Letters to the editor: April 30, 2014

Readers react to op-ed by Donna Nevel on ‘false’ charges of anti-Semitism.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Sir, – Every so often, a piece is published that throws a glaring, clarifying light on the state of things. Such an article is Donna Nevel’s indignant rant about the chutzpah of those who would dare impugn anti-Semitism to the relentless demonizers of Israel (“On Holocaust Remembrance Day: A call to stop falsely accusing activists of anti-Semitism,” Comment & Features, April 28).
What Nevel thinks is that she and her cohorts are engaged in appropriate, justified and even necessary work, calling Israel to task on the world stage for its atrocities. While normally one would say “alleged atrocities,” it is clear from this piece that the judgment has already come down and Israel is guilty. How, therefore, could opposition be anti-Semitism? Robert Wistrich, in From Ambivalence to Betrayal, writes convincingly of the corrosive impact of those Jews who excoriated Judaism for their own personal agendas. This comes through clearly in Nevel’s piece, where she is not only content to pass on any ambivalence as to a famously complicated situation, but is completely, and probably willfully, blind to the consequences of her position.
Does she seriously think that the world is merely eager for a wayward Israel to mend its ways, seeking only to embrace a benighted people it has relentlessly persecuted? That once Israel relents, providing the Palestinians with all the sovereign respect and national honor they so richly deserve, all will be fine, that Israel will then be embraced and the lions and lambs will share a felafel? Finally, Nevel would have us believe that impugning her and others as anti-Semites trivializes “actual” anti-Semitism. Ironically, on the same day and in the same section, you published a piece conjecturing whether there will be a second Holocaust because of growing anti-Semitism in Europe (“Is a second Holocaust possible?”). Does Nevel believe that actual anti-Semitism is a historical phenomenon, to be viewed on the walls of Yad Vashem? Perhaps – and this stands as the scariest aspect of her perspective.
May we be strengthened to endure those among us who blithely put us in harm’s way for their own self-righteousness.
Rosh Pina
Sir, – Donna Nevel would have us believe that we are doing “justice to the memory of the Holocaust by recommitting ourselves to... honoring, rather than demonizing and defaming, those who speak out and take action for peace and for justice in Palestine and Israel....”
It is one thing to print a letter to the editor on any topic under the sun, even if I do not agree with the content. It is another thing to provide op-ed space to someone who back-handedly compares us to Nazis.
Holocaust Remembrance Day is a day to remember what the Nazis did to our people. There has never been, and hopefully there never will be, an atrocity on the same level. If the Palestinians are suffering it is their own fault for failure to take advantage of the numerous opportunities that the world in general and we in particular have given them to live in peace with us.
Palestinians face no “extreme discrimination and racism” from Israel. They are the enemy, not because they are of a particular race but because they have been continuously attacking us for almost a century. The Jews of Europe were the victims of racism.
I challenge Ms. Nevel and her Nakba Education Project to come to Israel and see first-hand how Arab citizens enjoy full rights. Let their Palestinian brothers sue for peace and they, too, can reap the benefits.
Bnei Brak
Sir, – I read with enthusiasm “Ashton supports Palestinian reconciliation” (April 28) and my mind wandered to all those other high-powered political ladies who have expressed total antipathy toward Jews and Israel.
What makes them tick? What drives them? Then, lo and behold, there was the opinion piece by Donna Nevel, which made it all clear.
Ms. Nevel tells us we must not accuse people who criticize Israel for human rights abuses of being anti-Semites – a theoretically sound statement. But where, oh where, does she for one nanosecond mention that the Palestinian/ Hamas-driven culture calls for the destruction of all Jews because they have no human rights? It is this underlying acceptance of anti-Semitism as being justified that all these ladies have in common.
Sir, – Nakba-education activist Donna Nevel bemoans the “reckless” charge of anti-Semitism by those who criticize the critics of Israel. She implies the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanction) campaigners are on the receiving end of this “shameless” exploitation of the term.
She also claims a family tradition of fighting injustice in any form and appeals to fight for peace and justice “anywhere across the globe.” And there’s the rub, for it is precisely the failure of the vast majority of so-called human-rights organizations, individual activists and politically-correct politicians to apply their principles with equal force and attention “anywhere across the globe.”
The hyper-focus upon every “rights” event in Israel, real or concocted, even by nations with abysmal human-rights records creates the impression that we here are a pretty rotten lot, deserving of the opprobrium.
Yet it’s exactly our freedom of the press, our relatively free access to the highest judicial arbiter, our relative freedom of movement and myriad rights organizations – despite rocket attacks, threats of nuclear annihilation and ongoing attempts to smuggle within our borders bombs or individuals prepared to use them – that give our self-declared enemies freedoms and rights they can’t enjoy anywhere else under similar circumstances.
No other country is under attack as we are, on home soil and surrounded by enemies, and offers the rights we do – not the US, not the European states, and certainly not our Arab neighbors.
As I read Nevel’s screed, I was reminded of Groucho Marx’s pithy line: “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them...well, I have others.”
Sir, – By signing the Oslo Accords, Israel forgave the acts of terror committed by the PLO against Israelis. However, the government was not empowered to forgive or forget the specifically anti-Semitic acts of murder and mayhem committed by the Palestinians against Jews: the killing of Leon Klinghoffer in 1985 was anti-Semitic. The doctoral thesis of Mahmoud Abbas, today president of the Palestinian Authority, in which he denied the Holocaust was anti-Semitic.
The Hamas charter calling for the murder of Jews is anti-Semitic.
By suggesting otherwise does not make Donna Nevel anti-Semitic, but rather someone who befriends the anti-Semite while betraying her own people.
Mazkeret Batya
Sir, – As a proud “Israel apologist” I can honestly say that I have never accused anyone of anti-Semitism for mere criticism of Israel. I believe the charge has no basis. But Donna Nevel seems to believe it does.
I reiterate the challenge laid down by Prof. Alan Dershowitz on his website (“The Big New Lie: That Critics of Israel Are Being Labeled Anti-Semitic”) to anyone claiming that “mere criticism of Israel is ‘often’ labeled anti-Semitism” to “document that serious charge by providing actual quotations, in context, with the source of the statements identified. I am not talking about the occasional kook who writes an anonymous postcard or email. I am talking about mainstream supporters of Israel who, it is claimed, have ‘often’ equated criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.”
When Ms. Nevel produces the evidence I am positive that Prof. Dershowitz will be most interested.
Athy, Ireland