February 7, 2024 600 PM
Thank you for reporting on the vigil in Marfa that honored all of the dead and injured in the current war in Gaza. I share the heartbreak expressed by the group. Some of the speakers made statements about nationhood, U.S. foreign policy, and the Jewish community. There was no mention of Hamas or the hostages in the article.
I write this letter with concern about antisemitic backlash to my comments because of the well-documented rise in hate speech, including Islamophobia, since October 7.
President Biden, referring to the attack by Hamas on Israel said, “There is no rationalizing it, no excusing it.” He made a distinction between Hamas and the Palestinian people.
Hamas is responsible for the well-planned, sophisticated attack that included mutilation, rape and kidnapping of civilians of all ages. Hamas has built an underground fortress hiding behind non-combatants and civilian infrastructure that is now being used to imprison over 100 civilian hostages. Doesn’t Hamas bear some responsibility for the loss of life in Gaza?
Israel’s nationhood cannot be taken for granted as is suggested in the article. Hamas is part of a network of Iranian-sponsored groups all intent on the destruction of Israel.
One of the speakers objected to American financial support for Israel. American foreign policy is based on supporting democratic governments against ideologies that are corrupt, authoritarian, and limit human rights like Hamas. And 31 Americans were killed.
It is awful that the family of the visitor from Los Angeles questions his Jewishness because he has empathy for Palestinians. Readers should not be led to believe that this is common. There is a robust debate in the U.S. and Israel about the conduct of the war as expected in a democracy with freedom of speech.
There are numerous credible online resources like the Anti Defamation League (www.adl.org) for readers to learn more about antisemitism here and abroad. Texas is also blessed with three Holocaust Museums in Houston, Dallas and El Paso founded by survivors who found a new home in Texas. The El Paso Museum is fully bilingual.