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Opinion Letters Assertive diplomacy called for in Middle East

Two people responded negatively to my letter printed Aug. 9 regarding my comments about Israel, Pat Richmond on Aug. 16 and Bob Wilson on Aug. 23. I will not disavow anything I said in my letter, it was either based on fact or was my opinion, right or wrong.

I must, however, strongly deny Mr. Wilson's accusation that my letter was filled with anti-Semitism, he's incorrect. I have never in my life knowingly discriminated against or been prejudiced and least of all, hostile toward anyone because of their religion or nationality nor do I plan to start now in the winter of my life.

That having been said, I have often felt the term “anti- Semitism” is much over-used and very often misunderstood. Using it too freely clouds any otherwise legitimate discussion about the actions and policies of this particular nation’s government in reference to our own and to its neighbors.

The Israeli government did, on June 8, 1967, attack a virtually unarmed U.S. Navy ship (USS Liberty) in international waters killing 34 and wounding 174 of the 294-man crew. They attacked with rockets, cannon-fire, napalm and torpedoes with the clear intent to sink the ship. They destroyed the lifeboats making escape impossible. Aircraft from a U.S. Navy carrier responded but were recalled by President Johnson for political reasons before they could reach the Liberty. The Israelis claimed it was an “accident,” a case of “mistaken identity.” This, despite the ship flying an American flag, AGTR-5 in six foot lettering on both sides of her bow and USS Liberty distinctly visible across her stern.

Liberty received the Congressional Medal of Honor, two Navy Crosses, 38 Silver or Bronze Stars, the Presidential Unit Citation and 208 Purple Hearts. Israel was never held accountable and the incident (rarely mentioned) has become one of America's best kept secrets. Condemning Israel for this reprehensible act of aggression is not anti-Semitism.

I certainly do not deny Israel's right to exist but I think our unconditional support of Israel's government policies to be wrong and helps create destabilization in that region. I believe more assertive diplomatic efforts (not sanctions) should be employed to bring about peaceful solutions to the inherent problems plaguing the nations of the Middle East.

I know we have deep divisions with the Arab world but we all inhabit this one small planet, we all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children's future, and we are all mortal.

David L. Snell — Dillsboro, N.C.

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