"RUMOR" TELLS THE TRUTH
Many thanks to Geov Parrish for publishing the kind of eyewitness information so lacking in the U.S. media coverage of the Middle East ["A Rumor of War," April 11]. The reason Europeans are more sympathetic to the Palestinians is that the media in the rest of the world reports the facts about Israel's brutal military oppression. The U.S. media, on the other hand, consistently labels all Palestinians "terrorists" and "gunmen"; calls the massive arrests, house destructions, deprivation of food, water, and medical care, and shooting of Palestinian civilians "Israeli incursions"; and rarely mentions the daily atrocities and human rights abuses to which the Palestinians have been subjected for years. Without this smear campaign, it might be difficult to justify the billions of dollars we send Israel every year for the purchase of weapons for human destruction.
Thank you for "A Rumor of War" [April 11]. This thoughtful article avoids polemic and even contains a measure of balance, sympathizing with the fears and histories that might lead the Israeli government to commit its current military assaults.
But what caused you to feel that this piece needed further balancing by printing alongside it an article filled with rancor, sarcasm, distortions, and falsehoods? Samantha M. Shapiro's "What Would King Solomon Do?" is just the sort of polemic that Parrish's article is not. She justifies the Israeli campaign of mass arrests and mass executions by calling it "a reasonable, if regrettable, means of self-defense." Has she forgotten that similar logic was employed by the governments of both apartheid South Africa and Nazi Germany? She repeats the racist calumny that there is no moderate movement among Palestinians, despite the work of Mustapha Barghouti, Ghassan Andoni, and many others, including the nonviolent resistance movement that is the subject of Parrish's article. She parrots the discredited notion that Palestinians have refused offers of coexistence, when the truth is that Palestinians have formally recognized the right of Israel to exist; Yasir Arafat has condemned suicide bombings; [and] Palestinians have offered the considerable compromise of agreeing to have a state on 22 percent of historic Palestine. What they keep refusing is Israel's repeated offer that Palestinians must coexist as second- or third-class subjects of a military dictatorship. Shapiro describes the post-1993 period as "10 years of [Israeli] peacemaking," overlooking that the confiscation of Palestinian land and the building of illegal Israeli settlements were accelerated [and that] Palestinians were still subject to torture, arrest without warrant, and imprisonment without charge or trial for indefinite periods.
Ms. Shapiro's article is filled with racist generalizations about Palestinians and Muslims. Did you publish the article out of fear of being called anti-Jewish? Criticism of Israel is not criticism of the Jewish people. If one of your reporters wrote an article criticizing apartheid, would you scrape around for a balancing article defending the rule of the white minority?
People seem to forget that there are two sides to this story ["A Rumor of War," April 11]. Yes, some of the tactics of the Israeli army are harsh, but the army is not targeting civilians, unlike some suicide bombers that like to hit military targets like buses and restaurants. I find it amazing that Israel is blamed for the occupation when it was the Arab states that invaded Israel in 1967 and continue to lob rockets into city centers. It seems that people are expecting the Israelis to fight fair when the Palestinians are using children to carry out bombings, sending them to "heaven" and waiting for their check from Saddam.
WHAT WOULD SEATTLE DO?
Kudos to Samantha M. Shapiro on her understanding of the Arab-Israeli conflict and her careful explanation of nuances ["What Would King Solomon Do?" April 11]. The militant Islamic worldview is completely opposite from America's principles of equality.
Shame on the Seattle Weekly for hiding Shapiro's words among advertisements and for implying, in the cover photo, that the only "witnesses to war" are Palestinian.
At least Geov Parrish had the grace to admit [in his accompanying article, "A Rumor of War"] that if terrorists prevented Seattleites from going to the QFC or Northgate Mall, as happens in Israel on a sometimes daily basis, we might be taking the same course of action as is Israel.
Hadassah Hospital treats all who are injured by the current situation—terrorists and victims, Arabs and Jews alike. Where are your stories and images of those witnesses to war?
Executive Director, Seattle Chapter Hadassah
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
We are deeply disturbed by Christopher Frizzelle's representation of our band, Lev'vela, in last week's Weekly [Music Calendar]. Frizzelle wrote, "You may like Lev'vela so long . . . as your alliance is with Israel"—ignoring the fact that NOTHING in our music, lyrics, or press materials mentions anything about Israel. We are a band whose members' ethnic backgrounds [are] Mexican, Jewish, Native American, and European American, and who support human rights movements through our music.
Mr. Frizzelle unfortunately decided to incorrectly presume that a band that has two Jews and incorporates Hebrew into part of our name must be aligned with the politics of Israel. (We also have Spanish in our name and two Mexicans but for some reason do not get represented as supporters of the Zapatistas!)
For those of you that would like to find out what Lev'vela is really about, please check out our Web site: www.levvela.com.
You folks must be working too hard if you don't have time to check out more happy hours [Happy Hour! April 11]. Bummer dudes. [Cheer up! Happy Hour! is back in business this week on p. 26.—Eds.]
Here is one for ya: Sam's Steak House on Eastlake. It comes with a golden retriever to greet you, a deck with a view of the H2O, beer specials, and a long list of serious gourmet foodstuff for only $1.95. No, I don't work there, just giving you an idea. More where that came from—unlike you I'm not working much, so it is my duty to check out these cheap eats.
Now, go have fun. The secretary will disavow any knowledge of your mission.
Thank you for the article by Julie Peterson, "Road Rules" [April 4]. It's refreshing to hear the other side of the glitzy, glamour pop music story. Like so many industries, it's the people behind the scenes, tolerating long hours and tough conditions, that really make events happen. Here's to all the "touring technicians." Well done!
Kathleen M. Pape
The photo in last week's Classical Calendar spotlight was incorrectly identified as cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. It is actually of pianist Alfred Brendel.
Also, in last week's "Teamster vs. Teamster," we stated that former Teamsters boss Ron Carey was relieved of his leadership post in 1998 for allegedly misusing campaign funds. However, he was later cleared of those charges.
Tell us your side of the story. Write to Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western, Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104; fax to 206-467-4377; or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. By submission of a letter, you agree that we may edit the letter and publish and/or license the publication of it in print, electronically, and for archival purposes. Please include name, location, and phone number.
Re: "A Rumor of War," it always seemed passing strange to me that the Palestinian "movement," led by adherents of an Islamist terroristic philosophy that can only be accurately characterized as more reactionary than any other religious fundamentalism and more politically fascistic and murderous than any other modern political philosophy with the possible exception of Nazism, can receive unquestioning support from people who otherwise think of themselves as progressive. In their defense, I, too, was duped by the Islamist movement's propaganda machine for many years. I was disabused of this foolish notion by the sight of Palestinians celebrating on Sept. 11, and by the fact that if Palestinians and their allies had their way, Americans would eventually fare no better than Jewish victims of suicide bombers.
How can some American "progressives" continue to be blind to, and, by their actions, supportive of a philosophy that asks its people to raise their children to be so steeped in hatred that they feel it is their duty to cut off their own life and take the lives of innocent civilians? I ask those activists to remember that on Sept. 11 some 3,000 of their countrymen had their lives cut short by suicide bombers. That nations such as Iraq and Saudi Arabia provide monetary incentives for families to pressure their children to make such a decision is hideous in the extreme. On the plus side, that both these nations receive most of their revenues from oil exports, now makes the pursuance of alternative energies and conservation patriotic as well as ecologically virtuous.
That Jews would not trust the future of their people to a nation in which they did not comprise a majority seems logical given their history, especially when the people who would make up that majority are hostile to their very existence. That they would be even more deeply suspicious of a people that would rather sacrifice the lives of its own young than live in peace with Jews makes any measure that they take to bolster their security a sacred duty to the future. That Palestinians may suffer as a result of these measures is a given, but to find the cause for that suffering, the Palestinians (and by extension the self-proclaimed progressives who support them), need only to look in the mirror.
R. Roy Blake
People in the Arab world are ranting, raving, and rioting against Americans and burning our flag because we allow the Israelis to defend themselves against suicide bombers. Maybe we can rise above it by not taking it personally, but we don't have to buy a lot of their oil, either.
In fact, some concerned citizens might think this is an excellent time to organize at least a partial boycott on oil. Paying people to kill people (including, of course, Americans) as Saudi Arabia and Iraq and Iran are doing, is simply wrong. It is on a moral level with the Mafia. Why should anyone want to buy a lot of gasoline and reward that?
Palo Alto, Calif.
Thank you so much for "A Rumor of War." I have been searching the news in vain to find someone in the media who would show the horror that the Palestinians are suffering at the mercy of the Israeli government.
The daily reports in papers and TV news headline the death of an Israeli and hide the large number of Palestinian dead in small font on an inside page.
Our political leaders continue their shameful support of the Israeli military aggression. The feeble cease-fire requests carry no consequence. The secretary of state has taken a delayed trip to the Middle East. Days have passed, and all I hear is empty rhetoric while innocent people are terrorized and killed.
This military invasion is reminiscent of the ethnic cleansing and Muslim massacres in Bosnia. As historical reports of those events are uncovered, the world watches as Israel slaughters the Palestinians. What words of hope can I offer my children?
I was proud to read of local activists supporting the Palestinians, and I hope the media will present stories like this to the American people. This story should be on the cover of Time.
While I agree with Samantha Shapiro that the situation on the West Bank is considerably more complex than the various political sects would have us know, I do not agree with her that the level of complexity requires us to turn off our crap detectors. Much of the complexity to which she alludes comes as a direct result of better than a century's meddling in that region by the classic world bullies: Britain, the United States, and other so-called allies of world Judaism. Shapiro is clear enough on the fact that the state of Israel came into being largely because the ruling elite of Europe could not refrain from organizing pogroms even in the wake of the Holocaust. She tells us that the United States set up immigration policies that made it difficult for Jews to enter this country after World War II. She tells us that the Palestinian people have long paid a heavy price for the hostility directed toward Jews by the various powers of Europe.
But aside from the repetition of either/or moralist arguments, she does not explain why the Palestinian people should continue to pay with their lives and land for the historic anti-Semitism of Europe and the United States. Instead, Shapiro ends her argument with the sneering suggestion that we all learn to live with the worst violence of Islamic fundamentalism since, after all, the socialist left allegedly turns a blind eye to such violence. And that's just a lot of horseshit, but I'm not going to take time to refute that straw man point by point.
However, I will insist that it is Shapiro and her co-thinkers who invite violence into our backyards by maintaining that Palestinians must respond in a more civilized manner to a massive military bombardment that has been dumped upon them for 50-plus years because Europe could never learn to leave the Jew in peace. It is Shapiro and her acolytes who think the Palestinians should dig deeper to find something generous even as the so-called "last, best hope of humanity—the United States"—continues to wink at the brutal policies of Ariel Sharon, who seems determined to burn out whatever flexibility might be left in the Palestinian resolve.
Yes, the situation is complex. But we've heard Shapiro's argument before. Throughout history, the man with the stick has always been good at counseling those whom he is beating on what their response to his assault should be. Nazis in Germany in the 1920s laughed at the concerns of European Judaism. Whites in the South used to tell Blacks how to respond gracefully to the police dogs put on them, men still think to tell women how to best respond to the reality of domestic repression, and in recent years, the working class of the United States as a whole has been getting a lesson in what happens when you let a bunch of billionaires set one-way terms for what happens during the workday.
So, "What would Solomon do?" Gee, Samantha, I don't know. Nor do I give a bloody fuck, since it seems to me that much of the complexity we're looking at comes from our insistence upon letting monarchy, gentry, and other forms of ruling class lowlife set all the terms for humanity to begin with. But I'll tell you this: The future is with a creative, revolutionary agency of the working class, or there is no future. And if that's not a complex enough answer for you, I guess it's because you know the words, but you sure as hell don't hear the music.
Who does Samantha Shapiro work for, KVI? According to her thinking, everyone who is critical of Israel is a "socialist." That's old McCarthy stuff, it's inflammatory and ignorant. Everybody I know who's involved in this considers themselves to be a human rights activist, a person with the gnawing conviction that justice is achievable and worth struggling for. Period.
She makes the statement that "International Socialists" (whoever they are) "join with a people who were filmed cheering in the streets when the planes hit the World Trade Center." Come on, Samantha, that was discredited ages ago as one of a small series of isolated incidents. She would know this if she paid attention. Most Palestinians were as horrified as anyone else.
As for Edward Said, "who occasionally pays a visit to the Middle East to get his picture taken throwing stones at Israelis," well there's another one for you. It turns out that he was idly throwing stones at nothing, as people will do, when someone took his picture without his knowledge. The picture was put to use by intelligence, with the appropriate caption, and wound up in Samantha Shapiro's head.
I wonder why Ms. Shapiro never mentions Ariel Sharon's history, how he is wanted for war crimes in connection with, among other things, the massacres at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982. Roughly 3,000 people were killed. That was right on the heels of the bombing of Beirut where, in the words of the Belgian court document, "According to Lebanese statistics, the Israeli offensive, particularly the intensive shelling of Beirut, caused 18,000 deaths and 30,000 injuries, mostly among civilians." Sharon was minister of defense at the time. That's quite a lot of people, don't you think? Does that make him better or worse than a suicide bomber?
Then I think of Adam Shapiro, the young Jewish man from Brooklyn who had the gall to do his human rights work by traveling to Palestine and winding up in Arafat's compound treating the wounded. Pro-Zionists held a rally in New York, and one of the organizers, Ron Torossian, said "Shapiro is a traitor, a piece of garbage, and we are going to make his life and his parents' lives a living hell." His parents were driven out of their home by harassment and death threats. Is that because their son is a socialist?
What we need to talk about are causes and effects, not this ridiculous floating logic that only serves to prove a preconceived point. Yes, it's a very complicated situation, no argument there. But criminals can be of any nationality, right? So let's cut the red-bait drivel, put the old gods aside, leave the kings where they lie and start making sense.
What would the fictional character King Solomon do after reading Samantha Shapiro's apologetics for Israel? Call it like it is. Shapiro is a bigot. While the Arabs have repeatedly misjudged Israel's ability to survive numerous wars and even prosper as a society, the Israelis, as the victors, have never ever made an effort to win over the Palestinian Arabs they evicted (and continue to do so), nor Israel's much poorer neighboring Arab states. Shapiro is grossly disingenuous when she sneeringly demands to know where are the "moderate" Palestinian voices. Most anti-Arafat moderates have been killed by Palestinian militants, are in exile, or have found it too hard to remain a "moderate" when faced with decades of brutal military/colonial occupation of Palestine.
As for the nature of the Palestinian suicide bombers, these youths have nothing but their lives to throw at the Israelis; the Palestinians do not have large amounts of U.S. armaments. The suicide attacks are a screamed plea for help, a hideous howl of desperation. And as long as the Israelis and United States are unwilling to acknowledge this, there will be carnage and fear and hatred.
Shapiro's bigotry does nothing to heal or open minds. She is just prattling away in her Zionist delusions, like some old South African white claiming the desperate actions of the black South Africans were terrorism. I am glad Shapiro has left this state; we have enough racists around here. And no, I am not some dweeby Bolshevik.
So congratulations—you found a Jew to write a stereotyping, nearly hysterical, highly rhetorical article on Palestinians and Israel. Good for you. It's a game the U.S. and England are playing—it's called look at the terrible Jews while we look clean, even though they are doing our dirty work. Look how reasonable white Christians can look. The U.S. pays for it all; after all they/we need a foothold in the Middle East for our oil interests and we have a president rooted in oil interests. And Texas makes half of all the weapons paid for by Israel . . . and we all know who comes from Texas, don't we? And the gas prices are relatively low while we drive SUV gas guzzlers. But our hands are clean. Let them fight it out. That way we get what we want while none of our kids dies.
Yes, we fight each other while the world looks on and doesn't give a damn either about Jews or Palestinians. We are fodder in a game with rules that were dictated by forces larger than us. But both peoples must learn not to be others' puppets. There are moderates on both sides who are doing just that. That's liberation and freedom in action.
Now, don't get me wrong, I appreciate Geov's article. I often appreciate his clear-eyed insight. He teaches me often. But I am appalled that the Weekly chose to run Shapiro's writing. . . . If you had looked harder, you could have found a moderate Jew and a better, more accurate writer who didn't resort to Arab stereotyping. We are not all that uncommon, just not as juicy in a news story. I guess we just don't fit your mold.
Shapiro's piece was full of inaccuracies: (1) The PLO has said many times that Israel has a right to exist. (2) Edward Said, author of many important books, surely does more than go to Palestine to get a picture taken throwing rocks. How petty. (3) There are many Palestinian moderates, some right here in Seattle. But one that comes to mind instantly is Hanan Ashrawi. (4) Arafat has condemned the suicide bombings. (5) Israel has committed many atrocities that go against the Geneva Conventions, including torture, mass punishments, mass arrests, and disappearances, extrajudicial executions . . . the list goes on NOTHING JUSTIFIES THAT. NOTHING.
I am one Jew among many who oppose the Israeli government. Hundreds of thousands of us do—both here and in Israel where Israeli Jews are in the street demonstrations 10,000 at a time (please run an article on that) or where brave Israelis join with Palestinians at checkpoints to do direct action. Israeli Jews are putting their bodies between guns and tanks and Palestinians.
Many of us in the U.S. are meeting and trying to figure out the next resistance strategy. We did it before when we started supporting a two state solution and we'll do it again as we call for a shared Jerusalem, the Palestinians' right of return, and an end of settlements in the Palestinian territories.
What Israel is doing, it is not doing in my name or in my God's name. It's not the Torah I know, which teaches love the stranger in your land, and as Hillel taught—do not do to your neighbor that which is hateful to you.
It is grief and terror exploding in horrific ways—we Jews have never healed from the Holocaust, and it is haunting Israel's very actions. It's all a grand re-enactment, and we are trying to show that we would fight back. But Palestinians are not the Nazis, and Israel has one the mightiest armies ever known to mankind.
It is my prayer at 3 in the morning as I wake up in night sweats and put on my tallis and pray to our God and to our dead that Arafat is not killed. I pray for him to be an old man under a olive branch and near a fig tree. I pray for the miracle that our people not act out the injury done by years of persecution—that we not become the very thing that oppressed and nearly destroyed us—and I pray that I will have a Judaism to pass on to my grandmother's great-grandchildren.
S. Naomi Finkelstein
Thank you for printing Geov Parrish's timely piece on the worldwide fight for justice for the Palestinians. But why did you see fit to publish the highly inaccurate "counterpoint" by Samantha Shapiro? The article's fixation on the International Socialists (hardly the only group working on the issue) suggests that it was written for some other venue and thrown in to provide "balance." If this is supposed to represent my point of view as an American Jew, no thanks. I would rather hear from the other Shapiro—Adam. Perhaps the pro-Israel cause is not worth defending if this is the only way to do it.
Let me focus on a few of the most egregious public relations lies: Palestinians did not reject a "generous offer." They refused an offer that Ehud Barak presented as final that would have left them a few isolated Swiss-cheese enclaves amidst 80 percent of the 400,000 settlers, who would remain under Israel's rule. They continued to negotiate at Taba, [but the talks were] broken off abruptly by Barak for no reason he can provide. Also, a thorough review of Palestinian textbooks found that they had purged anti-Semitic material leftover from the Jordanians and Egyptians. If Palestinian children hate Israel, they learn it by visiting their fathers in jail, or by being blocked from their school, or by witnessing or being one of the far more numerous Palestinian civilian deaths.
Ms. Shapiro closes by suggesting that we discuss women in the workplace with the Tanzim. Thanks, but I think I'll wait until Palestinians are no longer under a 24-hour Israeli curfew!
I was truly disappointed to read Samantha Shapiro's recent article in which she engaged in blind and indiscriminate equation of terrorism with everything Palestinian and everything Palestinian with terrorism.
In her gruesome bin Ladenization of the entire Palestinian cause, she concludes that there is no peace camp on the Palestinian side and derives justification for Sharon's current genocide in the Occupied Territories. Never mind last month's Beirut declaration in which all Arab states and the Palestinian Authority offered recognition, peace, and full diplomatic relations to Israel. In her racist mind, even when publicly speaking of peace and coexistence, every Arab is still a terrorist seeking the total destruction of Israel.
I am greatly shocked that such bigotry was presented on your pages.
I thought the Stranger was where the Rush Limbaugh level of journalism was printed. There is an International Socialism Organization with headquarters in Chicago. One thing I know for sure about them is that they do not support animal rights. There is an International Solidarity Committee with headquarters in New York that organizes international observer tours to Palestine. Probably the only connection between the two organizations is in the mind of Samantha Shapiro. Both of these organizations have Web sites. If you corrected all the errors in Shapiro's article, I wonder if there would be anything left.
Good thing you printed Geov's article, which spoke the truth.
Amid the bleak landscape that is the West Bank and Gaza, the best option for Arafat is unconditional surrender. Why not? The international pressure put upon Israel—and its silent Arab neighbors looking on—to rebuild a homeland for the Palestinians once the fighting is officially over would be immense.
The Palestinians say they want peace and prosperity? Fine. Give it to them, once Arafat surrenders and calls off the insanity that is suicide bombing. As long as the fighting continues, the Arab world will sit idly by doing nothing positive to help their brothers. Once reconstruction is begun, the wealthy surrounding nations should also be tapped to rebuild the West Bank. After all, Palestinians are not just refugees from Israel, they come from many surrounding Arab nations, too.
There can be no defense for the recent terrorist attacks against Israel. There also cannot be any defense for Israel's reaction. Attacking terrorist groups themselves is one thing—attacking refugee camps with tanks, attacking children and noncombatants, and the collective punishment of an entire people are quite another. I believe that after the passions have calmed and the smoke has cleared, liberal Jews like Shapiro will end up deeply ashamed of their support of Ariel Sharon.
Samantha M. Shapiro says that we should "beware of easy answers." It is a shame that she does not apply this to her own analysis. She tells us that she is "astonished" at Socialist support for a people "who were filmed cheering when the planes hit the World Trade Center." It has been shown that much of the "footage" of that event was actually old film from the Gulf War (thanks, major networks, for that unbiased piece of reporting). More importantly, how many Palestinians were seen cheering? All of them? I thought not. According to Shapiro's logic, we should have no sympathy with Americans after Sept. 11 because Americans attacked innocent people in Seattle and elsewhere just for wearing turbans. This is also a people who fully supported the killing of civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq (both by bombs and by degrees through the use of sanctions), El Salvador, Guatemala, Vietnam, etc., not to mention Native Americans. Generalizations are a black-and-white way of thinking.
I also seem to have seen reports of quite a lot of celebrating by settlers around the refugee camps.
Socialists support the Palestinians because Israel is an invading imperialist force which IS subjugating the indigenous people. Socialists are not pacifists, and while I DO despair of suicide bombers, I understand that one has to be pretty desperate to blow oneself up. That takes real despair. They're not just kind of irritated, they're utterly at the end of their tether.
I'm afraid I am becoming heartily sick of any government, which by following America's lead, feels it has carte blanche to spread terror and death wherever it pleases in the name of "fighting terrorism." America has set up this black-and-white view of "with us or against us" and you, in your small way, are confirming it. Well, it's a BAD view. How's that for black and white?
Socialists see that what is right is still right even after the stupid, sad, pathetic, and misjudged acts of desperation carried out by a tiny, tiny minority of its people, and what is wrong is still wrong even when it is carried out by an elected government.
The world definitely needed "A Rumor of War"—I now know that I'm not crazy for sympathizing with the Palestinians. While it's true that the righteous Palestinian suicide bombers may have been the initial cause for the current conflict, Israel is by no means without fault, which is what American leaders' and the general public's attitudes convey. I've been called crazy for not feeling Israel's pain. Few media outlets, focused increasingly on the bottom line (profits, ratings, readership), attempt the kind of risks inherent in an exciting story like "A Rumor of War." Geov Parrish is a courageous, insightful, and engaging writer.
For the benefit of those whose opinions are stifled by the mainstream, keep these stories coming.
Thank you for publishing Geov Parrish's article. I've kept tabs on the observers' actions for some time now, but his article still brought tears to my eyes.
Since this uprising began, Palestinian deaths have numbered almost four times that of Israelis. In the last two weeks, hundreds of Palestinian civilians were slaughtered in the West Bank; thousands were maimed or driven from their homes. Schools, businesses, and public utilities were intentionally destroyed.
Helicopter gunships fired rockets and cannons into civilian areas. Tanks fired shells into structures indiscriminately. No one is able to bury the dead that lie in the streets. Ambulances are crushed by Israeli Defense Force tanks or simply stopped by gunfire. All occupied areas are treated as free-fire zones. Journalists cannot tell the whole story because they are shot or beaten by Israeli troops.
But unlike the Internationals risking their lives for peace in the Holy Land, Samantha Shapiro virtually ignores these realities and argues the politics that fuel hatred on both sides. I wonder how Shapiro feels about Israel committing war crimes on a scale not seen since Sarajevo? UN resolutions and the constraints of international humanitarian law are ignored by the Israeli government, and only with the help of international volunteers acting as human shields have many innocent Palestinian lives been spared.
People of conscience empathize with the anger of Israelis, and I don't know of anyone who approves of attacks on Jewish civilians. However, the murder of Israeli civilians by terrorists does not justify Israel's indiscriminate use of force, extra-judicial executions, torture of prisoners, blockading of hospitals, or denial of food, safety, and dignity to the Palestinian people.
No, there are no easy answers, but two wrongs don't make a right. Ariel Sharon's reactionary tactics are sowing seeds of rage and hatred across the world, and our unquestioning support guarantees that we will share the harvest. Unless we oppose Sharon's strategy of collective punishment and terror against the Palestinian people, we are supporting a downward spiral of violence that will only lead to the depths of hell.
That the Bush administration has chosen to make the U.S. an accomplice to Israel's continuing military terror campaign was never more clear than when Colin Powell turned his back on meeting with Yasir Arafat after one bomb blew up in a public place in Israel. He was perfectly happy, however, to meet with Ariel Sharon while Israeli tanks and troops were busily crushing and machine-gunning civilians and militias in cities all over Palestine. Unfortunately, by ignoring the inequities and injustices underlying this Palestinian crisis and by not recognizing the symmetrical illegitimacy of the uses of force on both sides, Powell and President Bush have guaranteed that the U.S. interests will be rightly seen as little more than a diplomatic distraction played out against the Palestinians, for aims other than reaching a stable peace.
Thanks for running Geov Parrish's excellent profile of the incredibly brave Seattle-area peace activists now in the West Bank. Chilling, amazing story.
One item gives the lie to one piece of Samantha Shapiro's misinformation. Palestinians are not the only ones in this conflict who have been targeting civilians. Israeli soldiers have been shooting and killing unarmed teenagers in Gaza for years; now they're shooting anybody who moves in the West Bank.
Shapiro's editorial was predicated on lies:
(1) That Palestine has never acknowledged Israel's right to exist. The Oslo accords, widely seen in Israel and the U.S. as Palestine's surrender, affirm Israel's right to exist. Yasir Arafat's recent endorsement of the Saudi peace plan also affirms Israel's right to exist. I don't trust that Arafat was sincere in either declaration, but it is simply a lie to say he never made them.
(2) That Israel has been seeking peace. Most Americans believe this. Since the occupation began, Israel has been expanding its settlements in Palestinian territory. The settlements are seizures of land; seizing land is an act of war. Israel has been waging war continuously since 1973. Ehud Barak's peace overture two years ago may have been sincere, but it was made in the context of ongoing and successful war making.
Barak may not have been able to make good on his offer anyway. The Israeli government's protection of the settlements has created a huge obstacle to peace. For Israel to give back the settlements, as Barak offered, the Israeli government will have to take arms against an extremist element of its own population and forcibly remove the settlers. Many of the settlers believe that God gave them that land, and they are unlikely to go peacefully.
An underreported aspect to the current war is that a large and powerful segment of the Israeli population is pushing for the removal and/or death of the entire Palestinian population of the West Bank in order to create a Greater Israel that stretches from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. I hope that Ariel Sharon's ambitions are not the same as those of Slobodan Milosevic a few years ago, but nothing I see persuades me that they are not.
It is simplistic propagandistic crap for Shapiro to imply that anybody who criticizes the actions of the Israeli government is de facto a terrorist sympathizer. The people who assist the suicide-homicide bombers in Israel and the U.S. should spend the rest of their lives in prison. I ask Shapiro: What should happen to the Israeli soldiers who shoot Palestinian civilians?
We are witnessing an extremist war between parties who want to wipe each other out. I don't know what the solution is. One thing is clear: Powerful elements of both sides have wanted war all along.
A more fitting subject for your cover picture ("Witness to War") would have been Orit Cohen. She and her brother and sister were riding a yellow school bus much like the ones our kids ride when Palestinian "freedom fighters" detonated a powerful bomb next to it. Orit got to see Palestinian nationalism express itself in all its noble glory as the blast killed Miriam Amitai, mother of four, and Gavriel Biton, father of six, right before her eyes. She and her brother and sister all lost limbs that day. They lay there, bleeding, next to the lifeless corpses of the people they had known as teachers, neighbors, and friends, for what seemed like an eternity before medical teams could get there. They are undergoing extensive physical therapy almost a year later and have, in some cases, been fitted with prosthetics. As serious as their physical wounds and lifelong disabilities are and will be, it pales in comparison to the psychological and emotional scars they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
The victims of the Kfar Darom bus bombing are, sadly, not unique. School buses are a favorite target of Yasir Arafat and his terrorists. School buses rank right up there with nursery schools, kindergartens, synagogues, weddings, bar and bat mitzvah celebrations, and supermarkets. Whenever these attacks happen, the cheers go up in the Arab villages and perpetrators are feted as "heroes, martyrs, and blessed by Allah." There have been 457 other people killed and thousands of wounded and injured like Orit and her siblings.
This is not a war for independence. This is a war for hate. And these people are terrorists. Nothing more, nothing less. At Camp David in 2000, Bill Clinton and Ehud Barak offered Arafat more than anyone had every dared offer: 95 percent of all the land he asked for and a share of Jerusalem. And Arafat walked out. Bill Clinton, who had befriended the Palestinians more than any president in American history and who had Arafat to the White House as his personal guest more than any other foreign leader during his tenure, squarely laid the blame on Arafat. And when Arafat left, he gave the signal for the current cycle of violence.
There is one more fitting picture for the cover of your "Witness to War" issue—that of Palestinian children in kindergartens started by Arafat, learning from their teachers how they are destined to become suicide bombers to kill the infidel Jews.
Have you been watching the nightly news? I have.
Words cannot express my outrage as an American. I have watched in horror as war crimes were unfolding before my very eyes in Ramallah, Bethlehem, and Jenin. I have watched in revulsion as I saw my tax dollars at work. It was my tax dollars that helped arm these criminals, that paid for the tanks, the shells, the missiles, and the bullets as they slaughtered civilians.
Are you familiar with the Civilians Convention of 1949, drafted in Geneva, to which Israel is one of the signatories? Article 53 of that Convention prohibits the destruction of civilian property; Article 33 prohibits collective punishment and the punishment of an individual who has not personally committed a crime.
As you may know, violation of these articles is a war crime. Anyone watching the news has seen footage documenting the violation of these articles and more. There is no doubt as to responsibility: the IDF. There is no doubt as to who gave the orders: Ariel Sharon.
How can the U.S. be taken seriously as a honest broker? Colin Powell has let an act of resistance, which caused six deaths, delay his meeting with Yasir Arafat. His people endure war crimes while the U.S. watches them on television and does nothing.
Because of isolated, violent acts of resistance that have not be linked to Arafat in any court of law, Vice President Cheney has not met with Arafat, although he has met with war criminal Sharon. The same is true of President Bush. Arafat is being asked to condemn these acts of resistance, to oppress his own people. At the same time, Sharon is allowed to continue his savage war crimes.
What appalling hypocrisy.
We bombed Belgrade over this sort of thing. When can I expect the first bombs to fall on Tel Aviv?
Not any time soon.
Larry La Caille
Unfortunately, the only easy answer [to the Israeli/Palestinian crisis] is coming from Israeli politicians, namely kill and deport the Palestinians, then Israel can live in peace. Before we can give any answer, we need a nonbiased view of the problem instead of "spun" view such Shapiro's article.
As in most pro-Israeli articles, Shapiro's starts with the Sept. 11 analogy. There is a point that somehow is missed: The Sept. 11 attacks were committed by middle-class religious extremists. They remind me of the middle-class fanatical Orthodox Jews who move from likes of New York to the West Bank or Gaza to claim their "promised land." Same blind religious extremism that has NO place in a civilized world.
Shapiro's article is full of lame, twisted logic, for instance, Israel is shooting at ambulances because they are carrying bombs. Who makes that claim? Ariel Sharon? What about international peace observers that Israelis have been shooting at during their peaceful nonviolent protests? Is that because these people are carrying bombs, too?
She says: "Israelis see that after 10 years of peacemaking. . . . " Did I hear peacemaking? Has she counted the number of settlements that have been built in occupied territories in the last 10 years of "peacemaking." Building settlements and military occupation can't be spun as peacemaking.
This is true: "When they wire the bodies of young women and men with explosives, they are literally dehumanizing their people, turning them into weapons that can blind or orphan a child."
Suicide bombing is truly horrific. When people reach a point where they are stripped of their humanity, to the point that their own life is meaningless, it is truly horrific, and not just for victims. The real horror is the conditions that people have lived in before getting to that point. These are people who need help, not more violence and destruction.
As is usual in pro-Israeli propaganda, Israel is not to blame for any of this. For the past 50 years, Israel has forced millions of people to live in refugee camps that are a stone's throw from Israeli illegal settlements.
As is normal in pro Israeli articles, Palestinians are dehumanized, thus justifying why they should be collectively punished for the desperate few who decide the only way out is a suicide attack. Of course, a cold-blooded calculated attack by the Israeli military against refugee camps and mosques and churches are, as Shapiro puts it, in a "realm governed by at least a modicum of civilizing rules." I just wonder if you would say the same about the Jewish resistance to the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto. How would you have advised the Jewish resistance to behave? Subject themselves to the "civilized rule" of the Nazis?
Shapiro writes: The Palestinians "have refused every offer for peaceful coexistence from the one proposed by the United Nations in 1948 to the one Ehud Barak offered in 2000. This refusal is not accompanied by a counteroffer, an opening for dialogue, but by violence."
Well, the good deal that Barak offered is nothing more than Palestinians living in disjointed areas, no capital, no borders, surrounded by militant Israeli settlements, and Palestinians who have been deported have no right to return to their homeland or to compensation. Yasir Arafat would be expected to sell the deal to the Palestinians.
There is a simple counteroffer: Accept all UN resolutions like a civilized country, leave all occupied areas, give refugees the right to return to their land, have all Arab countries recognize Israel's right to exist in peace, and resolve issues through negotiation.
In conclusion, Shapiro writes:
"They have many strongly held views, not just about Israel, but about the Western world that bred your tolerance and pluralism. Why don't you strike up a conversation with the head of the Tanzim about the role of women in the West or the role of the press or what should be taught in schools? When you find you have issues you disagree on, ask yourself how you think they will try to resolve those differences if their current strategy succeeds?"
Had there not been Israeli militaristic policies, there would be no Hezbollah, Tanzim, Hamas, or suicide bombings.
After the world realizes the depth of Israeli atrocities in their current operation, you can be sure that the next generation Tanzims are going to be that much more violent and brutal.
The seeds of hatred can only mature to be hatred.
Please, instead of criticizing others, advise Israelis to assume responsibility for their actions.
I truly empathize with Israelis.
What can be done? Definitely not what Israel has been doing for past 50 years.
We need to spend our tax dollars in supporting the peace camp within Israel, and promote real democracy all over the Arab world. Maybe in the short term, that would bad for the oil business, but in the long term, we are all going to benefit from peace and prosperity.
The article "A Rumor of War" was outstanding. I am an avid reader regarding the Middle East crisis. There are so many articles I have read that I feel are so biased that it makes my blood boil.
To speak about the injustice, the humiliation inflicted on the Palestinians by the Israelis was courageous.
I pray that this information is disseminated to the powers that be. America is still healing from its wounds of Sept. 11; therefore, it's ironic how they could sanction and pay for such tragedy in the Middle East.
Maybe from this article, people will begin to become more objective and begin speaking out against injustice, even if it's one of our own.
Justice and righteousness have no boundaries. Right is right.