By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
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 Gravesarrogance, while a characteristic of the Israeli government, is not a trait ascribable to any nation's citizens.
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
Nat Hentoff replies: Seventy-six percent of Palestinians polled approved of the suicide bombings. That is a majoritynot a generalization. As for Goldstein's murderous crime, the settlers are not a majority of Israelis, whodid condemn the massacre. In response to Mr. Holford: Oppressed American blackstreated as a separate nationsustained 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 mediawith very rare exceptions, such as Ms. Solomon's coverageare 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.
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 Palestinianswhich I and most Israelis deploreall 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 deathand it certainly doesthe 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
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?
I have been a Raelian since 1996 but really have felt like a Raelian most of my life, and had no context within which to express my "knowing." Having studied and experienced a number of spiritual-religious traditions, I am excited that Rael's unique perspective is getting increased attention due to its more inclusive, tolerant, and happiness-oriented (rather than "sin"-oriented) philosophy and practice. The Raelian "sensual meditation" is exactly what New Yorkers need to combat the speedy, blindered push, push, push that so often dehumanizes us and alienates us from one another. Bravo for Segall's fair and accurate reportage.
Steven Hirsch, Systems Manager
Hachette Filipacchi Magazines
Reading Ariston-Lizabeth Anderson's "Find the Issues, Reach the People" [August 28], it wasn't clear to me what Elizabeth Horton Sheff, "the first African American Green elected to a U.S. city council," meant when she said that the Greens' 10 key values"things like 'community-based economics and economic justice,' 'decentralization,' 'future focus and sustainability' "speak to middle-and upper-class whites. Was Sheff saying that most blacks don't understand such phraseology? Or that blacks don't want progressive employers who pay a living wage in their neighborhoods? I beg to differ.
Take, for example, the people in Harlem protesting against the so-called Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, who even go so far as to use words like "gentrification" to describe what is happening on 125th Street and the surrounding area. These protesters are certainly sophisticated enough to grasp a concept like economic justice. Sheff argues that the 10 key values of the Green Party need to be rewritten in order to speak to the people. Quite frankly, I'd be leery of her rewriting my grocery list, let alone a list of key values.
ROCK OF THE TOWN
Jane Dark ["How to Be Smug," September 4] should have taken a page from The New Yorker and employed more rigorous fact-checking. Nick Hornby is certainly not "the first-ever pop music critic" for that magazine. In fact, Ellen Willis was the first, writing a column about rock music in the late 1960s. In the late '80s, during the brief editorial reign of Robert Gottlieb, Mark Moses wrote a pop music column once a month until his untimely death in 1989 ended it. Elizabeth Wurtzel took over the column briefly after Mark's death, but was jettisoned along with most of Gottlieb's other changes upon the ascendancy of Tina Brown in the early 1990s. That said, I more or less agree with Dark's assessment of Hornby's music writing. He should stick to novels.
A friend recently forwarded me the column Kyle Gann did on Elodie Lauten earlier this summer ["East Village Buddha," June 12]. Having been the drummer in Flaming Youth, the band that lived and played with Allen Ginsberg, I enjoyed italthough time may have clouded Elodie's recollection of the Farfisa organ Allen bought her. It originally belonged to the Fugs, and the number of keys they broke had a lot to do with the songs we were able to write. I remember getting into a screaming argument with Elodie, whose English was not what it is now, because I couldn't understand at first that when she said she couldn't play the chord I'd asked her to, she meant she literally, physically couldn't!
ONE IN A MILLION
Miles Marshall Lewis's tribute to Aaliyah ["The Highest, Most Exalted One," September 4] was the best article I read all week, because it wasn't summed up from the point of view of a writer but was from a fan who felt her loss just as much as the rest of us did. Aaliyah was so gifted, it's hard for us to accept the fact that she's dead.
Re "Darn, I Forgot to Have Babies!" by Sharon Lerner [August 28]: Thanks for pointing out that we can't forget the advances that have been made for women who are over 40 and having babies. The spin that most articles and TV news programs, and now ad campaigns, are presenting just forces younger women who are not prepared for motherhood to go ahead and do it anyway, lest they risk not being able to get pregnant later on. That's a big mistake! I'm 41 and am trying for my first baby. I did get pregnant but miscarried and won't give up without a very long fight.
Sharon Lerner's article about women having babies later in life is just the tip of the iceberg. After checking out the sales of self-help books, the ratings when Dr. Phil is on Oprah, the surge of magazines like Real Simple, and the sold-out 6 p.m. 12-step meetings, one thing is apparent: We are not just having babies later in lifewe are growing up into mature adults later as well. The two go hand in hand, and it's fine, because at the end of the day, truth is transitory. If the new truth is that we are doing more in our late thirties and forties, so what! We are also living longer, choosing brown rice over white, and trying tai chi. Momma never did that.
For example, I am not sure what "pathetically blowjob-phobic" meant as a description of the movie. What I saw were several characters secure in their sexual identities, joking about blowjobs in a film that had some hilarious turns by George Carlin and Carrie Fischer.
Many people will not be able to tolerate the film's language. But for those of us who have a little Jay and/or (hopefully) a lot of Silent Bob inside us, this is a sweet, intelligent, and uproarious comedy. And Mr. Atkinson's quivering anger can't change that.
HIP-HOP FOR CHRIST
I enjoyed Lauren Sandler's article "God Save the Teens" [June 5]. Like most positive hip-hop, Christian hip-hop gets very little play from the industry, so it was nice to see that there was an article in The Village Voiceon it. As a seminary student who is also a hip-hop head, I would like to see more on positive hip-hop in general and Christian hip-hop in particular. It would also be nice to see some critical reviews of Christian hip-hop.