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The Zionism debate

March 21, 2009

Re "Is anti-Zionism hate?" (Ben Ehrenreich) Opinion, March 15

I was confused by Ben Ehrenreich's argument against Israel.

He argues that "founding a modern state on a single ethnic or religious identity in a territory that is ethnically and religiously diverse leads inexorably either to politics of exclusion ... or to wholesale ethnic cleansing." Yet the nations surrounding Israel are exactly such states, founded on an Islamic rather than a Jewish identity. Few people take issue with that.

That being the case, I cannot agree that "the problem is Zionism." The problem exists quite independent of Zionism -- and if Israel's secular founders used Judaism as the basis for their new nation's identity, they were only taking as their own a model already in use.

James C. Samans

Arlington, Va.

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I was shocked to hear that over the last few decades "it has been all but impossible to cry out against the Israeli state."

I invite Ehrenreich to visit Israel and pick up a newspaper, turn on the television or listen to the radio. There is no shortage of freedom of expression in this little country, and plenty of opinions on how to respond to the international movements bent on the destruction of Israel.

Or Ehrenreich could read The Times, which consistently offers a platform for opinion writers like Ehrenreich to criticize Israel -- often as if Israel's limited response to rocket attacks from Gaza were the moral equivalent of the Nazis starting World War II and slaughtering millions.

Nathan D.

Wirtschafter

Hashmonaim, Israel

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Our world has been shaken by war because of our tendency to unite ourselves on the basis of nationality and ethnic identity -- from the two world wars to Serbian atrocities to the blood bath in Rwanda. It's about time we learned our lesson.

As Ehrenreich points out, Israel is no different. That the more Western Israelis can speak our language, while the Palestinians struggle to make their voices heard in our media, does not change this fact: that all are human and all deserve safety and justice and freedom.

If Zionism cannot accommodate this fact, then we must cast if off as another failed mistake.

Serene Taleb-Agha

Moraga, Calif.

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