Michael Salberg of the misnamed ''Anti-Defamation League,'' in attacking Steven Newcomb [''Different circumstances,'' Vol. 28, Iss. 3], claims that the ''Israeli-Arab conflict'' is a ''political dispute over national borders'' which is not the same as other European colonization of Native American lands.
Yet, 7 million of the 10 million native Palestinians (Christians and Muslims) are now refugees or displaced people, and the number grows every day. Israel defines itself as a country for and by the Jewish people everywhere. Every Jew in the world is considered as a national of the state whether they want it or not (part of 'Am Yisrael). Any Jew, including converts, can go there, get automatic citizenship and live on Palestinian lands while Palestinian refugees are not allowed to return simply because they are Christian or Muslim.
Israeli artists declared in 2002: ''If the state of Israel aspires to perceive itself as a democracy, it should abandon once and for all, any legal and ideological foundation of religious, ethnic and demographic discrimination. The state of Israel should strive to become the state of all its citizens. We call for the annulment of all laws that make Israel an apartheid state, including the Jewish law of return in its present form.''
The ADL persistence in obfuscating reality is not new. The ADL has always tried to stifle free speech. The ADL was also fined and signed a statement pledging not to engage in further spying and collecting information after federal investigators found that ADL had paid investigative police officers to gather information on Arab-Americans and blacks active in the movement against apartheid South Africa (see www.counterpunch.org/adlspying2.html).
The ADL is not the only well-funded group attempting to recruit Jews to support dubious agendas by attacking anyone (Jews included) who dare to speak out. For an understanding of these attempts to silence free speech on this issue in Congress, in the media and at college campuses, people should read Rep. Paul Findley's book, ''They Dare to Speak Out.''
It is sad that our media gives space to a vocal minority that believes in racial or religious superiority and a minority that insists our tax money continue to be funneled to Israel in support of the segregationist, colonialist ideology of Zionism. So far we spent more than $400 billion of our taxes to occupy Iraq for control of oil and other Zionist plans to reshape the Middle East, and more than $1 trillion to support the Israeli government. (Highest recipient of U.S. aid. We gave it more than we gave to Africa as a continent.) Yet, one-third of Israeli children live below the poverty line, while Israel is using billions of our tax dollars to ethnically cleanse and oppress the native Palestinians.
Only a public outcry would force the U.S. government to change its policies of supporting oppression despite the strong lobbies in Washington. That is why groups like ADL attempt to stifle debate and any exposition of the truth. The attacks on President Jimmy Carter for his latest book on Israeli apartheid, like the letter by Mr. Salberg, are symptomatic. Peace will come, but only with justice and the return of the stolen lands to their rightful owners.
- Mazin Qumsiyeh, Ph.D.
Orange, Conn.Dr. Qumsiyeh is of Christian Palestinian heritage and author of ''Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human Rights and the Israeli-Palestinian Struggle.''