Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Dear Rabbi Kligler,

I am sorry that you were upset by my recent letter. It must be hurtful to you and those in your congregation to think that I am spreading the type of anti-Semitic statements that have caused so much pain and persecution of Jewish people in the past.

I am also sorry that you express no distinction between the Jewish people and the state of Israel. That means that all criticism of Israel is inherently suspect as racist, no matter what the state of Israel does. Whether it oppresses millions of Palestinians under its domination or murders them with high tech weaponry, it is anti-Semitic to question Israel's morality. Surely, you can't believe that.

The vocabulary of racism is long and nuanced. In fact, about every negative attribute of humankind has been used in history to denigrate particular races, religions, and ethnic groups. The pejorative terms I used to describe Israel were not selected to attack Jewish people, nor inserted as code words to say something else. The words simply express my anger that American tax dollars go to support an imperialist state, that my country supplies the weaponry for Israel's slaughters in Gaza and Lebanon, and that the pro-Israel lobby in the US makes our elected representatives bow down and support such hideous war crimes.

In the spirit of fairness, I would remind readers that the phrases you use to condemn my writing, "bloodsucking parasite," and "force of global domination" aren't really in any of my letters. I am afraid they are your embellishments intended to raise alarm. In addition, please post anything I have ever written that criticizes all Jewish people and I will publicly apologize.

I would hope that you and I could meet sometime to talk about racism and human rights. The meeting might assure you that the movement for Palestinian rights is not inherently anti-Semitic. Only when one accepts the dubious conclusion that a religion, an ethnic identity, and a small country in the Middle East are the same thing.

Fred Nagel

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