Public Comment

Not Laughing

By Neil Doherty
Thursday August 20, 2009 - 11:08:00 AM

In her July 16 letter June Brott states that people will be laughing at those that signed the July 9 advertisement, “We are Jews.” I, for one, am not laughing. The ad condemned Israel’s continued illegal occupation of Gaza and its brutal bombing campaign last December, as well as the thuggish tactics of some of Israel’s supporters attempting to censor our local paper. Ms. Brott states that the Israeli Palestinian conflict is “one of the world’s most complex, difficult conflicts, one that has defied solution for more than 60 years.” I believe her argument that this issue is so complex is used to create apathy—apathy which allows billions of our tax dollars (annually) to go on paying for Israel’s illegal and murderous acts, and creates no motivation on Israel’s part to work towards peace (with all the might, why negotiate?). 

Ms. Brott goes on to state, “to declare Israelis as the Bad Guys and Palestinians as the Blameless Victims is beyond ridiculous.”  

What the ad stated in part is “we name the murderous attacks of December and January as war crimes.” The facts are that during Israel’s 22-day invasion of Gaza this past December, Israeli military killed 1,330 Palestinians, of whom 437 were children (the wounded included 1,890 children). In comparison, 13 Israelis were killed (of which at least four were soldiers killed by friendly fire). I am neither Jewish nor Palestinian, but I think those numbers speak for themselves. 

  I was brought up being taught about the horrors the Nazis committed and the sins of silence in the face of such atrocities and injustices. I reject the inference that the Israeli question is too complicated for citizens of the United States to speak up on it. The occupation and blockade of Gaza (which forces Palestinians to live in conditions where malnutrion among children is rampant) are crimes. Collective punishment and house demolitions (like the one that resulted in Rachel Corrie’s murder) are a crime, as are the mass killings of civilians. And despite the huge media censorship campaign and the very successful use of the word anti-Semitic to silence critics or even discussion of Israel, the world is increasingly aware of Israel’s war crimes. In fact, the Vatican’s Justice and Peace Minister visited Gaza recently and told the press, “Let’s look at the conditions in Gaza: these increasingly resemble a big concentration camp.”  

Thank you to the Daily Planet for keeping a free press in Berkeley, despite the real risk to their own economic survival, and shame on any of us if we stay silent while freedom of the press is attacked. History teaches us we do so at our own peril.  



Neil Doherty is a Berkeley resident.