Where was Ms. Spikol several months ago when TV showed pictures of two Israeli soldiers who had inadvertently wandered into a Palestinian town and had been captured? The two soldiers were taken to a prison where they were repeatedly stabbed and their bloody bodies, still quivering with life, were thrown out of a window, down to a crowd where they were beaten to death. The crowd then poured their blood on the building and dragged their bodies through the streets.

Where was Ms. Spikol a few days ago when a crowd of Palestinians grabbed three of their own people out of a car, accusing them of talking to Israeli soldiers? The Palestinians then shot these men in various non-lethal parts of their bodies and while they were still alive, the crowd then put out lit cigarettes in their wounds until they died screaming. Cheering on this display of inhumanity were Palestinian children and adults who shouted their pleasure.

Ms. Spikol accuses the Israelis to be "utterly without humanity." How do these Palestinian displays of behavior stack up against what the Israelis have done? Furthermore, would she care to have such Palestinians as her neighbors?

Ms. Spikol's indifference to the plight of Israel, which finds itself in a fight for its very existence, makes me wonder what kind of Jewish reporter she is when she ignores the anti-Semitism of Arabs worldwide who blatantly call for the destruction of Israel. Ms. Spikol even ignores the fact that much of Europe is once more in its 1940s mode of anti-Semitism, attacking Jews and burning their synagogues. Ms. Spikol's writings do nothing but encourage and incite anti-Semites to be more active.

Hitler and Eichmann must be jumping for job in their graves.

Kenneth C. Frishtick

"Never Again" Applies to Israel, Too

Thank you for publishing Liz Spikol's sad, brave essay (Back Page, April 24), which claims that Israel has crossed the line from justifiable self-defense to oppression in its recent assaults on Palestinian refugee camps. With a troubled heart, I number myself among the American Jews who she hopes will refuse to cross the line alongside the Jewish state.

I suspect the reasons why so many continue to uncritically support Israel go deeper than a mere "sentimentality" that makes them accept Israeli "defensive politics" even when carried to extremes.

The point of reference to which our thoughts about Israel always return is the near-extermination of European Jewry in the mid-20th century. Two features of the Holocaust in particular — the appalling passivity with which most of the victims went to their deaths and the inability of American Jews to mobilize our government to act forcefully on the victims' behalf — have implanted an attitude that can be summed up in the slogan "Never Again!"

In politics, this attitude has engendered the double standard that Spikol cites, in which we condone injustice and brutality when those on the receiving end are Israel's sworn enemies. A great danger flows from this partisanship. By closing ranks and stifling our qualms (lest the anti-Semites perceive division in our ranks), we give the hawkish leaders of Israel a blank check to raise the level of violence as they please. With a dreadful irony, we invite the sons of genocide's victims to indulge in policies that ever more closely resemble those of genocide's perpetrators.

This is not to say that Sharon has concentration camps and gas chambers in his plans — no, there still exist lines no Jew would cross. And it's not to say that the Palestinian leadership has anything like Israel's founders' claim to moral authority — no, Arafat has made a long career of inflaming resentment to excuse his total failure to alleviate his people's misery. However, there remains an affinity among the powerful who willingly increase the world's quotient of suffering, and another affinity among the weak who suffer. When I listen to the news and hear the voices of Palestinian mothers searching for information on sons dragged from their homes in a mass roundup, I can't help recalling a letter my father wrote as a German boy of 11 to the local Gestapo asking where they had taken his half-Jewish mother. With due respect for the obvious differences of scale and intent, we Jews need to interpret the injunction "Never Again" not just as an admonition to oppose evil done to us but also as a challenge to denounce evil done in our name.

Raphael Seligmann



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