An Open Letter to Bari Weiss

Ms. Bari Weiss, Op Ed columnist
The New York Times

Dear Ms. Weiss:

As I listened to you this morning on NPR, I heard a very poised and polished explanation of why you so ardently support the state of Israel and why you believe that you can be both anti-occupation and pro-Israel–both a Liberal and a Zionist. There was a time when I would have bought your argument. No more. I, and countless others, have studied the history of Israel/Palestine, have met and debated at length with highly intelligent people on both sides of the issue, and have come to the clear conclusion that all of Palestine–from the river to the sea, is occupied.

Zionism is a cruel, master-race-supremacist, expansionist, colonialist, modern-day political ideology. Israel is an Apartheid State. The UN violated its own charter in its proposal to divide up Palestine (Chapter 1, Article 2, Principle 4). As if that wasn’t bad enough, its division of Palestine was unfair: It awarded the far smaller group of people, the Jews, the far larger portion of the land, and gave the much larger group of people, the indigenous Christian and Muslim Arabs, who had lived there for more than 19 generations in many cases, the much smaller portion. Naturally, the Arabs never agreed to such a proposal. Why would they? It was insulting and unfair.

Yet, despite not having come to an agreement, and with Jewish terrorists (Irgun, Lehi, Haganah) rampaging across Palestine, Ben Gurion unilaterally declared themselves a state in May 1948, having driven out or killed more than three quarters of a million indigenous, Arab people. (I am friends with some of them, as well as with their descendants.) That would be like a man who files for divorce and before the attorneys get the now-estranged spouses to sign on the dotted line, after having reached an agreement, goes off to another country and marries another woman and starts a new family with her. Put another way, the Arabs were ready to “move into” a home they had been patiently and carefully laying the foundation for when the Zionists forced them out, only to rapidly finish the house and move into it themselves.

The way you characterized those of us on the Left who oppose Apartheid Israel is that we oppose the “Jewish state” simply because it is a Jewish state. Not true. We oppose the Jewish state because it was founded by terrorism and bigotry, it is maintained using aid from the United States’ taxpayers, ($7,000.00 per MINUTE), it has never defined its borders, it refuses to sign the NNPT, it claims to be a democracy but actually is an Apartheid state that privileges one ethnic group (Jews) over another (Arabs), it breaks virtually every pact and promise it makes, it is in violation of more than 70 UN resolutions, it attacked our ship (the USS Liberty) and killed and wounded our naval officers and sailors, it assassinated a brave and just Swedish aristocrat and diplomat who saved thousands of Jews from the Nazis (Count Folke Bernadotte), it bombed our buildings (the Lavon Affair), its terrorists dressed up as Arabs and bombed the King David Hotel, killing 90+ people, it demolishes the homes of Palestinians on a routine basis, it deprives people in Gaza of enough clean water, food, and electricity, its blockade making it impossible to carry on commercial affairs, fishing, and agriculture. I could go on and on, but, these are but a few of the more glaring reasons Leftists like me oppose Zionism.

The lie that Palestine was a “land without a people for a people without a land” is hasbara, like so many lies created by Zionists. Ironically, the Christian and Muslim Palestinians, now in Israel/Palestine and in the Diaspora, are probably the true descendants of the ancient Hebrews (the Israelites) of the Bible who, over generations, converted to either Christianity and/or Islam. The top-of-the-pecking-order-Ashkenazi Jews, are Europeans or Russians whose ancestors probably converted centuries ago, possibly in the area now known as Belarus, and who then immigrated to Western and Eastern Europe, and later to Palestine and the North and South America.

After WW1, the international community said, “no more settler-colonialism”. After WW2, the international community said, “No more master-race-supremacism”!! Apartheid Israel is both, a settler-colonial project and a master-race supremacist state. So, it is not that “Israel is the only Jewish state in the world”, it is that “Israel is now the only master-race-supremacist state in the world”.

I wish all the best to all people of good will. I believe that Israelis and Palestinians can eventually live and work in harmony in one, truly democratic state based on equality rather than land theft and ethnic cleansing. I see beautiful examples of this in the great West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, founded by the late Palestinian author and scholar, Professor Edward Said, and his dear friend, Israeli Jew, Maestro Daniel Barenboim. (Maestro Barenboim might be the only person in the world to hold both an Israeli AND a Palestinian passport.)

I deplore racism in all its forms. I deplore hate crimes of any type. I see all of us as connected and no one group better or worse than another.

I wish you and yours well.


Donna Ross

Donna Ross is a former classical ballet dancer (including 3 years dancing prominent roles in The Joffrey Ballet in NYC) and teacher. She graduated from Columbia University in 1992, at the age of 35, with a degree in Italian. She can be reached at: Read other articles by Donna.