Letters to the Editor

Bryan A. Keogh, Chicago Tribune

The Israeli Right is largely not extremist

To the editor:

I write to address a regrettable remark Mr. Alex Fak made in his Friday column “Israel set to win black minds” [March 14]. Mr. Fak writes, “And as for racism, the rhetoric of the Israeli Right rivals anything that white supremacists spew out.” This line presents several problems.

The Israeli “Right,” like the American “Right,” represents about half the population-hence the close vote tallies between right- and left-wing prime ministerial candidates. And like America, half of all Israelis are not racists, and certainly do not resemble “white supremacists.” Extremists are another story-as they are in America-but in Israel, they do not get a political voice: Israel banned parties with racist platforms from the parliament. The admitted anti-Arab racist Meir Kahane and his party, “Kach,” were promptly banned from running in elections for the Parliament (1988), never to return. I challenge Fak to name another country in the region that makes such efforts to keep virulent extremism out of the public sphere.

Israel’s current government is certainly right-wing, and yet Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has repeatedly emphasized the need for a resolution to the violence culminating in a Palestinian State.

Extremism and racism is a problem anywhere-suicide bombs in public places with children present are a good example-but it is simply ludicrous to accuse the entire “Israeli Right” of such a terrible disease.

Michael Radine
Arts and Sciences
Class of 2003

Column missed point of WSI petition for Israel

To the editor:

In her column “Jews need diverse views,” Jesse Krohn states that she did not sign WSI’s petition for Israel because she is not a “supporter of the current right-wing Israeli government.” However, Ms. Krohn fails to realize that signing the petition does not inherently show support for the current Israeli government but rather shows support for the continuing existence of the state of Israel. With her logic, Americans who disagree with American policy, such as our impending war with Iraq, would also disagree with the continuing existence of the United States of America. Does that make sense? I don’t think so.

Jessica Hahn
Arts and Sciences
Class of 2005

WSI petition targeted all students, not just blacks

To the editor:

I would like to give some background information that Alex Fak conveniently omitted from his piece “Israel set to win black minds” (March 14). Mr. Fak bases the column on the notion that ABS was specifically targeted for the Israel petition. In fact, students have sought support from the entire Washington University community, and will continue to circulate this petition. It is important to note that the petition is a simple statement that members of the Washington University community support “Israel’s right to exist in peace and security, and… the continuation of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.” Signing this petition does not indicate an anti-Palestinian stance, nor does it preclude support for Palestinian statehood. It is a simple statement of solidarity with Israel.

On the national level, Fak suggests that the African American population, specifically its leaders, do not support Israel. He cited the re-election campaign of Cynthia McKinney, the controversial former Georgia Congresswoman. Fak implies that she lost her reelection campaign because of the “outside influence” of Jewish campaign contributions. In fact, the people of Georgia’s fourth district were responsible for McKinney’s loss, as they exercised their right to vote by supporting her opponent, Denise Majette. While Fak admits that Majette is also African American, he nevertheless tries to stir up controversy, suggesting an increasing rift between African Americans and Jews.

While I respect his right to speak freely, I hope that in the future Mr. Fak will stick to the facts, and refrain from stirring up a controversy that simply doesn’t exist.

Daniel Kohn
Arts and Sciences
Class of 2004

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