Readers weigh in on East Germany, Israel, Palestine, democracy, and the bomb
A performance at Berlin's Festival of Political Songs in 1982. | Thomas Neumann / Folkszene DDR

People’s World readers offer their take on a number of recent articles featured in our pages. The comments below have been proofread and edited for length. Join the discussion on the PW website and on Facebook. Your thoughts could be the next to appear in this space.

Re: “Ossies,” former East Germans, compare socialist youth with life under capitalism

Barbara Dane says:

In February 1970, I was thrilled to be the first American invited to sing at the Political Song Festival held in the DDR [Deutsche Demokratische Republik] by the FDJ (Free German Youth). I met many enthusiastic young people there, who made sure that I learned as much as possible about their world during my brief visit. I also had the chance to visit Victor Grossman and renew acquaintances since we first met at the World Youth Festival in Prague, 1947. I saw first-hand that all the talk about a drab and repressed society then heard in my country was rubbish! It was surprising and exciting to walk down a seemingly dull and quiet avenue only to find on entering almost any door that a flourishing cultural life was going on inside. What was missing? Ah, it must be the lack of gaudy neon signs that made it seem there was nothing going on! What a relief to be away from the constant drumbeat of Madison Ave. for a few days… and what an inspiration to feel the enthusiasm for life and respect for one another that seemed to characterize this place, where not many years before, jack-booted racist killers had dominated, spreading destruction across the world. Now, at age 90, I will always remember those festival days and those encounters with the greatest warmth and hope.


Re: “Israel in Egypt”: A Handel oratorio propagandizes for colonialism and war

Thomas Riggins says:

Well, I don’t blame Handel for the words found in Exodus but I object to this observation from Artistic Director Grant Gershon: “I’m struck by how the Exodus story has spoken to so many different peoples over the last three millennia—especially today, with so many refugee crises and displaced peoples. To me, the heart of the Exodus story is this miraculous and unique restoration of a people to their homeland.” 1. In Exodus the Hebrews are not refugees as they want to leave Egypt and they have God himself feeding them and guiding the way. They are pioneers (why it took 40 years to get to the Palestine from Egypt is a problem). 2. The Exodus is not the “restoration” of a people to a homeland—they had no homeland and had to set one up for themselves by eliminating the Indigenous populations. The “Promised Land” belonged to somebody else. 3. It’s not a unique story—history is full of cases of one people taking over the land from another and using God as an excuse (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Spanish in the Americas, the Pilgrims, Manifest Destiny of the U.S., etc. (How did the Turks get Turkey?) Let the Baroque be the Baroque!


Re: “Israel in Egypt”: A Handel oratorio propagandizes for colonialism and war

Hershl Hartman says:

All I want to do is to point out that many anthropologists and historians trace the origin of the Hebrew tribes to a break among the Canaanites, rather than the Bible’s description of their conquest and melting. So, if the Canaanites are the forebears of the Palestinians, they may well be those of the Israelis, as well. Perhaps another reason for peace via a two-state solution, as envisaged by the UN in 1947?


Re: Richard Falk speaks on Israel and the question of apartheid

Eliza Schmid says:

When I was in Israel in 1982, I came home saying to everybody that in Israel the Palestinians have a similar status there as the Mexican immigrants have here, without having done much studying about Israel prior to going there. I ended up getting to know the kindest people on the West Bank and in Nazareth and in the Arabic part of Jerusalem after befriending a Palestinian psychologist. Since then I have studied much more and have a better understanding of the problems there.


Re: Learning to love the bomb: Trump policy makes nukes “more usable”

Zen Arts says:

Socialism or Barbarism: Of all the existential threats to humanity that capitalism poses, nuclear war must be the most serious. If implemented, the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) must be considered the most serious threat to global peace and disarmament in a generation. Where is the “peace dividend” the end of the Cold War promised? There is none and will be none.

Instead, the corporate capitalists and their paid-for bourgeois politicians create conditions for more wars and interventions abroad. Instead, there are only threats to global peace as the capitalist nations resume their rivalries and competition for markets, sources of raw material, and military hegemony. It is the same imperial rivalries that lead to WWI and the mass slaughter of trench warfare.

As she surveyed the horrors and mass slaughter of WWI, a war brought on by the rivalries, arms race, and competition among capitalist nations, the great German revolutionary socialist leader Rosa Luxemburg said humanity is faced with two choices, “socialism or barbarism.” Her warning still applies in this age of possible nuclear warfare and species extinction.

If we are not to regress to the barbarous conditions that characterized 20th century wars of extermination and genocide, there has to be a new anti-nuclear and anti-war peace movement, and a U.S. Congress that refuses to fund the Dr. Strangelove madness. There are only two choices: a socialism that is “democratic, peaceful, and green,” or the barbarism that capitalism will inevitably degenerate into.


Re:  Trumpian threat to democracy raises stakes for 2018 elections

Cassandra Lopez says:

Dearest Brother John, I wholeheartedly support your understanding of what in the hell is going on in this country by the extreme right conservative forces! We’re in an extremely dangerous political situation! The 2018 elections are crucial to putting an end to or at least silencing the cold-hearted policies emanating from DC today. Unite we must, but this by no means is an easy task. In order to bridge gaps between people who need to come together, we must open up our hearts, minds and souls to merge unbreakable bonds between all of us! Anyway, thank you so much for your astute sizing up of the current situation. Peace, struggle and love.


PW Readers
PW Readers

Contributors to “The People Speak” round-up of discussions and debates happening on the People’s World website and on our social media networks.