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DIALOGUE Continued from page 2 vulnerable members of the human family? Edward M. Corbett Commerce Growing Up is Hard to Do I’m renewing my subscription to your ambivalent journal because of Louis House Speaker Jim Wright \(TO, Just a few issues ago, you milquetoast liberals were bashing the one official who, almost single-handedly, faced down the mephitic Reagan and stymied further aid to the Nicaraguan Contras. In a state as pixilated as Texas, did you really have to beat the drums for Jesse Jackson? You never heard about Operation PUSH-Excel? How much is Uncle Sam trying to recover from this boondoggle? The last I heard, it was around $1.1 million. Ever hear of Phil Gramm, Ph.D.? What have you editors ever done to help his foes, confuse the very people who would like for the Lone Star State to rejoin the Union? Goddammit, grow up! America, the world’s greatest debtor in history, has become a military stumble bum, so inert and feckless that Arab sadists can kidnap our citizens and keep them encaged for years on end. Rome’s decline was at least more colorful. Louis H. Sampliner West Hartford, Connecticut ‘Biblical Prophets’ For 10, Bob “My bowels, my bowels!” \(i.e., “I am in illiterate that you cite Mary Stewart Relfe’s epigraph on her cover letter for the League of Prayer’s fact sheet on Dukakis as being from Jericho 4:19 \(TO, she used the abbreviation “Jer.” Even Jeopardy players, who tend to shy away from religious categories, would recognize that as “Jeremiah.” Relfe quotes from the King James were considered to be the seat of the emotions by ancient Hebrews. Moderns, intolerant of earthy poetic metaphors, want their biblical language abstract and somewhat sterilized. Thus, the “I am in anguish!” of the RSV, for example. \(That’s “Revised Standard Version,” in case you start playing around with that Relfe should have gone on to verse 20. Listen to what the prophet says: “I have heard the trumpet call and the cry of war” \(what the Pentagon calls “low-intensity news: the whole land is laid waste” \(how perceptive of Jeremiah to foresee this administration’s conservation and ecology destroyed, in one moment all that sheltered me is gone” \(the thousands of homeless, for whom the administration seems not to -In-short, like many fundamentalists, Relfe uses Bible quotations merely for slogan purposes. It takes a lot of chutzpah to quote the Hebrew prophets to reinforce a rightwing agenda. Arthur A. Preisinger Texas Lutheran College Seguin Debate Immemorial First a point about Peters’s scholarship in From Time Immemorial. Even before Dennis McDaniel’s letter \(TO, I had received a letter from a Californian who is a member of the Arab Anti Discrimination League in which he enclosed a number of critical reviews of Peters’s book, most of which I had read. He did not send, and McDaniel is apparently not aware of, the dozens of favorable reviews. Indeed, the early criticism, such as that Greg Moses refers to \(TO, provoked by the kudos the book had already received. This raises a point about intellectual honesty: Participants in political debates often enter the debate with their minds made up, and they evaluate the proffered arguments from that vantage. One should therefore not be surprised that readers like Edward Said, whose book Blaming the Victims is reviewed favorably by Greg Moses in the Observer are critical of Peters’s effort; likewise, one is not surprised that pro-Jewish readers laud the volume. What is omitted in this discussion, however, is the point that Peters herself began her project with, if any bias at all, a pro-Arab tilt. That her research compelled her to reevaluate her preconceptions is perhaps not dispositive, but it is undeniably significant. This anticipates a second point. Many of the disputants on the issue of the territories are either disingenuous or simply ingenuous. Some, like James Harrington \(TO, are both. He is ingenuous because he, like William Kelly \(TO, familiar with but a very narrow slice of the problem. When Harrington says, for example, that many of those detained by the Israelis are not terrorists but are instead doctors or lawyers, he assumes there is some disjunction between these professions. He has obviously not spent much time in the Middle East. When he says that Israeli security is as threatened by human rights abuse as it is by Arab bullets, he resorts to platitudes without knowing anything about Israel’s security needs. Discussing intelligently the security requirements of Israel, and the related political/security problems subsumed by the territories, requires that one have some appreciation of the historical context of the controversy. Thus, while it is heartening to learn that Kelly volunteered for service in World War II to help save Jews, it is disenchanting to read his description of the Palestinian Arabs as “relatively defenseless.” Neither Kelly nor Harrington seems aware of they certainly do not deal with the issue of 40 years of Arab terrorist activity, perpetrated not only by adult men but by women and children as well and often planned by lawyers and doctors, Mr. Harrington. These activities have claimed the lives not only of Israeli soldiers, but of civilian men, women, and schoolchildren. Harrington’s response to Israeli Consul General Artzieli’s letter \(TO, attempt to grapple with the fundamental point of the letter: that the PLO, which was formed in 1964 has declared as its goal the eradication of Israel. The PLO does not want only the West Bank; it wants all,of Israel. Israel has been fighting for its very survival since the nation was proclaimed in 1948. Israel is the Jews’ insurance that the Holocaust will not recur. A final point: Israel has yet to learn how to manipulate the media effectively, and that is, in part, why people like Harrington end up with their views. For example, Israel’s decision to ban The Last Temptation of Christ, while raising serious problems for those committed to the American First Amendment values, evinces a profound respect for Israel’s Christian citizens. Similarly, the Israeli Knesset has banned not only the most radical Arab political party, but Kahane’s racist Israeli party as well. These stories reflect well, in my judgment, on the Israeli government’s commitment to democracy and fairness, but these stories are reported, if at all, only briefly in the Western press. That type of bias is probably not anti-Semitism, but it surely fosters the environment in which anti-Semitism flourishes. David R. Dow Houston The Observer welcomes comments from readers. Short letters \(two or three “Dialogue”, The Texas Observer, 307 W. 7th, Austin, TX 78701. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21