- Abraham H. Foxman
- National Director
- Anti-Defamation League
- 823 United Nations Plaza
- New York, NY 10017
- Dear Mr. Foxman:
- How nice to hear your views. Years ago, fresh out of
law school, I was reading your clear writings against bigotry and discrimination.
Your charter has always been to advance civil liberties and free speech
in our country by and for all ethnic and religious groups. These days all
freedom-loving people have much work to do.
- As you know there is far more freedom in the media, in
town squares and among citizens, soldiers, elected representatives and
academicians in Israel to debate and discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
than there is in the United States. Israelis of all backgrounds have made
- Do you agree and if so, what is your explanation for
such a difference?
- About half of the Israeli people over the years have
disagreed with the present Israeli government's policies toward the Palestinian
people. Included in this number is the broad and deep Israeli peace movement
which mobilized about 120,000 people in a Tel Aviv square recently.
- Do you agree with their policies and strategy for a peaceful
settlement between Israelis and Palestinians? Or do you agree with the
House Resolution 460 in Congress signed by 407 members of the House to
support the Prime Minister's proposal? See attachment re the omission of
any reference to a viable Palestinian state - generally considered by both
Israelis and Palestinians, including those who have worked out accords
together, to be a sine qua non for a settlement of this resolvable conflict
- a point supported by over two-thirds of Americans of the Jewish faith.
Would such a reasonable resolution ever pass the Congress? For more information
on the growing pro-peace movements among the American Jewish Community
see: Ester Kaplan, "The Jewish Divide on Israel," The Nation,
June 24, 2004.
- Enclosed is the "Courage to Refuse - Combatant's
Letter" signed by hundreds of reserve combat officials and soldiers
of the Israeli Defense Forces. It is posted on their web at: www.seruv.org.il/defaulteng.asp
. One highlight of their statement needs careful consideration: "We
shall not continue to fight beyond the 1967 borders in order to dominate,
expel, starve and humiliate an entire people. We hereby declare that we
shall continue serving in the Israel Defense Forces in any mission that
serves Israel's defense. The missions of occupation and oppression do not
serve this purpose - and we shall take no part in them" (Emphasis
in original). Do you agree with these patriotic, front line soldiers' observation
that Israel is dominating, expelling, starving and humiliating an entire
people - the Palestinian people - and that in their words "the Territories
are not Israel?"
- What is your view of Rabbi Lerner's Tikkun's call for
peace, along with the proposals of Jewish Voice for Peace, the Progressive
Jewish Alliance and Americans for Peace Now? As between the present Israeli
government's position on this conflict and the position of these groups,
which do you favor and why?
- Do you share the views in the open letter signed by 400
rabbis, including leaders of some of the largest congregations in our country,
sent this March by Rabbis for Human Rights of North America to Ariel Sharon
protesting Israel's house-demolition policy?
- Have you ever disagreed with the Israeli government's
treatment of the Palestinian people in any way, shape or manner in the
occupied territories? Do you think that these Semitic peoples have ever
suffered from bigotry and devastation by their occupiers in the occupied
West Bank, Gaza or inside Israel? If you want a reference here, check the
website of the great Israeli human rights group B'T selem.
- Since you are a man of many opinions, with a specialty
focused on the Semitic peoples, explain the United States' support over
the decades of authoritarian or dictatorial regimes, in the greater Middle
East, over their own people which is fomenting resistance by fundamentalists.
- These questions have all occurred to you years ago, no
doubt. So it would be helpful to receive your views.
- As for the metaphors - puppeteer and puppets - the Romans
had a phrase for the obvious - res ipsa loquitur. The Israelis have a joke
for the obvious - that the United States is the second state of Israel.
- How often, if ever, has the United States - either the
Congress or the White House-pursued a course of action, since 1956, that
contradicted the Israeli government's position? You do read Ha'aretz, don't
you? You know of the group Rabbis for Justice.
- To end the hostilities which have taken so many precious
lives of innocent children, women and men - with far more such losses on
the Palestinian side - the occupying military power with a massive preponderance
of force has a responsibility to take the initiative. In a recent presentation
in Chicago, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak made the point explicitly
- Israel should take the initiative itself unilaterally and start disengaging
from the West Bank and Gaza and not keep looking for the right Palestinian
Authority. Amram Mitzna, the Labor Party's candidate for Prime Minister
in the 2003 election, went ever further in showing how peace can be pursued
through unilateral withdrawal. Do you concur with these positions?
- Citizen groups are in awe of AIPAC's ditto machine on
Capitol Hill as are many members of Congress who, against their private
judgment, resign themselves to sign on the dotted line. AIPAC is such an
effective demonstration of civic action - which is their right - that Muslim
Americans are studying it in order to learn how to advance a more balanced
Congressional deliberation in the interests of the American people.
- Finally, treat yourself to a recent column on February
5, 2004 in The New York Times, by Thomas Friedman, an author on Middle
East affairs, who has been critical of both the Israeli and Palestinian
leadership. Mr. Friedman writes:
- "Mr. Sharon has the Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat
under house arrest in his office in Ramallah, and he's had George Bush
under house arrest in the Oval Office. Mr. Sharon has Mr. Arafat surrounded
by tanks, and Mr. Bush surrounded by Jewish and Christian pro-Israel lobbyists,
by a vice president, Dick Cheney, who's ready to do whatever Mr. Sharon
dictates, and by political handlers telling the president not to put any
pressure on Israel in an election year-all conspiring to make sure the
president does nothing."
- These are the words of a double Pulitzer Prize winner.
- Do you agree with Mr. Friedman's characterization? Sounds
like a puppeteer-puppet relationship, doesn't it? Others who are close
to this phenomenon have made similar judgments in Israel and in the United
- Keep after bigotry and once in a while help out the Arab
Semites when they are struggling against bigotry, discrimination, profiling
and race-based hostility in their beloved adopted country - the U.S.A.
This would be in accord with your organization's inclusive title.
- Ralph Nader
- Nader Criticzed By Foxman For Comments
- By Janine Zacharia
- WASHINGTON -- Abraham Foxman,
the Anti-Defamation League's national director, fired back at Independent
presidential candidate Ralph Nader on Friday in what has become an ongoing
sparring match over Nader's assertion that Israel and American Jews are
"puppeteers" who control Congress and the White House.
- Foxman replied to a letter from Nader, in which the candidate
stood by his original assertion. Nader's August 5 letter to Foxman said,
"The Israelis have a joke for the obvious ñ that the United
States is the second state of Israel."
- "How often, if ever, has the United States ñ
either the Congress of the White House ñ pursued a course of action,
since 1956, that contradicted the Israeli government's position?"
- Foxman wrote in reply: "I was disappointed to read
your letter of August 5 because it merely confirmed my concerns about your
original comments Rather than allay our concerns, your letter only furthers
conspiracy theories about Jews and borders on bigotry."
- Foxman said Nader had ignored the fact that "there
are many examples of US disagreement with Israeli policies." And he
described Nader's accusation about Jewish power as "false and offensive."
- Nader is so far only on fewer than a dozen states' ballots
in the November election.