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Cheap slurs.

Last month's Editor's Note and Comment drew a lot of negative reaction. It's been a long time since we've received so much critical mail--and so many cancellations. My predecessor, Erwin Knoll, used to say, "If we're not pissing someone off every month, we're not doing our job." So I take solace in that. But I also want to respond, since I wrote the offending material.

In the United States, it is almost impossible to criticize the policies of the government of the state of Israel without bringing an avalanche upon your head. This customary response serves to stifle debate, as many people conclude that the hassle--or the lost business--is just not worth it.

Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, did not back down. He and his organization denounced both Hezbollah and the Israeli military for committing war crimes this summer. For this, Roth, whose father fled the Nazis, endured the usual calumnies, as Rosa Brooks noted in a column in the Los Angeles Times. For instance, The New York Sun said he has a "clear pro-Hezbollah and anti-Israel bias," and accused him of engaging in "the delegitimization of Judaism, the basis of much anti-Semitism."

Roth responded appropriately. "The issue is not, as your editorial falsely states, 'Israel's right to defend itself,'" he wrote in a letter to the Sun's editor. "Rather, the issue is how Israel chooses to wage that defense. Casting cheap slurs of anti-Semitism ... does not change the fact that Israel, in the way it fights, is not taking all feasible precautions to protect civilians as required by international humanitarian law."

This month, we return to Israel and Lebanon, with an essay by Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery and an on-the-scene story by Beirut reporter Raed El Rafei.

One of the problems with the slur of anti-Semitism is that it ignores the vast gulf between those who raise legitimate moral objections to Israeli actions and actual anti-Semites, either of the house-and-garden variety or those who want to destroy Israel and all Jews.

On August 26, a couple of dozen real-live neo-Nazis came to Madison, Wisconsin, to rally on the steps of the capitol. Accompanied by Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries," they waved their Nazi flags and gave the Nazi salute.

I could hear only snippets of their speeches, which droned on about immigration and the Zionist Occupied Government, as I was among the crowd of about 1,000 counter-protesters, throatily booing the Nazis.

But then I saw a young woman who was actually a saluting Nazi herself. I asked her how could she, given that the Nazis killed six million Jews in the Holocaust. "Ah, that's a lie," she said, and began spewing nonsense about the white race.

Meanwhile, the Nazis on stage were performing a favorite antic. They took out an Israeli flag and stomped all over the star of David. Then they spit on it. Then they ripped it up.

When Bush finally acknowledged that the CIA had been holding detainees in secret prisons around the world, without access to any due process and beyond the reach of the Red Cross, he was admitting that he had been violating the Geneva Conventions. And while he denied that the CIA tortured those detainees, he said the techniques were "tough." This month, we bring you an urgent essay by Alfred W. McCoy, author of a new book entitled A Question of Torture. McCoy rebuts the most common argument for "tough" techniques. I highly recommend his article to you.
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Title Annotation:Editor's Note
Author:Rothschild, Matthew
Publication:The Progressive
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:7ISRA
Date:Oct 1, 2006
Words:583
Previous Article:From the Halls of Montezuma ...
Next Article:Outrage and shame.
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