Reply to the NY Times Editorial Oct. 28
Reply to the NY Times editorial on Gaza, Oct. 28, 2004

Dear editors:

I lost respect for your publication a long time ago and stopped purchasing it. Then I stopped reading it even when it was given to me for free. However, this morning, a colleague forced me to read your obscene editorial on the Gaza evacuation plan. I was shocked to discover that you descended to even lower depths of chicanery than I anticipated. Your editorial was not only biased and inaccurate, but outright deceptive and sinister. Below is a list of your comments that I found extremely offensive, followed by my reasons. I hope that you will have the decency to make the necessary apologies and corrections in a subsequent editorial:

1. “It deserves support simply because it leads to the breakup of Jewish settlements that force Israeli security troops…” What’s so good about breaking up Jewish settlements? Do they cause anyone any trouble? Why don’t they have a right to live there? If Jews have a right to settle in Florida or Arizona, why shouldn’t they have a right to settle in Gaza? Why don’t you advocate resettling some of the Arabs in twenty surrounding Arab countries? That would make Gaza a better place for everyone. Why are Israeli troops forced to defend the settlers? Because the Arabs refuse to tolerate their presence and would do whatever they could to kill as many as possible. Why don’t you condemn their intolerance?

2. “Gaza-a teeming, thirsty strip of land in which 7,500 militant Jewish residents…The militants of Hamas and Islamic Jihad…” How dare you apply the same term “militant” to peaceful settlers and barbarian terrorists? Why are the Jews called militants? Because they don’t want to be evicted from their homes? Do they advocate killing anyone? Are they intolerant towards other ethnic groups? Why is Gaza teeming? Because in 55 years, the UNWRA and the neighboring Arab countries refused to resettle them in suitable communities. Why can’t a million Arabs accept the presence of 8000 peaceful Jews who are growing broccoli and cauliflower? Why should it be necessary for 20,000 soldiers to protect small, peaceful Jewish communities? Because the Arabs refuse to tolerate the presence of even a small number of Jews. These soldiers are not just defending 8000 settlers, they are defending the civil rights of all Jews everywhere. How many American soldiers had to escort the first Black children to enroll in the segregated white schools of the American South in 1954?

3. “Leaving Gaza will make Israel safer only if it is seen as a first step toward leaving the West Bank.” Do you really believe that Gaza and the West Bank should be declared Judenrein and this will improve Israel’s security? What evidence do you have for that statement? Why don’t you read your own newspaper articles over the last fifty years? Did you bother to look at a map?

4. “The old roadmap for peace which the Bush administration has shamefully failed to pressure Israel to pursue…” What have the Palestinian Arabs done to meet their obligations under the roadmap? Have they given any indication that they are ready to abandon terrorism and live in peaceful coexistence? What do you expect Israel to do if their citizens are attacked on a daily basis?

5. “Mr. Sharon is…erasing all vestiges of the Oslo peace accords, battering Palestinian militants whenever and wherever possible…” What have the Palestinians done to maintain the Oslo accords? Did they ever accept Israel as a neighbor and agree to mutual cooperation? The US Army went all the way to Afghanistan and Iraq to pursue terrorists, doesn’t Israel have the same right to protect its citizens from the vicious, murderous, barbaric, Palestinian “militants?” If they stopped their terrorism then there wouldn’t be any more civilians killed on both sides.

6. “The powerful and passionate settler movement is certain to use all means, including violence, to prevent the withdrawal.” They should be passionate about being evicted from their homes, you would be, too. They are not powerful or violent and you have no right to say that without evidence to support such an inflammatory statement.

In sum, your vitriolic attack on the Jewish families in Gaza and the Prime Minister of Israel does nothing to contribute to a peaceful solution to the conflict. What it does, is incite more Jews like myself to become more “militant” in advocating for the rights of Jews to live in peace and security in the tiny land to which they have strong historical, religious, and cultural connections.

(c) 2004, I. Zwick, NYC

Israel Zwick is a commentator on the Middle East based in New York.

Reprinted by permission.