Thursday, January 14, 2010

Changing the Subject from Israel/Palestine to Me

Vilifying Israel is an Obsession
Published: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 10:59 AM CST

Elizabeth Mayfield’s letter (Jan. 8) follows the rhetoric of much anti-Israel hatred: pre-empt all criticism of Israel with a statement that your words will be labeled antisemitic. Thus, when such biased statements are made, you can say, “See, I told you so.”

It’s probably fair to say that the majority of Tribune readers, from ultra-liberal to ultra-conservative, think that the U.S. is a great nation in many respects, and at the same time, we also can find various aspects of our culture and government to criticize.

Israel, like the U.S., should not be exempt from criticism. Neither should Israel be criticized out-of-context (e.g., ignoring the terror that prompted military actions.)

However, the obsession with incessantly vilifying and demonizing Israel (and no other country) renders the accusations meaningless and reveals more about the accuser’s motives than about Israel.

Mayfield claims “Israel will cost us money, lives and morality.” The aid given to Palestinians and their descendents in Gaza, the West Bank and in several Arab countries by the U.S. and other nations has, over the years, amounted to many billions of dollars. The U.S. funds Palestinians both directly and indirectly via the United Nations (note: the U.S. is the largest contributor to the U.N.). Much of that money has gone to Arafat’s billionaire widow, to plump up Hamas and Fatah bigwigs and to purchase weapons that facilitate terror.

Anybody who believes Israel has a problem with morality should try living under Sharia law, where he won’t have to endure any western morality or democracy.

When Gaza and the West Bank grant free speech and free press and when Palestinian children are no longer nurtured on a diet of hatred and worship of terrorists, then a true comparison can be conducted between Israel and its Islamic neighbors.

JL Metcalf

Fort Dodge

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Response to Name Calling In Letters

Understanding; Reconciliation
Published: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 10:59 AM CST

For the past several years, I have read many letters to the editor pertaining to the conflict between Israel and Palestine. As I recall, most of the pro-Palestine and pro-Israel letters have focused on aggressive Israeli policies and actions toward Hamas and other Palestinians, and Israel’s right to live within safe and secure boundaries.

The exchange of views offered by Betsy Mayfield (Dec. 31) and James Eaves-Johnson (Jan. 6) suggested to me that Mayfield’s comments were, in part, directed at what she referred to as “members of Congress” who support Israel no matter what that government does, and Eaves-Johnson, who suggested that Mayfield “trades in thinly veiled anti-Semitism.” Attacking Mayfield for being anti-Semitic and, as I read him, anti-Jew, postpones a search for truth and perpetuates antagonism at the expense of seeking common ground.

I also have experienced how difficult it is to engage in civil conversation with Central Iowan Jews, Christians, Muslims and other people of goodwill on the topic of Israel and Palestine. I am reminded of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ insights in “The Home We Build Together” (pages 72-23). “Those who seek to build bridges find it difficult to make their voice heard. Eventually they give up trying, for in the current climate, the risk is great. In a polarized atmosphere, peacemakers are seen by their own side as betrayers.”

Rabbi Sacks speaks from experience, and he speaks the truth. Another great teacher, St. Paul, once wrote: “So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9.) I encourage people of goodwill within Judaism, Christianity and Islam to seek understanding and reconciliation as, together, we pursue the elusive goal of peace.

Russell Melby