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Anti-Semitism on College Campuses

October 28, 2002

Re "Prejudice and Politics Mix in Slurs on Israel," Commentary, Oct. 24: I would like Norah Vincent to explain what is "hysterical" about pacifism (a belief held sacred by millions of Hindus, Buddhists, Quakers and others, including Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.) and multiculturalism (the idea that no one culture has a monopoly on truth or goodness).

I also wonder what her definition of postmodernism is, and whether she would dismiss every bit of Marxist doctrine -- for example, the belief that capitalists derive their wealth by paying labor less than it produces, a proposition shared by Marx and Adam Smith, the founder of capitalism. Finally, I challenge Vincent to clarify why opposing Zionism is "by definition" anti-Semitic, particularly when some of Zionism's most outspoken opponents are Orthodox Jews who believe only the Messiah can lead the Jews back into Israel and that a secular state is a betrayal of biblical principles.

Vincent is usually much more measured and thoughtful, but in this piece she has adopted the knee-jerk, superficial anti-liberalism of the most reactionary elements of the right wing.

Dan Brezenoff

Long Beach

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Re Vincent's column: Every word tried and true. Our campuses suffer from three diseases: anti-Israelism, anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism. Hand in hand with these three go pro- fanatic Islam disguised as being pro-Palestinian, terror and a goal to silence every voice defending Israel, Jews and America.

Our schools are sick. With Vincent's piece we are finally beginning to hear the heartbreaking story of what is going on at our universities, using our tax dollars to spread these three awful diseases.

Batya Dagan

Los Angeles

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Vincent's assertion that comparison between apartheid and the treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza is erroneous "because blacks in South Africa were not in the habit of sending suicide bombers into Johannesburg" is not a valid argument. It might not be a perfect comparison, but there are plenty of similarities.

In the West Bank, about 200,000 settlers control almost 45% of the land, with a majority of the water resources in an area where water is a precious commodity. There are settler-only highways slicing up the West Bank into "cantons" of Palestinian land. In order to protect these settlers, Israel has to impose restrictions on millions of Palestinians. This is taken to ridiculous extremes in Hebron, where a few thousand settlers' safety has forced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to deal with checkpoints and curfews for years. If this is not apartheid, I can't imagine what is.

This system of ruling the West Bank and Gaza has been in place since before any suicide bomber was sent to any Israeli city. Vincent tries to paint the occupation as an effect of terrorism, which is in direct contradiction to the facts.

Omar Al Taher

Los Angeles

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