Re "A Minor Problem, Overblown," Opinion, Dec. 28: Michael Neumann seems to think that unless Jews are slaughtered en masse, the current visible emergence of anti-Semitism is of little consequence. The Holocaust, pogroms and the wholesale killing of Jews were state-sponsored events, but the climate that fermented them was generated by the writings and false accusations of anti-Semites. It was their accession to power that made such large-scale murders possible.
Today, similar attitudes are fostered in the media and school textbooks of many Middle Eastern countries. This classic anti-Semitism finds its outlet in bombings outside Israel, demonstrating that these Muslim opponents of Israel see Jews, not just Israel, as their enemy. Diverting blame for the failure of Arab states from internal problems to Jews in general cannot be ignored. I shudder to think of what might have been the fate of those Jews who were inhabitants of Arab lands, in the current resurgence of anti-Semitism so cavalierly dismissed by Neumann, had they not left for Israel.
Neumann's final argument proved to be his undoing. Yes, the plight of over 1,500 Honduran street children is horrific, and the deaths of 3 million in the Congo are beyond tragic. In fact, there are many more acts of violence and evil being perpetrated across this planet every day.
But you won't see thousands of people demonstrating for justice or hear of calls for boycotts from universities. As Neumann stated, you won't even read about some of these events in the papers. The press is much too busy printing stories about the evil Israeli soldiers disrupting the lives of the Palestinians in Gaza as they attempt to destroy the tunnels used for smuggling arms and explosives from Egypt for use against Israeli citizens. The fact is that Palestinians are blowing up, shooting and lynching Jews, and the world community does not come out to condemn this violence, all the while condemning Jews (Yes, Mr. Neumann, Israelis are Jews) -- for what? Oh, yes, defending themselves. Well, if you have a better term than anti-Semitism, I'd like to hear it.
Neumann concludes his convoluted screed by stating that anti-Semitism is not a priority, but only after he asserts that "a substantial majority of adult Jews" have "some responsibility" for Israeli "war crimes and human rights violations." Obviously, anti-Semitism is not a priority for someone who believes that most adult Jews are war criminals. The relevant question is whether anti-Semitism is a priority for people who are actually in touch with reality.
As a Jew, I am tired of Abraham H. Foxman ("Jews Face a Widening Web of Hate," Opinion, Dec. 28). Foxman has hijacked the Anti-Defamation League, turning an important and worthy organization into a thinly veiled mouthpiece for Israel's rightist Likud Party and the neoconservative movement and sending out fundraising appeals that trade on Jewish fear of Muslims. His piece, while making a debatable case for a gigantic worldwide increase in anti-Semitism, continues his penchant for virulent defamation of the U.N. and the International Court of Justice.
Of course, the U.N. was deeply wrong in its infamous 1975 resolution equating Zionism with racism -- but that was 28 years ago, and the resolution was repealed in 1991. Certainly, the U.N.'s inevitable politics -- a consequence of the fact that countries that actually disagree with the U.S. get to vote, too -- have made it at times lopsided in its criticism of Israel. Still, Israel as it is today is, in fact, a serious and deeply stubborn threat to world peace with an increasing rap sheet of sometimes severe human rights violations. The International Court of Justice poses no threat to any country or person with a clean conscience.
I agree with Foxman, though, that Israel is far from the biggest threat to world peace. In fact, the Bush administration has turned the United States into a far bigger threat. And, yes, there are other countries far worse than Israel and the U.S. North Korea comes to mind, as does Saudi Arabia. But those countries are corrupt, murderous dictatorships in the thrall of vicious ideologies. Naturally, the world expects more of democracies like ours. American Jews should welcome the fact that Israel is held to a higher standard than the world's most loathsome regimes.
If anti-Semitism is no longer a "high priority" and it is true that "there has never been a better time for Jews to live in than our own," why in the world would The Times devote two major pieces to the subject? The truth is that German Jews in 1932 would have reflected the same naivete.
If Neumann truly believes that this issue has been overblown, perhaps he should try walking down a street in Paris today wearing a kippa and see what type of reaction he receives.
Lorin M. Fife