Letters – June 7, 2008

Israel at 60

We were disappointed by Ari Goldman’s opinion piece “Israel at 60 — Why celebrations are muted” (PWW5/24-30). Goldman claims that Israel has enjoyed “unparalleled success at assimilating a majority immigrant population from all corners of the globe, many arriving as desperate refugees.” However, he is completely silent on the “desperate refugees” that the Israeli state will not assimilate: namely the Palestinians who were ethnically cleansed from their homeland by the events of 1948 and 1967.

His vision for resolving the conflict between the state of Israel and the Palestinian people calls for “compensation for the forfeiture of settler homes” on one hand and mere “acknowledgment” of Palestinian losses on the other. Goldman seems to be suggesting that Palestinians should be happy with a two-state solution that ignores the right of return of millions of Palestinian refugees. What will Palestinians get for their acquiescence: a few commemorative plaques?

While it may be true that the one-state solution to the conflict is still a minority position, it does not mean that it is a “utopian” position. A strong case can be made that the two-state solution is utopian, having been rendered historically obsolete (ironically) by the West Bank settlements that have permanently altered the demographic situation in Palestine-Israel.

A two-state solution that does not include the Palestinian right of return is a racist solution. Goldman asks us to accept this oppressive situation because “given a 2,000-year history of exile and oppression, most Jews will not abandon their national homeland.” Are Palestinians supposed to wait for 2,000 years in order to have the moral authority to return home? This is absurd.

Sara Barker and Wally Brooker

Toronto, Canada

Author Ari Goldman responds: You raise important issues which I could not begin to probe more deeply in a very brief commentary. The 20th century (indeed every century) is full of population shifts, mostly forced, with awesome human consequences, and in the end there is no pure, complete justice. Our entire Western Hemisphere is “a racist solution,” but still we talk in terms of “national” sovereignty in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, etc. I believe we have to start from where we are now. I purposely used the open-ended term “acknowledgment” to include any solutions and compensations the Israelis and Palestinians see fit to agree upon. History may well prove you correct if a unitary nonsectarian state does eventually emerge, but practically speaking I don’t see either population in the area, or any of the Arab states, or the international community favoring this idea at present. Personally, I wish we could get beyond nationality and talk about class, but that’s not so high on the historical agenda right now either.


Yes, it’s good that Americans are talking about class, and the PWW, with its special charge of offering a Marxist-Leninist outlook, wisely chose to make an editorial comment on the discussion’s shortcomings (PWW 5/24-30). How strange, then, to discover the editorial’s identification of working class as “employed by a company that makes profits from your work.” Where does that leave the postal workers, teachers, police officers, file clerks and millions and millions of others who work for government entities? Is the People’s Weekly World now calling these workers “middle class?” I always thought working class meant people who must sell our ability to work (labor power) in order to survive; as the editorial points out, “working class describes the overwhelming majority in this country.” Have you discovered a new class? Or are all these millions de-classed?

Another perplexing omission from the editorial’s concerns is women. Not only is corporate media’s treatment of class racist; it’s also sexist! It’s incomprehensible that the PWW editorial went to press omitting half the class in its analysis.

With never-ending hope for better,

Lucy Fried

Los Angeles CA

Editor’s note: Good points, especially on women, although the context of the editorial was about the media punditry talking about “white working class” people, including women. And no we’re not calling public workers “middle class” or “declassed.” You have just proven “none of us is as smart as all of us.”

On Sean Bell

I just finished reading the article entitled: “Sean Bell verdict outrages New Yorkers” (PWW 5/3-9) with great sadness. I have viewed videos concerning police brutality recently, and would like to offer a possible solution to this ongoing issue.

In my opinion, positive progress might be made by changing the psychological tests (the actual criteria) by which a community’s police force is hired. This will take time and money, and obviously several PhD psychologists and or psychiatrists to give their input on the new tests, but it would mean real change.

I remember when police were known as peace officers, not law enforcement officers. I hope this suggestion helps. My deepest sympathy goes out to Sean’s family and friends. Thank you for letting me voice my feelings on this subject.

Veronica Ruth Haskin

Via e-mail

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