To the editors:
To be for peace and human rights indeed requires more than bumper sticker slogans. It requires discussion carried on without the underlying bias of Patricia Stoll's article on the demonstration at UICC at the Israel Independence Day celebration ["Demonstration," May 6].
Conflicts are not resolved when reportage omits important details and uses biased language.
You had to be there. I was.
Yes, the demonstration outside the hall was scary. Students who wanted to attend the Israel program had to walk past it, as they have in previous years when the demonstrators have formed a gauntlet at the escalators.
As to "crashing the party," the Palestinian students who demonstrated in the hall had been admitted and were seated, kaffiyehs and all, right in the middle of the hall--just across the aisle from Jewish students wearing kipot (skullcaps). As to dark Mediterranean beauty, you can see it on the Jewish girls, too. We didn't originate in Skokie. Half the Jews in Israel come from the Mideast.
There was a Palestinian demonstration, right there in front of a sizeable bunch of Zionist students, who did not attack them--who tried to restrain Izzy when he lost his cool. He's indeed a "middle-aged man" whose friends didn't reach middle age because they died in Israel's War of Independence. That was after Jews in Germany and Poland were killed for being a foreign body in European lands.
The demonstration had been expected, and the intention had been to let the Palestinians have their say. That man in the nice suit--I'm told, a dean with a Palestinian teaching assistant--ran out to get the cops when the fracas started.
Nothing like quoting other people's speeches in terms of, "he said," "he calls it," "he goes on," "and such like." You can trivialize anyone that way--even Peter Yarrow.
Patricia Stoll underplays Yarrow's clearly articulated support of Israel's existence. I heard him repeat it several times.
In contrast, she mindreads with a negative bias--"clearly (sic) he thinks . . . ," "I feel hate radiating," and places her own interpretation on the audience's behavior--apathy, disagreement, anger, as suits her program.
It's easy to resolve a situation where both sides have valid concerns by allotting one side all the evil and the other all the virtue, to quote one side with respect and quote the other with sneers about paid political statements.
She omits Peter Yarrow's full description of the 60s meeting where a black faction took over the mike. All factions then spent the night sitting down and talking out the disagreements. They must have wanted to get somewhere--not score debating points.
I hope there will be Palestinian students on the UICC campus who will take up opportunities to dialog with supporters of Israel--so all us fine-boned, dark-eyed Mediterranean types work out a way to survive with mutual respect until we're all plump, middle-aged and grey!
But the cause isn't served by biased articles that report cries of concern with "and such like."
Rose Ann Chasman
PS: Eretz Yisrael just means "the land of Israel." The term dates back to the Bible and is quite neutral with no political overtones. Saudi Arabia? Come on, now!
Patricia Stoll replies:
At least as many Arabs as Jews "didn't reach middle age because they died in Israel's War of Independence." Body counts in subsequent wars are interesting too: in the 1956 Sinai War: 200 Israeli dead, 3,000 Arabs dead. In the 1967 "Six Days' War": Israel lost 900; the Arabs lost 20,000. In the 1973-1974 war: 4,000 Jewish dead, 16,000 Arab dead. In the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon: 450 Israeli dead, 20,000 non-Israeli dead. So it goes.
Everyone regrets that Jews were killed in Germany and Poland, but I'm pretty sure the Arabs didn't have anything to do with that.