Selective Tolerance | Letters | Chicago Reader

Selective Tolerance 

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Dear editor:

The failure of the Chicago Tribune to take any action against Judy Peres for publicly endorsing Not in My Name (Hot Type, May 3) leaves one question in my mind: if she endorsed an organization less agreeable to her colleagues, would they have reacted in a stronger manner? To use an extreme example to make my point, if a Tribune writer publicly endorsed and contributed financially to, say, a white supremacist group, would things have passed quite so smoothly for her? It seems doubtful. But given how the Tribune has treated Israel these last 19 months their inaction comes as no surprise.

It is also worth noting that Not in My Name is not merely an organization that supports Israeli soldiers who refuse, for sometimes understandable reasons of conscience, to serve in the territories. NIMN and groups like it appear to have a broader agenda. If you view their Web sites you will find they go far beyond this point, so much so that I wonder whether the objectors have any idea what is actually being said on their behalf (no small irony given the name of the group). Barak's offer to Arafat at Camp David is denigrated, Arafat is above reproach and is considered an honest broker for peace (this despite incontrovertible evidence of his support for terrorism), and even the radical anti-Zionist Norman Finklestein is quoted. Not one word of criticism is made of the Palestinians, nor any mention of the unrelenting terrorism waged against Israeli civilians. One such group even calls for the rescinding of the Nobel Peace Prize from--get this--Shimon Peres. I wonder how many Israeli objectors agree with this. Not in my name, indeed.

By lending her name to this group, Ms. Peres places herself well outside mainstream opinion in Israel, left or right. Polls show that as many Israelis support the current military action in the West Bank as Americans support our war on terrorism. This is demonstrated by the fact that over 15,000 Israeli reservists volunteered to serve in Operation Defensive Shield, a number 30 times as large as those who refuse to serve.

As time goes by I am amazed how history repeats itself. Sixty-two years ago the Tribune supported an isolationist position that refused to respond to Hitler's evil. One would think the Tribune, reporters like Ms. Peres, or organizations like NIMN would have learned from that sad lesson. However, all three parties again seemingly refuse to face evil when it confronts them. NIMN uses a small number of soldiers who conscientiously object to promote an anti-Israel position, Ms. Peres violates the journalistic code of ethics to back this agenda, and the Tribune refuses to actually discipline her. Maybe history does repeat itself for those too ignorant to study it. It is a shame.

Larry Berlin

Wicker Park

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