LETTERS: Op-ed writers reply to Martin Sherman

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In “Jewish ‘terror’ – A guide for the perplexed” (Into the Fray, January 15), Martin Sherman dismisses my piece decrying price-tag attacks (“There are none so blind as those who will not see,” Comment & Features, January 3).
He states (misleadingly): “Cohen equates Jews slashing Arab tires with Arabs slaughtering Jews.”
In reality, I compared and then clearly distinguished between the two: “Non-lethal price-tag attacks fit the definition of terror no less than bus bombings. Both are violent acts aimed at civilian targets to further political ends. The severity of punishment is a separate issue to be resolved only after the alleged terrorist is found guilty of the act. Killers deserve much harsher sentences than those who slash tires, though both are terrorists.”
Sherman charges that calling Jews terrorists “plays into the hands of Israel’s most vehement detractors.”
Israel’s detractors need no further incentive to deny our legitimacy. The greater problem is that many fair-minded people have already correctly concluded that price-tag attacks and their progeny (including Duma?) are terrorism.
The world is waiting to see whether we will condemn our own terrorists or resort to Sherman’s brand of sophistry to minimize actions that are unquestionably immoral. Failure to identify Jewish terrorism weakens our moral standing and reinforces the negative view of Israel already held by many. His refusal to recognize the menace posed by radicals in our midst only increases the threat.
Denying that Jewish attacks against Palestinians are terrorism because they have not yet reached the frequency or viciousness of attacks against Jews is misguided and dangerous. We must confront and eradicate those attacks now, before they become even more depraved.
Sherman quotes – with approval – Prof. Boaz Ganor, founder and executive director of the International Institute for Counter- Terrorism. Prof. Ganor has allowed me to state that he believes that pricetag attacks are, indeed, a type of terrorism.
EFRAIM A. COHEN Zichron Ya’acov The writer, a retired diplomat, is a fellow at the International Institute for Counter- Terrorism.
There are two reasons to consider Martin Sherman’s January 15 reply to “A master of reinforcing fear and loathing” (Comment & Features, January 14), my analysis of his inflammatory January 8 column “Presumption of guilt.”
First (and less important), his response just repeats his arguments, tries to refute some of mine by labeling them this or that, insults me here and there, and ignores my conclusions, except for one he likes but claims not to understand.
Second (and more important) is his tone. It’s angry, petulant, persecuted.
That’s typical of Israel’s Right, as if it’s surrounded by enemies. Sherman’s innuendo-rich tirade against the Shin-Bet is an example – though it’s an arm of a government dominated by the Right.
The Right has been in charge here since 1977, except for few brief stints.
Yet it lashes out at perceived enemies as if it were about to be swept up in a Shin Bet raid and locked in a windowless dungeon, while the hated Left ruins the country. Perhaps without this persecution complex, the Right loses its fire, its main reason for fighting on.
Certainly, Israel’s Left, decimated by the failure of the peace process, is not a worthy enemy anymore. It’s divided among those who want to be just a bit more liberal than the government, those who automatically blame Israel for the failure of peace efforts and those who want to shift the focus to domestic issues.
Israel’s Left is so weak that there’s no reason even to pay attention.
It’s time for the Right to accept responsibility for the condition of the nation, both the bad and the good, instead of constantly looking for perpetrators of imaginary witch hunts.
MARK LAVIE Rehovot The writer is a foreign correspondent who has been covering the Middle East since 1972. His book Broken Spring exposes and corrects media distortions about the region.