Diverse Reactions to the

Renewed Violence in the Middle East

Members and friends of Ivri-NASAWI reveal a spectrum of opinion (posted in the order received).

Your reactions will be posted continuously throughout the month of October, 2000.
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Any relationship to Israeli culture must include a relationship to the Middle East and its diverse cultures which are informed by knowledge and the sympathy of a shared fate. To make enemies by building layers of hatred through false assumptions and dichotomies, misrepresentations and ideology presented as history is to commit the most atrocious acts of self-destruction, for we are all multiple and cannot pretend to be exclusively this or that. My own Hebrew first name and Arabic last name tell me as much.
Ammiel Alcalay, author, After Jews and Arabs, Remaking Levantine Culture

I am not surprised by the violence that has broken out lately. I have always seen the Palestinian Arabs and the Israeli Arabs as one people, and it is to be expected that they act in solidarity.

 Tirza Shorr, legal clerk, Jerusalem

 I was horrified by the pictures of Israeli soldiers shooting at cowering civilians. I am horrified at the death toll and the moral bankruptcy  (I know, I know the excuse is that  Barak couldn't  afford to stop Sharon because his position is so shaky) of the Israeli Government.  Sharon's visit was a deliberate provocation and allowed the worst passions to erupt in this orgy  of death and destruction.It is possible that the Palestinian community might have found an excuse to revolt--but this is reality and at the moment when a deal almost seemed possible, it was Sharon  (and remember his role in Lebanon) who paraded around in a show of force. It is also not unlikely that some of the Palestinian  response was orchestrated. 

But what would you do  if you were on the other side? Wouldn't you want to make your rage known?  I am disgusted at Barak's silence.  Intelligent intervention at the beginning of the riots could have halted or at least
diminished these encounters. Arafat  is hardly blameless  for his silence, but because it was the Israelis (Sharon)  who provoked the reaction, it was incumbent upon them to seize the moment and speak out. They did not. They still have not.  The overwhelming  number of Palestinian deaths versus the relatively few Israeli deaths  speaks for itself. 

My own view  (and I must confess to being secular) is that Jerusalem belongs to the world--since Jews, Moslems and Christians all consider it the source of their religions.  I would heartily support UN control over Jerusalem and recall, if I am not mistaken, that the founders of Israel placed their capitol in Tel Aviv  and, secular as they were, made no claims on total control of Jerusalem. 

I am also disturbed by the spillover of animosity into New York --it reminds me of the wild hatred expressed  by  some of my Serbian and Croation students and by  spokespersons for both sides who suddenly  "discovered their ancient animosities" on radio and television when Yugoslavia erupted. The rhetoric at that time was astonishing in its bile and hatefulness.  I hope that  we can do something to prevent the same kind of thing from happening here. To remain silent is to be complicit. Let's talk with our  friends --whatever their backgrounds --and  see if we can have a positive impact on these awful events... 

Gloria Levitas,  Ph.D., retired  Anthropologist from Queens college

It is appalling that the peace process has deteriorated so rapidly. I urge all parties to do everything in their power to ensure a cease fire immediately, but I believe the peace process must go forward even during this renewed violence in Israel and Palestine.   It will take enormous courage for the good will of the many people on both sides who want peace to prevail.  The people of Israel and Palestine have already shown they have this courage; the American government should support them with development aid, medical supplies, and so forth.
Diane Matza, Professor of English, Utica College

I think that we should organize a petition where we recognize that there is no symmetry in protest and the violence that ensues by firing on protesters, and call on the Israeli Prime minister Barak, and on the Chief of Staff, General Mofaz, to order immediately and unconditionally the Israeli army and all other security units to cease fire.

We should express our solidarity with the Palestinian protest and resistance to military oppression, by civil disobedience.  We sould make a point to express solidarity with the Israeli-Palestinian protest which goes far beyond civil rights for themselves, in Israel, and is surely an expression of participation in the struggle for Palestinian self- determination which was succesfully suppressed by Israel for more than fifty years.

Yerah Gover, Ph.D., Professor, Queens College

When the Jews were still, in their alloted Quarters "khart 'il Yahoud" --when they bowed their heads  to their Moslem or Christian hosts, they were merely accepted like an invited dinner guest.

But when the Jews are make noise, rouse their "neighbors" - fight for their rights - their land, their heritage, their freedom, their name, their children - then they are not tolerated - they must go- they must disappear -  across land, mountain, or even drown in the sea.

So what if we "kick ass," so what if we raise arms? So what if we want a tiny strip of land on this planet where we can rest our tired and weary heads---the heads that were beaten for centuries, the heads that were split open by rock throwers?

That land, the Land of Israel, is OUR land - that land WAS our land - that land WILL REMAIN our land..and we
DO want peaceful coexistence with our neighbors, those who live within our borders, and those who live outside them!

We are, and always were - anshei sefer "people of the book" - and "o'havei shalom and rodfei shalom" lovers
of peace and pursuers of peace!!!

Eva R. Yelloz, Los Angeles

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The opinions expressed do not reflect any official position taken by Ivri-NASAWI and are the sole responsibility of their signers. To communicate with a signer, address your letter to



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