1. Next Meeting – This Thursday; 2. Yasher Koach to Suki Halevi

Happy Birthday, America  

Santa Fe Middle East Watch membership meeting:

Thursday, July 6, 2017 at the home of Halley and Ruth Anne Faust, 1260 Vallecita Drive, Santa Fe at 7:00 pm.  Directions can be found here.  Please come fragrance free.  We want and need your input and help.

RSVP to info@sfmew.org to let us know you are coming.

Halevi skewers Stewart with taste and poise

On July 1 ADL’s Suki Halevi responded in the New Mexican to Bill Stewart’s anti-Semitic diatribe from May 6 (see SFMEW’s original critique of Stewart’s article here, including a pdf of the original Stewart article).  Halevi’s My View (“Stewart undermines quest for peace”) is the best op-ed piece we’ve seen in a long time, and points out Stewart’s errors and ingrained biases with facts and poignant analysis.  We recommend everyone read Halevi’s article (reprinted below) and appreciate its clear arguments, structure, and style.

And we ask you to take five minutes and send a letter to the editor supporting Halevi’s My View.  Information on how to write to the New Mexican can be found on our website under resources here and just below. Take one point and emphasize it, either from Halevi’s excellent op-ed, or from our original analysis.

Letters should be no longer than 150 words.  My View pieces no longer than 600 words.  You can write a letter once a month or one My View every three months. We require the letter writer’s name, address and phone number to be considered for publication. We also encourage writers to include a photo of themselves. Send letters and op-eds to:  letters@sfnewmexican.com.

You can also comment publicly on the article at the end of the piece.

Stewart undermines quest for peace

  • By Suki Halevi, Updated

Bill Stewart’s Understanding Your World column (“Middle East peace is in Kushner’s hands,” May 6), offers little about Jared Kushner and even less about peace. Stewart fills his column with classic anti-Israel propaganda, which leaves one wondering if there is a deeper animus below the surface.

Stewart claims to link the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the ongoing brutality of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. ISIS is anti-Israel, but its core motivation is its desire to build a global caliphate governed exclusively by fundamentalist interpretations of Islamic law. ISIS extremism — promoted by a small minority — drives the slaughter of innocent people in Iraq and Syria and terror attacks in places like Manchester, England.

Discussing terrorism directed against Israel, Stewart asserts that while it is not “justifiable,” it is certainly “understandable.” Evidently, Stewart sympathizes to some degree with the Palestinian terrorist who, in March 2016, murdered 28-year-old Taylor Force, a National Honor Society member at New Mexico Military Institute, West Point graduate and veteran of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, while Force was visiting Israel with his Vanderbilt University classmates. Stewart’s attempt to legitimize Palestinian terrorism is disgraceful and insults the memory of Force and thousands of Israeli terror victims and their families.

Stewart is no fan of the United States’ support for Israel, labeling it “foreign policy rubbish” and claiming that it undermines prospects for peace. However, during the past two decades, strong support for Israel helped move peace talks forward and encouraged Israel to take difficult but significant steps toward peace. This was true under President BIll Clinton in 2000 at Camp David and under President George W. Bush in 2005, when Israel unilaterally removed all Israeli military installations and Jewish settlements from Gaza.

Context and accuracy are in short supply throughout Stewart’s piece. He recalls George Habash, founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, as a “hard-line” Christian Palestinian. Stewart, a former reporter and bureau chief for Time magazine, does not mention that Time described Habash as the “godfather of Middle East terrorism” while The New York Times called Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine “a hard-line Marxist group that shocked the world with a campaign of airline hijackings and bombings. …”

Similarly, while Stewart accurately states that “Muslim religious leaders throughout the region preach that Jewish occupation of Jerusalem is unacceptable and must be rejected,” he fails to mention the deep-seated, virulent anti-Semitism behind these views or that the preferred method of “rejecting” Jews living in Jerusalem (as they have done for thousands of years) is often violence, expulsion and death. Sympathizing with terrorists and anti-Semites, Stewart ignores Palestinians such as Bassem Eid, who advocate for economic development and peace.

The bottom line is this: Stewart seems to believe that Israel’s existence and conflict with the Palestinians are the underlying causes for all of the Middle East’s problems. “It is the sheer unfairness of it all that infuriates so many people,” Stewart claims. If the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ended tomorrow, Stewart believes, ISIS would cease its brutality, fighting between all nations, factions and tribes in the Middle East would end, and regional peace would break out. This is not only a complete fantasy, it suggests something nefarious about Stewart’s polemic, which makes Israel — and only Israel — the cause of every tragedy in the Middle East.

We hope, pray and work for a resolution of the long struggle between Israelis and Palestinians, one that respects both peoples and provides a path toward the creation of a Palestinian state, living side by side in peace with a secure Jewish State of Israel. Biased diatribes such as Stewart’s do nothing to advance mutual understanding and reconciliation, and only serve to undermine the quest for peace.

Suki Halevi is the New Mexico regional director of the Anti-Defamation League in Albuquerque.

Have something you’d like to say to the SFMEW community?  Write for the SFMEW blog. Contact info@sfmew.org.

Do you like our work?  Show your support by (1) attending our meetings (we are an all volunteer organization – we want your input and help), (2) taking action when requested and (3) donating to help support our work.  We are a beneficiary organization of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico.  You can make your tax-deductible contribution through them. Information is available here (http://www.sfmew.org/donate/).  Thanks in advance.