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To the editors:
As an avid reader of the Reader I was dismayed and disappointed at Patricia Stoll’s article “Demonstration” (May 6, 1988). Not only was this article irresponsible journalism, but Ms. Stoll’s perception of the Israeli-Palestinian problem is shamefully skewed. It is clear that Ms. Stoll is “on the Palestinian side” in this troubling and complex problem. That is her right. We live in a democracy. However, her notions portrayed in this article are ill-informed, misrepresented and often biased.
Ms. Stoll characterizes the Jewish students at UIC as myopic, stalwart supporters of Israel. She supports this notion by continually referring to their arousing applause given to the speakers and that the Jewish students would “rather be up dancing a hora” than listening to Peter Yarrow talk about peace. Implicit in this absurd generalization is that these students thereby regret “peace” because they don’t wait in bated breath for Peter Yarrow’s songs. This characterization also does an injustice to the varied social and political opinions amongst Israeli and American Jews. Is Ms. Stoll aware that a large percentage of Israeli and American Jews support the creation of a Palestinian State with full and inalienable rights? Has Ms. Stoll heard of the Peace Now movement?
While broadly painting the Jewish students as uni-dimensional followers of Israel, Ms. Stoll conversely characterizes the Palestinian students who shouted “PLO! PLO!” while rudely interrupting a speaker, as “small, slender, and extraordinarily pretty”, with “fragile bones.” To many Israelis, who have been victims of PLO terrorism, the supporters of the PLO and the PLO itself are anything but “extraordinarily pretty.” Is Ms. Stoll unaware or simply ignoring the ruthless methods of the PLO; the attacks on the Savoy Hotel, Munich Olympics, Ma-alot grammar school, Haifa-Tel-Aviv bus, Rome-Vienna airports? I could go on. These barbaric attacks have claimed dozens of Israeli lives while the PLO has not only planned and executed them, but proudly taken the credit. This is certainly not the behavior one would expect from “extraordinarily pretty” people with “fragile bones.”
Ms. Stoll also candidly gives the name, position and teaching assignment (obviously after some investigation) of the professor who allegedly struck two Palestinians who had stormed the podium and forcibly interrupted the speaker. Not only is Ms. Stoll’s contempt obvious, but her inclusion of these particulars is a calculated attempt to dissuade students from taking his classes. This personal attack is immature, unprofessional and irresponsible.
Finally, Ms. Stoll glibly states that the qualities of “justice, fairness and human rights . . . are in short supply today in Israel.” To make such a generalization is reprehensible. Obviously, Ms. Stoll has never been to Israel and had the opportunity to acquaint herself with the heterogenous population and troubled Israeli psyche regarding the uprising. Although Israeli soldiers have occasionally acted unreasonably against the Palestinian uprisers, this does not mean that the State of Israel is without the above values. Israel is a thriving democracy that has excelled in the fields of medicine, agriculture and technology in spite of 5 Arab attacks to eliminate her, countless terror raids and a benign, troubling occupation. Ms. Stoll is simply wrong.
If Ms. Stoll takes this criticism as a personal attack, it isn’t. It is merely a recommendation that the next time she purports to write on a topic that she do some research, understand both sides of the issue and don’t let her emotions run rampant. Her article is both a detriment to understanding and peace.
David J. Winer