Letters

NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE

Regarding Nat Hentoff's "Skewed Reporting From Israel" [September 4]: With all due respect to the thorough coverage Hentoff has given the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for years, I want to point out that there's a perfectly obvious reason why the Palestinians have never fostered a movement like Peace Now. Can you think of any instance where an oppressed country, driven to resistance and isolated from the world media, has sustained a conciliatory-style, peace-at-all-costs movement?

Peace Now is completely at odds with the principles of and psychological basis for resistance, and a movement for peace is frankly not the responsibility of the oppressed party in this conflict. This, of course, has nothing to do with condemning the violence of Hamas and other "militant" groups.

Oh, and I disagree with British correspondent Keith Graves—arrogance, while a characteristic of the Israeli government, is not a trait ascribable to any nation's citizens.

Matt Holford
Brooklyn


TURN OF THE SKEW

Nat Hentoff, in accusing correspondent Keith Graves of "Skewed Reporting From Israel," tells us that (a) Baruch Goldstein's massacre of Palestinians was "bitterly condemned by the vast majority of Israelis," and (b) the recent massacre of Israelis by a Palestinian suicide bomber was "celebrated" as a "glorious act of religious nationalism and revenge." Did it occur to Hentoff that he's engaging in the same sort of generalizations that he indicts in Graves? There are many Israeli settlers on the West Bank who consider Goldstein a hero, and there are many Palestinians who deplore the whole business of suicide bombing. But some skews are more acceptable than others.

James J. Matthews
Toronto, Canada

Nat Hentoff replies: Seventy-six percent of Palestinians polled approved of the suicide bombings. That is a majority—not a generalization. As for Goldstein's murderous crime, the settlers are not a majority of Israelis, who did condemn the massacre. In response to Mr. Holford: Oppressed American blacks—treated as a separate nation—sustained a nonviolent, direct-action mass movement led by Martin Luther King. A similar mass movement was led by Mahatma Gandhi until he was murdered. With regard to the Palestinians being isolated from the world media, their Intifadas have been widely and continually covered by the international press. Years ago, there was a nascent Palestinian peace movement, but its legitimate nationalism became infected with Islamic religious triumphalism. Read the virulent anti-Semitism in current Palestinian elementary school textbooks.


DOWN AND OUT IN PALESTINE

Thank you for Alisa Solomon's rare article describing the real situation in the Palestinian occupied territories ["Uprooting the Olive Branch," September 4]. The Israelis are shortsighted in their racist policy of humiliating the Palestinians, while continuing to annex more territories to expand the illegal Jewish settlements. The policy will fail, as the Palestinians have no dignified way out.

Colonialism and settler colonialism (apartheid) have tried to do the same things before, and failed. This time the crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Israeli government and its soldiers are well-documented. The American media—with very rare exceptions, such as Ms. Solomon's coverage—are the only media in the world obfuscating the truth. U.S. news outlets continuously repeat the Israeli government lies and propaganda that make even Orwellian speech seem appropriate. The U.S. media is not even close to the Israeli press's description of the actual situation in the occupied territories. It is a shameful situation indeed.

Tim Saba
Berkeley, California


BURYING THE TRUTH

Alisa Solomon's description of the difficulties of Palestinian life in the West Bank and Gaza Strip leaves out one detail. The restrictions on travel, leveling of fields, the setting of roadblocks and checkpoints, and yes, even Jewish vigilantism, such as cutting Palestinian water lines and revenge attacks by Israelis on Palestinians—which I and most Israelis deplore—all result solely from frequent and murderous Palestinian attacks against Israeli men, women, and children in cars, school buses, and homes, not only in settlements but throughout Israel.

Do Israeli forces need to wait until their soldiers are killed by terrorists operating from behind the cover of a given grove of trees before having moral justification for clearing those areas? I must say that the frustration of Palestinians who need to wait at checkpoints even for an entire day is less morally troubling to me than my having helped to bury two 15-year-old girls, neighbors of mine in Jerusalem, who were shredded to death by a suicide bomber. If all that waiting prevents even one more such death—and it certainly does—the waiting will have to be borne.

Those of us in Israel who sought peace with the Palestinians to the extent that we were willing to dismantle settlements and withdraw from strategic positions have been cured of our naïveté by the current wave of Palestinian violence. It has become clear to us that any concessions we make to Palestinians will simply be used to further their aim of destroying us.

The Palestinians' suffering will end the minute they renounce violence and make their own concessions to achieve peace.

Daniel A. Levy
Jerusalem, Israel


WRETCHED 'FETCHIT'

The reference in James Ridgeway's Mondo Washington column to Secretary of State Colin Powell playing a "Stepin Fetchit" in the Bush administration ["Colin-ectomy?" August 28] does a great disservice to Powell. The use of racist language and name-calling is simply beyond the pale and in no way resembles serious journalism. Must Americans of African ancestry pass a litmus test of political correctness to be certified as "real" blacks in so-called liberal circles like Ridgeway's?

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