[in response to questions about the original letter sent by Ibish/Abunimah]
1) Of course we raised our concerns with Shamir privately. Hussein remonstrated with him at length at a meeting three weeks ago to moderate his anti-jewish language and show greater concern for the sensitivities of American political discourse. He dismissed those suggestions out of hand and subsequently made the lamentable "christ killers" and "jews-as-viruses" statements. The man appears to be impervious to constructive criticism.
2) Some people in our community have in their responses to our note revealed a great deal of hypocrisy. A principal argument deployed is to ask us who are we to tell a Jew how to speak to Jews or others about Jews. And that because Shamir identifies himself as Jewish then what he is saying is fine or true or permissible. This sort of argument has come particularly from some of those who howled with anguish at the virulently anti-Arab writings of Joseph Farah, an Arab-American, who has been embraced by some slow-witted Zionists as the true, authentic voice of and about Arabs. The same is true of Abdel Hadi Palazzi, an Italian who identifies himself as a Muslim cleric, and who advocates the most extreme right-wing Israeli positions vis a vis Jerusalem. We are sorry to say that some in our community have received Shamir in precisely this spirit. We also note that we received a large number of messages from long-standing allies of the Palestinians in the Jewish community who had felt extremely uncomfortable about Shamir and who were growing more and more alarmed and alienated by our community's apparent unqualified embrace of everything Shamir has been saying.
3) It is important to point out that this "conflict" and "imbroglio" results from a very focussed note of objection to three statements attributed to Shamir. At no point in our note of concern do we in any way attempt to speculate as to the motives or the mentality of Israel Shamir. Nor do we characterize the entirety of his work. What we said then and we are happy to repeat now is that Shamir has been introducing themes such as "Jews as christ killers" and "Jews as viruses" into our conversation that are at best highly problematic and counterproductive no matter the context in which they are introduced. Given the Arab American community's enthusiastic embrace of Shamir, we strongly feel that it is vital for at least some people in our community to express reservations about these themes and to clearly state that the Palestinian movement has no need for arguments which are based on the villification of others.
4) We think it would be astonishing if people could not see the difference between our principled and focussed objection to specific comments attributed to Israel Shamir and Shamir's own shameless rant impugning our motives. Is there anyone who thinks that it is reasonable for such a man to be allowed to say that Ali Abunimah and Hussein Ibish "probably are not working in cahoots with the Jewish lobby"? How generous of him to allow for this, and how ridiculous that he would think that he can get away with it. Sadly much of the response to our concerns has given Shamir the impression that he can in fact get away with this kind of sly accusation. At any rate a comparison of our note and Shamir's note is sufficient to demonstrate who is raising serious and legitimate concerns and who is flinging wild accusations.
5) While some people may disagree with us, we continue to believe that the moral content of the conversation on behalf of Palestinian rights is a serious concern. It is disturbing to us that a man about whom we know very little and who has increasingly employed rhetoric which is indefensible should be uncritically championed by our community. At the very least we felt we had an obligation to register our objections publicly and to alert our colleagues to this disturbing pattern. It is a pity that some people have reacted in a purely emotional manner.
Yours, Ali & Hussein
PS Regarding Shamir's statement: "Just for the sake of clarity I may add that I was asked to discontinue my regular column CONTRA in the Vesti newspaper after the Rape of Dulcinea was published, at the request of a certain American Jewish journalist attached to the staff of JP."
For your information, Ali spoke with Pavel Perelmutter an editor at
Vesti this morning. Mr. Perelmutter said that Shamir has never had a
regular column in Vesti, but that it has published his articles from
time to time "with no system" and "with no obligation."