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To the Editor:

My name is Marc Bouwman, teacher in history. Having read Mr. Heichler’s article, I come with the following remarks.

1. Mr. Heichler discribes the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as impossible to solve.

2. Mr. Heichler, in the end, is more worried about the possibility of rising anti-semitism. His concern with this lies in the main in the US.

Concidering the second point: Mr. Heichler could very well be right: staunch support by American Jews for Israel could lead to a backlash and a renewed anti-Semitism. I discern the wish, a most natural and understandable one, of preserving a safe home for Jews, at least in the United States. In so far as I respect his call toward American Jews to be careful in their support for Israel. On the other hand, here in Holland, some Jews do not agree either with Sharon. Some Dutch Jews are forming their first protests against the current situation in Israel. American Jews, opposing Sharon, could do the same.

Considering the first point: Mr. Heichler opposes Zionism with the assumption that Herzl’s remark about the empty land of Israel awaiting the Jewish nation. Let’s leave it to the statistics wether or not the land was as empty as Herzl stated: the fact is there that there are now 2 nations in one area. Let’s also accept that, whether or not (as Mr. Heichler) one will accept that Zionism is a true cause, many millons of Jews believe that it is. According to international law, every nation is entitled to form it’s own state and government, also the Jews, also the Palestinians.

One needs to look for the source of this conflict.Look back 200 hundred years: was there any Jew hating a Palestinian? No! Were there any Palestinians hating Jews? No! But now it’s the other way round. How come? Because of the claims of both nations on the same area.

How come the Jews picked Palestinian soil to form their state? Answer: any pick of any land would be harmful to any nation or state as soon as the Jews decide to have their state. So the question will be redirected as:

How come the Jews decided to have their own state? Answer: Given the right to every nation to form their own state, the Jews decided, by lack of any real alternative, to return to the land they one’s lived and was still held in high by the religious one’s. Again, it’s no use to oppose these views even you might not approve them. Important is, again, that millions of Jews hold these views. It’s important to have communication going between various political views.

What caused these Jews to decide to return to their former lands? Not the Zionist view, which was merlely a vehicle to their newest problem: the lack of trust in the majority of European states.

How come there’s no trust in them for these states? Look at 2,000 years of anti-Semitism throughout all of the (former?) Christian nations. And of course the Holocaust. Could any nation be blamed for taking their fate in their own hands, even though its ways cannot win a beauty contest? Off course, Sharon is a right-winged radical with terrorist tendencies. But those kind are to found everywhere, anywhere and at all times. Sharon is wrong and must be stopped. But the reason for the mere existance of possibilities for him to deal his politics his way, is to find not with him, not with the Jews (or Palestinians for that matter), but with the past of Christian civilisations. Everyone knows that!

But what do the present European governments, heir of course to their predecessor’s history, do? They stay silent. They feel guilty about what they’ ve done to the Jews. These states are, in the main: Spain, France, Russia, Belorussia, Lithouania, Poland, Austria and Germany. It’s about time the governments of these states take on their responsibility and come over to the Arabs and Palestinians. They should apology to them. Kindly ask forgiveness and request to them, in name of the past of their own ancestors, to allow the Jewish nation to remain in their lands.

Note that it should be a request from Europeans and Christians to all of the Arabs, Palestinians in particular (and not to the Islamics! This is a problem between nations, not between religions) Note that this request is made in name of Europeans and Christians only, not on behalf of the Jewish nation since, according to both international law and European history, the Jewish nation has its own rights and decides for itself.

In short: independent of Israel’s policies, the European civilisation must come into communication with the Arabs (again, not islamics)!

Last week there was a short documentary on television. A Palestinian lawyer was held on her way to her work in Jerusalem. No explanation given by the military. She than turned to the camera-crew, described herself as a Palestinian with modern views, eager for peace and ready to live with the Israeli’s. She went on in one breath (note: she didn’t in any way to Sharon or the American supporters for Israel) to accuse and blame “you European’s and your Holocaust” for the mess and conflict the Palestinians are now in. This one sentence both coveres the actual historical facts as it is laying down the responsibility for solving the problems with the heirs to this, recent, European history.

Was Bin Laden, if he was the one, wrong to attack the TWC? It looks like it. For historical reasons.

If Europe is to face the Arabs, the Europeans must face their history over the last thousend years. Not only anti-semitism, but also their wars with the Arabs, their colonialism, their capitalism and their Cold War. The Europeans (to a limited extense also the US) must come to (speaking!) terms with their closest neighbouring non-western civilisation. The Arabs in turn, must be open too to Western civilisation.

Marc Bouwman.
Delft, the Netherlands

Apr 04, 2002

Dear Editor,

My husband is a native-born Austrian and a political refugee who left Vienna in 1938. I am [of] Jewish refugee background [and] left Prague, Czechoslovakia under the German occuption in 1939. Both of us agree with Mr. Heichler’s views.

M. Bauer
Washington, DC

Dear Dr. Mattox:

Thank you for making it possible to read Mr. Heichler’s piece on your American Diplomacy web site. I agree with the author’s views and commend him for his courage as a Jew to express his opinion.

Bernadine M Murray
Fairfield, CA

The Heichler op ed is excellent. And he is correct, this sort of commentary can only be written by a Jew. The Arabists I knew in our Service have said – but not written- words and views expressed by Heichler. But not only would such published comments have caused accusations of anti-Semitism by those outside the Department, no matter how carefully phrased, such comments made publicly would have an adverse impact on the officer’s career. Despite the fact that the American Jewish vote belonged largely to the Democratic party, the Republican Party was always anxious to make inroads on that bloc since in close elections this could produce the margin of victory.

Heichler, however, makes no mention of the American Council on Judaism, a minority in the Jewish American community, but a minority which clearly sees its first obligation is to support a policy similar to that articulated by Heichler, where American interests are placed foremost, and support for Israel and the Israeli state is a secondary factor, clearly subordinated to what it perceives as the dominant American interest which should govern our foreign policy.

Karl Sommerlatte

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