PEN Actions-Published Letters
Letter: Compromise is possible
The Jan. 17 Monitor carried two letters that spoke to each other. Scott Lounsbury offered the necessity of “both/and” thinking regarding our national dialogue verses the prevailing “either/or.” He writes, “the misshapen truths from “us vs them” are “driven by … one-sidedness, tribalism, and our need for easy answers.” The letter by Matt Leahy offers examples of one-sided tribalism in the Israel war on Hamas. Mr. Leahy (and others) declares that unless Israel gets unlimited support for its Jewish nation-state and condemnation of Hamas, peace will never come. Either support Israel and damn Hamas or forfeit peace. There is a “both/and” option.
Hamas proposed one in its 2017 update and revision of its 1988 charter. It rejects the Zionist state in Palestine and considers “the establishment of a fully sovereign and independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital along the lines of the 1967 (borders) with the return of refugees and the displaced to their homes.” Hamas is willing to turn a blind eye to the existence of Israel while having its own sovereign state in the West Bank. It’s a “both/and” solution, having two opposing thoughts at once, something most can manage. An exception is Netanyahu. For him and his party it’s all or nothing, certainly not co-existence and peace. Mr. Leahy quotes part of Article 13 in the Hamas charter, the rest of which explains Hamas’ rejection of international conferences, namely that the usual participants have shown no respect for Palestinian demands, restoring their rights or doing justice for the oppressed. I recommend reading Hamas’ charter and the 2017 update.
Gail Page, Concord
Letter: To President Biden and the NH Congressional delegation
I read this morning that Israeli PM Netanyahu rejected establishment of a Palestinian state. Is this news to you? You may have been led to believe that only Arab terrorists are trying to have all the land in Israel/Palestine for themselves exclusively. In fact, the rejection of any Palestinian claim to any of the land ‘from the river to the sea’ has been policy of Likud, Netanyahu’s party, and its predecessors (like the Irgun), since before Israel established itself. The Irgun used terrorism to take Palestinian homes and expel as many Arabs from Israel as possible. That activity continues with ongoing Israeli violence growing illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories after the 1967 war.
That land from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River was never exclusively Jewish nor exclusively Arab Palestinian. Netanyahu’s government has exploited the obscene Hamas terrorism to further the Israeli settler goal of annexing more Palestinian territory. The focus on helping Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) destroy Hamas at the expense of the lives of tens of thousands of innocent Palestinian men, women and children is wrong. And the media has failed to bring attention to how this is allowing the increased settler attacks in the West Bank with IDF support. To achieve a peaceful future, the U.S. must stop supporting unrestrained Israeli killing and displacement of Palestinians. Support instead permanent ceasefire, release of all Israeli hostages and of all Palestinians held without charges in Israeli administrative detention by the IDF.
Jennifer Smith, Pembroke
Letter: Oppose SB 439, the anti-BDS bill
On Wednesday, Jan. 24, the NH Senate’s Executive and Departments Committee will hold a hearing on SB 439 that would prohibit NH state investments from going to businesses participating in a boycott of Israel. All 14 Republican state senators and four Democratic state senators support this bill. I oppose SB 439 and support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS) as do organizations in NH such as the American Friends Service Committee, NH Veterans for Peace, and the NH Palestine Education Network. BDS targets Israeli institutions complicit in their oppressive policies towards Palestinians. BDS leaders have stated they would stop the campaign if Israel began to comply with international law and promised to end the occupation and stop further colonization of Palestinian land. (The U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation)
Most people in NH probably do not know that the BDS campaign is centered on nonviolence as it reflects other similar movements in history such as the U.S. Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, led by such people as Rosa Parks and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. I ask the 18 legislators to consider that by endorsing this bill, they may inadvertently be supporting a government that practices apartheid, allows illegal settlements that violate international law, and maintains a brutal military occupation where basic freedoms are denied Palestinians, and military and “settler” violence directed at Palestinians is tolerated by Israel’s government that may well be found guilty of genocide by the International Court of Justice.
William Eugene Thomas, Auburn
Letter: Media shapes view of enemies
To the editor:
I am a retired professor of history of psychology. Among the courses I taught was Psychology and Race. I assigned a workbook, short films, and articles, e.g., find an enemy image online, as preparation for a weekly essay quiz. Why was Hitler was the most frequent enemy image chosen by my students? Perhaps due to the Holocaust Industry (Finkelstein, 2000). Few mentioned North Sudan (vs South Sudan), or China (vs. Uyghur Muslims)? Or Saudi Arabia (vs. Houthis)? Israel and the U.S. never came up as enemy images. Yet much of the world views us as such, witness the recent vote for a ceasefire to Israel’s 3-month bombing of Gaza: 180 countries against Israel and U.S.
The point is to read multiple perspectives. Enemy image according to whom, and what for? Our media shape our views. In the case of Palestine, for instance, if we focus on Oct. 7 without knowing the history of 75-year occupation, as the mainstream media does, we are less likely to be sympathetic to the goals of Hamas, which is cessation of apartheid and bombing and the beginning of sovereignty and freedom. If we cite the Hamas Charter of 1985 and ignore the revised charter of 2017, we won’t know that Hamas actually agreed to the 1967 borders and Israel never supported negotiations. By the way, the Likud position (and political reality) seems to support apartheid from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.
I have yet to find this balance in the mainstream media.
William Woodward, Ipswich
January 3, 2024
Letter: Writer overlooks important facts in Gaza conflict
Brian Watson wrote of Israel granting long overdue autonomy to Palestine (Salem News, Oct. 26). I would add that this hope is echoed by over 180 nations who voted at the U.N. for a ceasefire and negotiated settlement. Against that vote stood Israel, the U.S., and a few client states. Yet Sylvia Belkin responded that “Columnist should rethink position on real causes of tragedy of Palestine” (Salem News, Dec. 28). She claims Hamas attacked to stop the so-called peace accord with Saudi Arabia. But she does not acknowledge that this agreement would have cost Palestine its allies in the Arab world. She asserts that after Israel pulled out of Gaza 18 years ago, Hamas could have created a Singapore!
Is she unaware that access into and out of Gaza is strictly controlled by Israel, blocking materials for reconstruction, and that Israel has attacked Gaza every few years since moving its citizens out? See the Goldstone Report on the brutal Operation Cast Lead, or the subsequent Operation Protective Edge responding to a nonviolent protest with live bullets aimed to paralyze. Democracy indeed!
How I wish that critics of Hamas would read history of occupation. Hamas in its revised 2017 charter acknowledged the 1967 boundaries. It is Likud’s charter that claims the land from Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Beyond the charter is the reality of the land that Israel controls with an iron fist, depriving West Bank and Gaza of freedom to move and thrive, now destroying Gazans’ homes, schools, hospitals, water systems, and families.
November 17, 2023
Janet Simmon: Palestinians are fighting for the right to exist, live freely
To The Daily Sun,
Seven million Palestinians live in Israel proper, the occupied West Bank and Gaza. They want the same rights you and I want. Palestinians desire to live in their homeland as free and equal citizens, neither dominated by others nor dominating them.
Members of Jewish Voice for Peace who rallied in Boston last Sunday chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” stated clearly that their goal was that Palestinians live with basic human rights. Stating this is not antisemitic. They were not in any way calling for death, destruction or the end of the state of Israel.
In contrast, consider the founding charter of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, which states, “Between the sea and the Jordan there will only be Israeli sovereignty.”
Janet Simmon, Laconia
Letter: The world needs a cease fire
The world needs a cease fire
The violence the world is witnessing in Gaza is the Israeli response to the October 7 attack. It’s a war against Hamas but also against the people of Gaza. Although I am neither Israeli nor Palestinian, like observers around the world I want the violence to stop. While understanding Israel’s desire for revenge and to be rid of Hamas, what is happening to the people of Gaza is literally overkill and must cease. It’s the result of decades of pent-up rage and fear, but it is too much, too cruel. That the U.S. government is encouraging and enabling it is shameful.
Being sympathetic to the people of Gaza as they are slaughtered by the thousands is not being anti-Semitic. It’s not being unsympathetic to the pain and anguish of Israelis after the attack by Hamas. It’s not being sympathetic to the violence perpetrated by Hamas. Being critical of policies carried out by the far right Israeli government against all Palestinians is not hating the nation-state of Israel nor its people.
As a politically progressive pacifist, I believe that most of us who sympathize with the Palestinian people in Gaza and criticize the Israeli government’s treatment of them are pro-Semitic and abhor the hatred of Jews and Muslims that poisons many hearts. We want both Israelis and Palestinians to be secure, treated equally and to live in peace. I was sickened by the violent attacks and kidnappings carried out by Hamas and am equally opposed to Israel’s genocidal ground and air war in Gaza. The world needs a cease fire now.
Mary Lee Sargent, Bow
"Thanks, Robert Azzi" Thanks, Robert Azzi for your usual hard truthtelling in your "My Turn" ( Monitor, May 23) concerning the real situation that led to the slaughter in Gaza these last weeks. All the deaths in Palestine/Israel are to be mourned but as has always been the case for decades, the death toll is far greater among the Arab peoples for the simple fact that, thanks to the US, Israel has high tech weaponry and Hamas has unsophisticated rockets. Who started it? Look back at the decades of dispossession, humiliation and outright murder of the Palestinians by the Israelis and you will know. “We must expel Arabs and take their places,” said David Ben-Gurion in 1937. Yitzhak Shamir, in 1988 said, “The Palestinians would be crushed like grasshoppers.” Golda Meir, in 1969 said, “There is no such thing as a Palestinian people. They didn’t exist.” And this, “How can we return the occupied territories? There is nobody to return them to.” Israel’s “right to exist” and “right to defend itself” are the favorite answers of US politicians, Biden included. They are empty, insulting phrases to a people who do indeed exist in spite of Israel’s efforts to erase them. GAIL PAGE Concord
On July 23, 2020, N.H. Governor Sununu signed into law HB 1135. This was an omnibus measure that contained a number of bills including SB 727. This Senate bill mandates that the Holocaust and “other genocides” be taught as a graduation requirement. HB 1135 also establishes a 16-member commission to study “best practices for teaching students how intolerance, bigotry, antisemitism . . . has evolved in the past, and can evolve into mass violence and genocide, such as the Holocaust.” This commission includes a person appointed by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), New England region. However, several members of the N.H. Palestine Education Network object to this ADL representative. Based on multiple sources we have read, we discovered the ADL apparently has a history of being anti-Muslim, anti-Black Americans, and anti-Palestinians. These media sources include In These Times, The Boston Review, Politico, ALTERNET and “CAIR” (The Council on American-Islamic Relations). Here are several examples: ALTERNET says: “Another tendency of the ADL is to smear Black Lives Matter activists who couple their struggle with those of the Palestinians.” ADL President Jonathan Greenblatt called the “Movement for Black Lives” as “anti-Semitic.” ALTERNET also commented that the ADL “is notorious for its anti-Muslim, anti-Palestinian streak. For decades, the ADL has faced reports of conspiring with police to spy on and intimidate Arab American political groups.” CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, this month, August, 2020, condemned the ADL’s “history and ongoing pattern of attacking social justice movements,” especially those led by “immigrants, Muslims, Arabs, and other marginalized groups, while aligning itself with police, right-wing leaders, and perpetrators of state violence.” According to CAIR, the “ADL has also publicly attacked various American Muslim politicians and organizations for speaking out in support of Palestinian human rights, conflating legitimate condemnation of the Israeli occupation with anti-Semitism.” From Politico, the Washington branch of Black Lives Matter (BLM) commented that the ADL was “ultra-pro-cop” and quoted ADL Director Greenblatt saying that the “ADL has not endorsed the BLM movement because a small minority of its leaders supported anti-Israel – and at times anti-Semitic positions.” In These Times (July 21, 2019) has a piece “Beware the Anti-Defamation League’s Efforts to Partner with Progressive Organizations.” “Despite its public portrayal of itself, the ADL isn’t a civil rights group in any meaningful sense, but rather, a veiled pro-Israel lobbying organization that uses superficial language of inclusiveness and anti-racism to defend Israel from criticism from the left.” Finally, a lengthy article by Emmaia Gelman can be found in the May 23, 2019 Boston Review, entitled “The Anti-Defamation League is Not What It Seems.” NH PEN members realize that it is probably too late to remove the ADL representative from the education commission, but we believe that the public and the other members of the commission should be made aware of the ADL’s apparent biases against Muslims, Black Lives Matter advocates, and Palestinians. We also would encourage those who are appointing members of this commission to include a Native American and a Black American as representatives of populations that suffered horrific genocides during America’s history. If this commission knew, if most Americans, especially white folks, became aware of what the World Future Fund calls the “African Holocaust,” where possibly some 60 million human beings died due to “White Christian Imperialism,” then perhaps the study of this horrific genocide might be mandated in public schools as has the study of the European Holocaust per HB 1135. Another horrendous genocide that might be required before high school graduation would focus on the “conquest” of the Native Peoples of the Americas. Professor David Stannard’s extensive research on Native Americans led him to write that what they endured in history amounted to “the worst human holocaust the world had ever witnessed.” Is it not time to require our young people to study both of these two gigantic genocides of African-Americans and Native-Americans so as to inform them of the true nature of this country’s history? Will Thomas, member NH Palestine Education Network
Why the recent round of violence between Palestinians and Israelis? Initially, it was the forced evictions of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem. The Israeli Supreme Court has agreed to render a verdict on the claims of Jewish “settlers” versus the Palestinian families who have lived there for decades. Israeli leaders admit that they seek to change the demographics of East Jerusalem. What Israel is doing is a violation of International Law whereby Israel is obligated to protect the lives and property of an occupied population. During the holy month of Ramadan, many Palestinians go to Al Aqsa mosque to pray. Before going to the mosque, many would gather at the Damascus Gate for conversation and to greet relatives and friends. However, for several nights, the Israeli police and Occupation Forces attacked the Palestinians. Those Palestinians who did manage to go to the mosque and pray, were suddenly and viciously attacked by the Israeli police and military with tear gas, rubber bullets, and stun grenades. Hamas issued a warning to Israel to stop the violent attacks on Palestinians or they would retaliate. They did and now the conflict has escalated wherein innocent Palestinians and Israelis have died. It is estimated that about 200 homes housing more than 3,000 Palestinians in areas near the Old City are under threat of eviction, while 2,000 Palestinian homes across the city are under threat of demolition.” A Jewish settler said “This land belonged to the Jewish people. I want Jerusalem to be Jewish.” Will Thomas, PEN Member