gaza, but I’m afraid he still falls into some common traps.

Guttenplan writes that “the leadership of Hamas remains as committed as ever to its genocidal fantasy that the road to a free Palestine must be paved with the bodies of dead Jews.” One need only look at the Hamas charter of 2017 that superseded its 1988 charter—which everyone still refers to as if the revised version didn’t exist—to see that Hamas harbors no genocidal intent toward Jews and that its fight is not with Jews but with a country that occupies the Palestinians’ home and oppresses them in myriad ways. The new charter even states that Hamas is willing to sign a peace agreement with Israel if the majority of Palestinians vote for one. The October 7 attack, according to Hamas itself, was a military action to put Palestinians back in the minds of the world as Israel allies with nondemocratic Arab states and descends into fascism. Let’s stop spreading misinformation about Hamas that only demonizes it, making dialogue between the two sides much less likely.

On the topic of fascism, Guttenplan says that it “succeeded in murdering two-thirds of the Jews of Europe” and “posed an existential threat to the survival of the Jewish people.” Yes. Yet with the defeat of the fascists in World War II, what did the powerful of Europe and the United States do to the Jewish people? They facilitated the migration of hundreds of thousands of Jews they didn’t want (the US even turned Jewish refugees away) to a place where people—non-Jewish and Jewish alike—were living in peace and thus are responsible for the disaster that’s been unfolding ever since.

Another trap is the charge of “complexity” used to try to negate the charges against Israel of ethnic cleansing, genocide, and exile. According to Guttenplan, “to label the situation ‘uncomplicated’ is to betray an ignorance of history.” But on a human level, it’s very uncomplicated: One group of people established a colony in the land of another, exiled three-fourths of that population, and has treated those who remained not as second-class citizens (the Mizrahi he refers to) but as third-class citizens. Allowing Zionists and others to argue that the situation is complicated gives Israel license to deny the many violations it needs to be held accountable for. This is the kind of history and plain speaking that’s needed to finally begin to resolve a tragedy that is well over 100 years old.

Dennis Kortheuer
long beach, calif.

The writer is an emeritus lecturer in the history department at California State, Long Beach, and a coordinator of Justice for Palestine–Los Angeles.

Buck Big Ag

Re “The Dems’ Big Chance”: John Nichols’s editorial in the October 30/November 6, 2023, issue urges Democrats to end the profiteering by Big Pharma, Big Oil, and Big Tech to help them win back control of Congress in 2024. Big Ag should be added to that list.

In Wisconsin, the Department of Natural Resources approved the largest hog CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) in the state. The site is very close to—and well above—the Kickapoo River, which is considered the heart of the Driftless Bioregion. This ancient landscape has one of the most valuable resources on earth: clean water. Pressed by sustainable farmers, grazers, and countless numbers of private citizens who want their drinking water to remain safe to drink, many Wisconsin townships have adopted ordinances to restrain the CAFOs’ pollution of the water, soil, and air. This is a winning political strategy, especially in rural areas. No one wants hog manure in their water.

Kathleen Tigerman
steuben, wis.

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