STRANGER: In regard to the article "Was This House Worth Her Life?" [April 3], I found the comments made by both Palestinians and the International Solidarity Movement observers to be intelligent, well thought out and eloquently spoken. This is in sharp contrast to the abrasive, condescending, and outrageously inaccurate observations made by the article's author, Eli Sanders. His comments about "anarchy" reflect his obvious ignorance about this well-documented political theory. The way that he behaved in Rafah and judged the people there makes him look like a pompous, cowardly fool. His comparison between what the ISM observers are doing and "Stockholm syndrome" is irresponsible journalism, plain and simple. Did this man go to college? Does he even know what Stockholm syndrome is?
I don't know who paid for Mr. Sanders' ticket to Rafah--but next time, send someone who knows how to write an objective article without throwing in his own "half-baked" freshman-level theories.
Lisa Ponomarev, via e-mail
ELI SANDERS: Thank you very much for your excellent article "Was This House Worth Her Life?". I appreciated the fact that you featured Rachel Corrie and her personal commitment along with the work of the International Solidarity Movement. I was also very gratified to read your careful interpretation of the ISM's work in the context of the very difficult Palestinian situation.
I have led five groups to Israel/Palestine over the past 30 years, and am very aware of the deep issues between the Palestinians and the state of Israel. I know that in our traditional news sources, we do not always get the complete Palestinian perspective. Your writing helps increase awareness of the elements of the conflict.
Your analysis of the personal conflicts of people committed to an anarchist philosophy who find themselves drawn in solidarity with Palestinians who seek to build an independent political state was most informative.
I am sharing your excellent journalistic piece with many of the folks in my circle of influence who are deeply concerned about the Palestinian/Israeli crisis. Thank you again for excellent and courageous work.
Reverend Marvin Eckfeldt (retired), via e-mail
STRANGER: While I believe he made a good-faith attempt to portray the Israeli viewpoint, Eli Sanders neglected to stress the deep terrorist networks that dominate Palestinian life in the Gaza Strip, where Rachel Corrie lost her life amid groups she associated with that are intent on destroying Israel. She even burned an American flag in their midst.
Sanders explained in detail what Corrie, of the International Solidarity Movement, tried to do in the Gaza Strip town of Rafah. Unfortunately, he relied mainly on Palestinian and pro-Palestinian members of the ISM, which is well known for anti-Israel bias. It seems to me that the ISM may well be at fault for Corrie's tragic accident by allowing her to be in harm's way.
Sanders stated, on page 16, that "UN Security Council Resolution 242... called on Israel to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders." That is not correct. The resolution did not call on Israel to do that. It actually required Arabs to agree to live in peace with Israel. It states [that the following principle should be applied toward establishing peace]: "Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every state in the area and its right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force." Pre-1967 borders would certainly not provide Israel with secure borders.
Sanders appears to misrepresent the true aggressor in this ongoing conflict instigated by Arafat and his henchmen. In reality, Israel has thwarted numerous daily Palestinian Arab terrorist attacks against its citizens, while the ISM has acted as an obstacle to prevent Israel from defending its citizens from suicide bombings.
Maybe Sanders could do a follow-up article to clarify the above points.
Josh Basson, via e-mail
ELI SANDERS: Thanks for creating another misinformed slandering of anarchists (this time with the twist of tucking it into a human-tragedy story); there haven't been enough in the mainstream media lately, so it's good to see the alternative media picking up the slack.
The "glaring" contradictions and "wildly impractical" dreams Eli Sanders observes among the anarchist activists working with the ISM stem from his own lack of understanding of anarchist activism. To clarify: Only the most naive anarchist believes that it would be sufficient to merely "smash the state," and then poof! we're all living in paradise--or that we should be pushing the "zero-state" solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rather, anarchists strive to promote the idea that true solutions to the world's problems can only begin when people refuse to look to governments for answers and begin to work together, face-to-face, as equals. This may not happen overnight, and the work people do for this ideal may not get the coverage of the "direct action," but it's a more genuine and lasting approach to addressing the roots of conflict than the imposition of "new rules" and "a political solution" that Sanders believes is required.
Brian Frank, via e-mail
ELI SANDERS: I was very disappointed in your article. I [wondered] if I was reading a brochure by the ISM. Most of the sources mentioned were Palestinian--this, in a conflict with two sides. The story was not balanced and, in many cases, not even factual. Out of the two Israeli sources, one was very anti-Zionist.
As an example, as most of us who follow the movements of the UN know, Resolution 242 does not call for the complete withdrawal of Israel from the occupied territories; this was a claim of your writer. The resolution does call for Arab countries to live peacefully with Israel, which is not happening, since these countries widely call for Israel's destruction and sponsor terrorist groups that have the same goal.
Your writer completely ignored the terrorism Israel faces from the people ISM wishes to shelter. If ISM were a legitimate group seeking peace, its members would also act as shields protecting innocent Israeli citizens--perhaps riding a bus, or sitting at a popular cafe. But I am assuming they know that this would not stop one of the terrorists Palestinians applaud so much; [a foreign activist's presence wouldn't help prevent] what the Palestinian terrorists have in store for Israeli citizens, since it would be a treat rather than a prohibited act to take one more innocent life.
Jordan Navarro-Abreu, via e-mail
STRANGER: Amy Jenniges uncon-
vincingly tells us that it made sense for the police to preemptively corral (translation: deny freedom of movement and speech) to law-abiding citizen protesters ["Cops & Whiners," April 3]. The only violence I saw was committed by the police. Characterizing the police as professional and accommodating flies in the face of the testimony that I and many other citizens made at the city council meeting. Jenniges' omission of the fact that the mayor refused to even send a rep calls her credibility into question. She tells us that the citizens were "whiners" complaining about "Darth Vader suits." The numerous serious allegations (which included offers of accompanying documentation) made by credible citizens there--such as the assertion that the police pulled people from the sidewalk into the streets--were "unconvincing" to Amy. So we the readers just don't to get to hear about them. Instead, we get to hear whining at length about how the Seattle antiwar movement just doesn't measure up.
Amy asks if she was at a different protest; she sure was on a different corner. The people I saw who took one step into a crosswalk were pushed to the ground--and, in some cases I witnessed, beaten. I never saw the crowds swarm into the streets. The protesters around me, including many families with children, were trying to have a protest walk on the sidewalks. It's a bit like the Bush logic: We will violate the UN's charter in order to prove that the UN can't be ignored--or, in Seattle, the police will block off many streets in order to prevent any streets from becoming blocked, just in case. And it all makes sense to Amy.
The meat of the matter was not a fashion complaint about the police garb. The question is, "Why can't the police nonviolently arrest the courageous, nonviolent, civilly disobedient citizens and leave the rest of the citizens to exercise their constitutional rights?"
Dan Nooney, via e-mail