Letters

Re Jason Vest's "Death Wish in the Holy Land" [December 18]: Why was the question not asked, "Why is there not an Israeli De Klerk?" Apartheid in South Africa couldn't have been dismantled without De Klerk. Moreover, apartheid in South Africa couldn't have been dismantled without international sanctions.

In contrast, Israel has free rein to do whatever it wants against Palestinian civilians. If one evaluates Israel's response to more or less peaceful demonstrations, using live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets, killing 100 Palestinians in the first 20 days of the uprising, then the question posed by Rabbi Arthur Waskow in Vest's article as to why there hasn't been a Palestinian Gandhi is answered.

Why is there silence when Israel violates human rights, commits war crimes, and continues to violate international resolutions? Why do the media tell the Israeli narrative and question the Palestinian narrative, even though that is not a different narrative from that of international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch? These questions are missing when asking about a Palestinian Gandhi.

Arjan El Fassed
Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights & the Environment
Jerusalem, Israel


SELECTIVE DISSERVICE

According to the splashy front-page headline for Jason Vest's otherwise thoughtful pieces in the December 18 issue, Israeli would-be assassins of Yasir Arafat could be identifiable as "Israelis," but Palestinian fighters who kill Ariel Sharon would be called "terrorists." At a time when the U.S. government is being oddly and violently selective in its definition of who is a "terrorist" and who is a patriot or ally, your language is, at best, lazy and irresponsible.

Andy Buck
Brooklyn


HIP-HOP MINISTER

I am writing in response to Peter Noel's article "Black Interloper: Russell Simmons's 'Racial Contract' With Andrew Cuomo" [December 11]. During the last 40 years, I have participated on the front lines of many of the struggles for freedom, justice, and equality throughout the United States and internationally. Over the last year, through the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, I have had the unique opportunity to work closely and directly with Russell Simmons as an adviser and confidant. On a daily basis, I have observed a very gifted and committed businessman use his achievements and wealth to help others less fortunate. Simmons has a heart of sincere compassion and is consistently speaking out on behalf of helping people get themselves out of poverty.

As hip-hop enters into the political sphere, no doubt there will be those, as quoted in Noel's piece, who just do not know what time it is. Russell Simmons represents the generation of young people who do not buy into an inferiority complex and who will not be silenced by those who want youth to vote, but who are afraid of youth who think before they vote. The truth is what drives hip-hop.

Our music, poetry, dance, graffiti, and art reach across race, gender, age, ethnicity, geography, religion, philosophy, and ideology. The truth is the common denominator, and that is why hip-hop will survive attempts at censorship, and why Russell Simmons will survive attempts of character assassination by those who fear the future.

Noel and company are completely misguided. The gubernatorial contest next year is not about personality politics. It is about the real-life issues of improving education, health care, the economy, community development, and ending poverty and injustice. Name-calling is immature, and Reverend Al Sharpton and the National Action Network should apologize for the "Uncle Tom" quote [by a Sharpton aide in the article].

Whether the victor is George Pataki, Carl McCall, or Andrew Cuomo, the 2002 election for the next governor of New York should be decided based on who will be the best and most truthful person to respond to the issues and needs of the people of New York for a better life.

I stand with Russell Simmons and the hip-hop generation.

Minister Benjamin F. (Chavis) Muhammad
President and CEO
Hip-Hop Summit Action Network
Manhattan


FISTS OF FURY

Mitch Abramson's piece on lethal assaults in the ring ["Anatomy of a Sucker Punch," December 11] omits mention of the aftermath of the 1983 Luis Resto-Billy Collins bout. Collins (who complained to his corner between rounds that he could feel Resto's knuckles through the gloves) was killed in an auto accident nine months afterward. Abramson appears to lament the fact that Resto never "fully recovered" his livelihood and has no private toilet. In fact, both Resto and Panama Lewis got off easy for their criminal behavior.

Gideon Katz
Glen Ridge, New Jersey


MR. NATURAL

In Joy Press's article about cartoonist Julie Doucet ["Strip Teaser," December 11], there is the following line: "[R.] Crumb's comics were notoriously littered. . . ." It would be more appropriate to have written: "Crumb's comics are notoriously littered. . . . " I find it interesting that Crumb is referred to in the past tense when he is still very much the productive artist. How can he not be? He was built to draw.

Mark Winter
Evanston, Illinois


SHIRLEY TEMPLE

Wonderful article by Mary Gaitskill on Shirley Manson ["Leader of the Secretarial Pool," December 11]. Not only do I adore Manson and J.T. LeRoy, but Gaitskill has this way with words and pictures that is so pure and human. Thank you. After a much too short and stressful reading of my paternal hero Paul Auster, I needed this good piece of wordsmithing.

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