Sunday, December 28, 2008

Out of context response and bitter rebuttal against my comments, Ames Tribune

If the tone of this rebuttal to my last letter to the Ames Tribune is out of context, the assumptions wrong and the reader a reactionary Zionist, consider that this nothing compared to what his compatriots are doing to the Palestinians in Gaza on this very day. I will respond, but today, name calling has no sting compared to the sadness I feel for the children, the mothers and fathers and people unlucky enough to have been born or transported to Gaza. ESM

Israel eventually will find its peace

To the Editor

The expectation that Jews should prove their "specialness" is a very real, though subtle, expression of anti-Semitism. No other group is expected to demonstrate "specialness" in order to be tolerated or respected.

According to Elizabeth Mayfield ('Three things Israel can do for peace', Dec. 18), if Jews would just "have the unprecedented grace to show compassion," then perhaps we might all "sense that the Jews really are special."

Mayfield, and people like her, need to learn that Jews are people. Jews are under no obligation to prove that they are "special." If they don't prove their "specialness," they do not deserve the regular condemnation they receive from Mayfield in the pages of the Ames Tribune.

Following in a long tradition of seeking to indict Jews with their own words, Mayfield quoted Albert Einstein in 1938. Had Mayfield shared the title of the source of her quote, Einstein's "Our Debt to Zionism," a casual reader would have realized that Mayfield's selective quote subverted Einstein's message.

Einstein summarized the thesis of his speech by noting, "In this hour, one thing, above all, must be emphasized: Judaism owes a great debt of gratitude to Zionism." He talked about the greatness of the Zionist project by saying, "The productive work in Palestine, to which self-sacrificing Jews throughout the world have contributed, has saved a large number of our brethren from the direst need."

And, even in those days, when the Jews had no state, terrorism against the Jews was commonplace. Einstein described the plight of Jews in Palestine, noting, "Fields cultivated by day must have armed protection at night against fanatical Arab outlaws."

In light of his energetic defense of the national home of Jewish people, Einstein sought to distinguish the Jewish national project from the National Socialism that was then destroying the Jewish people. Unlike racist Nazi Germany, Einstein envisioned a Jewish future in a place like Israel today. Citizens of Israel today are not only Jewish, but also Arab, Druze, Circassian ... Israel is not the completely peaceful place Einstein hoped for, but Israel embraces the values he espoused.

Fortunately, Einstein also gave us guidance about those like Mayfield and the people she defends when he said, "Anti-Semitism has always been the cheapest means employed by selfish minorities for deceiving the people. A tyranny maintained on such deception and maintained by terror must inevitably perish from the poison it generates within itself."

When Einstein wrote these words in 1938, the worst of the Holocaust was still to come.

He remained optimistic even as darkness loomed.

Israel still has not found its peace, but just as Einstein's words eventually proved true, Israel eventually will find its peace and prove wrong those who seek to defame it and the Jewish people.

James Eaves-Johnson


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