War of the words

BRATTLEBORO-Near the end of the movie Golda, which was released for the 50th anniversary of the 1973 October War, or Yom Kippur War, Egyptian president Anwar Sadat ends the war by saying "Israel" for the first time - rather than "the Zionist entity" - giving recognition to the Jewish state.

Wars begin as well as end with words.

In our local newspapers, authors have begun to refer to Israel with terms such as "the Zionist project." Widely used in anti-Israel advocacy, this implies a rogue transience that delegitimizes Jewish existence in Israel. Such lack of recognition is the core of the past century of war. That failure to see the "other" goes both ways, failing to see Palestinians or Israelis, and their needs for security and dignity.

Southern Vermonters have worked for decades to build this mutual recognition. Palestinian and Israeli students have come to our towns, to programs at SIT and Jerusalem Peacebuilders, to learn how to see and speak to each other.

It is distressing to see such work disrespected by local editorial writers, who may see themselves as peace activists yet refresh a language of war with words that dehumanize their enemies. Please stop. This is trickling down to the simpler anti-Semitic language of swastikas, too common (1)lately in our streets and schools. We can do better in Vermont. We owe it to our future, and to people dying in the Middle East now.

John Ungerleider


This letter to the editor was submitted to The Commons.

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