# 122 – Controversy by Stephen Pohlmann - Ourboox.com
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# 122 – Controversy

Helping others to understand Israel - and Israelis to understand others...
  • Joined Sep 2016
  • Published Books 409

August 14, 2009

If you are receiving this for the 2nd time, my apologies. But it does seem that the Bcc-ing of this resulted in some persons NOT receiving the e-mail. Very strange.

(I have also corrected some typos).



From: A.N. Other
Sent: Thursday, August 13, 2009 9:05 PM
To: Stephen Pohlmann
Subject: Your email group


Dear Stephen,

I am becoming more and more worried by the tone of much of the discussion or debate around your letters from Israel.

I have written you a letter about this, and have attached it here.

Please circulate it to your list as you see fit.


A.N. Other


From: Stephen Pohlmann [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Friday, August 14, 2009 2:49 PM
To: A.N. Other
Subject: Letter from Israel controversy


This is a first: a reply to one of your comments. I am copying it to all via Bcc, and ask again that further comments/responses etc. be directed to me only – and not to all recipients. (Of course, I cannot control inter-correspondence, should you desire to do so).


Dear ……,

Well well…..well……how does an amateur like me begin to answer your e-mail…Ideally, we should be sitting, perhaps in the same chairs as used by Mohammad and myself a few weeks ago. 4 hours of talking to a Palestinian without raising of voices, I had not expected that, of either, considering the differences of opinion – and there were many.

Please bear with me


This subject constantly brings together people who are so far apart in their views, that I really can compare you and Mohammad – only because  your views seem to differ so substantially. This does ‘excite’ the communicator in me – and reminds me to apologise again to Catherine for raising my voice (for getting excited) which is an indication of how bad the phone is as a means of communication.


First, the easy bits:

  1. Here’s a response I received to my Aug 13 ‘Letter’ from a lady here who has NEVER before commented on the letters:

“What a wonderful letter

I love it

Have a great Weekend”


2. And here is an e-mail from an American, pro-Israel, Republican, retired dental sales guy, currently living in Vegas. It’s not directly a response to my letter, but is related..

“President Barack Hussein Obama just conferred the Presidential Medal of Freedom to a group. Among the recipients of this prestigious award were the following”


Mary Robinson (the high commissioner for human rights 1997-2002) Robinson is known to be  an anti-Semite and violently anti-Israel. She presided over the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa which was virulently anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and anti-American.


Rev. Desmond Tutu, the South African Anglican  church bishop who has been an outspoken anti-Semite and anti-Israel religious leader.

So much for the feelings and actions of Obama as it relates to Jews and Israel. His 2 house Jews, Emmanuel and Axelrod apparently  don’t care or place their party affiliation as being more important  than Israel or their fellow Jews”.


So much for the feelings and actions of Obama as it relates to Jews and Israel. His 2 house Jews, Emmanuel and Axelrod apparently  don’t care or place their party affiliation as being more important  than Israel or their fellow Jews”.


This illustrates the range of minds and opinions we are dealing with here. And we are so ‘subjective’. Robinson and Tutu were unquestionably directly involved in organisations or movements or congresses which were blatantly anti-Semitic (a much misunderstood word). Yet they are unquestionably brilliant persons who contributed much good to the many other causes in which they were involved.


Emmanuel and Axelrod are unquestionably self-critical Jews, of which there are many. This is a free World, and the Jews are among the most democratic and self-critical peoples around. Finkelstein, Amos Oz, Daniel Barenboim – the list is long.


This brings them enemies on this particular subject, but again, they are unquestionably skilled in the subject/s for which they are paid. (Not only does this democratic country have a large Muslim minority as citizens, we also have non-tax-paying, non-contributing anti-Zionist religious sects who are sitting here, waiting for the Messiah to show up. It takes all types).


Now, let me go through your e-mail. For the sake of the mailing to all, I really am trying to keep this brief and to the point; so easy to get carried away, and then we lose the interest and attention of many.


The spelling of O’Bama is one of many jokes about the man. This follows the premise that 50% of New Yorkers are Jewish, 50% black, 50% Puerto Rican, 50% Italian etc. etc., and on St. Patrick’s Day, everyone wears green. And btw, despite so many professed fears about the man, my 17 fingers are still crossed for him and his efforts/policies.


You, A.N. Other. Never far-left nor far-right. I have always considered you a knowledgeable academic on the subject, and I have referred occasionally to you as one who receives criticism from Israeli’s as being anti-Israel, while at the same time being criticised in the same manner by Palestinians, thereby indicating how far apart we/they are. Hence by labelling of you as ‘far-centre’.


Joan Peters’ book. Sorry, A.N.Other, but this time, my feathers are ruffled. I was introduced to the book only a few months ago by Dan Livni, my brother in law. If ever there were an Israeli who I would choose as the spokesman for the country, it would be him. He is the classic ‘believer’ who still recognises the need for peace, compromise, tolerance etc., and he is a very well-informed person.


He was very impressed by the (Hebrew edition), and has written out a short précis, knowing that no normal human being (such as most of the recipients of this letter) can grind through over 600 pages of details, including 200 of notes. I intend copying the précis to my recipients, asking them, too, to check the background before coming to conclusions.


Before I read the book, I checked some background; most surprised to find that such a controversial book had passed by me (and Dani)  without us noticing. I was fascinated by the sides taken – and you, quite clearly, have taken the negative side. Now, so many years later, the arguments continue, but I am on the (positive) side of some very respected individuals, and have partly made up my own mind, especially with the 25 years’ hindsight of continuous blindness vis-à-vis the status of both Arab and Jewish Palestinian refugees, and their treatment both in recent history and going back to pre- and post-Islamic times.


My overall summary of the book is that it is not ALL wrong, and that, if just 50% is correct, it is devastatingly revealing.

Wow – that took too much space. So the response to your next supposition is that no, I am not an ultra-Zionist. Next…


Palestine – Land without a people and all that…..You have to accept that Israeli democracy is more the ‘classic’ version than that demonstrated in, say, Gaza and Iran. Yes, there are Israelis who are extreme etc., but in this democracy, they have a voice, but not power. Just as does Ahmed Tibi and others among the Palestinian /Arab / Muslim Israeli members of the Knesset, who spew anti-Israelisms which no other country would stomach of their own parliament members.


Since the beginning of Zionism and before, there has been acceptance of co-existence with the Arab neighbours. And no one can deny that Israel accepted the UN resolution for the 2 states (despite the political idiocy that created such countries as Iraq and Jordan, thereby paving the pay for today’s strategically disastrous borders). The Arabs did not accept the resolution, and since then have, near enough, stuck to their original decision.


And yet, despite so many wars, every Israeli government, from left to right, has offered, in one way or another, to give what you feel they should, subject to some reasonable compromise on land in the West Bank, Galilee etc. Those settlements may be illegal, but so is the total ignoring, so many times, of the original 1947 resolution.


I cannot believe how naive you appear to be over the fact that, when you start a war, you’d better be prepared for all possible consequences. Israel didn’t create the Frankenstein that is the Israeli Defence Forces. The Arabs did (OK, not all –  just most). You cannot deny that the Jew’s reputation since Roman times has not been one of aggression.


Bishop Jackson – Mountain out of molehill. But you later ask about Hamas’ support in Gaza. I cannot believe you’ve laid yourself open like that. They’ve had democratic elections, with results that Israeli politics would kill for. Our strongest party at the last election here had only 23% of the vote. Gaza is in Hamas’ hands, and they’ll ‘cut anyone’s hands off’ who argues with that. (Do you really want me to mention the other Palestinians’ congress just ended, and the disarray that’s in – and the civil war 2 years ago in Gaza?).


Robert Deutsch – If he’s been offensive, I am sure he did not mean it that way. He himself is a great guy, and a friend. If I set such rules for friends of mine, whatever their ‘leaning’ I’d be friendless. Perhaps he’ll answer directly to you (perhaps via me). But, as I illustrated last night, even I can lose my cool when discussing this subject.


It’s so full of soul-ripping subjects. (How about the one about the security fence which cuts Palestinian homes from their fields and schools – for some, my response that suicide bombing has almost disappeared, and my daughters are alive as a result of that fence often falls on deaf ears. War is like that).


Nearly done…..

Bush/Al-Qaida/Iraq and all that – I’m going to throw in my ‘extreme view’ which I’ve had for years. If/when the Israeli/Palestinian problem is solved, it’ll only be to show that this was not the problem. It’s much bigger than that. Of course, the majority are nice and all that.


But few other population movements since the Crusades have been so aggressive and intolerant of the societies they’ve penetrated. And we ‘democracies’ can do nothing about it, short of changing the definition of democracy, as they have certainly done, and as Israel has done.

Kindest regards,


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