In his hateful letter published June 11, "Leave apartheid behind, Israel," in addition to numerous absurd assertions, including many some would consider clearly false statements but others might argue represented opinion, there is at least one blatant lie that definitely should not have been published: "With the exception of the Yom Kippur war in 1973, all seven wars that Israel has fought, including the 'war for independence,' were initiated by Israel."
I have noted the Code of Ethics for the American Society of Newspaper Editors includes the obligation "Editorials, analytical articles and commentary should be held to the same standards of accuracy with respect to facts as news reports. Significant errors of fact, as well as errors of omission, should be corrected promptly and prominently."
While I recognize it may be impractical to carefully scrutinize the facts stated in every letter, this particular statement is so blatantly false I believe it should not escape an official correction by your newspaper. (I would also write a letter of my own, but since I just submitted one to your newspaper less than a week ago, it seems too soon to write again.)
There is absolutely no question that the Arabs started the 1948 war, Israel's "war of independence," with five Arab armies, from Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon and Iraq, invading immediately when Israel declared its independence. One could argue about who started some of the other wars, even though each - even the 1967 war - really began with acts of war by Israel's enemies, but there's not even a hint of ambiguity about start of the 1948 war.
This error should be corrected.
In general, I would advise greater scrutiny of anti-Israel letters, which very often contain false information.
This is not unique to those writing to The Hour. I find, minimally, highly questionable assertions in many letters, commentaries and even news articles relating to the Arab-Israeli conflict, of which we sometimes forget the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs is really a consequence and just one part.
David Horovitz wrote an article for the Jerusalem Post, published June 10, with the title "Guess what: Our enemies lie." It's available at
Mr. Kimmich, in particular, has a track record of writing letters with what might euphemistically be called baseless assertions, references to non-existent entities - such as in this particular letter referring to "1967 borders" (there were not borders at that time, only temporary armistice lines) and "East Jerusalem" (there is and never has been any such locality).
He also resorts to what I consider the promotion of hatred and, at best, the pandering to prejudice, as in the next to last paragraph of this letter: "In contrast, a tiny claque wildly applauds the head of a foreign government dictating policy to the White House and the Capitol." (Note this, too, contains an assertion many would consider a false statement, since obviously no foreign government dictates policy to the United States, but some might argue Kimmich is merely giving an opinion.)
In my opinion, many of Kimmich's letters and op-eds have crossed the line between legitimate opinion and criticism and venomous, bigoted, illegitimate attacks and should not have been published. That, of course, is itself a subjective opinion and it is up to you to determine the standards for your newspaper.
I do request that you seriously take responsibility for determining appropriate standards for The Hour, take extra care in areas where truth is often ignored and red lines crossed and issue corrections in cases such as this when factual errors get by.
Alan Stein, Ph.D.
Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting
The following is the response from Mr. Ferrari, sent June 12, 2011.
Please feel free to send a letter to the editor. Would be better handled as
The following is the letter to which the above correspondence refers. It was published in The Hour on June 11, 2011.
Leave apartheid behind, IsraelTo the Editor:
Mr. Laitman ( The Hour 5/28) should read Israeli history. With the exception of the Yom Kippur war in 1973, all seven wars that Israel has fought, including the "war for independence," were initiated by Israel.
Mr. Laitman also compared the aftermaths of the U.S.-Mexican war and Israel's 1967 blitzkrieg against its neighbors. Although both wars were aggressive, i.e. conquering territory and subjugating other people, in the 1840s such wars were not called criminal. By 1967, however, the Nuremburg tribunal had ruled that aggressive war by any nation is a supreme crime and that the leaders of such a country should be held accountable.
After 45 years of occupation, blockade and subjugation of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel has ipso facto committed a supreme crime for which its leaders are responsible. The fact that the U.S. has blocked prosecution of Israeli leaders does not lessen their guilt and indeed makes the U.S. an accessory to the crime. By caving to the Israel lobby, successive American administrations and legislators have undercut the sovereignty of the United States of America.
As for Iran being a nuclear threat, U.S. intelligence reveals that Iran abandoned its nuclear bomb program in 2003, and Israeli intelligence says that Iran is years away from such a capability. Meir Dagan, who just stepped down as chief of Israeli intelligence, contends that an Israeli attack on Iran would not only be "stupid" but self-defeating. He adds that Israel's leaders should have accepted the 2002 Saudi peace initiative stipulating withdrawal to its 1967 borders and the return of East Jerusalem to the Palestinians, an opinion with which other recently retired top Israeli officials concur.
Despite this bitter opposition in Israel, Netanyahu strutted before a joint session of the U.S. Congress and repeated the same tired lies, and our legislators did everything but kiss his feet! Apparently, allegiance to the Israel lobby and re-election outweighs our own country's national interests.
Jewish Americans overwhelmingly and repeatedly vote Democratic and over the years have opposed the occupation, the building of settlements and the rise of Netanyahu to power.
In contrast, a tiny claque wildly applauds the head of a foreign government dictating policy to the White House and the Capitol.
The entire Middle East is aflame seeking freedom from despotism, of which racist colonialism is the most despicable form. It is high time for Israel, like South Africa before it, to do the right thing and leave apartheid behind.
The following is an analysis of some of the false statements and distortions in the Kimmich letter.
Kimmich begins: "Mr. Laitman ( The Hour 5/28) should read Israeli history. With the exception of the Yom Kippur war in 1973, all seven wars that Israel has fought, including the 'war for independence,' were initiated by Israel."
While one might argue about some of the wars - even though all were precipitated by hostile action, amounting to acts of war by Israel's enemies - there is absolutely no question but that the Arabs started the "war for independence" with an invasion of no fewer than five armies as soon as Israel declared its reestablishment in 1948.
Kimmich writes: "After 45 years of occupation, blockade and subjugation of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel has ipso facto committed a supreme crime for which its leaders are responsible."
It is highly questionable about whether the disputed territories were ever "occupied" by Israel in the legal sense under international law, since they were acquired during a defensive war from entities which did not have sovereignty over them.
As pointed out in the Jewish Virtual Library
Also, in any practical sense, any so-called occupation effectively ended near the dawn of the Oslo era, when approximately 95 percent of the Arabs living in the disputed territories came under the control of their own government, the Palestinian Authority.
Kimmich writes: "As for Iran being a nuclear threat, U.S. intelligence reveals that Iran abandoned its nuclear bomb program in 2003, and Israeli intelligence says that Iran is years away from such a capability."
The intelligence report to which Kimmich alludes was widely criticized and the U.S. intelligence community has since acknowledged that even if Iran did halt some parts of its nuclear weapon program in 2003, it has since resumed them.
There are legitimate questions about how far Iran is from acquiring nuclear weapons capability, but there is no credible question but that it is working hard at it. Today's Christian Science Monitor
Kimmich refers to Meir Dagan, former Israeli intelligence chief, saying "Israel's leaders should have accepted the 2002 Saudi peace initiative stipulating withdrawal to its 1967 borders and the return of East Jerusalem to the Palestinians." (Kimmich's letter, not a quote from Dagan.)
One may debate how Israel should have reacted to the so-called "peace initiative," but there were not "1967 borders" to withdraw to, only temporary armistice lines which under terms of the armistice agreements were not to have any political significance, and not only is there no such entity as "East Jerusalem," but even the portions of Jerusalem that had been captured from Jordan could not be "returned" to the Palestinian Arabs, since the Palestinian Arabs never had them. It would be possible, albeit probably not very wise or likely, to return them to Jordan, but obviously not to the Palestinian Arabs.
Kimmich absurdly writes: "a tiny claque wildly applauds the head of a foreign government dictating policy to the White House and the Capitol."
Obviously, no head of any foreign government dictates policy to the White House or the Capitol. This is essentially a ploy by Kimmich to appeal to the worst prejudices of those trying to convince bigoted minds of a global Jewish conspiracy.
Kimmich concludes: "It is high time for Israel, like South Africa before it, to do the right thing and leave apartheid behind."
It's obviously impossible for Israel to leave behind a system that doesn't exist.
Put in context, along with the rest of Kimmich's letter, this is an appeal to bigotry. It is also another example of a general truism that when someone accuses Israel of doing something despicable, not only are the charges almost always false, but Israel's enemies are probably guilty of that of which Israel is being falsely accused.
Israel, by far, is the furthest from an apartheid state of any state in the Middle East. For all its faults, it is a liberal, multicultural democracy with equal legal rights for all.
In contrast, one of the basic demands of the Palestinian Arabs, repeated ad nauseum even by the supposedly "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas, is for the ethnic cleansing of all Jews from the disputed territories. It is already a capital crime for someone in the Palestinian Authority to sell land to a Jew; this was one of the first laws passed by the Palestinian Legislative Council after is came into existence.