the New York Post Letters page is like smoking opium, without
the body high. It seems so surreal, so removed from reality, that
I wonder if the letter writers are real people or simply constructs.
from 7 October, "Israel's Right to Take the War to Damascus",
were the first I'd read in a while. I hadn't noticed the new advertiser
links before; one of the current crop urges me to take the advice
of the Good Book and adopt two orphaned Iraqi children [left unsaid
is why they're orphans, whether their parents were done in by
the recent invasion or by the Clinton-era sanctions].
I digress. On 7 October we have five separate letters, all of
which assert, with admirable consistency, Israel's right to defend
itself. Mr. Brosnan of Kinderhook contends that since "Syria supports
Hamas, then Israel has the same right as the United States: to
bomb terrorist camps in Syria, like the United States did in Afghanistan
against al Qaeda." Brooklyn's Harvey Karten is incredulous that
"innocent Syria is asking the United Nations to condemn Israel
for attacking its terrorist camps!" From Mr. Geller of Hoboken,
"How hypocritical is the U.N. Security Council that it would call
an emergency meeting when a country accused of harboring and funding
terrorists gets attacked?" Flushing's Maurice Moore simply states
that "Israel has a legitimate right to protect its citizens."
And Michael Ber maintains that "Israel has to stop caring what
the world says or what monetary repercussions might occur, shut
their mouths and do what is way overdue."
letters on the page, all of which make the same point. That Israel
is irreproachable. That Israel is given rights the governments
of Syria, Iran, or Egypt would never be granted. That Israel deserves
unquestioning support. That Israeli lives matter as much as American
lives, and that the accursed non-Israeli might as well just die
like a dog; Israel has the right to defend itself, after all,
whatever the hell that even means.
are the consequences of Israel not being a debatable issue in
public forums? According to Reuters on 7 October, "Buoyed by U.S.
backing for Israel's right to defend itself, Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon said the Jewish state was ready to hit its enemies anywhere
following an air raid deep inside Syria. Speaking at a memorial
service marking the anniversary of the 1973 Middle East war, Sharon
took a tough line but made no specific threats after Sunday's
strike on what Israel said was a training camp for Palestinian
doesn't really mean defend, obviously. It means to retaliate,
perhaps, or to attack under false pretense. This from 7 October's
"The Bush administration, which yesterday defended Israel's bombing
of Syria, has given the green light to Congress to approve economic
sanctions against Syria. The Syria Accountability Act, which had
been stalled in the House for a year by administration opposition,
will be approved by the House International Relations Committee
tomorrow, staff members said." [And it indeed was approved].
has come to this. We rely on the Bush White House for moderation,
for measures that ameliorate an amoral cabal's push for a fruitless war
that will span the Middle East once it gets started. Instant legislation,
as if awaiting an inevitability.
happens to politicians who don't assert Israel's right to defend
itself? Many have lost their jobs for taking just that position.
Consider Cynthia McKinney, the Georgia Democrat who lost her House
seat in 2002 in a Democratic primary. McKinney defines herself
as a "child of the 60s", and embraces the rhetoric of the left
in explaining what happens to those few dozen in Congress [right
or left; in this case it's all the same] who challenge select
planks of the prefabricated consensus in America. She has addressed
the topic in the past, but most recently in remarks prepared for
the October 4, 2003 "Project Censored" awards ceremony in San
as a Democratic primary candidate would be a draw. But she isn't
likely to run anytime soon in an election as a Democrat. Why?
Because she spoke out against Israel's right to defend itself,
and got her ass handed to her, that's why.
4 October remarks bespeak her legitimate sense of betrayal. She
went to the wall for every special-interest clique and every pet
"progressive" issue imaginable, yet wondered "what the progressive
community in Georgia and around the country was thinking as I
was running my race… Was it that I deserved the mischaracterizations
because I had dared to hold this Administration and America accountable
on the 2000 election, the missing $2.3 trillion at the Pentagon,
the Pentagon's corporate sweetheart deals with political insiders,
US continued use of depleted uranium in Iraq, US covert activities
in Africa that resulted in genocide, clearcutting of our national
forests, a return to COINTELPRO through the legislation we were
passing, the treatment of black people in this country?"
that why McKinney lost? Because she spoke out on the behalf of
black people? Check out this tale of woe: " [I] was even booed
at our annual Gay Pride Parade despite my lifetime 100% HRC voting
record. And Atlanta's white gay and lesbian leadership refused
to march with me, including Georgia's only openly gay Member of
the Legislature whom I had endorsed and for whom one of my trusted
staffers had worked to ensure that she won. I protected her during
redistricting when other Democrats targeted her. A white lesbian
that I helped get elected in a majority black district."
hear McKinney tell it, speaking out against clear cutting and
Cointelpro were why McKinney found herself unseated from Congress
[despite having "worked to ensure" a "white lesbian [getting]
elected in a . . . black district]. That's a fanciful recollection,
at best. McKinney lost her spot because, as Alex Cockburn succinctly
put it last August on
the CounterPunch website, "she wasn't cowed by the Israel
right-or-wrong lobby and called for real debate on the Middle
East. And she called for a real examination of the lead-up to
would add that the tone for her removal was illustrated best when
Cynthia McKinney's father Billy was asked by Fox News if
he bore a special antipathy for Jews. McKinney, a veteran of Georgia
politics, replied that his quarrel wasn't with Jews, per se, but
with "Zionists." Without allowing the reporter to interject, he
asked her a question rarely heard amidst the din of the international
Cable News Conspiracy: "Are you a Zionist?" The reporter refused
to affirm or deny; for once, someone had called the bluff of a
Fox News employee, putting her on the defensive, getting in the
last word via posing an inconvenient question. An admirable gambit:
Papa McKinney, as the saying goes, was screwed, blued, and tattooed;
but at least it was on something approaching his own terms, providing
a tantalizing flicker of spontaneous political theater.
Billy's daughter Cynthia ask a question worthy of her father at
this point? The difference between McKinney in 2003 and McKinney
last year boils down to Israel alone. She's scared to even mention
the place at this point; the word Israel, as far as I could tell,
was absent from her remarks in San Rafael. But just think if
she toes the line for long enough maybe she'll get an ovation
at a future Gay Pride Parade. [And they say the minstrel tradition