Letters to the Editor: Britain and Balfour, New York Terror and Homophobia

Pro-Palestinian supporters marching through central London on November 4, 2017, demanding justice and equal rights for Palestinians, coinciding with the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.
Isabel Infantes / Anadolu Agency

Tell the full story of the conflict

In response to “Britain celebrates Palestine’s ethnic cleansing” (Saeb Erekat, Nov. 3)

Saeb Erekat suggests we believe that “Britain facilitated Palestine’s ethnic cleansing.” His narrative, of course, is that “Palestinian civilians were expelled from their homes and even massacred,” and those persons were Arabs.

However, the more complete history, without even disputing his claims, is that there were Jews who were expelled from their homes and massacred. Some 20,000 Jews lived in Jerusalem’s Old City and its neighborhoods, among them Shimon Hatzadik and Kfar Hashiloah, the nearby Atarot and Neveh Yaakov communities, in Hebron, Gaza, Jenin, Tul Karm, the four Gush Etzion kibbutzim, Kibbutz Bet Ha’arava near the Dead Sea and the workers’ camp at Kalya. They were attacked, killed, pillaged and raped by Arabs between 1920 and 1948. Many fled and others were expelled. Others were taken as prisoners of war and kept in Jordan for over a year.

I think Erekat should take a deep breath and commit himself in the future to telling the full, complete and non-propagandized version of the history of the conflict that Arabs have with Zionism.

Yisrael Medad

Not in God’s name

Saying “bismillah” (Arabic for in the name of God) before eating pork does not make it permissible for Muslims to eat. Shouting “Allahu akbar” (the Arabic phrase for God is great) before killing innocent people does not make it permissible either. Muslims say the beautiful phrase Allahu akbar all the time. They say it during the five daily prayers and when anything good happens, along with terms like “Alhamdulillah” (thank God) to show that they credit God with good things. That said, invoking Allah’s name during murder is despicable.

Killing innocent people you never met is pure evil! Regrettably, that is exactly what a 29-year-old Uzbek man did in New York City, leaving eight dead and a dozen injured. Muslims are commanded by the Koran to do good and avoid evil. As a Muslim, I am saddened by this act of terrorism and my heart goes to the victims and their families and loved ones. This retired veteran also salutes and stands in solidarity with the city of New York, which ranks among the list of 340 sanctuary cities in the good old U.S.A.

Sayfullo Saipov, the Uzbek immigrant who committed this crime, was ungrateful to the fact that America opened her arms to him and gave him safety and security. After all, the attacker also failed to recognize New York City, a city that shut down its airport in protest of the “Muslim ban.”

Mahmoud El-Yousseph
Retired U.S. Air Force veteran
Westerville, Ohio

Drawing attention but contributing to homophobia

In response to “Trump and Netanyahu Share an Intimate Kiss on West Bank Wall Mural” (Reuters, Oct. 30) 

According to the article, Australian graffiti artist Lushsux painted the image to draw attention to the “people stuck in here.” But he is also contributing to the region’s deadly homophobia.

The dialogue on the mural? “Thanks for the wall Trumpy pumpkin,” Netanyahu says. Trump responds: “Bebe your country and you will always come first my love.”

The mural has undeniable power. But its power derives in part from public homophobia. In the artist’s view, U.S. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are joint oppressors of the Palestinians. They are such a noxious pair of men that they would even kiss each other.

A mural can be thought of as a painting with a built-in context which largely defines its meaning. In this case, the context is nothing short of rigid and violent homophobia. Homosexuality is punishable by death in six Arab countries. Hundreds if not thousands of gay Palestinians are reported to have fled to Israel because of the hostility they face in the Palestinian territories and reputable reports that Palestinian Authority police keep files on homosexuals for blackmailing.

Gay men the artist, or journalist covering the artist, should recognize are not there to laugh at, or to creep us out. If Lushsux hasn’t got anything good to say about Trump or Netanyahu there are plenty of artistic ways to say it that don’t exploit gay men.

Todd L. Pittinsky
Port Jefferson, N.Y.

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