Two views: so what’s the A.N.S.W.E.R.?

Upon reading Jason Maruso’s column last week, “Political extremism is not the A.N.S.W.E.R,” I found three points on which the author is apparently misinformed. First, Mr. Maruso incorrectly equates the groups “Free Palestine-U.S.” and the “Party for Socialism and Liberation” with those who committed the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Militant Islamic fundamentalists carried out those attacks, not nonviolent Palestinians, socialists, or animal rights activists. This tactic of equating all who do not fully support U.S. foreign policy with al Qaeda is usually reserved for far right-wing pundits, not someone who calls himself a “moderate liberal Democrat.”

Second, Mr. Maruso’s analysis of A.N.S.W.E.R.’s platform as combining two goals that are “mutually exclusive and ultimately unattainable” is self-defeating: the ending of all war and racism may be unattainable in reality, but does that mean we just give up? The fact that A.N.S.W.E.R. was the group to effectively organize an anti-war rally does not take away from the reality that over 200,000 people came out to protest this administration’s policies, which include invading and occupying a sovereign nation, as well as supporting oppressive regimes around the world.

The fact that people supporting freedom for Palestinians and Haitians, the release of Mumia Abu-Jamal, and animal liberation used the rally to support other issues of justice does not take away from the fact that they all came together to support a peaceful end to the Iraq War.

The anti-war movement did not use these issues, but rather these groups used the anti-war movement to get publicity. Not to mention that many in the anti-war movement view America’s occupation of Iraq and Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory as two manifestations of the same disease.

Finally, the fact that Mr. Maruso considers Israel the “only functioning democracy in the Middle East” reveals his lack of knowledge of Israeli government policies. Israel has occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and until recently, Gaza since 1967. During those nearly 40 years, Israel has ruled those territories militarily without?providing Palestinians living under occupation the right to vote. Anyone from around the world who is of the Jewish faith is immediately granted Israeli citizenship, while Palestinians who have lived there for centuries continue to lose land to illegal settlers, and Palestinian refugees are denied the right of return to their homeland. Palestinians living under occupation cannot move about freely through the territories, thus making it nearly impossible to find or keep a job or provide children with consistent access to education and healthcare.

That is certainly not a democracy by American standards. If Egypt, Jordan and?Lebanon do not make Mr. Maruso’s list of Middle East democracies, then why should Israel?

One can support a free and viable Palestinian state and still support Israel’s right to exist in security. Those goals?are not mutually exclusive, nor are they anti-Semitic. To the contrary, they are interdependent.

For more information, please visit James Zogby’s Arab-American Institute: aaiusa.org/resources.htm; Americans for Peace Now: peacenow.org; and “If Americans Knew” ifamericansknew.org.

Michael Kabbash

As the vice president of publicity for the TCNJ Democrats, I fully support the sentiments Jason Maruso articulated in his article “Political Extremism is the not the A.N.S.W.E.R.” This country desperately needs a decisive alternative to the increasingly wayward republicans, but unfortunately many in my party have appeased radical interest groups whose intentions are, at best, impractical and, at worst, destructive to the fabric of the party and this country.

The Democratic Party is not the party for radicals who seek to implement some sort of socialist fantasy world. It’s for committed Americans who believe in equal rights, responsible business, giving a hand-up not a hand-out to those in need, and preserving the American way of life through a strong defense that stands tall while cultivating allies. It is not worth getting the votes of the screaming radicals while we lose the votes of the mainstream majority. Hopefully in 2006 and 2008, the party leadership will realize that.

Daniel Beckelman