Letters to the Editor

(August 2, 2004)


Regarding Gilles d'Aymery's book review of The Politics of Anti-Semitism, Part I and Part II

Dear Gilles d'Aymery,

I wanted to compliment you for your review article on The Politics of anti-Semitism. In my opinion extremely well-done. I clearly did not read the book with the same care you did, but my reactions were rather similar. Said's 'Penal Colony' essay is the crown of the collection. I recently posted on my website Jeffrey St. Clair's essay on the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty, with a few added footnotes (actually endnotes) after corresponding with James Ennes, one of the survivors of the attack. It is at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/Salz/2003-10-24.htm. I was convinced that the attack was deliberate, and that the U.S. government has covered up the event as much as it could.

Two respondees suggested I read Six Days of War by Michael B. Oren for a different perspective, in particular his account of the attack, which I did. I also obtained a copy of and read Norman G. Finkelstein's review essay of Oren's book in the Journal of Palestine Studies, in which he harshly criticizes Oren, who he characterizes as having "pronounced right-wing political biases." My belief at the moment is that the crew members of the Liberty are correct in asserting that the attack was deliberate and that the U.S. tried to suppress that information. On their website, which is at http://www.ussliberty.org/, there is mention of an Israeli fighter pilot who contacted Ennes after reading his book (which I have not done) saying that he was ordered to attack after he had identified the ship as American and radioed that information back to his air force command center. He said he refused, returned to his base, and was arrested for disobeying orders. My recollection (I'll have to go back and reread Oren's account of the attack) is that there is no mention of any such counter-indications to the Israeli allegation that it was a mistake. There also seems to be incontrovertible evidence that the U.S. government deliberately tried to cover up the attack; i.e., that the so-called investigation was not for real.

Clearly everyone is very partisan, as am I, but I want to try to know the truth as well as possible. You wrote, in Part II, "Less convincing, however, are the essays covering the reasons behind the apparent symbiosis of US and Israeli policies, put forward by . . ., and to a lesser degree, Jeffrey St. Clair in his excellent summary of Israel's attack on the USS Liberty in 1967." This leaves me uncertain about how much confidence you have in St. Clair's piece; i.e., do you find it convincing? I was a bit uncertain when I read it, which is why I wrote Ennes before posting it. I want to write a follow-up discussing the questions that my readers clearly raised in recommending that I read Oren's account, and would appreciate knowing your view of how trustworthy Oren is.

Your website is extremely good. I wish I had known about it earlier, but, thanks to Manuel García, now I do. I don't understand why you think it is harmful to have multiple postings, which precludes my work from eligibility on Swans. I believe it's important to have good material as widely disseminated as we can manage. I also do not copyright what is on my site, and it (the lack of copyright) doesn't seem to have caused any trouble. Of course I wish my site did cause trouble for the dominant forces in what ought to be "our" world, but isn't. Thank you for your fine efforts.

All good wishes,

George Salzman
Professor Emeritus, Physics Department, Univ of Massachusetts Boston, MA
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA - July 16, 2004

Gilles d'Aymery responds:
Dear Professor Salzman, thank you for your e-mail and your kind words about our work. Please excuse me for not having answered you earlier, but we have been in the midst of a relocation for the past month or so. Most of my books are still in boxes!

In regard to Jeffrey St. Clair's essay on the USS Liberty, I found his summary credible and consistent overall with the analysis made by Stephen Green in his book, Taking Sides (I think it was published in the late eighties -- again my books are still in boxes, so I am writing out of memory...). I wished Jeffrey had not intermingled the events themselves with the alleged efforts of the "Jewish Lobby" to bury the story. Each government had and has obvious reasons, both geopolitical and domestic, to keep the lid on the story. As far as I know the Pentagon is usually not forthcoming when a screw-up occurs (whether Agent Orange, DU, Abu Ghraib, etc., etc., etc.). Perhaps I should have been more explicit in regard to my objection. I have not read Oren's book.

I fully agree with your desire to disseminate good material as widely as possible. The genius of the Internet, and in our case the World Wide (or is it "Wild?") Web is that once a document is posted on an open site, that document is available to all who have access to the Web from all over the world. There is consequently no overwhelming reason to multi-post. Any site that has an interest in material featured on Swans can point to the material on the site by inserting a link to the URL. Feel free to contact me if you'd like to discuss further Jeffrey's essay and issues therein.


Regarding Louis Proyect's The Case for Nader-Camejo

To the Editor:

Louis Proyect's review of Greg Bates, Ralph's Revolt, and of Ralph Nader, The Good Fight, cuts to the essential issues posed by the most serious third party movement in many years. It has provoked considerable discussion among faculty and students here, and I hope that it will get these books read more widely.

While the university community almost always scorns contemporary third party movements as unrealistic, it is commonplace in that milieu to discuss the importance of past third parties that have raised issues and offered perspectives ignored by the major parties. Without challenges from without, the two major parties tend simply to form a governing partnership. The co-rulers come increasingly to share assumptions among themselves with no reference to the concerns of citizens in general. The lack of a real electoral choices leads to declining voter participation and mass apathy. The titles Proyect reviews are shocking mostly in that they dare to make these points without the buffer of ivy-covered walls and within the context of "the Good Fight," a real, ongoing independent campaign.

It is precisely for this reason that there has been such a serious effort to silence that message by the vilification of the messengers. We are all in your debt for posting this review.

Prof. Mark Lause
Dept. of History, University of Cincinnati
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA - July 22, 2004

To the Editor:

What a great review. Wish I had that last Cervantes quote in the book!

Greg Bates
Common Courage Press
Monroe, Maine, USA - July 19, 2004

[ed. Let's repeat Miguel de Cervantes's quote here, for sheer pleasure: "When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical may be madness. To surrender dreams, this may be madness. To seek treasures where there is only trash. . . Too much sanity may be madness, and maddest of all is to see life as it is and not as it should be."]


John Steppling's Review of Swans' July 19 Edition

To the Editor:

The debate goes on. Does one suck it up and vote Kerry -- or refuse, and vote one's conscience? Maybe it's time to look at dissolving the Presidency (as my pal Mick Collins at Cirque Minime suggests), or out-source it (as the joke, circulating on the Internet, goes). Now we have the torture of children at Abu Ghraib...does anyone think this is something intimately linked to Bush and his friends? That this couldn't happen under a Democrat? That John "I want troops in Iraq for my entire first term" Kerry wouldn't allow such stuff? Eli Beckerman has a nice piece on the two party illusions and the urgent need for alternatives...but am I right that he thinks voting Nader is actually a vote for Bush...and that this is the fault of the Greens and Nader-ites? The fault is John Kerry's (and Al Gore's). In any event, the several layers of irony at work help with a pretty solid list of irrefutable facts about the mirage that is our form of democracy.

Phil Rockstroh's article touches on some thoughts I wish were more discussed on the left; the effects and importance of creativity and culture. Phil cites the reality of a culture that sells Britney Spears instead of, say, a Jimmie Dale Gilmore (off the top of my head). Why is this? The answer is that Spears doesn't take one "inside" but stays resolutely on the "outside." Muddy Waters or Duke Ellington or Arnold Shoenberg will always take one toward the interior -- and our interior-self is where the demons live and haunt us, and those demons don't make us want to buy new cell phones or designer sweats. Sophocles is hard to market...so is Fassbinder or Bresson or Shakespeare. Marketers may try, but it's usually pretty futile. Leaving a theatre after watching a production of Measure for Measure isn't likely to make one want to run to the Gap or Foot Locker and drop a couple hundred bucks on new gear. Leave a Christine Aguilera concert and I suspect (not knowing first hand this experience) that that's exactly what you want to do.

Philip Greenspan again -- and quite rightly -- points to the futility of our two party system. Greenspan said much the same thing last issue, but I am glad he is saying it again, for apparently it needs to be said again and again and again. The Democrats, just like those awful Republicans, pass much the same legislation and do much the same kind of colonialist adventuring.

Louis Proyect also looks at alternatives to voting for Kerry. His analysis of Nader is a good reference guide on this subject, and I'm glad he mentioned Milosevic as it gives me an excuse to take note of what's up at The Hague these days, and how the failed prosecution of President Milosevic is now being morphed into a type of show-trial not seen of late; the court seems ready to NOT allow Slobo to defend himself -- that would be messy after all -- and may appoint a defense council (who I am guessing won't call Bill Clinton, Paddy Ashdown, or Crazy Wes Clark to testify). No better example of The Hague as an organ of NATO and the U.S. could be found.

Sorry to see Ed Herman, who should know better, torture logic to the point where we are advised NOT to listen to what John Kerry says...just vote for him. Come again?

And a thanks to Manuel García for a smart and densely packed piece on climate change and its political implications. Another good reminder from García. Read it only after a double dose of anti-depressants.

Richard Macintosh, however, brings us to the most chilling item in this last month's calendar; the proposal for canceling the November elections. Macintosh's astute and cogent critique brings us back, via the soiled and fetid back alley of our deepest paranoia, to the fact that NO Democrats -- and certainly not John Kerry -- said a word against this crypto-police state suggestion. The bought and paid for press went along willingly (as if that should surprise anyone) and only a few "extremists" on the left found time to complain. The new mythology of terrorism has rooted itself solidly in the cerebral cortex of modern America and its value as a tool of propaganda can't be overemphasized (what is the current color code of fear, again?). The Imperial class is closing ranks and will likely install more and more repressive and totalitarian measures. I had dinner many years ago with William Burroughs, at his loft on the Bowery. Between Dilaudid nods and sips of Wild Turkey he told me he fully expected an International Police State within twenty five years. The Kerry/Bush two party corporate war machine seems to be on the verge of making this prediction a reality.

John Steppling
Krakow, Poland - July 22, 2004
(Steppling is a LA playwright (Rockefeller fellow, NEA recipient, and PEN-West winner) and screenwriter (most recent was Animal Factory directed by Steve Buscemi). He is currently living in Poland where he teaches at the National Film School in Lodz.)


Regarding Eli Beckerman's Whose Imperial Patriarchy?

To the Editor:

Found your site...and I'm glad I did! I saw Eli Beckerman's article in the Cobb4President Yahoo! Listserv...and googled to Swans. So I've book marked your site and will check it daily.

I'm becoming active in the Vermont Green Party.

Jay Vos
Burlington, Vermont, USA - July 19, 2004
Here's to raising less corn and more hell. --Molly Ivins

[ed. Welcome to Swans Commentary. Still, wish whoever posted on the Cobb4President Yahoo! Listserv had read and followed the copyright notice...]


Regarding Milo Clark's piece on Leo Strauss

To the Editor:

Though not an academic I gained more thought provoking knowledge from Milo Clark's paper. Followed comment by Wolfowitz being Straussian. Paradoxically I have travelled many paths following the 9/11 Govt. fairy tale. Basically, like many, I witnessed events unfold -- however free fall of WTC towers perplexed me from day one. Looked identical to planned demolition implosion. Consequently I wrote many letters to those in authority seeking answers to relevant questions that need answering; e.g., why did WTC #7 implode? Remarkably, not one reply whatsoever from America. Logically, this creates more doubt than ever. May I ask Mr. Clark what are his thoughts with reference to Hegelian dialectic? I believe now that Kerry & Bush being elite Bonesmen are one & the same. After reading some of Dr. Antony C.Sutton & Dr. John Coleman. Now re-reading the excellent book, In God's Name, by David A. Yallop. Recently, Dave Koppel wrote a 34-page article, 59 questions re. Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. I e-mailed & asked him if he wrote the article singularly. No answer, also asked 6 questions re. 9/11. No answer. QED


John Cameron, Down Under
Whilst secrecy prevails, democracy withers & fails...
Sydney, NSW, Australia - July 20, 2004


Fox NewsSpeak Network's Deception Galore


Common Cause, MoveOn.org, and a bunch of other organizations have launched a campaign to take on Fox for pretending partisan news is "fair and balanced." They've posted a really horrifying but funny video clip highlighting Bill O'Reilly's hypocrisy as well as a complaint to the FTC at:


Check it out.

The challenges to Fox's partisanship are mounting. It's crucial that we voice our disgust with Fox's deceptive advertising now.


Michael Yonchenko
Independent Media Producer
Sonoma, California, USA - July 21, 2004


US Genocide of Indian Nations

Dear Editor,

We enjoyed the articles by Mr. Greenspan (A Genocide Museum For The U.S.) and Mr. García, Jr. (Which Holocaust Matters?). We wanted to share this site with your readers and let you all know that there is a Genocide Museum based in Houston, Texas.

Thank you and keep teaching the truth.


Steve Melendez
American Indian Genocide Museum
Houston, Texas, USA - July 31, 2004


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Published August 2, 2004
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