Monday, August 24, 2015

Responding to "Some senators wrongly support 'warmongering' Israel"

The following was sent to the executive editor of the New Haven Register after that newspaper published a letter that should never have despoiled the pages of a responsible newspaper.

Dear Mr. Brackenbury:

Having recently had a letter published in the New Haven Register, I am not writing a letter for publication in response to the letter from George Veronis, "Some senators wrongly support 'warmongering' Israel," published Friday. However, I found the letter disgraceful, disgusting, offensive and libelous to the point. It crossed lines which should have prevented it from being published in any respectable newspaper.

I do not write that lightly. Let me explain.

It libels unnamed senators by questioning their patriotism, claiming they are putting the interests of another country above America.

It subtly uses anti-Semitic stereotypes as well as possibly libeling other senators in accusing them of "succumbing to the financial support of the pro-Israel lobby."

It doubles down on both disgraceful accusations in its closing sentence.

It is also both offensive and factually incorrect in referring to Israel as "a warmongering country that has done nothing to reach a peaceful settlement."

Israel made enormous concessions, including the return of the Sinai and giving up valuable oil fields it had developed, to reach a peace settlement with Egypt. Israel also made significant territorial concessions in the Arava to reach a peace settlement with Jordan. It has also undeniably made enormous, irreversible and unreciprocated concessions to the Palestinian Arabs in its effort to reach peace and has offered additional enormous concessions, but has repeatedly been rebuffed.

Hence, the assertion that Israel "has done nothing to reach a peaceful settlement" is undeniably factually false.

Any of the above libels and factual errors should have been enough to disqualify Veronis' letter from publication, or at least elicited an editor's comment disassociating the New Haven Register from the factual errors and libels.

The reference to Israel as a "warmongering country" could be considered opinion, although certainly offensive. Indeed, while as a patriotic American I am offended by what Veronis wrote about some unnamed senators, as an Israeli citizen I am offended by the vicious adjective he applies to Israel.

Many of my Israeli friends have wistfully recalled the days when the treaty with Egypt was signed and their hopes at the start of the now failed Oslo process, when they hoped their children would never have to serve in the army they way they had. Some of them now have grandchildren being drafted and they feel hopeless and powerless. They may differ about what policies Israel should try to reach peace and how much they would be willing to give up to reach peace, but they all want peace and nobody wants war. Unlike parents in Gaza, they don't send their young children to summer camp to learn how to become jihadists and suicide bombers.

As an American, I look at the JCPOA at best slightly delaying Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons, but enabling them to have a more robust program when they cross that line, with its provisions lifting the embargo on ballistic missiles helping them develop their ability to send nuclear warheads to the east coast on the ICBMs they are developing. From purely American self-interest, I look at the JCPOA as a disaster, taking a difficult situation and making it worse.

As an Israeli, I also look at the JCPOA's strengthening Iran economically, especially the signing bonus, giving it more resources to transfer to it terror proxies. My home in Netanya is already within range of an estimated 100,000 missiles Iran has transferred to Hezbollah in Lebanon, as well as many of the tens of thousands of missiles Iran has helped provide Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terror groups in Gaza. Thanks to the JCPOA, my home will be in the sights of even more missiles. The last thing I want is to see those missiles launched at my home, as they certainly will if there is any war with Iran. Israelis overwhelmingly oppose the JCPOA because they don't want war are strongly believe the JCPOA makes war more likely.

This is why I find the reference to Israel as being "a warmongering country" offensive, although I recognize it's not necessarily irresponsible to publish offensive letters. However, I do believe it's irresponsible to publish letters libeling United States Senators and even subtly using anti-Semitic stereotypes and, in so doing, either deliberately or inadvertantly, subliminally appealing to anti-Semitism in readers.


Alan Stein, Ph.D.

Founder, PRIMER-Massachusetts and PRIMER-Israel
President Emeritus, PRIMER-Connecticut
Promoting Responsibility In Middle East Reporting

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