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Lerner: Self-Hatred Charges Stifle Debate

April 30, 2002

The suggestion by Michael Lerner ("Israel's Jewish Critics Aren't 'Self-Hating,'" Opinion, April 28) that he has been labeled a self-hating Jew is a red herring intended to divert attention from his distortion of the facts. Lerner states that Ehud Barak acted in bad faith during the Camp David negotiations and then reverses himself by writing that at Taba the parties were close to agreement. He neglects to add that after those negotiations Yasser Arafat started hostilities. He writes that Barak did not address the refugee issue; there was an offer of compensation with the resettlement of an agreed number of refugees.

Israel was not responsible for the 1948 refugee problem, and the sources Lerner referred to make that point. Barak also addressed the settlements at Camp David and agreed to dismantle all but six, for which there would be an exchange of land. This short explanation should cast doubt on Lerner's claim that others have called him names; it is his understanding of events that is the problem.

Robert C. Gusman

Calabasas

*

Lerner is correct in confronting those within the Jewish community who would stifle dissent on Israeli actions by labeling Jews who do not agree with Ariel Sharon's tactics "self-hating." This McCarthyite tactic has been shown for what it is: a way for pro-Sharon elements to dismiss much-needed debate within the Jewish community.

There are many Jews within the U.S. who do not agree with Israel's illegal occupation. Lerner and all the other Jewish voices need to be supported, as their voices are the missing ingredient in helping to change the fascist policies of Zionist Israel and in helping to shape the new Israel to become a democratic nation with justice, liberty and guaranteed citizen rights for all.

Shereen Sabet

Huntington Beach

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Lerner's doubts about whether "Jewishness is worth preserving if it means the Jewishness of Sharon" cause me to wonder. Does he realize that his obvious disgust with Sharon must be projected onto the millions of Israelis who now overwhelmingly support Sharon's policies and who elected him by a great majority? We in Israel share Lerner's yearning for a settlement that will bring "recognition of Israel by surrounding Arab states and an end to all acts of terror and violence." We realize that until that day comes, we must fight for our right to live here in security.

Joshua Harvey

Jerusalem

*

Lerner is truly the Atticus Finch of American Jewry. While so many American Jews wrongfully applaud the ongoing brutality of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, Lerner speaks for the few of us who despise the injustices and humiliations that Israel has been inflicting upon the Palestinians for decades. We are not self-hating but proud of our Jewish heritage of ethics and social justice, of which Lerner represents the very best.

Phil Zuckerman

Claremont

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