Letters to the Editor

(January 2, 2006)


[Ed. As a reminder to Letter writers: If you want your letters to be published, you must include your first and last names and your city and state of residence. Thank you.]


Israel-Palestine: Gilles d'Aymery's Michael Neumann's The Case Against Israel
[Ed. As usual on the topic of Israel and Palestine we received some feedback. Perhaps the shortest one we've ever received came from New Zealand: A "MIke" (trapido AT mega.co.za) simply sent one word, "Footling," which rendered his minimalist comment rather, hmm, insignificant and trivial (the very definition of "footling.") MIke obviously did not sign his e-mail and did not answer the request regarding his city/state of residence. Another one who did not was some Doug Henning (doughenning19 AT gmail.com) who wrote:
"If you think michael neumann's disgusting garbage piece "what is antisemitism" is "BRILLIANT" you are really fucked in the head.

THe entire piece is just his way of saying "antisemism isn't important, barely exists, is exaggerated, and it's perfectly OK to hate jews, judaism, etc. as long as you don't round them up and slaughter them"
Being in a festive and compassionate mood, Gilles d'Aymery contacted Mr. Henning: "Funny, how a keyboard and a screen, far away removed from the person you address, can so easily lead to foul language... Anyway, what's your city/state of residence? -- info we include in our Letters to the Editor." The answer?
"Why has the progressive left decided to embrace antisemites like Michael Neumann? His entire life is decidated to mocking antisemitism, promoting anti-Jew feelings, and in a separate but somewhat related issue, demonizing every aspect of Israel."
Funny, isn't it, that the old clichés tend to originate with people who hide themselves to better throw insults and slanderous comments... Hey, I should feel lucky, this time around I was not deluged with a virus attack!

Anyway, you'll find below two readers who, no one should be surprised, fall on both sides of the cruel divide.]

To the Editor:

A few comments on Michael Neumann's The Case Against Israel.

The Zionist movement was founded by totally secular Jews. The Bible had very little, if any, influence on their aspiration to reestablish an independent Jewish state in the land where the Jews became a nation, and which later became known as Palestine. To claim that the Jews are "foreign to the land" is indeed a falsity. Those who ignore the historical and indisputable connection between the Jewish people and Palestine will be unable to understand the raison d'être of the state of Israel. There has been a Jewish presence in Palestine centuries before the appearance of political Zionism. Jerusalem, for example, has a Jewish majority since 1840. Jewish neighborhoods more than 700 years old are found in Hebron, Safed, Tiberias, Pekiin, and more.

It is important to remember that the Palestinian Jews fought the British colonial power and were able to achieve their goal, establishing a Jewish state in Palestine. They did NOT impose their sovereignty through expropriation. They were in Palestine legally according to the laws of the Ottoman Empire and Great Britain. Had the Arabs in general, and the Palestinian Arabs in particular, accepted the UN partition plan, today the Palestinian state would be 57 years old and there would not have been a single Palestinian refugee. Neumann writes nothing about the war of 1947-48, when the regular armies of five Arab states plus irregular Palestinian fighters attacked the Jewish population. Israel won, but paid a very heavy price for that victory, 6,000 dead, a whole one percent of the total Jewish population in Palestine. It is like the USA had lost 2.5 million soldiers in Vietnam.

Neumann "forgot" the Hartoom conference, held several months after the 1967 war, with its three NOS: "No recognition, no negotiations, no peace." The Palestinian Arabs (the PLO) took an active part in that conference.

Yes, Israel made serious mistakes after 1967, but taking into account the Arab intransigence one can understand those mistakes. Today, the majority of Israelis supports the principle of the two states solution and even supports a compromise in Jerusalem.

Neumann is wrong when he writes that "Israel is the illegitimate child of ethnic nationalism." Nation-states are found all over the world. Opposing the right of the Jewish people to its own nation-state while supporting that right for everybody else is nothing short of racism. And no, I do not think that Michael Neumann or anybody else who criticises Israel is automatically an anti-Semite.

Yours truly,

Jacob Amir, M.D.
Jerusalem, Israel - December 19, 2005


To the Editor:

If Israel truly intends to clear out of the West Bank, why does it never stop extending and proliferating its already hundreds of miles of Eisenhower interstate like -- single-sovereignty -- bypass roads up and down and around every chunk of Palestinian-conceded terrain?

In a happier alternate history Israel might have built a system of Palestinian-only rights of way to ease their movement back and forth among their projected islands in the sand nationetts.

About all the peace that Israel offers Palestinians is to exchange today's ever more punitive in-your-face occupation with a return to the old hovering occupation -- wherein Palestinians regain some local autonomy, but not likely enough to return to drilling water wells at will -- prohibited since 2002 for the sake of "Greater Israel's" greater needs. The matrix of control and exploitation -- surrounded by land and capped by sovereign Israeli air -- is to remain unchangeable as rock.

On Fox's "Special Report" the other night, Jeff Birnbaum held out hope that Israel's defensive wall could fend off future Palestinian terrorism -- seconded by Fred Barnes and Charles Krauthammer, no less. Will that wall be high enough to keep suicide bombers out of USA skies or off London streets or away from allied troops in Iraq?

The most uncounted casualties of the Intifada are the thousands of Americans who lost their lives in the World Trade Center attack. The CIA agent formerly in charge of chasing Osama -- who should know -- claims that suicide bombers do not hate our way of life. He quotes Bin Laden himself saying he would sell us the oil: "I can't drink it."

Iranians of the Nixon-Carter generation hated "the great Satan," not really because of religious differences, but because our CIA aided and abetted the Shah's secret police in repressing and torturing Iranians -- forgotten by the new generation who see positive features in our way of life. What today's violent Islamics cannot live on the same planet with is one more day of even worse suffering (escalated sharply since the mid-1990s) on the part of a defenseless Islamic people meted out by an increasingly callous Israel.

Charles Krauthammer asserted in a recent column that it is the responsibility of Islamic couch potatoes (my wording) to get their religious extremists under control. But, as long as the "Moses as Mien Kampf" people keep provoking a billion-plus Moslems with a genuine casus belli, it falls more to Jewish couch potatoes to get their own bereft-of-geopolitical-realism extremists under control.

At this point it should be noted that in recent military history Israel cannot claim to need the extra defensive depth potentially provided by the West Bank: double the number of American tank divisions and station them all in Israel and you have the Israeli Army -- same training; same equipment: enough already?

In Newsweek, Rabbi Mark Gelmann of "God Squad" fame -- who should know better -- compared Israel's occupying Arab lands to the U.S. grabbing Texas from Mexico. Gaza's 1% of so-called settlers took 40% of the arable land for themselves while Israel took 50% of the water (what percentage does Israel continue to extract?). That sounds akin to Hitler's concept of "lebensraum" (forcibly acquired "living space") -- than Anglo farmers taking territory from Spanish farmers (without taking their farms!) while indigenous hunter-gatherers look on with indifference (and perhaps consider taking up farming).

Even if the American media somehow takes Israel's escalating absorption (in the case of water, literally) of the Palestinian homeland as "objectively" reasonable -- it at least has a duty to inform the rest of America of the "subjective" Palestinian way of seeing it (some of whom feel differently enough to allow their children to blow themselves up) and alert us to their world-wide, billion-plus Islamic sympathizers way of looking at the same thing (some of whom feel incited enough to create mayhem for Israel's allies at home).

Just because Palestinians are not complicit in attacks on the homelands of Israel's allies themselves does not mean such attacks are not instigated by and large by their plight. Just because a rapist imagines his victim enjoys it, doesn't mean we should treat the rapist as responsible.

Recent balanced reporting:



Israeli-only roads and islands in the sand nationetts, mapped out:



Non-couch potato Israeli opposition who regularly e-mail reports to the world:



Denis Drew
Chicago, Illinois, USA - December 19, 2005


Bill Moyers for President: Gilles d'Aymery's 2005: Navigating The Doldrums

I just read your article on the "Doldrums" and, of course, I agree with the whole thing as I do with almost everything I read at Swans. Here's what I'm doing about the whole sorry mess described at Swans this week.


I have enough sense to strongly suspect you won't agree with this initiative and in the spirit of your masthead quotes, and Louis's quote about the thankless work of rebellion, I'm willing to take whatever lumps you want to hand out in my direction. I'm writing, simply writing, to tell you about it anyway because it's the right thing to do. My excuse is that at least it's an ACTION and not a further contribution into the atomization and petty bickering that otherwise characterize us and which you have described so well. If this ain't it, then dammit, what's the better idea and let's do it. Time's a wastin'.


Scott Beckman
Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA - December 20, 2005

[ed. Scott Beckman is Development Director for the Northern Pueblos Housing Authority in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Last October he wrote "10 Reasons Bill Moyers Should Be President." and founded billmoyersforpresident.org. Moyers should be prodded to run as an Independent rather than a Democrat.]


First Responder: Gerard Donnelly Smith's The Good Gardener
To the Editor:

Gerard Donnelly Smith mentions David Perez as a "Good Gardener" in his piece.

May I respectfully suggest that David's potential for improving gardening throughout the world is represented by the following:

A background setting which has been developed and which can provide humanitarian relief on a global scale via the 2Life18 Foundation and is revealed at:


It has been a special opportunity to be allowed to work in a supportive role with David Perez in his First Responder role via what is termed, the ABC4All Bridge of Relief (ABC4AllBOR)(tm) Global Humanitarian Relief Task Force: http://abc4all.net/why.htm

Mr. Perez was just named one of 10 "Biographies of the Year 2005" on A&E -- see http://www.biography.com/tv/listings/boty2005_new.html

David Perez, as First Responder, is now acting to help hurricane evacuees and others, currently raising $1.8 Billion for those being evicted by FEMA.

Next he is organizing a multi-billion dollar campaign to deal with increasing threats of pandemics including the looming Avian Flu. His Foundation is here: www.2life18.org/


Burt Danet
Foundation of A Better Community For All (FABC), a National Heritage Foundation
Manhattan Beach, California, USA - December 19, 2005

PS. Thank you for your excellent work -- the publication, Swans Commentary is very worthwhile, and I hope to contribute as time passes. The dedication and quality reflected in the work your Team does is so welcome in our world.


Desperately seeking whiners

Just came across an article by someone I know on your site.

I was surprised by the tone and severity of both the warning on the article and your reprint policy.

You don't even include permission for the usual brief quote for discussion or review purposes. The overall effect is to make me question your conception of "free speech" and frankly, not trust your motives.

Major political and activist writers of all kinds don't go to such lengths to warn off people who want to add to the circulation.

I will not return.

Walter Teague
December 30, 2005
Gilles d'Aymery responds:

Mr. Teague,

Our policy does indeed give permission to, "Please feel free to insert a link to this work on your Web site or to disseminate its URL on your favorite lists, quoting the first paragraph or providing a summary." Your giant leap to challenging our conception of free speech is baffling. Instead of questioning and automatically mistrusting my motive and then running away, why don't you ask what my motive is? Social worker, indeed...

[ed. A Google search on Mr. Teague's name and e-mail address quickly revealed that Mr. Teague is a social worker and psychotherapist who lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA.]


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Published January 2, 2006
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