Saturday, September 15, 2001

The following is an email I sent to a friend last night in response to some emails he's been sending out to all his list the last few days:


Three days in a row you have sent me emails with pleas for calm, reason, and peace, which I very much appreciate.

You have warned against rash reactions to the events of this last week and prayed for there to be no world war. Thank you.

You have warned against taking the extremism of a handful of Islamic fundamentalists as an excuse to punish all Muslims and Arabs with our hatred. I hope that all Americans get that message. We cannot allow that to happen.

You have pointed out in quite eloquent language that "what goes around comes around," that in no small way our own foreign policy may have led to these tragedies, that it may be a case of the "chickens coming home to roost." I agree, to a certain point, but think the issues are much deeper than simply that.

You have then, in all three letters, singled out Israel for criticism, and laid the blame for the WTC tragedy on our (US) support for Israel. I certainly have my problems with those in power in Israel and many of their policies. However, to harp on and on about their supposed terrorism without the context of the terrorists attacking them is beneath you.

Just as propaganda against Islamic fundamentalists gets taken out against American Muslims and Arabs, so too does anti-Israeli propaganda get taken out against American Jews. To say support for Israel killed 5,000 Americans at the WTC is not much different than simply saying, "Blame the Jews."

The problem is one of omission. Yes, we must be stern with Israel in helping to forge a peace in the mid-east. But when we scold one partner in that battle without scolding the others for the same, or worse, acts, you make it seem as if the other combatant is blameless. Do not even try to tell me that the PLO does not support terrorism. There are no angels here.

Why is it that your letters never mention the moderate Arab states that the US supports that are anything but democratic lovers of freedom and diversity?

Just as your omission of the PLO make Israel seem like the only villain in that battle, so too does your omission of Osama bin Laden's activities seem like an attempt to justify the actions taken against us.

US foreign policy over the last 40 years (at least) certainly helps explain the hatred of us abroad, but explanations are not the same thing as justification. Just as the heinous actions of the PLO (and others) explain, but could never justify, the deplorable actions of Israel.

A little balance in that region is all I ask of you as a friend, and expect of you as a well-informed commentator.

Please, in your next missive, if you must criticize Israel again, also point out some of the crimes of Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, etc. (all moderate states, our allies, my friend's homelands, but not quite America).

And when you ask people not to resort to anti-Muslim actions or thoughts, you could also point out that "anti-Semitism" refers to all Semites: Jews & Arabs, brothers despite it all. You can remind people that American Jews do not vote in Israel, and also deplore the cycle of violence.

Here's just one small anecdote for you: My cousin D- was a proud US Marine during the time of the Gulf War. He was trained, ready, and willing to go into battle. He was shipped off to Bahrain, but was then stuck there in the staging area. Why? Because our hosts in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, for whom we were shedding American blood, asked that no Jews be sent onto their soil.

Maybe someday I'll tell you about my Gulf War protest experience, where I learned first hand the virulent anti-Semitism of the American left.

I value your friendship, I admire your writing, but I'm hurt by these emails.


- Ken

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