Editor's Note: This week, we publish an extended letters section dedicated only to Bob Norman's September 26 column, "Hawking for Israel." We received dozens of missives in response to the article, so many that we couldn't fit them all. We will publish more in upcoming weeks.
They feel we are despicable questioners: Bob Norman's September 26 article, "Hawking for Israel," was more than repugnant. To question the loyalty of Congressmen Peter Deutsch and Robert Wexler as Americans brings to mind the accusation of dual loyalty, one of the anti-Semitic canards.
It is the responsibility of all elected officials to analyze public policy issues and determine a course of action based upon the facts and shared values. Since September 11, 2001, the United States has been forced to view the world differently. Now we know that state-sponsored terrorism can be exported anywhere in the world and that the United States might be forced to act first. Most members of Congress, regardless of religious persuasion, share that view.
Norman's tone, unsubstantiated accusations, and muckraking style conjure up images of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda designed to tear the South Florida community apart. No one is disputing his right to advocate for a careful analysis of President Bush's Iraqi policy, but that should be done in a thoughtful, well-reasoned way.
Questioning the loyalty of two local congressmen is a despicable act. Norman doesn't question the American loyalty of hundreds of other representatives, in both the House and Senate, who have consistently supported the only true democracy in the Middle East, to say nothing of every president since Harry Truman. We would have expected more from New Times.
Amy Goldin, Chair, Community Relations Committee
Pepi Dunay, Vice President, Community Relations Committee
United Jewish Community
of Broward County
While he's a Luddite when it comes to the Israeli death machine: Congratulations on "Hawking for Israel." It was a great article. Rarely does anyone examine the death grip that AIPAC and their evangelical Christian "amen" corner have on the U.S. Congress.
Now be prepared for fanatics to emerge from the woodwork with some rather predictable taunts. If you're a gentile, you'll be branded as an anti-Semite. If you're Jewish, they'll label you a "self-hating Jew."
Take comfort in knowing that the more virulent and vicious the response, the more powerful the article was. It's good to know that other Americans out there object to the blank check given to the Israeli death machine. Keep it up!
via the Internet
While he wants an apology: Your recent cover story raises questions about President Bush's proposal to authorize military force to obtain Iraq's compliance with U.N. resolutions regarding the development, storage, and use of weapons. In our democratic society, a vigorous debate over the use of such military force is essential. However, Mr. Norman's column goes beyond vigorous debate. It contains vehemently anti-Jewish attacks.
It is absurd to imply that, because U.S. Congressmen Robert Wexler and Peter Deutsch support the state of Israel, they are working for Jerusalem. The vast majority of Congress supports Israel -- not because of any American-Jewish influence but because it is in the best interest of the United States to be aligned with Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.
Mr. Norman's reference to certain key U.S. administration officials as "Jewish," and Wexler as "Orthodox" implies that our government is controlled by some sort of Zionist cabal. It is repugnant and smacks of anti-Semitism.
It is acceptable and healthy to voice strong opinions about President Bush's plans. Jewish-Americans and all other Americans -- including elected officials -- are entitled to advocate for their own interests without having their patriotism and integrity questioned. Fortunately, in a democracy, it is possible to be Jewish, pro-Israel, and a loyal American.
It is our opinion that New Times owes sincere apologies to the Jewish community.
Stephen Mendelsohn, Vice Chair
Jewish Community Relations Council Jewish Federation
of South Palm Beach County
While he looked into his crystal ball and saw... letters! Thank you for Bob Norman's excellent article. The story was like a breath of fresh air, and Norman will probably receive some abusive letters.
I agree that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has a lot of innocent blood on his hands; his track record is horrible. Our brave president told him to "pull out" when his troops went into Palestinian territory, and the president then said, "I mean what I say." Sharon ignored George W. Bush, who sided with the Israeli leader against a very weak Arafat after that.
The late actor Sterling Hayden said during the Vietnam War: "No politician should be allowed to make war." We have Sen. Joe Lieberman, Rep. Robert Wexler, Rep. Peter Deutsch, and many other politicians pushing constantly for war. Not one of these men, who always seem to hide behind the American flag, will shed a drop of blood. Lyndon Johnson, another president from Texas, used to say in his speeches at the beginning of the Vietnam War, "My fellow Americans." He painted North Vietnam as something of an evil empire. George Bush says, "We are Americans." Somewhat similar?
The butcher bill for the unnecessary war in Vietnam was 58,219 Americans killed, probably three times as many wounded, and more than 300,000 North Vietnamese killed. What will the butcher bill be for a war in Iraq? Not one American should die fighting in Iraq (another unnecessary war), and not one Iraqi should die (we have more than enough Iraqi scalps on our belts from the Gulf War). Even if they have a nuclear bomb, which they don't, let them and "us Americans" have peace.
The cost of a war (not my figures) is $50 billion to $200 billion. With some of that money, we can help the 12 million people who are starving to death in Africa or even maybe help keep our airlines, which are in the red, flying.
As for Lieberman, Wexler, and Deutsch, if the bodies of young Americans start to come back from their war, there will be a backlash, and many fingers will be pointed at them. Unlike them, I want our servicemen and women to have long, happy lives.
While he seems to be rather computer-geek-oriented: I was going to write a detailed commentary on the article "Hawking for Israel" but decided it would be a waste of time, since the computer chip inside Bob Norman's head (in place of a brain) appears to be pre-programmed.
While he's downright impressed: "Hawking for Israel" was the most logical editorial I have read on the Middle East.
via the Internet
While she'll never pick up this free rag again: Your portrayal of Robert Wexler and Peter Deutsch in your lead Bob Norman story was vicious and strictly not only anti-Israel but anti-Semitic to boot.
I never voted for either of them but find your article reprehensible. I for one will never again read your paper -- even as a freebie. Your paper owes them both an apology!
While he could have at least written out the term bullshit: I just wanted to commend Bob Norman for the article about Wexler, Deutsch, and all government officials whose allegiance to Israel for personal and/or political reasons does not concur with the interest of the nation and the American people.
One of the main reasons the Jewish lobby and its followers have been able to put Israel in the forefront of our foreign policy and fool the American people into thinking that it is in the interest of our country is that they have been able to successfully capitalize on people's lack of knowledge and interest in foreign affairs... unless a war is pending, at which point the average citizen gets a crash course on the issues at hand, not by researching them but by listening to CNN, Fox, etc., and occasionally reading mainstream newspapers, all of which describe the issues in the same dimension.
Because the media in general has been (for various reasons) so biased in describing the conflicts in the Middle East, it is refreshing to read an article like Norman's that mentions the unmentionable: Israel!
Once again, I commend Norman for honoring his profession and for reporting with objectivity and honesty. The American people need more of this kind of reporting and less of the b.s. we hear every day just about everywhere.
While he's ready to pull the plug on the thug: Bob Norman, like most well-intentioned "doves" when it comes to Iraq, just doesn't get it. A number of members of Congress, who share Bob's feelings, are also totally clueless when it comes to what's really at stake here.
When Bob states that Saddam Hussein "has no motive to lash out wildly with chemical weapons unless we attack him first," it is eerily reminiscent of the members of the British Parliament, in the 1930s, who refused to believe Winston Churchill's ranting about what a growing danger Adolph Hitler was. Hitler could have been stopped in his tracks early on. But by the time the world woke up, it was almost too late -- and for the tens of millions who died, including 6 million Jews, it was too late. If not for the United States, in fact -- and for some top-gun British fliers -- the Europeans, who had preferred to "let sleeping dogs lie," would all be speaking German.
Now we have Saddam Hussein, a man who, according to the onetime head of his nuclear development program, could soon have nukes of his own. He already has bio-chemical weapons that he will not hesitate to use on his enemies, or perceived enemies. Interestingly, we're the ones who helped arm him with the technologies to produce these weapons in the first place, which is something I wrote about at length in my book, The Hunting Horse: The Truth Behind the Jonathan Pollard Spy Case, years before Newsweek "broke" the story.
There is truly a plethora of reasons why Saddam has to be stopped before it's too late and why he has become a major threat to our national security, but here is just one scenario. Saddam could be tempted, this time, to load his scud missiles with chemical-biological warheads and aim them at Tel Aviv. Israeli military intelligence, meanwhile, has a saying in the form of a riddle: "What is three feet deep and glows in the dark? Answer: Baghdad, five minutes after a biochemical attack against Israel."
Before Israel turns Iraq into a large ashtray, it would be wise for us to pull the plug on the thug.
While he's ready to pull the plug on geopolitically informed columns: Bob Norman's article, really more an editorial than factual reportage, deserves comment. While it assured us of his even-handedness by condemning both Arafat and Sharon, the piece is really a hatchet job on Congressmen Wexler and Deutsch, and worse.
Apparently, according to Norman, holding views in support of Israel is by definition an anti-American position. Your cover describes them as "congressmen from Jerusalem," and the lead-in to the article carries the bold and unattributed proclamation that they are "clearly serving foreign interests rather than the national interest." Later, the article identifies the source of this opinion as a "Muslim political activist." Presumably this Muslim political activist, whose views on the Middle East differ from Wexler's and Deutsch's and are more to Norman's liking, is serving our national interests, not foreign interests.
Implying that one's political opponents are foreign, disloyal, and vaguely traitorous is a time-tested refuge of scoundrels and is easier than coherently defending one's views. Norman's pretense at objectivity would be more compelling if he had refrained from characterizing every utterance by these congressmen as "propaganda" or "robotic."
Norman advocates a U.N.-sponsored "two-state system fair to both Israel and Palestine." Too bad that the Palestinian people and the neighboring Arab states didn't accept the U.N. partition plan of 1947, preferring to initiate a war that has continued, with intermittent outbreaks of peace, to the present. Too bad that Arafat did not accept the Clinton partition plan, preferring, in the fall of 2002, to initiate a bloody intifada sequel.
Finally, Norman lets us in on the U.S. imperialist plot to "conquer the Muslim world militarily." No evidence provided. We went into Iraq several years ago to restore the sovereignty of Kuwait and left shortly thereafter. We went into Afghanistan to restore its sovereignty and are in the process of extricating our forces to allow international peacekeepers and nation-builders to do their jobs. We went into Kosovo to permit the Muslim majority to preserve its autonomy from Serbian domination and left.
If we are imperialists, we're totally incompetent. Perhaps Bob Norman should avoid geopolitical commentary to focus on corrupt local politicians; he does that really well.
While she (finally) has been waiting for this: Great article about the pro-Israel, South Florida connection. I was truly surprised that a local paper would print such a piece, given that any criticism of Israel and its supporters is vilified and condemned by almost everyone. When I was a reporter in Southern Arizona in the '80s, I ran into trouble with pro-Israeli groups. I'm delighted that New Times wasn't afraid to print your story.
One point that wasn't raised directly is how the hawks for Israel can legitimize their efforts. Isn't it a double standard to support a Jewish state when in this country, we're supposed to be about the separation of church and state? I know this has never been a problem for Americans, but shouldn't someone point out the double standard? If this country is going to pretend to be a secular society, then why should there be any exceptions?
via the Internet
While he is quite the alarmist: How dare Bob Norman point to Jewish hypocrisy. Can the Holocaust be far off?
Brooklyn, New York
While clarity impresses him: I am amazed at the clarity with which Bob Norman told the underlying truth of this region's conflict. But I am even more amazed that he had the courage to speak this blindly unpopular point of view. I'm sure that those who cannot see two sides of a coin are making it hard for an American writer who doesn't cave to political pressure. Bravo!
While he ridiculously thinks we are actually pro-anything: Once again... you show your paper to be pro-Arab. You want to turn Jews into Nazis. But let's not forget the truth: All Israelis want is peace. There is no peace without victory. We must protect this country from terrorists. Think what suicide bombers can do with a nuclear device!
Do you think you can publish the New Times in any Arab country? Why doesn't Israel have problems with Turkey? It's a Muslim country. Maybe you should not protect Arab extremism and your pro-Arab league!
via the Internet
While this conspiracy theorist missed that some New Times editors are Jews: I have enjoyed Norman's writings for New Times, especially his articles on the sleazy mayor of Pompano Beach. The article on Wexler hit a bull's-eye. In my opinion, 9/11 would never have happened if the United States had not been the main contributor to Israel.
I am opposed to the invasion of Iraq. Only an idiot would not see that it would be only to protect Israel. When did our country decide to be a protector of Israel? Why are we not a protector of the Arab people? As a World War II veteran, I am tired of sending our young American troops off to be killed for reasons that have nothing to do with protecting our country. Palestinians are being killed, and the news services barely mention the fact. But when someone from Israel is killed, it makes for big headlines.
The ratio between the two is 10-to-1. The United States continues to pour $3 billion a year in aid into Israel. U.S. citizens need to ask themselves why we send arms, tanks, and planes to Israel and nothing to Palestine. Is Israel our friend? Then why did it bomb one of our ships? Why does it have spies spying on us? The Jewish people in our country seem to have a stranglehold on our politicians. Why? How can a minority do this? We, of course, know that they control the media, banks, and entertainment industry. If anyone is running for office, he has to state that he is a friend of Israel or he or she does not have a prayer of being elected.
Robert L. Bowman
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While we are letting him know today: Well, well.... That was a pretty gutsy piece on the "Hawking" stuff.
Can you let your readers know, say, one month from now, of the reaction? Maybe, you will get a bit of hate mail? Demands for a writer with opposing views to have an equal number of column inches? Love letters to advertisers? Hang on tight!
via the Internet