To the editors:
As uncertain as amateur psychologizing without benefit of personal acquaintance may be, it is difficult to read the extended diatribe which appears in the Letters section of the August 3 Reader under the heading “Fetishists of the Holocaust” without thinking that its author, who directs anger, disdain, and disgust at fellow survivors, is in his own way a damaged victim of the Holocaust. (Another possibility is that the letter is a fraud, though one presumes that, in agreeing to have his name withheld, the Reader attempted to verify that the author’s history is as claimed by him.)
Telling us that he is “sick of the self-involved whining and self-absorbed demand for attention concerning the Holocaust” of those featured in two recent Reader articles [Our Town, May 4, and “Children of the Holocaust,” July 6], the anonymous letter-writer seems to be giving us clues to his own “fetishes” far more than responding objectively to those texts. And his request to have his name withheld because “you can still be persecuted for [your opinions] by the Zionist scum” strikes one as driven by hatred and something akin to paranoia more than by rationality.
The author of the letter thus comes across as pitiful. The substance of his remarks, however, is another matter.
Attempts to help the Reader’s audience understand the past and present are ill served by a letter which insists that the Jewish people, the Nazis’ major targets, are in fact their heirs. That is an outrageous, insulting, and inflammatory charge, whatever its source.
As to the letter’s most vitriolic parts, its attacks on the State of Israel and on Jewish support for that nation, those positions are unfortunately anticipated in the very material which the letter-writer purportedly comments on. The author of the July 6 Reader article, for example, finds irony in claiming that child-of-survivors Carlos Rizowy “is probably best known as a regular apologist on Sondra Gair’s radio program for the policies of Israel, a nation much criticized for pushing others out of its way.” And he asserts that “Israel is responsible for regular terrorist attacks on civilians.” These are loaded political phrases, not mere descriptions.
In the July 6 article, the Reader associates itself with those ready to sympathize with Jews as victims of the Holocaust but not so ready to be sympathetic to Jewish sovereignty or understanding of the complexities of maintaining moral state policies. I write this only a couple of days after Iraq, whose dictatorial leader has also threatened to obliterate half of Israel, has invaded Kuwait. Perhaps it is getting easier for fair-minded observers, unlike the anonymous letter-writer, to understand the dangers which Israel faces and to recognize who indeed wears Hitler’s mantle in today’s world.
Michael C. Kotzin
Jewish Community Relations Council
of the Jewish United Fund
of Metropolitan Chicago
Robert McClory replies:
As the author of the July 6 article, I would like to make three points of clarification. Carlos Rizowy is an apologist for the policies of Israel. This is a fact, not a political phrase. I suggest you look up the word in a dictionary. Secondly, Israel is criticized for pushing people out of its way. Whether or not the criticism is justified is not the point of the article. The criticism does exist. Thirdly, I did not write that Israel is responsible for terrorist attacks. I wrote that Israel is the victim of terrorist attacks. An editing misunderstanding at the Reader reversed the sense of that sentence.