We were extremely disappointed to note in Edgar Allen Beem’s recent column (“The Universal Notebook: Middle East muddle”) the sentiment that Israelis, while to be admired for their resilience, ought be “reviled for their treatment of the Palestinians.”
Leaving aside his qualifications to address the complexities of the security situation between Israel and the Palestinians – a situation so challenging that, he notes, even George Mitchell could not solve it – Beem’s criticism of Israel is objectionable on a number of levels.
First, the use of the word “revile” is itself offensive. The word means, “criticize in an abusive and insulting manner,” or to “redress or abuse with opprobrious language.” We hope that Beem isn’t actually suggesting that Israelis should be the subject of abusive language or insults over what he takes to be objectionable treatment of Palestinians.
Second, the question of Israel’s “treatment” of the Palestinians is an emotionally charged issue that deserves more than a cavalier fillip. Israel is on a constant state of alert owing to daily threats of violence from neighbors whose leadership has still not reconciled itself to Israel’s existence. It is insensitive and incorrect of Beem to criticize Israel’s legitimate efforts to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks.
On Sept. 5 the Jewish community observed the New Year of 5774. We sincerely hope that this year will bring meaningful progress toward peace in the Middle East.
Steve Brinn, president
Emily Chaleff, executive director
Jewish Community Alliance