In Black and White
Tom Tomorrow's This Modern World in your June 25 issue sometimes hits the spot and other times misses the mark.
Obviously, the "White House" button is totally unacceptable, and he is absolutely right to point that out. As for Michelle Obama being Sen. Barack Obama's "baby mama," that is of course wrong because they are married, but the term itself is not necessarily racist. For example, Jamie Lynn Spears is Casey Aldridge's baby mama.
The contrast between Midwesterners' behavior and New Orleans people's behavior, even if unfavorable to the latter, is in no way racist. Racism is prejudice--that is, prejudging before evidence is in. Actual evidence of differences in behavior, even if unfavorable to blacks, is by definition not racist.
Black as well as white people have had behavioral problems, up to and including out-of-wedlock births, drugs, and crime. Some black communities may be worse off in these regards than some white communities. Noting that reality is in no way racist. To the contrary, it may be vitally necessary in order to help the mainly black victims of black miscreants.
Speaking of crime, in your July 2 feature story "Cashing Out," I believe that Baltimore City court commissioner Eric Gooden made a big mistake in letting Anthony Foster free on an assault charge for $25,000 bail. As the article made clear, Foster was already out on bail for two other charges--including parole violation--for bail amounts that high and higher. Worse still, according to Gooden himself, Foster had actually threatened to kill the complainant--Foster's girlfriend--right in front of Gooden. The bail condition that Foster stay away from his girlfriend and her address isn't worth the paper it's printed on under these circumstances. Gooden should have had Foster held without bail.
I'd never heard before that Arab Palestinians are exclusively Muslim ("Re: The History of Palestine," The Mail, July 2). That's because it's nonsense. Palestinian Christians played key roles in Palestinian education and in resistance and nationalists movements from the British Mandate period forward.
By making such a claim I think the writer of the letter is trying to justify Israel's violence against Palestinians by referring to the Arab Muslim conquest of the seventh century, and suggesting a tit-for-tat rationale.
But one of his "facts" is correct: Jews have been living in what is now Palestine and Israel for centuries. However, he omits mention of the rise of Zionism, and how it transformed coexistence and cooperation between Palestinians and Jews into conflict and exclusion.
For once I agree with Avraham Sonenthal, a longtime supporter of Israel's banned Kach Party, founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane. Let's know the facts.
Here are a few that he conveniently omitted:
1) There is absolutely nothing in the traditional desire for Jews to return to the Holy Land that necessitates it take the form of the modern political entity that we know as the nation-state. Since Jews' primary ties to that land are religious--starting with the fact that there are commandments that are only applicable there--they can just as easily observe those obligations under international or Palestinian as under Israeli sovereignty.
2) Secondly, let us give the devil his due: Reportedly, Saddam Hussein's last words were "Palestine is Arab." And he was correct. Take the number of Christian and Muslim Arabs in Israel and the Palestinian territories--let alone those in Jordan--and add to them the Mizrahi/Sephardic Jews (i.e., those originally from Arab lands), and Israel/Palestine/the Holy Land is indeed, right now, Arab territory. Period.
3) The real truth of the matter, alas, is that, according to media reports, Israel constantly ranks in the top tier of nations actively engaging in industrial and military espionage against the United States. Not only has America been Israel's only truly reliable ally in a hostile world, but the U.S. taxpayer has long subsidized Israel, most recently to the tune of $3 billion. Whoever heard of a country generously underwriting another nation, and then that nation turning around and spying on its financial patron and long-term political savior?
4) There is a cadre--some would say cabal--of right-wing American Jews who have devoted their political lives to ensuring that, when it comes to Middle East policy, the Israeli tail is always wagging the American dog. (For all of their primacy of concern for Israel, these same individuals would never think, of course, of actually going there to live.) Should U.S. policy robustly move in a direction contrary to their neo-con liking, you can rest assured that in a New York minute they would shamelessly play the "Holocaust/anti-Semitism card" while outdoing the Rev. Jeremiah Wright in muttering under their dual-loyalty breath, "God damn America."
5) It is scandalous that any number of Orthodox Jewish rabbis in this area tell their congregants that when it comes to the ballot box they should forget about America's needs and domestic concerns because the only thing that matters is Israel.
City Paper is to be commended for publishing Avraham Sonenthal's well-written and informative letter (The Mail, "Re: The History of Palestine," July 2). As he said, "If we want to have a civil discussion of the issues, let us at least base the discussion on fact." I couldn't agree more! Here are some parts that he left out, however.
The Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and then drove out all the Jews from Judea, and they remained stateless until May 1948 when President Harry Truman both unilaterally and foolishly recognized the new state of Israel against the considered opinion of his secretary of state, the much revered Gen. George Marshall.
In my view, this was in direct contravention of the true national interests of the United States, which was and is Arab oil and not to create an alien country in the Middle East among millions of people already resident who didn't want it. Saudi King Ibn Saud told President Franklin Roosevelt this aboard the U.S.S. Quincy at the Great Bitter Lakes conference at Cairo in February 1945. Candidate Truman recognized Israel because he was going to lose the next presidential election of November 1948--then but six months off--to GOP nominee New York Gov. Thomas Dewey. By tilting toward Israel he won back those Jewish-American voters and their financial contributions.
In my opinion, this was the worst U.S. foreign policy mistake ever made, and it caused all the trauma that we've suffered since: the killing of U.S. sailors by Israeli jet fighters in June 1967 on the U.S.S. Liberty, the murder of Sen. Robert Kennedy in 1968, the Arab oil embargo against us of 1973, the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, the destruction of the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001, and, finally, the travesty that has now become U.S. air travel with its security checks that are an insult to all our citizenry. All of this sprang from Truman's foolish decision, as well as the fact that the U.S. continues to supply Israel with arms and money, more than all other nations that we also aid combined.
Now, like Br'er Rabbit, we--the majority non-Jewish Americans--are well and truly stuck with this infamous tar baby, but we don't have to continue paying for it. Therefore, I urge that all U.S. aid to Israel be cut off in 2009, since the Israeli self-defense forces have demonstrated over the course of at least five major, modern wars that they are able to defend themselves without us. Finally, under a Taylor administration, the foreign policy of the United States will once again be conducted from Washington, D.C., and not from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, or anywhere else.
The writer is a Democratic write-in candidate for president of the United States.
Could it possible that Mr.Leo Williams was using satire? At any rate he managed to cause Mr. Wallace Farmer and Mr. Billy Wilkins to reveal themselves as ageist ("Leo the Lyin'," The Mail, July 2). "A breed that is fast filling nursing homes and graveyards." "People like you, Williams, will never change." It is certain that all of the elders (a class of people who were formerly revered) are not as calcified in their thinking as Mr. Farmer and Mr. Wilkins would have us believe.
The only germane question so far as the election is concerned is this: Can a degree from Harvard overcome the color of Mr. Barack Obama's skin? It is disingenuous to claim, as Mr. Farmer does, that being 50 percent white is anything other than being black. This is, after all, America. I will end by cautioning all to think before they write and asking specific questions about generalities such as "change."
William H. Stokes
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201