An Open Letter to the Des Moines Jewish Community: Racism, Faux Anti-Semitism and the Fraud of Zionism

[This is an open letter that I penned to the Jewish community of Des Moines, IA, in January, 2003, after the Director of the Jewish Federation there managed to get me banned from the city’s annual MLK Day Celebration, because of my criticisms of Israel and Zionism more broadly. As a long-time anti-Zionist Jew (and as someone who more or less walked away from organized Judaism over this very issue as a teen), I felt it necessary to defend myself from the absurd charge of anti-Semitism, made by the small-minded director of the Federation at the time, Mark Finkelstein. Though some of my views have changed since its writing (namely, I no longer believe in a 2-state solution to the Palestine/Israel conflict, but now believe that only a one-state, binational and completely secular state can possibly work — in other words, I believe in the end of Israel as a Jewish-specific state), the gist of my argument here is still what I would say, were this to be penned today]

To my fellow Jews,

My name is Tim Wise. You don’t know me, though you may think you do. In recent days, Mark Finkelstein of the Des Moines Jewish Federation has sought to smear my reputation as an antiracist activist, writer and lecturer by implying that I am anti-Semitic due to my views on Israel and Zionism as a political philosophy.

He has done so in order to prevent me from delivering two scheduled presentations in your town for MLK commemorations this month. Though neither of these presentations — sponsored chiefly by NCCJ — were to address the issues of Middle East peace, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or Zionism itself, Mr. Finkelstein decided that because I have written a few articles that are critical of Israel and that question the validity of Zionism as a political movement, he should seek to torpedo my contribution to your local MLK events. He has apparently succeeded in doing so, by bringing to bear significant pressure from the Jewish community in the form of threats to NCCJ to pull out all “Jewish monies” from their future events if I am allowed to make the scheduled presentations.

That such a thing has happened, despite Mr. Finkelstein’s utter unwillingness to confront me directly about what he thinks I believe, is disturbing to say the least. That such a thing has happened in large part because of his blatant misrepresentation of my views (and, as I will demonstrate below his dishonest portrayal of Dr. King’s views on the subject of Zionism and Israel) is truly shameful, and calls into question his legitimacy as a man of honor and integrity, let alone as a leader of your community.

I realize that for many of you, Mark is a friend and colleague, and I am a stranger about whom you have only heard negative things. But perhaps, in the interest of fairness you will indulge my response to the slanderous and largely inaccurate claims made about me by your friend. Allegations that he had not the courage to make to me directly, nor document via a conversation with me that could have clarified my views, but that he rather chose to simply toss out in the hopes of blocking my appearance in Des Moines. He may be very proud of himself, but it is my guess that when you understand my actual views, though you may disagree with them, you will see how dishonest Mr. Finkelstein has been.

In his letter to Jesse Villalobos (formerly) of NCCJ, dated December 30th — which letter served as the first salvo in his crusade to keep me from appearing in Des Moines — Mark writes:

I understand that there has been a speaker engaged for this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Festival by the name of Tim Wise. Mr. Wise bills himself as an anti-racist activist and speaks on a variety of related topics. I am sure, however, that those who engaged Mr. Wise to speak locally did not know that one of his pet topics has to do with Israel and that his perspective on Israel is one of intolerance.

As a point of fact, this statement is wrong on a number of grounds. First, I do not “bill myself” as an anti-racist activist. That is what I do, and who I am. Just as attorneys do not “bill themselves” as lawyers, nor physicians, “bill themselves” as doctors, I do not “bill myself” as an antiracist activist, but rather, make my living combating racism and inequality, and have been doing so for twelve years.

In fact, I began this career as the Associate Director of the largest anti-racism group in Louisiana in 1990 and 1991: the group whose job it was to prevent neo-Nazi David Duke from attaining the offices of U.S. Senator and then Governor. Since that time, I have worked consistently in the field of anti-bias education, combating white supremacist groups and individuals, exposing the ongoing racism and anti-Semitism of people like Duke and others, getting my life threatened by skinheads who every week send me emails calling me a “dirty Jew,” and writing about race issues: mostly domestic issues of ongoing inequity in jobs, housing, education and the criminal justice system.

Somehow, I bet Mark Finkelstein didn’t mention any of this when he came to several of you, proclaiming how horrible it was that such a person as Tim Wise would be invited to speak in Des Moines by NCCJ. That I have recently completed a book responding to the racist and anti-Jewish bigotry of David Duke and the burgeoning white nationalist movement matters not, I suppose. That in that book I go to great lengths to combat the anti-Jewish ignorance espoused by such persons (such as the notions that Jews run the media and economy, are power-hungry and immoral, greedy and dishonest) matters not I suppose. All that matters, in the eyes of some, are my views on Israel. Well, so be it. But at least, one should get those views straight: something which Mr. Finkelstein has failed miserably to do.

Before explaining why this is so, I should note the second error in this opening paragraph of his letter to NCCJ; namely, his claim that one of my “pet topics” is Israel.

In honesty, I am not sure what a “pet topic” is, nor how one could conclude that Israel was one of mine. Indeed, I have written about the subject and related themes: approximately five times in the twelve years that I have done professional antiracism work. How that constitutes a “pet topic” is beyond me, and when combined with the one formal speech I have ever given about Israel/Palestine issues, the charge seems especially absurd.

Nonetheless, as a Jew I obviously take interest in the subject, as I was encouraged to do in Hebrew School. I suspect that what bothers some, including Mark, is that my perspective on the topic is not the one fed to me by my rabbi, but rather, one that comes from years of research on the subject, a degree in international relations, and consideration of the views of Arabs as being every bit as valid as the views of my fellow Jews. My conclusions are different than his, and so he labels me intolerant. I was expecting “self-hating” though I guess that is implied throughout. I will address the substance of the charge (i.e. my “intolerance” below).

Mark continues:

“Despite being Jewish himself, Mr. Wise advocates against the continuing existence of the State of Israel as it is now constituted, as a Jewish state.”

Well, let’s be clear. In practice, as a practical matter, I support a two-state solution, because Israel as a Jewish state is a reality on the ground. I accept that. Just as the U.S. is a reality on the ground, despite the fact that it’s founding was rooted in injustice and the displacement of people already living on the land that became the United States.

And the two state solution I support is not the ridiculous one offered by Barak when he was PM, which would have relegated the Palestinians to only about 80% of the West Bank and Gaza (not 95% as claimed by some), on the worst land, without access to their own water aquifers, cutoff at various checkpoints by Israeli security, their borders controlled by Israel, their airspace controlled by Israel, and their access to the Holy Basin restricted, but one in which the entire West Bank and Gaza is ceded, all the settlements are torn down (they are all, every one of them illegal), and the Palestinian state is free to determine its own fate, as is Israel. Even that solution would result in the Palestinians giving up all but about 20% of pre-mandate Palestine: a substantial sacrifice that has been made in the name of Jewish statehood.

But having said that, it is true that philosophically, I would prefer a singular, secular, fully democratic state, with equal rights for all, with no special preferences for Jews (exclusive right of return, special land deals, etc), and full equal protection of the laws. If such a position makes me anti-Semitic, then anti-Semitism indeed has no meaning any more. Philosophically speaking I think that Zionism as a political movement is inherently unjust because it required, by definition, the displacement of Palestinians who had been living on the land for centuries.

This is not simply my opinion, but fact: according to the documents of the Israeli Defense Forces themselves (and the admission of former Israeli leaders like Begin), and the undisputed research of several Jewish (and Zionist) historians, like Benny Morris, Tom Segev and Simha Flapan, the founding of Israel was predicated upon forced removal of Palestinians. They did not “flee voluntarily” or at the behest of Arab leaders so as to make attacking the Jewish state easier, but rather were expelled by force or fled in fear. At the time, Zionist leaders bragged about the ethnic cleansing involved in the process, again as Segev and Morris and Flapan, and others have documented.

To me, this means that Zionism was unjust from the beginning. But beyond that, my position is that Zionism is bad for Jews as well. I believe — and one is free to disagree and debate the point — that the interests of world Jewry have NOT been served by Zionism, by the state of Israel as a uniquely Jewish state, and certainly not by the actions of the thuggish regime in Tel Aviv, currently run by a war criminal.

Again, one can disagree with any or all of these views, but to label them anti-Semitic or imply that they are anti-Jewish is preposterous. It is my sincere love for the Jewish community of which I am a part that propels me to critique Zionism. And I should note, there have been many Jews throughout history who have felt the same way, including, it should be noted, Albert Einstein, who when approached about becoming the first Israeli President, rejected the offer because of his misgivings about the creation of a “Jewish state.” Yet I guess, by the standards of Mark Finkelstein, Einstein would be someone whose words should also be ignored, and were he here today, he should certainly never be invited to speak at any event.

In Mark’s letter he continues:

His words, which are found on the Internet, display a wholesale disregard for the well-being of Jews…

This is not only false but defamatory, hurtful and demonstrably absurd. Note that Mark fails to quote from a single one of these articles, so let me do so now. You can then decide if my views (which are admittedly critical of Zionism in theory and practice) “display a wholesale disregard for the well-being of Jews.” Among the things I have said:

Though Zionism proclaims itself a movement of a proud people, in fact it is an ideology brimming with self-hatred from the beginning. Indeed, early Zionists believed, as a key premise of the movement, that Jews were responsible for the oppression we had faced over the years, and that such oppression was inevitable and impossible to overcome, thus, the need for our own country.

Having never read the words of Theodore Herzl (the founder of modern Zionism) or other Zionist leaders, most will find this claim hard to believe. But before attacking me, perhaps they should ask who said that anti-Semitism, “is an understandable reaction to Jewish defects,” or that, “each country can only absorb a limited number of Jews, if she doesn’t want disorders in her stomach. Germany has already too many Jews.” While one might be inclined to attribute either or both statements to Adolph Hitler, as they are surely worthy of his venomous pen, they are actually comments made by Herzl and Chaim Weizmann, eventual president of Israel, and, at the time he made the second statement, head of the World Zionist Organization

Now, does that sound like a view that disregards the well-being of Jews? Of course not. It is a view that holds that Zionism was anti-Jewish in many ways and predicated on views about Jews that were retrograde and harmful themselves! Again, one can agree or disagree with that conclusion, but to ignore the deeply rooted concern for Jewish welfare at the heart of the statement is simply dishonest.

In the same piece, I continued:

…one could argue that getting the Jews together in one place especially on real estate as small as Palestine would be a Jew-hater’s dream come true. It would make finishing the job Hitler started that much easier. Better, it seemed then and still does, to have vibrant Jewish communities throughout the world, than to put all our dreidels in one basket, by pulling up stakes and heading to a place where others already lived, hoping they wouldn’t mind too much if we kicked them out of their homes.

Again, one can choose to disagree, but surely one cannot be intellectually honest and claim that such a comment shows a disregard for the well-being of Jews. It is in part because I do not think Jews can ever be safe in Israel that I question Zionism. Indeed, it seems supremely ironic that events of recent years have borne out my analysis entirely. The one and only place on the planet where Jews are truly menaced by regular violence and face real issues of survival is ISRAEL: the one place the Zionists told us we would be safe! The one place we were assured would be a refuge from the anti-Semitism of the “evil goyim” who would always try and oppress us in the diaspora. And yet, in the diaspora our survival is not threatened. Yes, we all know that occasionally we are attacked in vicious hate crimes, our synagogues desecrated, and hateful vitriol is spewed our way. But by and large we are far safer in the diaspora of the U.S. and Europe than we are in our precious “homeland.”

In other words, it is my contention that Zionism is what disregards the well-being of the Jewish community. It has been thus since its inception. And let me add to this admittedly political analysis a personal note, which, although it may prove no more convincing than any of my other statements, at least will place in the proper context my feelings about Zionism as fundamentally anti-Jewish.

I, like many of you I presume, am the descendant of Russian Jews, who in the early part of the 1900’s escaped the Czarist pogroms to come to the U.S. In my case, my great-grandfather tried initially to come to America in 1901. Unluckily for him, he arrived shortly after President McKinley was shot; and because McKinley was shot by the child of Eastern European immigrants, the boat was turned away at Ellis Island, and he and his shipmates were forced to return to Russia. To return to the Pale of Settlement. It would be nine more years before he would be able to try again.

Now how is this relevant to the issue of Zionism, you ask? Well it’s actually quite simple. You see, it was during those intervening years that Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, traveled to Russia and met with Count Von Plehve, the author of the nation’s worst pogroms (those in Kishnev), and promised support for stifling anti-Czarist rebellion, if the Czar would support emigration to Palestine. He sent a clear message to Von Plehve that Czarist rule and oppression of Jews would not be opposed by the Zionists, as their only interest was resettlement in Palestine. During this period, repression of Jews intensified, seen as they were as the arbiters of Bolshevik rebellion. Yet the WZO did nothing. Repression of Jews, after all, aided the settlement program, since Herzl, Weizmann and others hoped such repression would spark a wave of emigration from Russia, to the Middle East.

My family (and many of yours I’m guessing) were left twisting in the wind, set up by a collaboration between our supposed “rescuers” and our oppressors. And the fact that my family (and yours) didn’t want to go to Palestine, but wanted to come to America, also meant that in the eyes of the Zionists, their lives were irrelevant. The well-being of Jews was not their concern. Land, power and position were their concerns. My family could have died for all they cared. Had they shown an interest in taking land from Arabs, they would have been celebrated and welcomed, and supported. But because they wanted a new start in America they were written off as irrelevant and left to suffer.

So, is it any wonder that I resent the implication that I show a disregard for the well-being of Jews? Where was the appropriate regard for the well-being of my family? Where was the regard for those Russians who suffered in part because the Count and Czar thought they had the green light from the Zionists?

Anyway, and once again, disagree mightily if you like. Engage me in dialogue about the subject. But to misrepresent the position as somehow dismissive of the well-being of Jews is so fundamentally dishonest as to border on an outright deliberate lie.

In that same article, I continue: That most Jews have never examined the founding principles of this ideology to which they cleave is unfortunate. For if they were to do so, they might be shocked at how anti-Jewish Zionism is. Time and again, Zionists have even collaborated with Jew-haters for the sake of political power.

Consider Herzl: a man who believed Jews were to blame for anti-Semitism, and thus, only by fleeing for Palestine could we be safe. In his book, The Jewish State, he wrote:

Every nation in whose midst Jews live is, either covertly or openly, anti-Semitic. Its immediate cause is our excessive production of mediocre intellects, who cannot find an outlet downwards or upwards. When we sink, we become a revolutionary proletariat. When we rise, there also rises our terrible power of the purse.

He went on to say, “The Jews are carrying the seeds of anti-Semitism into England; they have already introduced it into America.” Were a non-Jew to suggest that Jews were to blame for anti-Semitism, our community would be rightly outraged. But the same words from the father of Zionism pass without comment.

Worse still, early in Hitler’s reign the Zionist Federation of Germany wrote the Fuhrer noting their willingness to “adapt our community to these new structures” (the anti-Jewish Nuremberg Laws), as they “give the Jewish minority its own cultural life, its own national life.”

Far from resisting Nazi genocide, some Zionists collaborated with it. When the British devised a plan to allow thousands of German Jewish children to enter the U.K.and be saved from the Holocaust, David Ben-Gurion, who would become Israel’s first Prime Minister balked, explaining:

“If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England, and only half of them by transporting them to (Israel) then I would opt for the second alternative.”

Again, I beg someone to explain how this argument, which is rooted in fact, can be considered dismissive of the well-being of Jews. If anything, it is arguing (and again, one can disagree) that Zionism and the early Zionists were themselves the ones who didn’t much care about Jewish safety.

In a second article, published April 30, 2002, I wrote the following:

The continued blurring of the lines between Zionism and Judaism is of course actually dangerous for the Jewish community. So long as Zionists insist on the inherent linkage between the two, it will only become more and more likely that some critics of Israel will also blur the lines, transforming a righteous condemnation of colonialism, racism, and imperialism, into a condemnation that includes anti-Jewish bigotry as well.

In recent weeks there have been desecrations of synagogues and Jewish cemeteries, apparently carried out in protest of Israel’s latest incursions and depredations, and these have occurred in places as far flung as Tunisia, France, and Berkeley, California. Anti-Semitic propaganda, like the Czarist hoax, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which professes to “prove” a Jewish plot for world domination, is popping up throughout the Arab world, with snippets of its poison even finding space on otherwise left-progressive websites like Indymedia. In the understandable rush to condemn Israeli actions, at least one pro-Palestinian listserv operated by ostensible left/progressive radicals, has distributed one of David Duke’s commentaries on the conflict: a column filled with anti-Jewish invective, which of course undermines the credibility of the sender and the righteousness of their insights on the struggle for Palestine.

To be sure, we who criticize Israel must unequivocally condemn all such anti-Jewish actions: not only because they are hateful on their own terms, but because they help perpetuate the lie told by the government of Israel and its supporters: that they are the Jews and the Jews are they. And this is an idea that both weakens the struggle against the occupation by making all criticisms of it suspected of anti-Jewish bias and puts the Jewish community at greater risk, as they (we) become increasingly seen as Israel Firsters, instead of people committed to principles of peace, justice, and fairness: those concepts that I learned in Hebrew School were paramount to my people.

Once again, I am arguing that Zionism harms Jewish interests, and that anti-Jewish actions, statements, etc. should be condemned. I am arguing that Zionism in practice and the policies of Israel violate deeply held Jewish principles. And again, one can disagree but one cannot say that such expressed concern for Jewish well-being is dismissive of that well-being.

In a third article, from May 12 of last year, I wrote:

Ultimately, those who care for the welfare of Jews, in Palestine/Israel or anywhere in the world, will have to re-evaluate the impact of Israel’s policies and Zionism itself, not only on the Palestinian people, but also on Jews. Has the state of Israel really contributed to the safety of world Jewry, or exposed Jews to new and unnecessary dangers? Is the strategy of fleeing for Israel preferable to a policy of staying and combating anti-Semitism wherever it rears its ugly head, in each and every nation? Is the dispossession of a people from their land ever likely to lead to anything other than perpetual conflict and war?

Again, an argument that is mightily concerned with what is best for Jews, as well as Palestinians. I think this point is now made. Mark Finkelstein’s intellectual mendacity on this score is so blatant as to boggle the mind. I will move on.

Finkelstein continues:

His critique goes far beyond the criticism of any particular Israeli policy and seeks to undermine the legitimacy of Israel itself. In short, he is an anti-Zionist. This position is highly offensive to the broad spectrum of Jewish Americans and others within the general community.

True enough, I do not limit my critique to any given policy, though the articles I have written have principally been aimed at criticizing the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. As explained above, I accept a two state solution; but in theory I would prefer, in my heart of hearts, one unified nation, where all residents would have equal rights, where rights of return would apply to all (not just Jews), where constitutional and democratic principles applied. To support secular, democratic, equal rights structures in the US but to oppose such things in Israel (which the exclusive right of return and various laws preferring Jews in land-leasing and other areas vitiate), is to be a rank hypocrite. To support Israel philosophically as a Jewish state, but to bristle at the suggestions of right-wing Christians who want to proclaim the U.S. a “Christian Nation,” and follow their interpretations of Biblical law, is also to engage in hypocrisy.

So I suppose it is fair to say I am anti-Zionist. To Mark Finkelstein, and perhaps to most of you, this is ipso facto unacceptable. If so, perhaps it would be wise to ask why? Especially when my particular anti-Zionist critique is rooted in an expressed concern for the well-being of Jews.

But then — and this is perhaps the most important part of Mark’s letter — he engages in wholesale deceit when he argues:

It is highly inappropriate that he be a speaker at a function in honor and in remembrance of the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. This is because Dr. King himself, only several weeks before his death, placed himself on record as averring that “anti-Zionism is forever anti-Semitism.

This is an absolute fabrication, as two minutes of research would have verified. The alleged quote — which has been making the rounds on the internet as of late — DOES NOT EXIST. It was made up by a Rabbi seeking to silence criticism of Israel and Zionism. The source from which it supposedly came (Saturday Review) never ran King’s alleged “Letter to an anti-Zionist friend,” and the collection of King’s work that allegedly includes the piece, does not exist. The letter is a fabrication. Don’t believe me? Fine, perhaps you will believe the website mentioned below, which includes a retraction on the issue from the militantly Zionist CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting).

Before clicking on the link below however, let me address the only thing Dr. King ever actually said on this subject. It is a far cry from the claim made by Finkelstein. Apparently, when approached by a student after a speech he had given at Harvard, and asked about Zionists (as individuals), he replied:

“When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews, You are talking anti-Semitism.”

Now, this is not the same as saying that opposition to Zionism is forever and always tantamount to anti-Semitism. I agree that when speaking against Zionists as people, it is often the case that the speaker’s real hostility is towards Jews as people. But I do not say that Zionists are bad people, but rather that Zionism was a flawed philosophy and that certain individuals who were the early advocates of Zionism were self-hating, racist, etc. King was referring to the specific context within which most criticism of Zionists occurred at that time. And it is true that in 1968, there were few persons critical of Zionism (or Israel at all) except for a bunch of sick Nazis. I probably would have said the same thing in 1968.

But since then, Zionist historians have uncovered the documentation of Zionism’s flawed version of history, the crimes of Israel from 1948 onward, and the evidence that Zionists collaborated with Nazis. These things were not widely known until the 1970’s. What’s more, King’s comment was in response to a particular challenge, from a particular questioner, whose tone and manner likely signaled to him that there was something more sinister in the young man’s query than a real concern over the situation in the middle east.

On the other hand, when I criticize Zionism, I clearly do not mean to criticize Jews, as Jews. Indeed, I think the most troublesome Zionists are not Jews at all, but this gaggle of fundamentalist Christians who are militant Zionists, but only because they think the ingathering of the Jews to Palestine will be necessary for Jesus to return.

Of course, despite the fact that these Christians think we as Jews are all going to hell unless we cease being religiously Jewish, many in the Jewish community are sucking up to them, making common cause with such religious fascists, all because they plant some trees in the holy land, or some such thing. How anyone who joins forces with the likes of Tom DeLay could think that someone like myself was self-hating, is beyond comprehension. Surely, kissing the ass of people who think God has turned his back on Jews and that we are doomed to a lake of fire, is the ultimate in self-hatred. So the point is, King’s quote says nothing about whether Zionism is a legitimate movement, in theory or practice.

Now to the proof that Mark’s quote is false:

http://www.jewish-history.com/mlk_zionism.html

I would hope that in light of his deception on this point, that many of you would reconsider just how much trust you wish to place in him as a leader in your community. That he would exploit Dr. King’s memory with false statements so as to further his agenda (which he claims is yours as well) is despicable. Not to mention, since I understand Mark is in favor of a pre-emptive war on Iraq, I find it ironic that he would think it inappropriate for ME to speak at an MLK event. Surely he cannot believe that King would support such an illegal and immoral action. I defy him, or any of you to show evidence of King’s support for such an action. Likewise, most of the organized Jewish community in recent years has come out against affirmative action, and certainly opposes reparations for blacks, despite King’s blatant support for both. Don’t believe this support to be true?

Fine, then consider the following, from an earlier article of mine:

In 1961, after visiting India, King praised that nation’s “preferential” policies that had been put in place to provide opportunity to those at the bottom of the caste system, and in a 1963 article in Newsweek, King actually suggested it might be necessary to have something akin to “discrimination in reverse” as a form of national “atonement” for the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow segregation.

The most direct articulation of his views on the subject are found in his 1963 classic, Why We Can’t Wait. Therein, King discussed the subject of “compensatory” treatment for blacks and explained:

“Whenever this issue is raised, some of our friends recoil in horror. The Negro should be granted equality, they agree, but should ask for nothing more. On the surface, this appears reasonable, but is not realistic. For it is obvious that if a man enters the starting line of a race three hundred years after another man, the first would have to perform some incredible feat in order to catch up.”

In his 1967 book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community King argued:

“A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for him, to equip him to compete on a just and equal basis.”

Furthermore, King was clear as to what that “something special” might entail. In 1965, during an interview with Playboy, King stated his support for billions of dollars of direct aid to black America and not only the poorest of the poor, even though some might consider it “preferential treatment.” As King explained:

“For two centuries the Negro was enslaved and robbed of any wages: potential accrued wealth which would have been the legacy of his descendants. All of America’s wealth could not adequately compensate its Negroes for his centuries of exploitation.”

Now I am guessing that Mark, and many of you oppose affirmative action and reparations. Fine. But to do so is to stand clearly against what King said and wrote. Likewise, King said near the end of his life that the U.S. was “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” But somehow I’m guessing that Mark rejects that as un-American. Great. So did J. Edgar Hoover.

In conclusion, let me just say that someone who is willing to lie about another person, thereby scuttling a long-planned MLK event so as to further their own agenda, and to misquote Dr. King in the process is not worthy of my time. But to the Jewish community of Des Moines, I feel obligated to make my feelings known. I hope you know that I consider you my brothers and sisters. I fear for your safety and my own. I sincerely believe that Zionism is against our interests. In that, you may think I am wrong. But to believe that I am anti-Jewish is hurtful and false. Mark Finkelstein is an anti-intellectual thug, masquerading as a noble advocate for Jewish interests. Let it suffice to say, that he will be known as such, very soon, to a much larger audience than he expected.

Tim Wise


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