Attacks justified? Of course not


To the editor:

(re: “Freedom to question, and freedom to just not answer,” Nov. 26)

Adam Stoler’s latest missive aptly illustrates either the naivete or the willful and racist anti-Semitism of those whose attacks on the state of Israel I criticize.

As Harry Soloway (re: “All must be heard on Middle East,” Nov. 26) wrote in the same edition of The Riverdale Press, there is a world of difference between criticism of policies and of politicians — or those governing Israel at a particular moment in time — and scurrilous attacks upon the state of Israel.

The former, justified or not, warrant review on their merits. The latter are shameful and warrant challenge to the author’s motive.

Let me illustrate.

Would it be appropriate to call America, either as a nation or its people, xenophobic because of the current administration’s immigration and related policies? Of course not.

Would it be appropriate to call America, as a nation or its peoples, as being committed to self-destruction because of the current administration’s reckless environmental policies and cavalier disregard of scientific data evidencing the scope and sources of climate change? Of course not.

Would it be appropriate to term all of America, as a nation or its people, as scientifically illiterate — or just plain dumb — because some in national and state leadership positions chose to ignore the scientific data as to the deadly virulence of COVID-19?

There is, and thinking people recognize there is, a difference between the policies of those currently in office and a nation as a whole. Their conflation — all too often deliberate conflation — is mischievous and often willful. Criticism of the former (whether valid or not) is to be expected. Criticism of a nation and all of its people because of particularized concerns is not, especially where designed to evoke hatred or ignominy.

Again, illustration may prove helpful.

Time and again, the above distinction has been called to the attention of U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her sponsors. And time and again, the distinction has been deliberately ignored.

And this despite the fact that the largest segment of the Israeli voting population voted (rightly or wrongly) for the opposition Blue and White party, and not for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition in contests in which many of the policies criticized by some (and, with equal passion, supported by others) were squarely at issue, thus compelling the conclusion that not all Israel concurs with those policies or their execution.

Yet, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, her patrons and followers cling unheedingly to their hateful slurs. To my mind they are pariahs, and merit treatment as such.

Because hateful speech is harmful speech — through both are generally protected under the First Amendment — those of us who personally experienced the damage done (by the likes of Joseph Goebbels) through the adroit use of conflation to advance bigotry and worse, we are determined to unhesitatingly call it out.

Those misled (or misunderstood) can readily alter course by clarifying their concerns as issue- or person-oriented. Those unwilling to do so are rightly branded and shamed.

Charles Moerdler

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Charles Moerdler,