#1 Recent PhD in Sociology and Conflict Studies Wrote:"I just want to say I commend you for writing this because it takes courage to reach out. Whether or not people agree with you is not as important as the need to foster constructive dialog. Given the volatility of the geopolitics in the region I think it is important to focus on the propensity for this, and in many ways you’ve prototypically laid the foundations…I have many opinions on the Middle East situation. Yet much of my *emotive* response is not ensconced in the specificities of what is happening right now in the Middle East, but based on an angry and reactionary frustration to war in general. Having done my research in Burma, a country with a military dictatorship still engaged in internal colonization, ethnic cleansing, rape, and pillage of its peripheral populations, I have yet to master the art that fuses objectivity with intellect. In this regard I’m no better than any political entrepreneur across the present or throughout time. Good luck and best wishes to you and everyone. I'm sorry I can't be any more bjective than this."

 

#2 A California Health Practitioner Wrote:
"It is shameful how ignorant the American public is to world affairs, but 
namely our generation. I am greatly reminded of this sad state when I am 
abroad.Our grandparents and parent's generation seem to seek out the "going 
ons" in the world (abroad, national, and local) in a day to day 
manner. I don't find that so with our generation, with the very few 
exceptions of those who have sought higher education. This saddens me 
because for one I am just as guilty of such ignorance and two, what we 
turn our heads to will come or us eventually. Your email is a reminder 
to me that staying current on world affairs is a practice and a 
responsibility to the community at large."

#3 A Entrepenuer from Atlanta got us a Textbook Definition of "Zionism"
  • A Definition of Zionism

Zionism, the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel, advocated, from its inception, tangible as well as spiritual aims. Jews of all persuasions, left and right, religious and secular, joined to form the Zionist movement and worked together toward these goals. Disagreements led to rifts, but ultimately, the common goal of a Jewish state in its ancient homeland was attained. The term “Zionism” was coined in 1890 by Nathan Birnbaum.

 

#4 A California High school teacher Wrote:

“I wanted to comment on something that you wrote that I want to set straight and something that I completely agree with….I, as a very proud Jew (which I may debate in light of recent events), have never considered myself a Zionist. I don’t consider Israel to be a part of my culture any more than I consider other areas of the world which I haven’t traveled to yet to be a part of my culture. I have never been to Israel, nor do I feel an allegiance to Israel. I am aware of what this part of the world stands for in regards to “my people’s” history, but I have always thought it peculiar to take something as permanent as the beginning of, what some consider, religion, the geographic and spiritual focal point of such, the land of Israel, away from one group, returning it to another, then back and forth all over again. Why or how the international community in the 20th century thought that this would not lead to warring parties in the future, near future, I will never know.

I agree that blind nationalism is something to be fearful of….shit, I can’t even pick a political party to claim allegiance to. But in this day and age, when we see and practice patriotism while protesting against our government’s actions, it’s obvious to me that unless one is from a religious state, I’ll say non-western, I don’t understand how one can practice nationalism. I have never understood or been a member of the Jew=Zionist party. I agree with you in the respect that this is something that we should be talking about.

I have met now once with a group of young Jews through the SF Jewish Federation to discuss the many view points that we all have. Some are all-out, die-hard fans of Israel and, above all, believe that Israel is protecting itself. Some others were from this group in Berkeley called something like…Jews against Israel. It was fascinating nonetheless because almost every aspect of opinion was represented.

I also think that there are other issues to think about here and how they tie in with the M. East. What about the new deals the Venezuelan President is making with Iran? How about the Muslim conflict and ‘barbarianism’ that is affecting Somalia and Ethiopia? This ‘conflict’ is the new war of worlds so to speak and I don’t see things getting better before they significantly worsen. And I don’t mean that in an end of the world or pessimistic way, just a realistic one. And in having this opinion, I am somewhat afraid of what it means for myself and other Americans living in a crowded city. Let’s face it, SF is a great “target”. Sometimes I am scared.(I’ve been following a blog of a young Lebanese woman documenting her horrific experiences. She’s since relocated somewhere North and I haven’t received any new info in days. She warned us that her internet connection could soon go and so I am assuming that she is ok and has no power.)”

#6 A BioPhysicist in New York Wrote:
"I have to say, living in NY gives one a deep desire to connect with global politics and the state of 
the global union. What are your thoughts on Israel’s confidence to go ballistic in relation to US 
occupation of Iraq?"

#7 - A Marketing Exec in Texas Wrote:
" Hi -- I'm not sure how to post my comments onto your site. I know very little about politics. In fact, I know very little about most things. But what I do know is that people are emotional and react based on those emotions, be they informed or, as it is in most cases, uninformed. And my emotions on the war are such:

Israel has every right to retaliate. If Lebanese citizens get killed it’s because Hezbolah is using them as shields and operating within civilian-populated areas.

I imagine the Israeli army has very sophisticated weaponry — as does the US. We’ve all seen the pinpoint accuracy with which the smart weapons strike (as well as few mishaps, granted). I think they’re targeting the areas as closely as possible to minimize unnecessary civilian death.

The Lebanese government, if it were truly against Hezbolah, would be sending their own people in to quell the violence. But since they are reluctant or unable to do so, Israel takes action.

The media is manipulative in the fact that some are painting a negative image on Israel’s retaliation — framing them as the evil aggressors killing innocent civilians. Hello — if they weren’t being bombed in the first place, all civilians in both countries could be living their lives as peacefully and prosperously as possible.

Those radicals only see things in black and white. They are hell-bent on destroying Israel and the US. If they could only come to some sort of mutual terms where everyone could live out their lives without the terror, warfare and bullshit, maybe we could all realize that there are probably more similarities than differences between us. But I honestly believe that they will never modify their thinking. I wish I were more mature in my feelings, but I’m not. I hope they all die.

Harsh words, I know. But I have to put them out there.

#9 A Salesman from Atlanta Wrote:

“I couldn’t agree with you more in the blatant propogation of “blind nationalism” and the manipulation of the general international public’s unimformed opinions to further pursue goals that none of us will ever fully know. At times, I wonder if the contradictory groups are conciously aware of their own goals, aspirations, and consequences of their actions. I think it can somewhat be contributed to overwhelming omnipresent human condition to evolve. By that, I mean that none of us individually are ever satisfied with what we have. Evolution is an ongoing process and doesn’t allow us to sit back comfortably and say “job done, now what.” Therefore, since all groups are made up of individual people, we find that same omnipresent drive in governments, radical groups, and even world religions. Some are “fortunate” enough to actively pursue this drive and others have to wait for their opportunity. But I think innately, we all are concerned with furthering our own points of view and existence. And simply stated…I agree with you, none of the ongoing crisis is coincidental; it is all related with this common denominator and has been present since the beginning.

As far as the “blind nationalism” goes….I think people enjoy a sense of belonging to something; and if something should go wrong, they have never actually belonged to anything and can codemn it. Should something go right…well, then everyone can hold hands, hug, and make up songs about how great their particular group is and hope more people will see it their way once the word spreads. As stated earlier, all groups are made up of individuals. This is why I believe not enough of us (humans), spend ample time on developing a personal self knowledge. Many of us walk along meandering paths of life without direction because we have chosen to fill our minds with other people’s opinions, problems, emotions, and beliefs. In my opinion, this is where the birth of “blind nationalism” experiences creation. People want to latch onto to anything that gives them a sense of identity. Outside of governments and religions, we find an international example in Sports. People use sports teams to give themselves an identity and sense of belonging. In this case, it doesn’t even require opposing nations; just a different color jersey is capable of evoking “wartime emotions” and a sense of the need to dominate the opponent.

So…..in conclusion to my originally intended quick reply, I agree with you and commend you for starting conversation. Even if it’s a couple of people that reply.”

#10 – Bobbi Blake Wrote:

“I have strong feelings about what you sent. You are in the Muslim world reading the Muslim press. Granted we don’t see all there is in the US–I find the BBC more balanced, but I would argue that the Muslim press is as slanted, if not more so, than the US press. It’s time to stop the blame and focus on the reality of what IS and what can be done to remedy it.

I was born within months of Israel’s creation. I grew up in the shadow of WW II and am a generation closer to the Holocaust than you. I have friends that are survivors of the camps, and friends who are children of survivors of the camps. I don’t think Jewish=Zionism because I have always feared that what is happening now would indeed happen—that the Jews would ghettoize themselves in the Holy Land and would once again be ripe for extermination. However the world agreed to create Israel AND Palestine in 1948. Both should have a right to exist in peace.

But the Arab world declined that solution, over and over again. And now the landscape has changed. Now terrorism and random killing reigns. The Israelis are not blameless in this. The Hagganah was a terrorist organization and Mosad doesn’t exactly have clean hands. But then, as now, Israel was fighting for its very existence. No, that is not hyperbole. It is fact. When Hezbollah and Hamas refuse to remove from their charters their dedication to the destruction of Israel, it is a problem not only for Israel but for the world as a whole. Because if terrorism reigns supreme there, it reigns supreme everywhere.

I opposed the war in Iraq from the get go. We had Saddam contained, I never believed he was a threat to us or anyone else but his own people, and if he did try anything, there is no question we could have stopped it quickly. Much like Vietnam, we had no business being there. It was not our problem. But we have an idiot in the White house who shot first and asked questions later, and I see that incursion as an enabling factor in what is going on today. We dissipated our strength, lost our moral authority, and took our eye off the ball, allowing Iran and Syria to give aid and comfort to the terrorists.

Remember Clinton left office very close to an agreement on a two state solution. Everyone was hopeful. And then 9/11 and the whole world turned upside down. We were hit in a random but well planned attack on civilians by terrorists and for a brief moment in time, we and the whole world felt justified in taking on those terrorists and the state in which they were allowed to flourish. I supported that. How was that any different from Hezzbolah shooting random rockets into a sovereign country and that country taking them, and the state which gave them safe harbor, on?

I hate war, I most especially hate hate that civilians are a casualty of war. We bombed Afghanistan indiscriminately for months and the world supported that as justified. At least the Israelis drop leaflets telling civilians to get out of town. We did not. Go back even further—-we were brought into WW II by a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. We spent years and many young lives trying to defeat the Japanese, long after Germany and Italy surrendered. And when it became clear that the Japanese would not give up, THIS COUNTRY dropped the two worst bombs in the history of humankind on two civilian populations. Was it the right thing to do? I don’t know, but I do know that the whole world thanked us and we have in Japan today, a strong and loyal ally.

This morning I awakened to news of the thwarting of a huge terrorist plot against civilian airlines. Is this not MY problem? Is this not a threat to MY life? Who are these people? Do I want them taken out—you bet! But who is on the front line of that battle? It is Israel. And we are not only allowing them to do it alone, but vilifying them for it as well. I am glad that Israel is taking the position they are, not because I am a Jew, but because I want to live in a civilized society. I don’t think all Muslims, or all Arabs, or non-westerners are evil. I believe the vast majority also want to live peaceful lives and be left alone. A friend once said to me, do you want to be right or do you want to get what you want. It’s time for the indiscriminate killing to stop, for those who would rather be dead than get what they want, to be dead. This is not Israel’s problem, it is the world’s problem. We can no longer afford to argue about who did what to whom. We must support the total destruction of terrorism, in all its forms.”

Bobbi Blake

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