'Peace' activist got personal

BRATTLEBORO-This afternoon at the Co-op, when I greeted a fellow with whom, for years, I have enjoyed mutually friendly encounters, I got ambushed. Without prelude or preliminaries, he accused me of hating Palestinians.

Blind-sided, confused, offended, I wanted an explanation.

"I read what you wrote in the paper," he said.

"I suggest that you read more carefully," I replied.

Writing about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I knew, would be like walking across a minefield. In an opinion piece, I discussed suppression by a former editor of our local daily of stories about Jews and Palestinians protecting each other, in favor of stories that got people's blood boiling.

And I expressed my opinion about local "peace" activists who, from the safety of Vermont, throw kerosene on the fire - Hey, let's you and him fight!

I remember the peace movement of my youth, nonviolence, and I do not recognize what passes for a peace movement in Brattleboro: cheerleaders for violence.

The fellow at the Co-op turned away from me, discussion over.

I purchased some fresh vegetables, and when I went to pay he was at the front end. I walked up to him and quietly said, "If you have something to say to me, I would be happy to discuss it. But don't lay a fart and walk away."

"I'm sorry," he said, "I was being sarcastic."

"Perhaps some time we could get together and have a discussion, like two human beings?" I said.

"No," he replied, "These things cannot be discussed."

"Well," I said, "at least you and I are not at war?" He agreed.

I had not expected a de-escalation. I was pleased, but still not satisfied. I very much want to ask him: "If you and I cannot discuss things in Brattleboro, then what hope is there for Israelis and Palestinians?"

Steven K-Brooks


This letter to the editor was submitted to The Commons.

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