Thursday, November 29, 2007

Give Me That Old Lyme Hatred

It didn't take long after my commentary about "Showing good faith in the Arab-Israeli conflict" was published November 25 in The Day of New London before the Israel-haters struck back with two hateful letters just three days later.

My commentary concerned the beyond-the-pale bias at annual "Tree of Life" conference held at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme. I closed with the plea: "Let us have other groups put forth balanced programs, free of the hate with which the Al Ghad "dance" troupe and the "Tree of Life" conferences have been infused, that do what Shipman rightly asserted was so important, telling "both sides of the story."

This was much too radical an idea for Bill Carey of Old Lyme and Peter B. Viering of Stonington, who typically did not respond to anything I wrote but attacked the idea of my criticizing a biased program and threw in a number of wild punches backed by incorrect information and faulty logic.

Carey falsely referred to Israeli's so-called occupation as being in violation of international law. Israel found itself in control of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) after being attacked by Jordan, which had occupied it after capturing it in the 1948 war. In Security Council Resolution 242, the United Nations recognized Israeli withdrawal would be in conjunction with a negotiated peace agreement, including the determination of borders.

Carey also falsely wrote "The Congregationalists provided a balanced discourse by both sides and the history of the region." Only one side, the anti-Israel side, was presented at the conference.

Viering whined about The Day publishing my commentary after allegedly "keep[ing] its readers in the dark" about the conference. He apparently failed to read the prominent article The Day published in advance of the conference, an article written with the byline of one of the organizers of the conference (Celine Sullivan), who was personally thanked by David Good at the conference. The Day didn't even give any acknowledgement that the article was written by a biased organizer of the conference.

Viering wrote "That Mr. Stein, who shared an information table with local Jewish Federation official Dan Bendor in the church's Fellowship Hall during the conference, is such a prominent advocate for Israel makes his attack all the more reprehensible."

The assertion that I shared an information table is false; I had nothing to do with the table, although I did accommodate Dr. Bender by removing the materials for him at the end of the day. He asked me to do so because he found the event so disgusting he could not bring himself to remain.

I thank Viering for the compliment of considering me a "prominent advocate of Israel," both for prominent and advocate, although my commentary wasn't written as an advocate for Israel but rather as an advocate of responsibility. I am proud to be an advocate for the only true democracy in the Middle East.

Viering also has a problem with the word defamation, falsely accusing me of being interested in defamation whereas that was the main purpose of his letter, to defame me and to defame one of the oldest and most respected civil rights organizations in the world, the Anti-Defamation League. As I've pointed out at other times, Israel-haters do their best to defame the Anti-Defamation League precisely because it is respected.

Contrary to Viering's assertion, I never try to hide my support of the Anti-Defamation League; I'm proud of it. I just don't make a habit of including a list of all the organizations to which I donate either time or money with everything I write.

Viering, incidentally, made no mention of his role with anti-Israel hate organizations, or the fact that, unlike me, he manned one of the misinformation tables at the Tree of Life Conference. You can see Viering in the included photo, which also shows that Viering's problem with Israel doesn't have to do with Israel's actions, but with its existence. The poster to his left refers to an alleged sixty years of occupation; for Viering, the problem isn't the territory of which Israel came into control in 1967, but its territory behind the "Green Line." He's not interested in a peace with Israel; he's interested in a world without Israel. In that, he was totally in sync with the agenda of the "Tree of Life" conference, which is precisely why I found it both distasteful and counterproductive to peace.

Carey's Letter

Mideast Peace Depends On Recognizing Rights

"Rubbish." That's my comment on Alan Stein's op-ed piece titled"Showing good faith in the Arab-Israeli conflict," published Nov. 25.

The problem of Israeli occupation in violation of international laws and conventions is little American discourse. This occupation is of singular interest because U.S. taxes (military-foreign aid, deductible contributions, loan guarantees) pay. The Congregationalists provided a balanced discourse by both sides and the history of the region.

My Ku Klux Klan experience was chilling. My Unitarian experience with the Congregationalists has been enlightening. These are good people and Klan comparisons are sinister. Political Zionists use labels, balance, and revisionist history to prevent open discussion and raise emotions. However, those concerned with "human freedom and dignity" cannot look the other way or stop listening or discussing this factual occupation.

Transfer, expropriation and preferential control cannot solve the problem of people, land and water. The only solution is a humane recognition of the responsibility to share and recognize the rights of the occupied.

Bill Carey
Old Lyme

Viering's Letter

Op-ed Author Seems To Embrace Defamation

The op-ed piece by Alan Stein attacking Christian ministers David Good and Bruce Shipman for their advocacy of equality and freedom for everyone in the Holy Land provides an opportunity for southeastern Connecticut's interfaith community to join together to repudiate and condemn such an intemperate response. ("Showing good faith in the Arab-Israeli conflict," Nov. 25.)

It is curious that The Day would publish the opinion of such a hostile critic of the recent Tree of Life Conference at Old Lyme churches and related cultural events at local schools when it failed to cover the event or any of its programs. Why would The Day deliberately choose to keep its readers in the dark about a local conference with international participants, and subsequently provide a forum to smear and discredit not only the program's sponsors but also its distinguished speakers?

That Mr. Stein, who shared an information table with local Jewish Federation official Dan Bendor in the church's Fellowship Hall during the conference, is such a prominent advocate for Israel makes his attack all the more reprehensible. At the conference, I was surprised when Mr. Stein expressed to me the same hateful rhetoric contained in his column. One can only question Mr. Stein's motivation for attending these conferences, and the reasons why he and Dan Bendor carefully chose not to publicize their connections with Israel lobby groups such as the Anti-defamation League.

It would appear that Alan Stein is more interested in defamation than anti-defamation. Surely this is an occasion for local clergy to support their colleagues' efforts and speak out against this attack.

Peter B. Viering

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