Letters for the week of June 23-29, 2004 

Thoughts about the El Cerrito mural, Boots Riley sets the record straight, victims of traffic court compare notes, and more on anti-Semitism at Cal.

Page 5 of 5

It is these so called "progressive Jews" who provide the fig leaf of "Zionism" to cover Judaism's ugly ass. Israel is a self-proclaimed Jewish state, not a "Zionist" state. Judaism is the ideology of the Jewish state. Judaism is the ideology of the "chosen people" = chauvinism; and the "promised land" = ethnic cleansing. Of course, most of the religions are reactionary and counterrevolutionary, but Judaism, being one of the oldest, is even more retrograde. Some "progressive Jews" like to call themselves "secular Jews," which is like saying that there are Marxist Christians or Buddhist Muslims. If Semitic people, who claim to be "progressive," want to be taken seriously, they should denounce Judaism as a reactionary ideology; otherwise, they are just part of the problem, and most often the first ones to denounce "Arab terrorism." "Anti-Semitism" sounds like a very empty accusation when at the UN more than 150 nations condemn Israel against the votes of the US, Israel, and a couple of other fuckasses.
Leo T. West, San Leandro

Blame the Planet and KPFA
Thanks for publishing the superb piece on the festering growth of anti-Semitism on the UC Berkeley campus. Alas, under the guise of anti-Israeli rhetoric, this sickness can also be found mutating in much of the off-campus community where it is fueled by two local media outlets, the Berkeley Daily Planet and KPFA. After publishing a letter I wrote accurately quoting an individual's anti-Semitic rant as he attempted to disrupt Daniel Pipes' lecture, the Daily Planet not only apologized to that individual but then published a half-page litany of lies by him in which I was laughingly called a "conservative" and the term "Zionist" was applied as an epithet virtually serving an excremental function. Shortly thereafter, BDP owner/editor Becky O'Malley wrote an editorial in which she dismissed Daniel Pipes with a singular word, "reprehensible," sans any further explanation. And she rationalized the form of protest by the pro-Palestinian students as justifiable, paying no mind that they were ousted by the police for trying to violate Pipes' right of free speech.

And then there is KPFA. On a daily basis, KPFA's news department broadcasts the worst anti-Israeli rhetoric amid its absurd allegations. While the examples are too numerous to cite here, the station serves as an outlet for such pro-Palestinian propaganda as the nonsense that the Israeli army perpetrated a "massacre" in Jenin, a charge discredited by Human Rights Watch and no longer even maintained by the PLA. With such local media outlets so regularly spewing disinformation about Israel, can there be but little wonder that anti-Semitism has grown like Topsy in our community?
Dan Spitzer, Berkeley

Controversy is healthy
I was troubled by Rufus' belief that young people at Cal are being "indoctrinated" by the likes of crackpot imams and Palestinian professors. At Cal, or anywhere else for that matter, everyone who stands up to speak before us has his or her own opinions and agendas, and if we just drink it in uncritically then we are asking for trouble. Professors, imams, and Hillel directors all have their own take on justice and oppression in the Middle East and debate on campus. For that matter, Ms. Rufus' article also clearly had a point of view; should she be criticized for indoctrinating her readers? Daniel Frankenstein at least has the comfort of knowing that when he graduates this month, he is unlikely to find himself disliked in Washington for having refused an alliance with a Palestinian university. Personally, I am glad that his views did provoke controversy at Berkeley, because views, ideas, and thoughts are the proper subject of controversy and should remain so.
Malissa Taylor, Oakland

Tell it to W.
Anneli Rufus' article reflects a common misconception about the role of political and academic freedom in a democratic society: the notion that opponents of official government policy have an obligation to be fair to supporters of those policies. Professors and journalists don't need to give equal time and weight to justifications for Israeli policies in every lecture and article. For that, we have the White House.
Robert Denham, Berkeley

Please allow me to introduce myself
It's about time I weighed in with an editorial comment, as I am the sole beneficiary of the Arab-Israeli conflict. More than 56 years of bloodletting have kept me well nourished, and it's good to see all the support I have at Cal. With all the isms flying around, I find the most threatening to be "Rationalism." You know those folks. Although they don't spit or yell, they're everywhere. They believe that hatred, violence, and intolerance are antithetical to the love of God. They hang out at interfaith peace conferences. They believe that those who promote, engage in, and celebrate brutal acts of injustice make a mockery of their professed desire for justice. They believe that a well-armed sovereign nation of 6.5 million citizens will naturally resist attempts to destroy it. They believe that borders historically exist between people of distinct culture, language, and history for very good reasons, and that the people of Israel and the people of Palestine are best served living within secure and recognized borders with equal access to natural resources. In short: they wish to starve me!

I urge the progressive students and faculty at Cal to keep this tragic Punch and Judy show going: perhaps you won't be marching triumphantly to Al Quds any time in the near future, but you'll be keeping my larder well stocked all the while!
Death (aka Frank Commanday), El Cerrito

A gross overstatement
In an effort to deride Middle Eastern culture, the author writes, "By that, he meant the practice of clitoridectomy, which is followed in some traditional Islamic cultures." This is by all means a gross overstatement of something that occurs in Egypt (practiced as much by Copts as by Muslims) and in sub-Saharan Africa primarily. I have heard that it may be present in Yemen, but this is not at all a prevalent practice in the Middle East. I lived in the Middle East most of my childhood and never heard of it until coming here!
Sara Jurdi, Berkeley

Editor's Note
According to Amnesty International, the practice also occurs in Bahrain, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.

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