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Letters to the Editor

Facile Cliches

I REALIZE that this Palestine/Israel stuff is getting old (or will it ever?), but the conventional wisdom on Israel in this county is starting to resemble a Sacha Baron Cohen parody of a backward former Soviet country. Santa Cruzans who can't get over how deep the Israeli rabbit hole goes are a pack of good-for-nothing yuppie geopolitical voyeurs. I am a (arguably good-for-nothing) Santa Cruz local who lived in Israel and served (gasp!) in the unholy IDF. U.S. indulgence of Israel is not unlimited, and AIPAC contributes far less money to members of Congress than the defense industry PACs that do business with Israel and with other chronic violators of UN resolutions. See for yourselves at On the website's list of the top 100 lobbying groups (ranked by total amount of money contributed to congresspersons from 1989 to 2010). AIPAC doesn't even register.

In his letter in last week's issue ("All-Powerful AIPAC"), a Mr. Rudzinski asks, "Would a good ally have torpedoed a U.S. Navy spy ship ...? The shocking truth is in Body of Secrets by James Bamford." Hey Neo: go tell it to Laurence Fishburne. If only "the shocking truth" was so readily available. Bamford is a credulous lapdog for insanely powerful bureaucrats, shoving puzzle pieces together that don't exactly fit because the truly revelatory pieces will never be declassified. We in the U.S., especially in Santa Cruz, are beneficiaries of the worst excesses of the NSA, the CIA and the global "free" market. We are awash in some of the finest imported gastronomic delights of any population on earth; nary a stitch of our clothing, a splinter of our furniture doesn't come from some sweltering country where "human rights" isn't even an operative concept, and we continue driving our cars and trucks on shopping excursions as we finger-point our way down the road. Do you think our level of affluence exists because we meditated it into being? Most (most) members of the armed forces are recruited from poorer areas of the state and the country. At least Israelis are forced to roll up their sleeves and participate in a little of the violence that makes a first-world living standard possible. If we half-educated Santa Cruzans ever had to roll up our sleeves, we would need a Mexican to do it for us. We evaporate our guilt by making token purchases of local produce (alongside other purchases that we don't blab so much about), but how many sanctimonious liberals are willing to alter their lifestyles meaningfully? So few that one man who reduced his family's environmental impact by 100 percent for an entire year has written a book and produced a documentary film about this novel experience (No Impact Man, by Colin Beavan).

Is the construction of a Museum of "Tolerance" on a medieval Muslim cemetery a prime example of Israeli chutzpah? You bet. But in the long run, Israelis will be the ones dealing with the consequences, while we Santa Cruzans deal with the consequences of the attitudes that render our facile, accusatory clichés.

Name withheld, Santa Cruz

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