To the Editor:

Anath Hartmann’s badly biased and poorly reasoned viewpoint entitled “No Excuses for Terrorists” (The Hoya, Oct. 15, 2004, A3) is a sad commentary on the state of discourse about Israel and the Palestinians.

One need only cite an Israeli prime minister to counter Hartmann’s claims that there is no “Palestinian people” and that the Palestine Liberation Organization should not be part of permissible discourse about the Middle East.

On Sept. 9, 1993, just prior to the Oslo Declaration of Principles, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin wrote to PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, “The Government of Israel has decided to recognize the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people and commence negotiations with the PLO within the Middle East peace process.”

When Hartmann argues that Palestinians ought not to be able to vote in Israel because “They hate it, plain and simple,” she shows a peculiar understanding of democracy.

Most defenders of Israel would say that Palestinians are not permitted to vote because the West Bank and Gaza have never officially been incorporated into Israel – they are still disputed, occupied territories in the aftermath of the 1967 war.

But since Hartmann presumably believes that the West Bank and Gaza in their entirety should be annexed to Israel, she is forced to argue that Palestinian residents of those areas should never be allowed to vote simply because of their political opinions – although, of course, Jewish settlers should be.

Hartmann’s writing is condescending and immature, referring alternately to Buttu’s statements as “ridiculous” and “garbage.” Her evidence is weak and misleading. One quote denying the existence of a Palestinian people from an apparent Arab Nationalist is irrelevant to the fact that there indisputably exists today a Palestinian nation (though not a state) whose identity can be traced to the late 1800s and whose ancestors have been living in the same region for many hundreds of years.

But even more importantly, when Hartmann writes that Buttu “[looked] like she would have enjoyed seeing me dead,” Hartmann implicitly labels Buttu herself as a murderer and a terrorist, with only Hartmann’s interpretation of Buttu’s facial expression as evidence.

Hartmann is correct on only one point – that nothing justifies or excuses attacking innocent civilians, in Israel, America, the West Bank and Gaza, or elsewhere.

But Hartmann’s zeal to make this point has, unfortunately, blinded her to a reasonable and open-minded examination of the situation of Israel and the Palestinians.

Her personal tragedy related to the suicide bombing in a Tel Aviv bar has undoubtedly also impacted her perception of the situation, but even such an appalling experience is no excuse to distort history and present a one-sided narrative of a two-sided conflict.

David M. DeBartolo (MAAS ’06)

Oct. 16, 2004

To the Editor:

I was saddened and disturbed by Anath Hartman’s viewpoint on Diana Buttu’s speech at Georgetown (The Hoya, Oct. 15, 2004, A3). Though it was titled “No Excuses for Terrorism,” the article had very little to do with addressing that subject.

I do not believe that there are any excuses for terrorism. I do not believe that suicide bombing is right, period, under any circumstance. Ms. Hartmann’s article, however, was full of misinformation, distortion of history, venom and, yes, plain and simple hatred.

I am abroad this year but I read The Hoya very often. I was not at the event, but the level of spite in Ms. Hartmann’s article really disturbed me.

For example, she denies the Palestinians’ right to exist as a people by citing a distorted and incorrect version of history.

Ms. Hartmann is guilty of the same kind of thinking and methodology that Palestinian radicals use when reasoning about Israel’s right to exist. Just because it’s from your side of the fence does not make it right.

I can argue that the Moors have more of a historical right to Spain than the Jews do to Israel, but that would get us nowhere.

The fact is Israel now exists, as does an occupied territory full of people who are Palestinian and who have a right to self-determination and peace just as much as Israelis have a right to existence and peace.

Ms. Hartmann continues to be disturbing when she argues that Palestinians don’t have the vote in Israel because they hate it. What exactly do they hate – Israel, or freedom and democracy?

This kind of logic sounds eerily and disturbingly familiar. Ms. Hartmann completely ignores the complexity of the two-state or one-state question as well as the question of whether all Palestinians would ever be allowed to vote in Israel because of Israel’s need to preserve its majority Jewish voice and identity. The world is not black and white, Ms. Hartmann.

Also, expressing that she thought Ms. Buttu was “looking like she would have enjoyed seeing me dead” is an extremely conniving thing to write. It is pure opinion, a complete assumption of the writer, written as if it is fact, and extremely insulting to s. Buttu, and implies that she is no better than the terrorists themselves.

As I have said, this article on the whole and its extreme bias was deeply disturbing. I do not doubt that The Hoya and Ms. Hartmann will rely on the usual cries of the right to free speech and that this is what the Palestinian supporters are trying to muffle.

I believe strongly in the right of free speech. I also believe that editors have the responsibility to ensure that facts are verified, that accounts of histories written are actually real and that their writers maintain a respectful tone.

Quite frankly, because Ms. Hartmann implied that the Palestinian people do not have a right to exist and that Ms. Buttu had terrorist tendencies, I believe that this article borders on being racist.

I am disappointed at the paucity of editing that went into this. I assure you that such venom and a complete lack of fact verification would not have made the pages of any major newspaper that claims to be nonpartisan.

I hope I can expect better from the editors of The Hoya in the future.

Maryam Mohamed (SFS ’06)

Oct. 16, 2004

To the Editor:

In last week’s issue of The Hoya, Anath Hartmann submitted an article, “No Excuses for Terrorists” (Oct. 15, 2004, A3), that is unacceptable, highly offensive and hateful.

Masking her article as a response to a recent speech by Ms. Diana Buttu, legal advisor to the Palestine Liberation Organization, Ms. Hartmann uses The Hoya as a platform to spread her views, which, to me, appear to be racist.

Instead of engaging in a constructive critique of the speaker’s statements, she uses highly malicious and denigrating language, proclaiming, among other things, that the Palestinian people do not exist.

As a Palestinian, I have never encountered this level of absurd and hurtful hate speech and Georgetown is the last place I ever expected to feel unwelcome.

According to Ms. Hartman, nine million people indigenous to the Holy Land do not exist. Their rich cultural heritage, historical legacy and – as a Palestinian refugee this is most hurtful – their immense suffering and dispossession does not exist.

On a more personal level, my family, my religious ties to Palestine as a Melkite Christian and my family’s brutal exile from our land in 1948 does not exist. In essence, to Ms. Hartmann, I do not exist. This is racial hatred at its worst.

With the memory of last year’s incidents still fresh, I urge Georgetown to once again take a stand against racism. Ms. Hartmann’s statements are an affront to our entire community. Hate is unacceptable and has no place on our campus.

I am deeply offended by these statements and demand a public apology be sought from Ms. Hartmann by our university’s administration.

Maher Bitar (SFS ’06)

Oct. 16, 2004

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