Monday, January 4, 2010

Public Relations War in Ames, Iowa

In Ames,Iowa, there are a handful of us who are, frankly, engaged in a public relation's war. Every letter that I or my colleague, John Hauptman, write in support of the Palestinian people is refuted with the charge that we are anti-Semitic. I cannot speak for John, who speaks for himself below in an unpublished response to the latest Pnina Luban public charge against us, but I believe that I cannot, must not stop writing until the opposition, the friends of Israel in our area, stop slandering me and the Palestinian people in their rendition of one of the worst human rights crises in the world today. Of course, what is happening to the Palestinian people is not the only crime against humanity on our planet, but it's the one I know about first hand and that is why I focus on it. I try to not engage in direct rebuttal or name calling with those like Luban and Eaves Johnson who harass John and me . In the past, the editor of our paper would not run directly slanderous letters that named names and called people names in the manner of an uncreative seven grader bully. The new editor, however, has chosen to allow any slanderous writings to be printed. This is why so few Americans will engage at all in discussions about the horrendous (and getting worse everyday) situation in Gaza and, for that matter, in the entire region.

The letter below answers each of our opposition's charges, but the editor, so far, refuses to print John's letter. It is longer than the paper requires for Letters to the Editor, but it could be run as commentary. I have asked for that and received no answer. Anyone really interested in this exchange needs to read the four following letters starting with Pnina Luban's letter, John Hauptman's unpublished reply, my letter, Dec. 31 and the Jan.6 rebuttal from Eaves Johnson. You will need to read down and, then, select the lates archive dates to see the whole stream.

A Rebuttal to Pnina Luban (her letter follows)

From: John Hauptman
Professor of Physics
Iowa State University
Ames, Iowa 50010

Dear Editor,

There are so many things wrong with the "double standard or anti-Semitism" letter,(see below on this blog) that I don't know where to start. Honest and accurate criticism of a government's illegal actions evoked a long list of non-sequiturs, followed by the explicit contradiction between a "tiny democracy" and a "Jewish state" with 420 nuclear weapons designed for the incineration of cities. A "Jewish state" can be a "theocracy", but not a "democracy".

As for "two" people and "50 letters", I know people in Ames who have been threatened, don't speak up, and don't write letters, and in a community where the main currency is one's reputation, this is a powerful suppressant. I have been threatened and hilarious inventions have been floated, but I cannot be easily intimidated. I have understood the dynamics of revolt and protest since Berkeley in 1964, and the use of personal intimidation by the John Birch Society even earlier. I have the comfort of knowing that my opinions are well aligned with the whole world.

The Pew Research Center (Washington, D.C.) conducts vast surveys of national and international opinion. Every year the Israeli government is ranked as the "greatest threat to world peace" (59% in the European Union, and pegged close to 100% in friendly countries like Jordan and Egypt), followed in second place by Iran, then North Korean.

We can talk about Richard Goldstone and the 650-page report (Google: goldstone gaza un) of his Fact Finding committee on "crimes against humanity" by the Israeli government, "war crimes" by the Israeli military, and both "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity" by Hamas. Although I find identifications abhorrent, Richard Goldstone (a citizen of South Africa) is always identified as Jewish, a strong supporter of Israel, on the Board of Directors of Hebrew University, whose daughter lives in Israel. On Israeli Army radio, his daughter said that her father tried to protect Israel, but that the evidence was so extensive and so clear. The slaughter of 1000 defenseless civilians on one side, and 10 soldiers on the other (four by "friendly fire"), was a "crime against humanity". Richard Goldstone has been accused of being an "anti-Semite", an "enemy of Israel", a "self-hating Jew", and all the rest of the usual slanders from the Israeli government.

Watch for this truism: when a government finds it necessary to attack an individual, you know that something is wrong.
The leader of the Israeli opposition party, Tzipi Livni, canceled a trip to London this week because a warrant had been issued for her arrest by the UK. The Israeli government confirmed that this morning (Dec. 14). Why? Her role in the slaughter in Gaza, that's why.

The Israeli government strategy, adopted by the US government, is to dismiss the Goldstone report as "biased" and unworthy of consideration. Goldstone has explicitly asked Obama to point out any bias in the report. No answer. The US is silent. They just hope it will go away, but it won't go away.

For years the Israel lobby has told us "look at Darfur, look at Darfur" (don't look at what we are doing). My Federal tax dollars pay for what the Israeli government is doing, and it is illegal. I don't pay for Darfur, Somali, Chechnya, or the Tamil rebels. Because so much innocent blood is being spilled, we paying in more than dollars.

A British diplomat remarked to an American diplomat recently "If you want better relations with Muslims, you should stop killing Muslims."

I read the Israeli press every day (Jerusalem Post, Ynet, Jewish Forward, Ha'aretz), and none of this is a mystery. The Israeli government whines about Hamas, but they created Hamas as a counter to Fatah, not suspecting that their creation would grow its own legs. I also read the weekly report of the PCHR (http://www.pchrgaza.org).

By the time this letter is printed, I will probably be listening to the roars of "God is Great" echoing over the roof tops of Tehran. There is a revolt there, no different from any other revolt against a government or any arbitrary authority. This one is for Iran, however, not for us. The US government has already done enough damage to the Iranian people by toppling their democracy in 1953, installing a dictator, stealing their oil for 30 years, supporting Saddam Hussein as he murdered one million people and rained US-made chemical weapons onto Iranian cities, shooting down a civilian airliner killing 300 people, supporting terrorist groups inside Iran, and all of this in spite of Iran's help against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan by guaranteeing a safe haven to US pilots. You didn't read any of this in the US press. Humans yearn for freedom, like we did under the British Redcoats, like Iranians today, like Palestinians today. It is not unusual at all.

Roger Cohen of the New York Times has written a series of perceptive columns on Iran, from Iran. He demolishes the propaganda from the Israel Lobby that is trying to sucker the US into starting a third war in the region. To save the American Republic, we must resist the Israel Lobby whose primary loyalty is to another country.

This Christmas season when you see a Nativity scene, look carefully at Mary, veiled and covered. The dress and veil are identical to that of Palestinian women today, and for good reason. The Palestinians today are the direct genetic descendants of the Jews during the Roman occupation. They have stayed in this land of "milk and honey" for thousands of years, invaded by Roman Legions, Arab conquerors, Christian Crusaders, Ottoman Turks, and now an invasion by European Zionists intent on conquering the land, all of it. (Google: amazon Salomo Sand). The Palestinians have invaded no one, and the whole world knows this. They are, as always, essentially completely defenseless civilians. As a citizen of the United States, a "high contracting party to the Geneva Conventions", it is our legal obligation to bring the Israeli government into compliance with basic international humanitarian law. That is not a double standard and it is not anti-Semitism.

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