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Please send your letters to Backtalk editor Sam Koritz. Letters become the property of Antiwar.com and may be edited before posting. Unless otherwise requested, authors may be identified and e-mail addresses will not be published. The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of Antiwar.com.

Posted January 20, 2003

Regarding 'Watch Your Back' by Justin Raimondo:

I'm a daily visitor to the Antiwar.com web site. I just wanted to say that my reaction was similar to Justin's upon hearing of the new overt stance of the Israeli Mossad regarding killing people on the soil of their allies.

I can't help but speculate on the following:

Is this Mossad stuff the plugging of a "hole" so to speak? I mean, we already had the Fourth Circuit Court basically rule that Americans who are not on American soil can be detained as enemy combatants. What about those who are on American soil? Apparently the Israelis are basically offering to do Ashcroft and Rumsfeld's dirty work for them here in the US. It all seems pretty consistent. Having Mossad assassinate dissidents in the US because Uncle Sam doesn't want to do it seems to be an idea cut from the same cloth as having people shipped to Syria or Egypt to be tortured because Uncle Sam doesn't want to do it.

~ Brad Spangler

As a resident of Philadelphia, I can definitely say that Mumia did not get a fair trial. When a biased judge ignored the U.S. Constitution, ignored the laws of the State of Pennsylvania, and changed his mind during the trial on points of law when it suited him, the conclusion cannot be avoided that Mumia's guilt or innocence was not established because of massive judicial and prosecutorial misconduct.

Mumia was a member of the Black Panthers. The FBI's COINTELPRO program broke the laws of the United States to discredit, destroy and kill members and supporters of the Black Panthers. Isn't there a possible connection here?

The FBI said that they discontinued COINTELPRO. Isn't there a possibility that a different program, using the same techniques, was established to continue to destroy dissidents? Might not you become a target of such a program?

Why did two months pass before the allegation that Mumia confessed? Why did the police officer originally write in his official police report, “Negro male made no statement,” at the time the alleged confession took place? If Mumia did kill Faulkner, why didn't he flee during those two months?

Why wasn't Mumia allowed to face his accuser at the trial, which, I believe, is a Constitutional right? The judge's reasoning for the nonappearance of a subpoenaed witness at a capital trial was, "He's on vacation today."

~ Steven Greene, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

It makes perfect sense that our government would set a precedent for the assassination of terrorists within the territory of allies with their escapade in Yemen. It simply allows the Israeli government to get away with doing the same thing in the US. I'm sure our government believes that it's much more convenient to have the Mossad murder these terrorists than to actually find, arrest, try and convict them. In a similar manner, the CIA gets around the restrictions against spying on US citizens residing in the US by having the Brits or Canadians spy on those citizens and pass the information to the CIA. Why does this Mossad stuff surprise you? It's no accident.

~ William Blair

Regarding Richard Conde's letter of January 15:

Mr. Conde, in his recent letter, places too much belief in the writings of Joan Peters, writings which were later found to be sponsored by a high ranking Israeli official, and later dismissed by the Israeli academic world.

Anyone who seeks to find out information on the exodus of 1948 should look through the vaults of the British Museum – which hold the radio broadcasts of the region in 1948. There is absolutely no evidence of Arab governments, or individuals, telling the local Palestinian Arabs to leave the region. In fact, the only thing that has been found is that Arabs told their Palestinian comrades to stay in place (Blaming the Victims, ed. Edward Said and Christopher Hitchens). If Mr. Conte can find evidence of print and media calls to the Palestinians to leave, then he should present them.

~ Nateman

From Time Immemorial by Joan Peters was one of the biggest embarrassments to the American Likudniks ever.

After the book had received endless praise by the "Israel: right or wrong" group, back in Israel, the book actually made people angry! Mainly because, Peters' "findings" contradicted many Zionist theories in the 1940s.

The Labor party daily Davar, compared From Time Immemorial to Israel's past ignoble exercises. Chair of the Philosophy department in the Hebrew University Avishai Margalit derided Peters as a "Web of deceit."

But the book really became an embarrassment after a Jewish-American Professor, Norman Finkelstein, wrote a full-scale scholarly refutation of From Time Immemorial in his book Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, where he clearly lays out how Peters distorted and plagiarized her sources. He clearly points to out to the reader on one side; what the source said, on another; what Peters wrote the source said, and on another explains Peters' deceptive tactics.

Finkelstein's study literally smashed Peters study into a thousand pieces with his detailed analysis of how the book was a fabrication from start to finish.

I advise Mr. Conde that if he's so confidant about the findings of Joan Peters, then he would have no problem reading Finkelstein's scholarly rebuttal.

~ HS, Montreal, Canada

Regarding 'Going Crazy' by Justin Raimondo:

Precisely because the war hawks oppose the draft, leads me to believe that there is merit in a compulsory draft. After all, the last war which the American people managed to stop, the Vietnam War, was fought with citizen conscripts. It was Richard Nixon who instituted the all volunteer army as a means of reducing the clamor against the Vietnam War. No less an authority than George Washington counseled the nation against the establishment of a professional army. And there is strong evidence that for the first time in our history, the military is beginning to slip the shackles of civilian control. The hugely disproportionate size of the military budget to any possible threat, the increasing use and influence of special covert operations units and their close working contacts with repressive and non democratic military elites around the world, should give Americans pause. It is time to retake control of the army, and the only way to do that is with citizen soldiers.

~ Robert Jacobini

First off, I have been a huge fan of your column and your excellent website for years – truly this nation needs a source for such relevant and important news items and you have provided it! While I completely support your antiwar stance, your economic focus on free and equitable world markets and agree with your contentions about the dangers of an American Empire, I was a bit disappointed at your knock on hybrid vehicles.

I realize that your focus is not on environmental issues here at Antiwar.com but, at some level, environment, politics, economy and justice are all closely related. For instance, would Bush & co. be building up our troops in the Gulf if Iraq wasn't sitting atop the second largest oil field in the world? Would the Israelis be slaughtering Palestinians if they did not need their land? Our demand for natural resources is, and always has been, a major factor in every human conflict. There are obviously other reasons involved but lets face it: in order to sustain an economic system, natural resources must continue to flow into the system.

Now think what happens when an economy becomes dependent on a finite natural resource. At current rates of consumption, many geologists expect the world's oil reserves to run dry in about 50 years (that is to say in 50 years oil extraction will no longer be an economically feasible energy option). 50 years! And world oil consumption is not staying steady but rather increasing exponentially. Try to imagine what this world would be like without oil. Our economic system relies on massive energy consumption and transportation. This means to sustain our economy the only option is to develop alternative energy sources and to increase the energy efficiency of our transportation and industrial infrastructure. The technology exists to do so – but petrol industries are receiving billions in government handouts (including the US armed forces as their personal security force) making it difficult for energy entrepreneurs to compete in a market that is anything but free and fair.

Personally, I believe that the development of a sustainable economy (one that does not deplete finite natural resources) will be the ultimate test of humanity. We have the technology and the minds to do it. So we face a choice – do we take the initiative and fully invest human and resource capital in a sustainable, restorative, non-petrol economy or do we allow our government to use our tax dollars to fully invest in the destruction of the Middle East and conquest of the worlds remaining petroleum? Obviously the Prius, while trendy, is far from the solution but it is a tiny step in the right direction and I believe that is being reflected in the markets.

As far as relating SUV use to terrorism, just goes to show you that people will use times of war to justify just about anything. So please, don't let these "environmental extremists" sour you opinion on environmentalism, just as one should not let the "liberal" agenda sour their opinion of the antiwar movement. Our economy and our environment are inseparable; by sustaining a healthy ecosystem, we ensure a steady supply of natural resources which, in turn, ensures a healthy economic system. Please consider this point of view and, if you'd like to research it further, check out any book by Paul Hawken or read this: http://www.motherjones.com/mother_jones/MA97/hawken.html, which provides a great introduction to Hawken's theory of "Natural Capitalism."

~ Matthew Perry, Humboldt State University, Natural Resources Planning and Interpretation

I don't know about Hollywood's support for Israel but SUV's are a potent symbol of American avarice and arrogance. The automakers make huge profits on these vehicles. They lobby congress not to require more fuel efficiency and then say "Well, the law doesn't require us to make them more fuel efficient." They spend billions of dollars to convince people to buy them and then say, "We've built fuel efficient cars and nobody bought them". Ninety percent of these urban assault vehicles never leave the pavement. I mostly see them driven by tiny women taking their kid to school. ("What's the purpose of all that hardware around the headlights?" my son asked. "To protect them from the shopping carts in the parking lots" I told him.)

With just 5% of the worlds population America uses 25% of the world's energy and so we must go to war to maintain secure supplies. Our conspicuous consumption is in no way benign to the rest of the world.

A point on the sale of F-16's to Poland: An agreement has been reached to build the engines in Poland. So not only do the taxpayers lose, American jobs are also lost. This deal is not quite as bad as the one several years ago when the we gave the money to Turkey to buy F-16's and then agreed to let the Turks build them under license from Lockheed.

~ Dan Leyde

The Draft

First off, let me state, as a unapologetic fire-breathing liberal, that I was a huge admirer of Charlie Rangel and John Conyers, but no longer. Especially since I heard Conyers berating a draft-dodger on NPR last week. Needless to say, I was astonished.

Let me put this in one real simple statement. If you support the draft, you support war. There is no way to spin this plain fact to fit conclusions.

Whoever thinks that the rich and powerful will not find ways to avoid service, or thinks that there aren't deluded people who are more than happy to sacrifice their sons/daughters for what they see as a greater purpose, they are either stupid or murderously naive.

Mr. Rangel, Mr. Conyers, please cross the aisle. We don't want you speaking for our side anymore. And, Mr. Paul, thank you.

~ Kyle McBride


If, as the White House has said:

A. Iraq's WMD are an imminent threat that MUST be eliminated as quickly as possible; and

B. the UN should be allowed to produce proof those WMD exist before war can be openly declared,

why hasn't the administration immediately given the UN inspectors all of its intelligence regarding on Iraq?

The answer's painfully obvious:

The White House is bluffing, hoping inspectors will find something that can be used to justify an overt invasion.

~ Eric Smith

The Israeli Angle

I find it totally and completely perplexing that you would not use your forum to expose the role of Israel in driving the Bush Administration into this war under absolutely bogus 'national security' justifications. Won't you at least attempt to verify and then consider reporting on the Perle/Feith position paper for Israeli security, whose linchpin is the removal of Saddam Hussein [as reported on] ... AlterNet.Org, November 6, 2002 ... [and in] The Washington Times, October 7, 2002.

Without revealing the vested interest of Bush administration staff, Antiwar.Com has little to no hope of persuading large numbers of Americans that this war has nothing to do with US national security.

~ Steve Jensen

Managing Editor Eric Garris replies:

We have run many articles on this subject and did, in fact, run this exact article you are pointing to. This was one of our top stories the day it came out.

Regarding "How to spell American Empire: B-u-r-d-e-n," by James Pinkerton (Newsday.com):

Mr. Pinkerton feels that while a draft won't trap any of today's American war-hawks, it may catch a few of their sons. It didn't catch America's current leader in the 70's, what makes him think it would catch the sons of the current White House cabal? America has double standards for a reason.

~ Malcolm G. Ratcliffe, Winnipeg, Canada

Regarding "Stand Up for Peace" by Justin Raimondo:

As long as our troops are being sent overseas, it is totally irresponsible for you ill advised individuals to aid and abet the enemy. ...

My brother died in Vietnam at age 24;right out of college. He planned to be in the CIA, but never achieved that goal. In addition to grieving, I had to watch these stupid protesters. Our soldiers were spit at at the airports and called murderers. My brother was not a murderer. He never even played with guns when he was a little guy. He went into the service because the CIA, at that time, indicated a service background, especially an officer background, would be extremely helpful in achieving this lifetime desire. I am just one story; but there are over 58,000 stories like this one.

Think before you act, show respect for your name; show respect for your soldiers and show respect for America. America is not perfect, but tell me a better place. I have seen quite a bit of this world. Every time I go abroad, I come back with more love for this great country. Don't tear it apart just because you don't have enough in your life to do but protest.

~ Janine Clark

Regarding "Do Neocons Exist?" by Justin Raimondo:

Why don't you wake up and smell the coffee! It is coming down to the West vs. Muslim fundamentalists, and Saddam backs them. There will be a war (it is foretold in the Bible), they will attempt to obliterate Israel as a state but Christ will come again and defeat all who are against Israel and God's Kingdom. As long as we support Israel we are OK; if we go against them then we will be destroyed as well.

~ David Brand

Regarding "Ethnic Cleansing: Some Common Reactions" by Ran HaCohen:

Gary Maier: I have a very simple question for you. Do you believe that we Jews have the right to a national homeland in some part of what has been called British mandatory Palestine? I also think that the real truth around what happened to the Arabs in Palestine during the 1948 war was a combination of forced departure along with encouragement by Arab forces to get out of the way while they will defeat the nascent Jewish see below.

Why did Arabs leave the new State of Israel? The vexing question of the "Palestinian Refugees" is one of the perennial open sores of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. The Palestinians left their homes in 1947-48 for a variety of reasons. Thousands of wealthy Arabs left in anticipation of a war, thousands more responded to Arab leaders' calls to get out of the way of the advancing armies, a handful were expelled, but most simply fled to avoid being caught in the cross fire of a battle.

Tragically, had the Arabs accepted the 1947 UN resolution, not single Palestinian would have become a refugee and an independent Arab state would now exist beside Israel.


In any event if you answer yes to my question then it seems everything else is negotiable with the Palestinians.

Ran HaCohen: Indeed, Arabs left their homes in 1948 "for a variety of reasons". To add some flesh-and-blood to your somewhat harmonising description, many of them fled following the massacre of Deir Yassin, where hundreds of noncombatant villagers were butchered, women raped and corpses abused by the Jewish forces (April 1948). Wise civilians always flee battlefields; Israel's greater crime is in not letting them return after the war, and taking their property.

There are about 5 million Jews in Israel today. Most of them have nowhere to go to and do not wish to go anywhere. They have the right to live here safely and peacefully, individually and collectively, in "their own" democratic state if they wish to, whilst respecting the same rights of some 4.5 million Palestinians living in this "British mandatory Palestine" and a large number of refugees who are now outside it. Everything else, as you say, is negotiable and should be negotiated.

Gary Maier: Thanks for your interesting reply. Deir Yassin, was without a doubt an awful crime that some one should have paid for, in jail time and compensation. But I seem to recall from history that the Haganah was not responsible for that event but one of the more radical groups-that were prone to using terror-kind of like Hamas or Islamic Jihad today

It sounds like to me that you are in support of the two state solution? That is what I think should be the eventual outcome; the Palestinians rule the West Bank and Gaza in its entirety with Jerusalem being a shared city. Here is an interesting thought on how to handle the settlements. Just as there are Arabs living in a Jewish culture-Israel, allow the Jewish settlers to live in a Muslim dominate culture as a minority with full democratic rights as citizens of Palestine but of course they must be law abiding. Guess how many will choose to stay – about 0%.

Ran HaCohen: Why does it matter which Jews carried out Deir Yassin? Would you as an Arab have stayed calmly at home, had you known that the entire next village was luckily massacred just by the Etzel and not by the Haganah?

It was indeed more radical groups that carried out the massacre of Deir Yassin, but, according to Benny Morris (Hebrew, p.158), they happened to use Haganah-owned machine-guns, and the commander of the Haganah in Jerusalem had confirmed their operation, though "unwillingly and reluctantly". What would we say if Arafat had claimed he had nothing to do with Hamas suicide bombings, except for giving them some weapons and confirming their attacks "unwillingly and reluctantly"?

A two state solution is good, at least in the short term, but the settlements have to be evacuated – otherwise, the Palestinian "state" cannot fall under the definition of a state. So our disagreements are not that big.

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