Young writer rightly targeted Israeli flaws
Reading the Dec. 11 response letter, “Israeli actions don’t constitute genocide” by Chris Ognibene, I was taken aback by how the author maintained such assuredness — mistakenly, I believe — as he succinctly dismantled what he perceived as the faulty logic of the young guest columnist, Mr. George deBlois, [Dec. 3 Daily Gazette]. Rather than a cogent analysis, the author presents a Zionist polemic that falls well short of invalidating Mr. deBlois’ initial criticisms of Tel Aviv.
Usually, whenever someone looks to draw contemporary parallels to the horrors of the Third Reich, they have introduced the equivalent of an intellectual dead-man’s switch. While it would be easy to chalk Mr. deBlois’ narrowly shared beliefs up to youthful ignorance, when examining the assertions espoused by Mr. Ognibene, the concept that one does not simply outgrow their ignorance comes to be almost undeniable.
In seeking to dispense with the accusation of genocide, Mr. Ognibene paints a picture of Israeli democracy that is almost unrecognizable to anyone who has taken the time to study the modern history of this region.
Nowhere in Mr. Ognibene’s response is the possibility of an independent Palestinian state entertained. Only the glib observation that Arab-Palestinians are too loyal to the state of Palestine to accept Israeli citizenship is suggested as an excuse for the impending trek toward retaining an apartheid state. Put simply, if a 14-year-old, living in the United States, has found a way to sort through the multi-million-dollar layers of pro-Israeli propaganda to reach the personal belief that such policies are tantamount to genocide, he should not be accused of “terrible flaws of logic.”
Consider some of the controversial Israeli policies that have adversely affected the Palestinian people: limiting the caloric intake of a besieged population, expanding military targeting to civilian infrastructure, collective punishment, restrictions on migration, forced migration of non-Jewish minorities, economic blockades, home demolitions and arbitrary detentions, among others.
I, for one, am more concerned about some of these specific policies than I am about which provocative buzzwords young activists are choosing to call out such blatant imperialism.
Holocaust survivor: Israel may defend self
An Albany-area friend forwarded a Dec. 3 Guest Column in your paper, written by a 14-year-old, castigating Israel for defending itself. Included were some obvious cut-and-paste references to the Holocaust.
My friend asked for my opinion because I, and my twin sister, are among the dwindling survivors of the Nazi concentration camps.
My first reaction was that engaging in a polemic on world events, Israel and the Holocaust with a 14-year-old child is unfair, if not embarrassing. So let me, instead, address this to your readers, to hopefully counter any assumptions of “if it’s in the paper, it must be so.”
The facile, and indeed outrageous left-wing argument of comparing Israel’s right of self-defense to Nazi mass murder is simply indecent. When those arguments come from adults, it is often driven by anti-Semitic impulse. The killing of 6 million unarmed, defenseless men, women and children during the Holocaust stands unique in the recorded history of mass slaughter. It is beyond any comparison. The life of a Jewish 14-year-old — pulled from a box car at the ramp at Auschwitz — would have been extinguished within the hour of his or her arrival.
My twin sister and I were 5 years old, in the Netherlands, when the Nazis first sent our family to the transit camp at Westerbork and, some months later, to the Bergen Belsen concentration camp in Germany. Fewer than 5 percent of the approximately 110,000 Jews from Holland who were deported to the camps survived. The rest perished among those 6 million, slaughtered in the Nazi project to eliminate every last Jew within their broad grasp.
Israel is a tiny, tiny sliver of land, where Jews have lived since Biblical times. Judaism is a land-linked religion, inexorably tied to the land of Israel. In 1948, Jews regained sovereignty over the land by United Nations vote. Despite the fact that Israel is a democratic country and protects the rights of its very substantial Arab minority, Israel has been under unrelenting attack from its neighbors; not for its policies or acts, but for its existence.
It is a tiresome and often repeated comparison, but if 3,000 missiles had been fired from Montreal across the border into central Albany, with those missile launchers hidden in Montreal schools, hospital grounds and suburban neighborhoods, what would Albany have expected the United States to do?
Surely it would act to protect its citizens, among them children trembling in shelters waiting for the government to stop the rockets. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, the only country in that area with religious freedom, and a nation where its Arab citizens reside peacefully, if at times uneasily, next to their Jewish neighbors.
Israel, like our own beloved country, is not perfect. But, like the United States, they have the right to self-defense. They have a right to exist.
Common Core having a negative impact
Re Nov. 29 letter, "Common Core raising the bar for students”: In response to the teacher who wrote in about Common Core, please consider the below-referenced information.
My husband and I have three children — one who is done with school, one who is disabled and in his last year of school and a high schooler. We are very involved in all aspects of their life and consider their public school education as a cooperative where we work as a team with the district, teachers and administrators. We have made it a part to participate, contribute in many ways, volunteer and work with our children’s teachers to ensure the maximum success for our kids.
I felt the need to convey our concern with the Common Core push and the country’s egotistical need to have government and big business become involved in what they need not be involved in. Our generation went to school, then went to college (if appropriate), learned to work, learned to compete and more to survive in this world.
I understand that today’s technology field is rapidly changing the way things are being done and the competition is fierce, but I believe it has been addressed and managed in my school district with their involvement in the growing community, increase in supports for competition, and collaboration with the family to provide the proper foundation for my children to succeed.
We know people who work in the education field who are struggling with these new requirements and literally had them shoved on them without the necessary training. These are intelligent, dedicated, willing teachers who cannot perform the way the government is now saying they need to.
I wanted to share the following information with you. This statement reflects my exact feelings about the education process, our parental responsibilities and rights and my concern that these are all trying to be taken away from families and parents. I hope those who do not understand what is exactly going on today with their child’s education can read this and learn and perhaps act.
I plan to submit all of this information also to my school district in hopes of working with them, as our youngest still has at least 3.5 more years of schooling. My husband and I, as the initial educators of our children, will remain as involved as humanly possible to assure our children’s appropriate educational needs are met.
Cindy M. Barkowski