Friday, April 30, 2004

Columnist Charles Krauthammer's latest editorial in the Washington Post, titled "The Real Mideast 'Poison'," to me seems a little narrow-minded. Well, here's what I sent him:

In your editiorial, "The Real Mideast 'Poison'," published the day before in a column in Houston Chronicle under the more telling title, "The Absurdity of Criticism Against Israel", you say that anti-Semitism "has gone global." Sure, criticism of Israel is high now because of the anger of much of the Arab world since the US invasion of Iraq, but is that anti-Semitism? I don't think so, just as much as criticism of the US government isn't anti-American; in fact, criticism of the government, to a large extent, defines a democracy society, including Israel, which you rightly term the only true democracy in the region. The most important issue here, I think, concerning this, is whether the actions of the Sharon administration will actually lead toward peace in the Middle East, or rather will further accelerate the cycle of violence. You mention Israel's offer to unilaterally withdraw from the Gaza Strip, and how this has led to Israel being "almost universally attacked." However, the criticism was because the administration's plan for the *West Bank* included annexing some Palestinian territory. You mention how Israel "will also evacuate four small West Bank settlements," but you omit the other settlements that will remain. You mention that the Arab people, as a whole group and not particularly as any group of radical militarists like, say, al Qaeda, "have variously denounced [the plan for "withdrawal" from the West Bank] as Israeli unilateralism." What many Arabs, not "the Arabs," are criticizing is the deliberate territorial expansion being pursued by the Sharon administration into Palestinian territory, for which I see no other possible future other than the perpetuating of violence and terrorism. The Palestinian people deserve the same rights as the Israeli people, and land to call their own, as well. The security "fence" being erected is, as a writer for Foreign Affairs noted in the Feb./Mar. issue, an "admission of failure"; it is also a mistake, for the reason that it will only continue to foster resentment by the Palestinian people toward the Israelis: al-Jazeera, the leading Arab news network based in Qatar, refers to it as an "apartheid wall". The "Nuremburg atmosphere" you cite, to me, is nonexistent; sure, the Jewish State is being heavily criticized now by many Arabs and Muslims for its state-sanctioned murders of so-called "spiritual leader" Yassin and terrorist Rantisi, both of which the international community condemned. Referring to the latter assassination, the US made an official statement where it warned Israel to consider "the consequences" of its actions. (Nelson Mandela was once considered a terrorist, too, but that's irrelevant.) And I do not believe for a second that all of this is the beginning of another wave of pogroms, or at the very extreme, another Holocaust. Ultimately, I believe in humanity. I believe that the majority of Arabs and Muslims who criticize Israel do not hate the Jewish people themselves. After all, there is a sharp distinction between the state and the citizenry; with Israel, I believe, it is no different, and nor it should be. But missiles launched from helicopters to assassinate whomever the state deems necessary (in itself a dangerous precedent), a "fence" that will (among other aims) excise Palestinian land and further anger the Palestinian people and illegal settlements, all for the purpose of suiting a self-destructive policy enshrined by an administration led by right-wing radicals, will not acheive this worthy goal. As a fellow Jew, of course I believe the state of Israel has the right to exist. It must. But so does the Palestinians' right to self-determination: the right to their own state that, God willing, can co-exist with Israel and end the violence.

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