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Letter to The Nation:
Why does the left oppose Israel?

September 23, 2005

For decades, "the left" has traditionally been the friend of the Jews and of Israel, whereas the right, which had its greatest and most violent outpouring through the German Nazis, was the traditional enemy of the Jews. But now, slowly but quite decisively, the roles have been reversed. The right — politicians and publications — are the stout friends of the Jews and of Israel, and the left has become its bitter and adamant opponent. Anytime there is a leftist demonstration for any cause — the current "peace" demonstrations are a good example — they are inevitably always accompanied by demonstrations vilifying and demonizing the state of Israel and condemning the "occupation" by Israel of Arab lands. Regrettably, many Jews, especially, "Jewish intellectuals," are still wedded to the left and have bought into the propaganda against and the vilification of Israel. Victor Navasky, a Jew and publisher of The Nation — a staunchly leftist publication — is, while not necessarily a good friend of FLAME president Gerardo Joffe, certainly an acquaintance of long standing. The two have done a lot of business together. Though Joffe reports that Navasky “is a bright man and a very nice guy,” he and his publication are foremost advocates of the “clobber Israel” philosophy, as you will see from the letter that follows.

Victor Navasky
The Nation
33 irving Place, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10003

Dear Victor:

It is my pleasure, after a lapse of quite a few years, to be once again an advertiser in The Nation.

As you will have noticed, we advertise our merchandise division Jomira and will probably also advertise the books of our Advance Books division. Regrettably, however, we are unable to advertise FLAME, or at least advertise at a reasonable rate. The rate that Ellen proposed to me is almost twice as much for a FLAME b/w ad as we are charged for a Jomira ad of the same size in color.

Ellen, with whom I have, as before, an excellent working relationship, explained to me that the reason why this very much higher price is justified is the “great deal of trouble” FLAME ads cause with the readers of The Nation. (Ellen knows that I am writing this letter.)

I assure you, Victor, that I am not trying to bait you or to provoke you. I love your publication, even though I am politically not quite “on the same page.” But all magazines, other than The Nation, especially those of a “rightist” persuasion (National Review, Human Events, American Spectator) love our advertising and have run it for many years, at a favorable rate.

My question is: Why are leftists (such as presumably the readers of The Nation), almost automatically, “knee-reflexively” opposed to Israel and therefore, though they may deny it, essentially anti-Semitic? Both you and I are old enough to remember that the Right (in Europe and in America) was the bugbear of the Jews, the people who were responsible for pogroms and ultimately the Holocaust. The Left was always (until recently) the friend of the Jews. (Many Jews still believe that to be the case and “automatically” incline to the Left and vote for the Democratic party, which is, in our system, as left as they can go.)
Can you explain this to me? How can you feel comfortable with some of the people (Cockburn, for instance) who write for your publication?

What is the reason of the Left’s (and I am afraid The Nation’s and its readers’) antagonism towards Israel and, ultimately, towards the Jews?

To repeat, Victor, I am not trying to bait you and I promise, should you answer, not to involve you in further correspondence.

But I am really puzzled.

Best regards,

Gerardo Joffe
President, FLAME

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