Opinions decry atrocities by one side while encouraging them on the other. How helpful is that?

At first I thought I would refrain from debate sparked by the atrocities of Oct. 7. I felt appalled that, from the safety of Vermont, warmed-over "party-line" polemics are being thrown around, which is of no benefit to Palestinians or Israelis whose survival is at risk.

But finally, driven by the increasing normalization of antisemitism and acceptance of Hamas as "freedom fighters" (even by some politically active Jews), I had to speak out.

Is anti-Zionism antisemitism? Can any informed person deny that in our current environment, "anti-Zionism," like Richard Nixon's "law and order," has become an unsavory dog whistle?

"Hey, let's you and him fight" seems to be the message of a slew of opinion pieces that decry atrocities by one side while encouraging them on the other. How helpful is that? How does it compare with the courage of those Jews and Arabs who continue, at personal risk, to affirm their friendship and continue to work for peace in the midst of conflagration?

NPR's Dec. 21, 2023 On Point presented an uncompromisingly honest conversation between an Egyptian Arab writer and an Israeli Jewish writer. They discussed being trapped by competing narratives (the Nakba vs. the War of Independence) and the near impossibility of understanding one another's viewpoint.

Yet each of them affirmed their friendship, mutual respect, and most importantly, their hope for peace.

A Dec. 14, 2023 New York Times article, "The Peace Activists Divided by Oct. 7," by Susan Dominus, discusses how feelings of betrayal, hostility, and unbridled emotions after Oct. 7 nearly tore apart a friendship between Tamar Shamir, an Israeli, and Palestinian Mohamed Abu Jafar, who have tried for years to bring Jewish Israelis and Palestinians together.

There are many stories about Jews and Arabs cooperating and protecting one another, going back to 1948 and beyond. During the Second Intifada, I brought a number of these stories to the attention of the then-managing editor of the Reformer, who is currently organizing "peace" demonstrations. She was not interested.

Brattleboro today is blessed with two excellent papers, each of which is run by an editor who is dedicated to competent reporting and who respects the expression of diverse opinion.

Steven K-Brooks


This letter to the editor was submitted to The Commons.

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