Letters to the Editor

(February 13, 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.]

Oh My! Dirty Mind...Since Creation: Charles Marowitz's Monkey Business
To the Editor:

This review is worthless because the reviewer has totally missed the point by thinking only about sex in the relationship between King Kong and Ann Darrow. He obviously has a dirty mind and lacks a human heart to understand the true meaning of humanity and the kind of love and compassion that exists between human being and animals (such as dogs, cats, horses...etc) since Creation.


Richard Mak
Markham, Ontario, Canada - January 30, 2006


Pay Attention: Jan Baughman's This Is A Man's World

If I read any more about President Bush I am going to be driving the white bus in the bathroom on a permanent basis. Everything he says is a lie, everything he does fails. He has no redeeming qualities, unless you are red-necked bubba with the intelligence of a flea, prone to malapropisms, and witty repartee like: stuck on stupid, or when the cable guy says; she was wetter than a truck load of fat ladies going to a Ricky Martin concert; she's dumber than a dung beetle and smells worse Funny maybe, and good for a few laughs and a beer at the bar, not something that qualifies one to be president of the United States of America, and that pretty much describes what we are up against. The laws regulating women's bodies, in the hands of men like this, and in this case, even worse, the hands of tin-hatted fundamentalists, is a recipe for disaster and needless death.

The sad part of all this is you have to pay attention to this imbecile because he, in his lack of wisdom and ignorance, is so dangerous, as evidenced by everything he does, the inmates in the asylum are ruling the roost, without a shred of sanity to be found among them, and paving the road to hell is hard work.....

Burnie Metzen
Bend, Oregon, USA - February 2, 2006


You like your letters published, don't you? Well then, support the process.

A short exchange of views with Dr. Jacob Amir prompted by Michael Neumann's Response To Jacob Amir
Dear Dr. Amir,

Thank you for your letter that I've just published. You may wish to look at my current "Blips" in which I answer questions that a friend asked regarding the predicament. I really think that lowering the decibel of the rhetoric would help. Accusing Prof. Neumann of racism is utterly unhelpful.

Gilles d'Aymery
Swans Commentary
Boonville, California, USA - January 30, 2006


Thank you for your note and thank you for publishing my letters.

I read your comments to your friend in the current "Blips." I would suggest you read the Hamas Covenant (it can be found on this Website). And please do not compare the Hamas, who just won an absolute majority in the Palestinian elections, to a few extreme fanatics in Israel who have absolutely no influence on the Israeli government.

You may be surprised, but more and more people in Israel support the two-state solution, which means they support withdrawing to the green line with minor adjustments and land swaps. You can find those not only in what was once called "lunatic left" but also in the leadership of Kadima, the new party, enjoying massive public support.

As for lowering the decibel of the rhetoric, I wrote in my first letter than I do not consider Prof. Neumann an anti-Semite because he criticizes Israel. But, some people who are not racist at all may at times express racist opinions and there is nothing wrong with calling a spade a spade.

Yours truly,

Jacob Amir
Jerusalem, Israel, January 30, 2006

Dear Dr. Amir,

Thank you for your e-mail. I'm not Prof. Neumann's porte parole. I simply reviewed his book. I think that a) one may disagree with his political/philosophical/moral/ethical positions without resorting to the accusation of racism and b) that it would be helpful if you took the time to read his book in good faith. You may still conclude that the case he makes is incorrect or in opposition with your views but, at least you would base your criticism on what he wrote and not on what I wrote about what he wrote. Anyway, that's just my way of thinking.

I'm fully aware that there is a growing segment of Israeli society that favors a two-state solution (I said such in my "Blips"). There's also a large segment that does not. This division is increasingly threatening the unity of Israeli society according to Meyrav Wurmser in "Zionism in Crisis" (see http://www.meforum.org/article/875). So my question remains valid: What's next?

Was PM Sharon ready to disengage from the West Bank? We may never know. Personally, I do not think he was, and I am not the only non-lunatic to think likewise. See the latest Jerusalem Issue Brief, Vol. 5, No. 16 - 1 February 2006, "The Palestinian Authority and the Challenge of Palestinian Elections," by Maj.-Gen. (Res.) Giora Eiland, at: http://www.jcpa.org/brief/brief005-16.htm

The occupation of the West Bank remains in my opinion the Gordian Knot of the conflict. I suspect you will disagree with me and that is fine. I can't debate this forever. I'm just a small publisher and co-editor of an on-line magazine with little financial resources, forcing me to do most of the work on my own, thus allowing me little time to address readers at length. Again, I thank you for your letters to the editor.

Gilles d'Aymery
February 1, 2006

Hi again,

Knowing how busy you are, I do not want to take much of your time. I will be very brief. If somebody writes a book in which he claims that my people does not exist, and that I am just a part of an ethnic group, and then continues by asserting that my nation-state was illegitimately established, I, as an individual, take that to mean that he is expressing racist opinions. It is one thing to claim that Israel should withdraw from all of the West Bank and that a viable Palestinian state should be established, and it is another to deny the existence of my people.

Yours truly,

Jacob Amir
February 3, 2006

Dear Dr. Amir,

I hope I did not offend you. It was certainly not my intent. Private e-mail exchanges take me away from my work on Swans. As a small publication depending entirely upon volunteered contributions, I spend most of my time working on getting contributions, editing them, formatting them, etc. I wish I could have an e-mail exchange that could be published upon agreement by both interlocutors. This would then be material (work) for Swans (and allow me to dig further into our respective mind and heart). Unfortunately, people want to engage me privately, not publicly, and I usually have to cut the communication short after a couple of e-mails and get back to my tasks at hand. (I say "usually" for we've had more than two exchanges already.) I hope you understand my motivation. It's not personal at all.

This said: You are evidently entitled to reaching your own conclusions in regard to Prof. Neumann's views, though I would strongly suggest that the premises are incorrect. I respectfully suggest that you are misconstruing his views, not out of dishonesty or disingenuousness, but, if I may say, out of ignorance. That's why I recommended that you read his book (read it and review it: I'll publish the result...as well as Prof. Neumann's reaction, if any).

Name-calling (attacking the messenger), as I said, is not useful. Direct the criticisms to the ideas, not to the man. "Your" people are "his" people. Neumann does not deny the existence of your/his people, or the state of Israel. Here, you need to prove me wrong and to do so you must read the book. To help you, here is what he says:
Virtually no state has legitimate foundations and in that sense virtually no state has a right to exist. In theory, therefore, everyone has a right to interfere with the existence of those states. In practice, however, such "interference" is almost never justified. The mere fact that, say, the United States is founded on genocide, massacre and exploitation is not sufficient reason to destroy the United States. This is because the cure of destruction is in practice worse than the disease of illegitimate existence.
As I myself said -- see my "Blips" -- one can be theoretically against the notion of nations and practically acknowledge them.

I personally am against a Jewish nation, as much as I am against a Muslim nation (of which there are many) or a Christian nation, or a French nation (from which I came from) or a Bulgarian, etc. -- cite any of the 190 plus or minus nations existing, based on either ethnicity or religion -- and yet accept the actualities of the historical moment. To argue philosophically/theoretically/politically against nations is not being racist, anti-Semite, anti-Muslim (Semites too, by the way), anti-Christian, or anti-ethnic of any creed, it has to do with a view of the world in which we would like to live in. Again, attack the ideas, not the messengers.

In short, a Jewish nation does not bother me. Nations bother me.

Anyway, Prof. Neumann does not, repeat, does not say in any way, shape, or form that the existence of Israel is illegitimate. He does not say it, period.

Now, I have to go. I need to focus on Swans. If you want to help me with my endeavor, you can either write for the publication or send me some money... And/or, if you want to have the last word, be my guest. I won't answer it (but may use it one of these days -- I archive most of my e-mail correspondence).

[Note: I shall forward this latest exchange to Prof. Neumann.]

With best regards,

Yours sincerely,

Gilles d'Aymery
February 3, 2006

Hi again,

No, you did not offend me. And, if you want, you may publish our exchange in Swans.

All the best,

Jacob Amir
February 4, 2006

[ed. Upon reading copy of my last e-mail exchange with Jacob Amir, Michael Neumann made the following comments:]

Hi Gilles,

Amir could mean to say several things. None of them make much sense to me.

It would be odd to suppose, for instance, that merely saying someone belongs to an ethnic group is racist. Is it degrading to belong to an ethnic group? This would itself seem a racist assumption.

What about denying the existence of a "people"? Is that racist? If "denying the existence of a people" means denying the existence of an ethnic group, then no one is being condemned for belonging to that (non-existent!) ethnic group. In that case the denial can't be racist. And if denying the existence of a people means denying the existence of something *less* racial than an ethnic group, it is even more incomprehensible that this should be taken to be a racial slur. How can it be racist to say that some non-racial group doesn't exist?

As for Israel, either Amir believes "his nation" to be an ethnic (or racial) sovereignty or he does not. If he does, then the main point is conceded: Israel is then itself an odiously ethnic or racial supremacy, and condemning it cannot itself be racist. But suppose he does *not* believe Israel is an ethnic sovereignty. Then the nation being condemned is just a nation, not a racially based institution. If so, how can the condemnation of Israel possibly involve the condemnation of a race?

Peterborough, Ontario, Canada - February 6, 2006

Dear Dr. Amir,

First, please note that I shall publish our exchange in our next Letters to the Editor.

Second, here is what I received from Michael Neumann in reference to our last exchange (that I forwarded to him as advised). I'd like you to have the opportunity to follow up, if you so wish.

[Text of Michael Neumann's comments.]
End Quote

Third, I am pondering the idea of having you, Michael Neumann, and me, engage in an e-mail discussion that we would publish on Swans. I would (will, if you do not shoot down the idea) offer a framework. It should be (a) no holds barred, (b) absent of personal attacks, and (c) tentatively constructive toward a resolution of the predicament we all face.

Please let me know your sentiment on this, and, in the meantime, please feel free to follow-up on Prof. Neumann's latest comments (again, please, try to avoid personalizing issues.)

(Kindly note my first name.)

Sincerely, Gilles d'Aymery
February 7, 2006

Hi Gilles,

Thank you for publishing our exchange. My reaction to Prof. Neumann follows.

If I consider myself part of the Jewish people and somebody claims that there is no Jewish people but only an ethnic group called Jews, I consider that a racist opinion.

As for Israel: The sovereignty is of the Jewish people, in the same manner that the sovereignty in Bulgaria is the sovereignty of the Bulgarian people.

As for criticizing (or condemning) Israel's policies: This happens daily in Israel itself. There is nothing racist in such criticism or condemnation as long as it does not deny the right of the Jewish people to political self-determination and independence.

I will be more than happy to participate in the discussion you propose and I accept your framework.


February 8, 2006


The Art of Editing: Martin Murie's Trumpeters
To the Editor:

Thanks to Peter Borst for catching the "glaring error," in my quote from Henry Thoreau. As Peter points out, the correct wording is: "In Wildness is the preservation of the world." I had substituted "salvation" for "preservation."

Martin Murie
North Bangor, New York, USA - February 3, 2006


American Voting Patterns and Googling Oneself for Posterity (this letter is published mostly unedited)
To the Editor:

Here are some realistic political criticisms for Democrats that are purely based upon my own political perspective as a southern conservative democrat. I am a white male lawyer who loves my southern roots, and I am somewhat political and very tolerant. I am a southern democrat but one of my best friends is a hardcore Republican. One of the things that bothers me the most is when I google my own name I come up with a commentary on Swans that I wrote asking about what would be a good investment since the Iraq War is predictably going to cause certain economic consequences. This narrow commentary does not fully express my opinions or beliefs and leaves an impression for posterity that I am a mere War profiteer or that I am somehow only concerned with making a profit and not aware of the real social and political consequences or the blood letting involved in War. I feel this leaves an unflattering narrow perspective of me for posterity. I believe war can be a glorious cause but even when the cause is just, the consequences are devastating for everyone. I feel for all the people involved. I do question the war in Iraq, while fully supporting the brave fighting men and women. I question the economic devastation this will cause America. We will be paying for the War for generations. Any grand ideas on reducing taxes or improvements on social security surpluses will be undermined by a huge to debt mostly foreign countries. We are mortgaging our future and our children's futures. Republicans who should know better are simply blindly following the president and their is no check and balance, no real limitations on spending.

I want to state in blunt terms that the Democratic party seems to focus mainly on a "liberal" agenda that is repulsive to most southern democrats. As Ronald Reagan, once said, the Democratic Party left me, I did not leave the Democratic Party. In the 1980s, it seems most Democrats voted Republican and many left their party to join the Republican Party. I never left my party and I don't switch parties. I am a southern Democrat, just like my Dad. However, my Dad, like other southern Democrats, was and is perfectly capable of voting for a Republican. I can hear them now, "leave the party, we don't need you." Yeah, that's evidently what a lot of others thought when they left the party.

The Democratic Party seems to be doomed to repeating the errors of the past. Find a liberal Northern Democrat and run him for president. The Walter Mondale campaign comes to mind. No way, no chance. Lost almost every state except his home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia. How embarrassing. Who else? Michael Dukakis. The name alone is difficult to sell in the South. Another, northern liberal democrat, John Kerry, war protestor. The joke about democrats is that Hollywood celebrities and rock musicians are writing the speeches or are going to give the parties political responses. Barbara Streisand will give the rebuttal to the presidents speech, etc.

Is the Democratic Party doomed to repeat its failures of the past or is it capable of change?

An electible candidate is someone like Jimmy Carter, or Bill Clinton, or LBJ, or Harry Truman, or Roosevelt, or John F. Kennedy. These men were not liberals. Most are not northerners. They pushed for great social causes and sometimes social change, but they were not liberals.

Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were governors of southern states. Tip: I would suggest that the democrats find a southern governor to run for president. He must not be a liberal to have any chance of winning. Most southern democrats are embarrassed by northern liberal democrats. Most southern democrats will vote for a moderate democrat, preferably a southern democrat.

I can already hear the radical left yelling what good does it do to elect a conservative southern democrat if the policies remain the same or worse. LBJ and Vietnam. Harry Truman and Korea. I acknowledge this point of view. Therefore, maybe by conservative, I mean economically conservative, but somewhat moderate in political social point of view. The majority of people are probably "moderate" in their views and a candidate to be electible should reflect a moderate social/political view.

The idea is that an electible candidate should be someone that the "majority" of people would be comfortable with inviting into their home to sit on the couch and have a beer or wine or coffee or tea with and discuss the events of the day or just how everything is going. It should also be someone that has a social conscience and attends church.

People in the south like anyone with a winning smile, social charm, someone who is comfortable. They don't have to be an intellectual. They don't have to be wealthy or poor. Middle class people like people who are "normal." Family, kids, church, social things, normal every day kind of stuff. It's kind of hard to relate to a wind-surffer or a rich independently wealthy playboy. Traditional family values, church, family, kids, little league, everyday normal kind of stuff.

Also, why is it that the Republican party now think they own the "church" vote? I didn't know God was a Republican or a Democrat. However, I believe Democrats have as much right to the church vote as Republicans. It should be the best man or woman for the job and not just the party, anyway.

It appears that John McCain will be the Republican's best chance for victory in 2008. He is likeable and moderate in his views. The right wing hates him. The liberals won't like him. He is moderate.

What will be the democrats response, a moderate Democrat or another Northern liberal Democrat with no chance of winning?

Can the Democratic party recapture the majority in the House of Representatives? It all depends on who the candidates are. People will vote for a moderate rather than an extreme liberal or extreme conservative. The majority of people are moderates. The left wing will always vote for Democrats. The right wing will always vote Republican. It is the moderate vote that is up for grabs and they vote for the least offensive, or the "best" alternative, which can be Democrat or Republican.


Glen R. Graham
Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA - February 2, 2006


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Published February 13, 2006
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