The background here is that I had two months of mail forwarded to me in Wisconsin. Much of it consisted of electioneering crap, mail order catalogs, and magazines, many of them what are now back issues of the 'New Yorker'.
Here is a letter I wrote to George Packer, author of a libel on Israel and the Israeli army in the shape of an article about the leftist Israeli author David Grossman.
I just read your article about David Grossman in the September 27, 2010 New Yorker. Thank you for writing it.
It was a very good article but I was dismayed by some of the omissions in it. I am sure that you simply did not know the facts or perhaps they slipped your mind.
For instance on page 55 you refer to the 2006 Lebanon war as "unwinnable". On page 59 you describe it as "a botched war". Yet the war was begun by Hezbollah rocket barrages against northern Israel and against Haifa in particular. The IDF objective was to make Hezbollah stop doing that. In the more than four years since the war, there have been no further rocket barrages. That seems to suggest that Hezbollah at least thought Israel won the war and that it was not botched.
The achievement of the IDF's war aims, the silence on the northern border is a persuasive fact. How do you see your statements as comparably believable?
Also on page 59 you wrote that Ehud Olmert had needlessly prolonged the war. But you give no supporting evidence to support the claim. Like you I have no way of actually knowing, but it seems to me that the Prime Minister's actions in wartime would have been taken on the advice of his defense minister and the high-ranking officers actually engaged in the fighting. As between the judgments of men engaged in the thing itself and your apparently unsupported accusation, I find it difficult to see any way to believe you. Can you offer some reason why you think the war was prolonged needlessly?
As for Grossman refusing to shake Ehud Olmert's hand, one wonders if he has lost sight of the fact that Uri Grossman was killed by Hezbollah, not by Ehud Olmert?
In a similar vein, you assert on page 55 that in Lebanon "the Israeli Army turned arrogant and brutal". I wonder what evidence you have for writing that? Or is it merely something you believe a priori? Surely you see, that if you cannot offer a great deal of evidence for such an assertion, you have done permanent and irreparable damage to your own credibility by writing that? I hope you will supply your readers with full documentation of such an inflammatory claim.
And you do realize that among those included in your claim of "arrogant and brutal" would be Uri Grossman himself? I am reminded of Jimmy Carter and his claim that the security fence that has been so successful in keeping suicide bombers out of Israeli cities was "apartheid". When it was discovered that the 90% of the Carter Center's budget was and is paid by the Saudi royal family, Carter was saved from being thought a senile bigot by the revelation that he is instead merely a whore for the House of Saud. I hope you will be able to supply lots of documentation so as to save yourself from the same fate.
I was curious about your endorsement of Grossman's claim that the occupation "was breeding permanent hatreds". Do you not know that Arabs starting killing Jews in the 1920's? And continued in the wave of riots in 1929, the bigger pogrom of 1936, and in the war of 1947-48? I think your claim that the hatred stems from the occupation sounds disingenuous without mentioning the history of it.
You also refer several times to Amos Oz as sharing David Grossman's views. Yet you omit to mention that Amos Oz has recanted that view. He realized he had been wrong all along after the Palestinians responded to an offer to meet 99% of their demands by launching the intifada? Amos Oz realized that the obstacle to peace is not Israel but the Palestinians. You and David Grossman seem not to have been able to see what Amoz Oz and most of the Israeli electorate has seen. Perhaps you could cure that omission by explaining why you think Oz is wrong and Grossman is right?
And is there even the slightest recognition on your part that when David Grossman says "We need some naivete to continue to believe in the option to change things", that perhaps he is admitting that his position is indefensible? An example is a demonstration carrying a banner "Stop Ethnic Cleansing" while at the very same time demanding that people of one ethnic group be driven out in favor of people of another ethnic group? That isn't just indefensible, that is ridiculous.
You wrote on page 59, "The failure of the peace process after 2000 has been a disaster for the Israeli left" yet omitted to mention why. It was then that it was realized that the Palestinians were not interested in peace and that the Oslo negotiations had been done in bad faith. In short it was realized that the fundamental left position that insufficient Israeli concessions were the reason there was no peace, was false. All but a handful of people too rigid to admit they had been wrong remain on the Israeli left. You omitted to explain why the Israeli electorate changed their minds and you and David Grossman did not.
One is reminded of the American leftists who were so wedded to the view of the US as an imperialist aggressor, and to isolationists, that they went into denial about Pearl Harbor. One still occasionally hears the claim that Roosevelt arranged it. Similarly, many are in denial that Muslims attacked the World Trade Center and murdered three thousand Americans. One hears on the left and among Muslims that the Jews did it.
The problem is the same. It is not easy to give up one's world-view when events prove it wrong. Most Meretz and Labor voters have been able to do it and quit voting for them. You and David Grossman seem not to. You omitted any argument why the reader should not believe that this is the case.
So I look forward to your learning more about the facts on which you claim the Israeli army turned "brutal and arrogant" in Lebanon, how that doesn't include Uri Grossman, how they didn't win the war, and the evidence that the Palestinians want peace and are willing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Your friend and admirer,