Letters to the Editor

Arlynn Nellhaus' editorial (`Tisha B'av at the Temple Mount,' July 31) is insulting, insensitive and a good example of the sort of extremist views held by some Zionists.

Her talk of ``red-blooded Palestinian teenagers, with hormones raging and dreams of being a martyr enjoying all those virgins reserved for them in heaven'' is racist and ignorant. Palestinians have good reason to be angry and desperate. They dream of freedom and a life in dignity, not of dying.

She also ridicules the importance Muslims attach to Jerusalem, ignores the Christians and stresses instead the Jewish history of the city. The fact is Jerusalem is holy to all three religions, whether Ms. Nellhaus likes it or not.

Palestinians have made the historic compromise by giving up their claim to 78 percent of mandatory Palestine, hoping for a state in the remaining 22 percent in line with UN Security Council resolutions. Israel has yet to give up dreams of expanding its borders beyond the 1967 lines. I can only hope that will change, in spite of editorials such as Ms. Nellhaus'.

Riad Hamade
Frankfurt, Germany


Please correct the typo in your headline.

It is not a "U.N. SAFE HAVEN", the correct spelling is "UNSAFE HAVEN". Your author should not feign such surprise, the "unfolk" (those resident at the "UN") told everyone that is was "UNSAFE"...

(And I trust your audience understands the satirical nature of the comment. Indeed we must cry out in protest at the shameless nature of those who stood charged with protecting others, but then did neither protect nor serve.)

Ed Miller
Great Falls, VA

So what separates Ariel Sharon from Slovodan Milosevic?

Not much really -- one is a killer of Kosovans and the other a killer of Palestinians. Both are war criminals.

Then, why is one in in custody for crimes against humanity while the other is courted by the United States as a harbinger of peace and stability in Middle East?

What hypocrisy! What hypocrisy!

Mr. Sharon has sanctioned a state-sponsored assassination campaign against the Palestinian "terrorists". He calls Mr. Arafat- the man he is supposedly trying to negotiate with- a liar, a terrorist, a Jew-hater and a "Bin Laden". He cries foul when an Israeli is killed but sheds no tears for the hundreds of innocent Palestinians women and children who have been murdered and continue to be slaughtered by Israeli soldiers. Israel is systematically trying to bait neighboring countries into war so that it can exact its own agenda by virtue of its superior firepower and military strength.

What is it about Israel that places them above the law and moral conduct? Does their past suffrage entitle them to inflict unchecked suffering and agony on others? Did the Palestinians have anything to do with the Holocaust? Did the Arabs not accept the Jews as their neighbors when Europe and America hated the Jews? So, why is Israel illegally occupying and settling on Arab lands?

All the Palestianians are demanding is the right to live free? On this July 4th we American's celebrate our right to liberty, freedom and justice. Does our values end at our borders? Why do we condone Israel and bankroll their terror and oppression?

Imran Ahmed
East Lyme, CT 06333

Arlynn Nellhaus replies:

Well, Imran Ahmed is wrong.

The only reason Arabs didn't get involved with the Holocaust is because the German army was stopped as it headed east over North Africa. Doesn't he know his own history, that the Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin Hussein, Faisal's uncle, spent the war years in Germany near his friend, Hitler, attesting to his wish to help him "deal with" the Jews? Or that the Moslem Bosnians joined Hitler's army?

And in Friday's Jerusalem Post was an article of newly released British intelligence reports relate that a five-man German-Arab until was dropped behind British lines of the British Mandates in October, 1944, to attack the Jewish yeshuv and undermine British rule. They were to throw incendiary bombs at Jewish shops and bombs in synagogues and to spread pro-German population among the Arabs. But the mission was blown off target and landed in the midst of an area patrolled by the Brits near Jericho and the men were arrested. Fascinating story, eh?

As for the good Arabs accepting Jews as their neighbors, it's the other way around. Jews already were in the lands later known as "Arab lands," when the Arabs arrived. Also the Arabs weren't always such "good neighbors." I'm reading "Eleanor and Franklin," and there was the unaugmented statement that the same year that Eleanor was born, 1884, there was some kind of anti-Jewish uprising in Morocco. There was the uprising against Jews in Syria in, I think, 1841, when Moses Montefiore traveled there to help. There were a pile of murders in Iraq in 1941, and, I'm sure, many such events over the years.

Anyway, and talk about bankrolling -- look what has Europe and the US have done for Arafat.

Arlynn Nellhaus would have us believe that Israel offered an egalitarian partition of Palestine which Jew-hating Arabs vetoed. The truth is that terror groups such as Irgun which ushered in the creation of Israel through murder and theft, with no regard whatsoever for the indigenous population of the region; they went so far as to claim that those people did not exist!

"A Land Without a People for a People Without a Land" was the claim which a previous generation of imperialists claimed 78% of Palestine's territory, ignoring the very existence of the people they drove out of their land, whose properties they stole and whose decendents now live in squalid refugee camps. With Israel determined to be the enemy of Palestinians, promising only their further expropriation, disposession and death, how could Palestinians feel anything other than bitterness for their oppressors and occupiers?

However, instead of accepting that five decades of Israeli occupation, repression and murder have caused ill-will on the part of Palestinians towards their brutal military occupiers, Nellhaus claims that these feelings are some sort of pro-Hitler sentiment. She also completely ignores the vile anti-Arab rhetoric explicitly adopted by ministers within the current Israeli government, and she herself supports anti-Arab policies such as the occupation and curfew of Hebron.

If Nellhaus had any true regard for human rights, equality and opposition to racial hatred, she would be supremely concerned with the actual implementation of the vicious, hateful policies of the Israeli government.

Ben Walsh
San Francisco

For some time I've found Arlynn Nellhaus' columns informative and demonstrative of good intentions as well as a loyal heart regarding the condition of Israel.

I still do--including her latest offering in The Idler.

I question, however, her characterisation of those imigrants who found themselves in Israel (or its proto-state) in 1947 as having "guns pushed into their hands" and forced to fight. I find it hard to believe they didn't instead "seize them with with a will" after recent events in Europe and in the Soviet Union--of which they themselves knew not a little. No doubt there were pacifists, incompetents and misfits in the intake at this crucial moment in Jewish affairs who were less than willing or able--but can the reader believe that "pushing guns" into the new-arrivals' hands provided the courage and military competence for Israel to establish itself? I don't think so.

I also take exception to her statement that, because the Palestinian leadership (and its allies) has since then chosen a "path of battle" that the Israeli "path of defense" is somehow a "dreadful waste" as well--equivalent, apparently, to the aggression of its enemies.

Nellhaus in this instance has taken the easy way as a journalist, suggesting "we're just as bad"--the current (and fashionable) dodge to elude the charge of bias or some such journalistic shibboleth--while at the same time remaining silent about the moral issues--and the realistic conditons of the time--that were at stake.

Equivalency, I suggest, is not the way the world operates.

Protect your own. If you won't, who will? And if your enemies are hurting enough, it may be possible to cobble together an armistice, at least. But racial hatred and national inspirations have no limits. There will be no ultimate resolution to the present conflict in the Middle East, it seems to me, but given the will and a convincing demonstration of it, Israel will persuade those Palestinians who seek a more rational standoff and agree to an armistice--for the time being.

James Bennett
Australia (

Loved the piece "Translation, please" that I read in The-Idler recently.

How is one to know if one is in the hands of a good or a bad translation? Guess you have to trust "the experts." Meanwhile, Constance Garnett's Tolstoy and H.T. Lowe-Porter's Mann just keep rolling on, although Nabokov thought Constance Garnett's translations were meretricious as all get-out and Lowe-Porter has been accused of making Mann sound like a 19th-century lady novelist.

I guess in the final analysis there's nothing to do but put your butt in a chair and learn the original, or quit whining.

Kelly Dupuis
Baltimore, MD

It is nothing short of outrageous for Arlynn Nellhaus to portray the Israeli settlers of Hebron as a peace-loving group unjustly threatened and set upon by Palestinians.

The presence of a few hundred of these extremists in a city of hundreds of thousands of Arabs is one of the single biggest obstacles to peace.

The settlers are outside Israeli territory in a Palestinian town where their provocations are unwelcome, yet it is the huge indigenous population which is subject to curfew and apartheid-like oppression at the hands of the Israeli Army.

Nellhaus echoes the settlers whimpering for more invasions of Palestinian territory, more annexation and expansion, yet has the temerity to couch this as part of a plea for peace!

Israel will have peace when it respects its neighbor countries and their rights to exist within internationally recognized boundaries.

Nellhaus states that the settlers compared their neighbors to Hitler, because "both killed children", as if the IDF and Hebron settler hero Baruch Goldstein did not. But Hitler went beyond killing children. He instituted ethnic apartheid at home and colonized land to the east with a view clearing it of the "untermensch" who lived there, destroying their homes and creating "Liebensraum" for domestic settlers. A leader who fits this mold better than Ariel Sharon would be hard to find.

Ben Walsh
San Francisco

In "The Return To Jerusalem," Arlynn Nellhaus called Palestinians terrorists because they attempt to take back the land that the Israelis took by force from them. Killing children and women are the tactics of the Jewish terrorists back in the 1940's.

The Israelis won those wars because of the mudering tactics which sent wave of fear in the hearts of the subdued Palestinians. Now, when the Palestinians do fight for their rights and their stolen homeland they are called terrorists....


The killing of hundreds of Palestinians in Lebanon with the help of the Israeli Jews is OK while fighting for freedom is not fascinating anymore to the Jewish audience. The actions of IDF by blowing up hundreds of Palestinian homes and killing as many as thousands is justified by the name of the poor Nazi survivors.

Hello wake up people it is the year 2001 & not the 50's. The world can see an hear everything and know how arrogant and murderers are the Jewish Israelis, especially the "Fatso Sharon", he continues to drink the Palestinian blood.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan & the UN can never satisfy the Jewish State's love for stealing lands and muder.

The UN should be used as a tool for the Jewish State and shut up without exposing the bloody work of the Israeli Zionism.

Annan's charging that Israel's "collective punishment" had fed Palestinian anger and despair, will not be welcomed as Truth by the Israeli Murderers. Annan saying that the world has every right to criticize Israel for occupying Arab land and for its "excessively harsh response" to thePalestinian uprising is the right thing to say.... no wonder now Mr. Annan would be criticised for speaking the Truth.

I support Palestinians for their uprising against Israel.

Israel's harsh response will re-fuel more anger and hate and bombing... Go for it.

Israel existed on the wrong foot by stealing "Arab land". Israel's occupation of Arab land will never be forgiven or forgotten. Syrian President Bashar Assad's comment that Israel was "worse than the Nazis" is completly right..Just ask the Palestinians about how they are treated and compare it to what the Nazis did to the Jews of Europe.

Bill Qutub (
Portland, Oregon

Being a life long New Yorker I can very confidently tell you that I have seen and heard almost everything. It's no surprise that very few things shock or disturb me. So I wasn't the least startled when on March 11, 2001 I had the pleasure of spending a "lovely" Sunday afternoon listening to that consummate performer and ambassador of "goodwill" Harry Belafonte harangue endlessly on the wonders of revolutionary Cuba.

This act of blatant self promotion was shown on local ABC affiliate, channel seven, during an African American public affairs program called "Like It Is" hosted by veteran newsman Gil Noble. As you can imagine Belafonte pompously did most of the talking, and in spirit of his mentor Fidel Castro, he basically nothing of any value while unfairly alluding to, and making a mockery of human rights concepts the Cuban people have never experienced under the revolution. In addition to using the interview to paint himself as Mr. Social Justice, he steadily attacked the United States and didn't even dwell on Cuba's massive record of human rights abuses.

Any mention that the revolution might have failed due to the utter lack of individual freedoms, was taboo and non-existent in Belafonte's book. However, this is anticipated from a shady character like Belafonte who while keeping a facade of nice guy and UNICEF representative, has cavorted with dictators numerous times, honored American spies, the Rosenbergs in Havana, and has acted as an apologist for the former East German regime.

As always the very tired cliches of free education and health care were used throughout his "speech" to justify, and to give a patina of respectability to what only amounts to a continuing dictatorship. Let's not forget, a dictatorship where Cubans of all racial categories are still living below the poverty level, and the make up of the island's prison industrial complex is overwhelmingly Afro Cuban. For example, Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet who is Afro Cuban and a pro democracy dissident, is languishing away in one of Castro's jails for daring the dictatorship to respect human rights.

Let's be realistic, revolutions don't last for four decades.

At one point during the interview, Belafonte actually had the temerity to praise none other then Ho Chi Min himself!

After hearing Belafonte speak for almost forty-five minutes it just became too unbearable, and I noticed how effortlessly he defended Havana in lieu of the worst repression that Cuba had seen in years. I sadly reflected on how the affairs of my parent's former homeland had been stolen, passed on, and relegated to the likes of delusional non Cubans, who in their self righteousness dared to tell us what they thought was best for the island now that the revolution had come. After awhile it became excruciating to hear this man lie about a culture that wasn't even his.

So I could never understand why anyone in a supposedly normal state of mind would actually ever think of supporting the longest running dictator in the world. For God's sake, the year is 2001, not 1968, and even organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, (who are more left then right), have painstakingly denoted extensive cases relating to the abusive nature of revolutionary Cuba.

Although you might want to believe that Belafonte was just talking to exercise his narcissism, he was actually gearing up for a moneymaking scam he is to partake in at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall on March 26, 2001. The all star event which is to be hosted by actor Danny Glover, and features a hosting committee comprised of notable leftist millionaires like Whoopi Goldberg, Gregory Peck, Eli Wallach, Jack Lemmon, Tony Randall, and musico Carlos Santana, bills itself as a "Special Benefit for the Center for Cuban Studies."

If you don't already know about the Center for Cuban Studies (i.e., CCS), it's an organization that favors ending the embargo against Cuba while promoting relations between the United States and the dictatorship of Fidel Castro. The CCS also goes to Cuba looking for art that it then sells at a healthy markup in its downtown New York gallery. This last part is odd being that in Cuba people are not allowed to own private property or make money off products. Since the dictatorship in Cuba controls all the means of production, does the CCS buys art at dirt cheap prices from starving artists, makes a profit from the art and keeps the cash, or does it give the artist or the Cuban government a share?

Although the CCS calls itself an "non-profit, tax-exempt educational institution" many allege it to be another front for the Cuban government in New York City. Whether this is true or not, I am not the one to say, but during the whole Elian debacle, its leader Sandy Levinson was seen on TV news shows vehemently defending the Cuban government's intransigence that the boy should be returned at once. The Center even sported a gigantic Cuban flag on its loft like windows, along with the very same propaganda "Liberate Elian!" posters that were seen throughout the mass "voluntary" rallies that seemed to pop up all around Cuba.

Here is one of Levinson's quotes on Cuba:

"I think there are a lot of young people who simply cannot appreciate... what the revolution has given them. They take for granted free health care, free education."

The outrageousness of the whole thing surfaces when leftists like Levinson actually justify repressive systems such as Cuba because they allegedly give out free education and health care. I have been hearing this tired and old argument forever, and I do wish they would come up with something more original then what the architect of Castro's Peace prize nomination said in a recent statement:

"Even if one can ask oneself about the democratic character of Cuba, the question of democracy is perceived differently in a Third World country," Langeland said. "What do people prefer? The right to vote or free access to schools, health care, housing and food, as is the case in Cuba,"

Not only are the attitudes listed above wrong and unfair, they show the double standard and racism of the left by stereotyping Cubans into third class citizens who are not capable of governing themselves.

A Cuba solidarity junkie like Levinson or Belonfante is very smug in saying what they preach because none of them will ever live like real Cubans with a ration book or internal passport. Sure, Sandy and Harry might spend extended periods of time on the island, but in the end, the Castro left always has the option of returning to their prestigious lives where they don't have to worry about being sent to jail if you speak ill of Fidel.

Sadly, Cubans living on the island don't have that same luxury.

Mario Ramirez
New York City

Thank you for posting the article about Frontline's Saving Elian.

As a Cuban American visual artist who has lived in the US for 3/4 of her life, it is rare to find articles outside of our community that truly reflect the point of view of our group, or truth in general about Cuba today. Everything that Mr. Blazquez says about the prejudice of the media in favor of Castro's regime, and the frequent dismissal of our viewpoint is absolutely true.

The opinions of most Cuban Americans are based on actual facts and personal experience, not because we are "ultra-right wing" or "madly blinded to the truth by our hatred of Castro" as was so frequently voiced over the airwaves during the Elian Gonzalez controversy. It is the liberal media's prejudices that truly blind them, and the American people, to the monstrous hypocrisy and tyranny of the "Castrocracy".


Elena Maza

As the world holds its collective breath as to how the elections in Israel play out -- we can only wait and see what happens.

I took a moment to read the Declaration of the State of Israel, and can only wonder when the Palestinians will simply replace Israel for Palestine, Israelis for Palestinians, change the title and thank the authors for their eloquence.

This simple issue addresses nearly ever issue thought to be worth negotiating or negotiable -- and its necessity rings as loud and clearly as it did then.

Without some groundbreaking change of heart or groundswell for fairness and humanity -- I pity all the parties involved interested in maintaining the status quo.

Frank Publius

The Dixie Pig - a long time landmark of Old Town, VA has closed it's doors as of Nov 26, 2000 - only two weeks after The Idler had written about it - and after having been spotlighted in NBC's The West Wing.

Unfortunately I can't seem to find any information on why it was closed, but I have a feeling that some unhappy neighbors lobbied to have it shut down - as was alluded to in Charlie Clark's article.

I was hoping The Idler could do a follow up story to that original one: Volume II, Number 141, 10 November 2000.

-John Radi

Your article, Bill Clinton Please Stay Home, states that Israel needs to control parts of the the occupied territories for security reasons.

If this is the case then the Israeli government needs to give all residents of the occupied territories equal rights. Without equality peace will never occur. No group will tolerate being denied freedom of movement, due process, equal opportunities in housing and employment, and economic colinization.

Until Israel grants every citizen under its control the same privileges regardless of religion or ethnic background the struggle will continue.

Leslie S Pauls (

Clinton was a great President.

Yeah. You guys deserve a guy like Bush to deal with. President Bill Clinton is and will remain a great and compassionate man. Clinton left office with 65% of approval, more than any other president. He did not need to bring peace in the Middle East in order to win a noble (sic) prize. He did it because he is a good man and wants to help other human beings. George W Bush doesn't give a crap and won't try to bring peace anythwhere just like Reagan and Bush Sr.

kasraa (

Who did all the slaughtering?

I have only one question: which side pumped bullets into teenagers, killing hundreds? If a nation which is occupying my native land started slaughtering my bethren as well, I wouldn't be very happy either.

Perhaps you Israelis should get rid of the feeling that the world owes you something. The Holocaust happened 55 years ago...the criminals have paid their price....we don't owe you anything else.

Lee Khee Gan
Kheegan (

I wish to let you know how moved I was by the article Charles Ruff C. Esq., RIP.

I think it was a masterpiece.

I'm not sure that any single piece of news or editorial commentary involving the Clinton Escapades had as much of a profoundly deep effect on me as that one.

Thank You,
David A. Chronquist

Terrific article (on Robert Pinsky), thank you!

I'll certainly be reading the Idler.

Best wishes,
Marjorie Perloff
Los Angeles, CA

In this, the season of shepherds and unexpected desert visitations, the story of Omran Harbi Jawair stands as a compelling appeal to embrace the true meaning of events in another stable so many years ago. On May 17, 2000, the thirteen year old shepherd was watching over his flocks, anticipating a carefree summer after completing another year of school. The American plane that approached was under instructions to retaliate for a radar lock-on or related Iraqi "violation" previously reported by pilots patrolling the southern no fly zone. That's when the bombs fell, ending his short life while posthumously thrusting him onto the world stage as an illustration of all that can go wrong when empires collide.

Having been made aware of Omran and hundreds of others like him through a remarkable story in the Washington Post, the Middle East Children's Alliance and Voices in the Wilderness joined forces to make sure young Omran did not die in vain. They purchased a school bus and transformed it into a forty foot long rolling billboard and classroom about the siege of Iraq. Complete with phone, computer, audio visual aids, and thousands of printed handouts, the "Remembering Omran" bus tour took to the road with the fervor of traveling evangelists.

From October 7 until December 1, the campaign worked its way up the west coast making over fifty stops at universities, colleges, seminaries, high schools, churches, and even an elementary school. Thanks to the growing network of people horrified by reports of over 5000 children under the age of five being killed each month by sanctions, classes were taught, rallies staged, sermons preached, interviews given, and donations collected to send the bus along on its journey of compassion. From San Diego to Vancouver, B.C. the nearly universal response to the story was, "We had no idea. What can we do to help?"

Staffed by a handful of converts who have traveled to the cradle of civilization on numerous occasions bringing medicine, toys, and school supplies to the children of Iraq, the bus has become a center of resistance to a policy that finds the United States increasingly marginalized on this issue. In recent months, dozens of nations have flown into a reopened Baghdad airport with everything from medicine and pencils to soccer teams and artists. The visiting prime minister of Iran , which fought a devastating war with its neighbor to the west during the 1980,'s declared sanctions "broken" upon his arrival in Baghdad.

In November, an international trade fair brought over 1800 representatives from forty-five nations all bent on reestablishing ties with Iraq. A report in the Times (U.K.)from November 20 speaks of how, "Britain has extended an olive branch to President Saddam Hussein" in a move that "could cause serious friction with the United States" over sanctions policy. Through bellicose rhetoric and non-diplomacy, the US has found itself in the age old position of being stuck in a policy that is not working because there is no way to exit and save face at the same time. The cries of the Iraqi people are not falling on deaf ears.

In the meantime, a chorus of voices crying in the wilderness plan to roll on across the "one" nation under God, carrying a ragtag collection of peacemakers giving voice to Omran and the hundreds of thousands of others silenced since the siege of Iraq began ten years ago. While the sole remaining superpower waits for its king to be crowned, shepherds, carpenters, and the rest of the meek, are undeterred in their preparations to inherit the earth, just as they were two thousand years ago, under desert skies, awaiting the unexpected with joy in their hearts.

Mike Miles
Luck, Wisconsin (Mike Miles has gone to Iraq twice with Voices in the Wilderness and has most recently spent four weeks traveling 4000 miles with the Omran Bus Tour. The bus is continuing the tour after a brief stop at the Inauguration in Washington DC.People can get in touch with the Omran bus at

Excellent commonsense piece by W. Paterson on the pro's and con's of machine voting.

The Republicans who're trashing handcounts would be singing a different tune if the shoe were on the other foot. In some future election, their current orchestrated campaign to discredit hand-counting will return to haunt....

Charles S. Clark
Washington, DC

We need to avoid a rush to judgement.

I am an avid Idler reader and am greatly disturbed at what I perceive to be a selfish and narrow-minded response among many voters to the political situation now facing our country in Florida.

Any decisions which have the potential to undermine the integrity and credibility of the system by which power is transferred from one administration to another need to made carefully with the utmost respect for the awesome responsibility of those whose privilege and and duty it is to carry out the will of the American people. The authority and the legitmacy of every democratic government derives from the consent of the governed which is given only to leaders who demonstrate that they have the ability to fulfill the obligations of their office in a fair, impartial and honest way.

Any government which takes this responsibility lightly and does not do everything in its power to ascertain the true wishes of its people and risks losing the confidence of voters whose trust and respect and is the foundation on which every democracratic system is built.

I was a little troubled to learn that many people feel that the political situation if Florida is an amusing spectacle and a matter appropriate for insensitive satire about 'voter intent'. It is rather ironic that people who have benefited so greatly from the economic benefits of our political system appear to be forgetting that our system works not because it serves our own individual interests but because it reflects the wishes and dreams and every person who participates in it.

The democratic process is not about winning and loosing, and the outcome of any one election is never as important the steps we make collectively toward greater mutual understanding and acceptance and trust. Our government works, not because we defeat our opponents in political elections, but because throughout our nation's history we, as a people, have maintained the belief that our votes, our efforts and our participation in the democratic system make a difference. When we undermine this process we loose something much more precious than the a single victory in political election. We risk loosing the respect of the American public for a political process that has made our democracy an inspiration and beacon of hope to less fortunate people in countries throughout the world.

I know its easy to lose touch with these ideas and to imagine that the Florida situation is just another example of absurd antics by actors on the American political stage. This however, would not only be be an unfortunate mistake. It would be a dangerous one.. We all need to realize what is at stake in this election. and not let narrow partisan emotions blind us to the more important issues which must be resolved if our democratic system is to remain the great political institution that has given so many Americans unequaled prosperity, opportunity and hope.

Also - as an after thought - I do not believe it is fair to Gov Bush to conclude the election before counting all the votes that have been cast. Only when we have made every reasonable effort to determine the real winner of this election can we be sure that the candidate assuming office has the public support he needs to govern our country in an effective and legitimate way.

Tom O'Dwyer
Washington, DC

Your headline writer apparently did not read Mr. Wheeler's submission.
Instead of "In Memoriam," the headline should have been something like "A Catalogue of Contacts Between Mr. Wheeler, Steve Allen and Ring Lardner, Jr.; Namedropping ala Wheeler."

Leland P Chancery
London, England

Thanks for reviewing David Schippers' book on impeachment, something that's not happening in the so-called mainstream press, despite your opinion that the book makes Republicans look bad.

If Schippers was right, the Republicans clearly were profiles in calculation rather than courage.

But if the book says "Regnery" on the spine, the media says "pass." Actually, nearly every author demeaning a Democrat gets no respect from the book reviewers of the national media, no matter how many weeks it spends on the NY Times best-seller list; from Leo Damore's Chappaquiddick opus to Gary Aldrich's "ridiculous" suggestion that Clinton slipped out of the White House for trysts. (Why go out when you can order in?)

The most interesting passage you flagged was Schippers' high regard for Joe Lieberman, the "best friend they had"? What kind of Democratic ticket does that make with the man who thinks Clinton is one of our greatest Presidents?

Tim Graham
Media Research Center, Alexandria, VA

Jonathan Reynolds may have missed out on the Pulitzer Prize, and spent a too-brief time in the Off-Broadway limelight.

Still, when you consider all the playwrights waiting on tables in New York restaurants, scribbling about food for the Sunday New York Times Magazine is a better alternative.

Since the papers who sang Stonewall Jackson's praises have long been recycled, your readers might want to idle away a few moments checking out CurtainUp's archived review:

Elyse Sommer
Editor-Publisher, CurtainUp: The Internet Theater Magazine of News, Reviews, Listings

Nice piece on the Lafayette celebration in Virginia.

How boorish of the Washington Post to dismiss Lafayette as obscure, and to patronize his wife as "rich." I'm glad that his singular contribution to American liberty is being properly feted in horse country.

After all, without the Marquis' lobbying, Louis XVI probably would not have funded the American Revolution, but kept his head instead. That would have been good for the French wig industry, but a disaster for democracy.

Mary Hintz
Minneapolis, MN

Thank you for publishing the chapter from Agustin Blazquez's memoires about leaving Cuba.

It was a very moving story about a painful experience that so many Cubans had to endure. I applaud you for helping to educate the American people about the tragedies caused by Cuba's communist regime.

Cristina Portuondo

ESCAPE: A MEMOIR is pure art. I was glued to the page. Congrats to the Editors as well.

Jose Antonio Font

What an excellent memoir! Mr Blazquez's writing is clear and profound, it touches my soul.

Jena Aubrey

I am not Cuban, nor have I lived Mr. Blazquez's experiences. His "Escape" chapter was touching and insightful, sharing the raw emotions of the moment he left Cuba forever. That touched me. I would like to read the book. Is it available in print?

Cathy Graham

Editor's reply: Agustin Blazquez is currently looking for a publisher his book, THE KILLER FLIES OF LUXOR. It is not yet in print.

Having recently encountered Alice Goldfarb Marquis' article on Marcel Duchamp (volume II, number 24) the Art Science Research Lab, directed by Rhonda Roland Shearer and Stephen Jay Gould, invites you to explore Tout-Fait: The Marcel Duchamp Studies Online Journal ( for your consideration as a reciprocal link.

The very first journal devoted to a major figure of modern art, Tout-Fait focuses on the work and impact of French-American artist Marcel Duchamp and his circle with articles and interviews from renowned international scholars, artists, and art historians. Equipped with audio, video, animation, and many color images, Tout-Fait offers an interactive, multimedia experience. After its first six months the website received over 17,000 visitors and has been reviewed by major publications including the New York Times and Artforum.

We hope you will visit and consider establishing a reciprocal link with The Idler. Please contact us when you do. Thank you.
Ross Finocchio
Editorial Assistant
Art Science Research Lab, Inc.

Jeff Jacoby's column on the confederate flag was terribly simplistic.
He says the Civil War was about slavery when it clearly wasn't. It was about self-determination.
I'm surprised the left in this country hasn't told us that the South wasn't pro-slavery ,it was pro-choice! This line of thought is used by them in the abortion issue. Abortion makes slavery look like a picnic!

David Kaiser

Regarding the Idler excerpt from "Knights of the Brush", " The freedom to do something means you are absolutely bound to do something else... and there are your chains again." Pablo Picasso

In the Q&A at the end of an "Artists Talk on Art Panel" talk by critic Donald Kuspit several years ago, as an artist I raised the point that it seemed to me that true spirituality had been ruthlessly weeded out of contemporary art during the past 30 years. I then linked this to the point that Matisse and Picasso, et al were in fact clearly in this romantic spiritual camp and therefore have not we all lost something really fine and important ?

He conceded my point that the death of romanticism was a fait accompli by the art world that still well describes our current reality. The reason for this sort of subtle and not often discussed issue is the core of my commentary. It is that the spirit of romantism in the visual arts had to made to go, to be sacrificed on the altar of global commerce so that lots of lesser art making could grow in it's place unimpeded by any sense of the truly diminished playing field left in it's wake. Now huge and unprecedented numbers of new artists could also create while being encouraged and supported by the new culture.

After all, this was seen as a natural progression of modern society, that the present nowness rightfully needs to destroy the past. To the growing curporations this fit hand in glove as a seamless meshing of the goals of increasing corporate global domination, which basically proceeds untroubled by ethical concerns that might have been troubled by any new contemporary romanticism. The result of this conscious Darwinian manipulation by forces of big business buerocracy has now inevitably led to the present moment which some of us would describe as anti-spiritual. And in fact we now have a primarily economic based art system favoring post modern artists who are also by definition especially critical of romanticism.

And so, today we have ironic mostly boring high production art. Innovative, slick, and usually trendy... one liner art to be sure. Often playing off technology and posessing some depth but very limited in terms of being more deeply satisfying and especially unable to pass the test of time. Who cares, when hype is everything? And definitely needing major art speak to prop it up.

And always stearing well clear of deeper waters. With economic value basically being used to measure quality. Under the aegis of the dollar the visual arts in the new reality is justified in endless litany. In fact, hasn't this now become the primary and almost sole raison d'etre of New York's if not the global art world ?

Pluralism, let many flowers bloom has been the officual imprimatur of the art world for some time now. And so long as any new official art does not raise a serious threat regarding a serious life affirming romanticism it too can become recognized as part of official turf.

A parody of romanticism is permisable, and we do get to see plenty of that. But a modern counter aesthetic as implied in a more positive and spiritualized romanticism? No, this is still considered a taboo and is still probably, and no doubt wrongfully perceived as a real threat to society and something against post modernism. Perhaps a life assirming romanticism was well and good regarding the past, but not now for us, they say.

No, I say, this is simply not so. It is in fact the inevitable next step. And until we get over this paralysis, we are going nowhere...really fast.

William Rabinovitch

Unquestionably, Dr. Sicherman has beautifully outlined the perils of the current Camp David talks and understands quite well the role that personalities must play in the development of any agreement.
However, he has not given sufficient emphasis to certain of the methods utilized by the two leaders involved. The taciturn and close-to-the-vest Barak has maintained the "geopolitical consensus" within Israel that could and probably would result in acceptance of the final results of the difficult negotiations. Arafat and his advisers, on the other hand, ever since Oslo I, deliberately continued to avoid any conditioning of his constituency toward the need to accept less than maximum demands. These include the return of "refugees", Jerusalem as capital and a return to 1949 borders. By so doing, he has been able to present the picture of political weakness and the potential of his loss of power with anything less than complete victory. Whether this will panic Barak and/or Clinton is still uncertain, it is not likely to succeed.
As just an aside, the resumption of emphasis on the "refugee" problem still manages to occupy a great deal of time and effort, with absolutely no reference to the refugee problem of those Jews forced out of the entire constellation of Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

Emanuel Friedman, M.D.
Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco

i've been meaning to congratulate you on the success of The Idler -- and its now DAILY publication!

but jeff dunbar's excellent review of sydney poitier's book today finally gave me the irresistible incentive to do so.

what a poignant, well written article.

i'll be looking eagerly forward to reading more top-notch, high-quality material like this. thanks for providing it.

Andrea Sharp
Los Angeles, CA

I really enjoyed the M.J. Rose interview.

The whole concept of self-publishing and e-publishing is fascinating; especially the news about Stephen King (he has an article in a recent New Yorker describing his experience being run down on the side of the road - he says he was victimized by a character out of one of his own novels, which for some reason made me like him).

Anyway, thanks -

Mary Lee Kingsley
Washington, DC

The Yeltsin bio. interview was great.

Richard Buchanan
Tallahassee, FL


Harvey Wheeler

Thoroughly enjoyed Tiffany Jenkins's "New Labor Lads".

I found it to be insightful, enlightening, with just the right amount of humor.

And I may have learned a bit more about our mother country's politicians.

Jefferson Dunbar
Los Angeles, CA

I enjoyed your article ("Richard Quest Covers The Crash") very much.

It's very on the money.

One thing strikes me: you appear to have taken the photo ... written the article .. and stayed all day. You need a Quest award yourself.

Best wishes

Patrick O'Connell

Are the photos of the World Bank and IMF buildings your sole comment?

You should cover the crazies who are protesting without the slightest idea of why they are protesting.

Best I can tell the aims of the protesters and the World Bank are one and the same.

David O. Strickland
Pensacola, FL

Re: Busted by the TV Police.

This was a good one!

I have forwarded it to a bunch of people.

Richard Buchanan,
Tallahassee, FL

Is there an 18th-century equivalent of Ariana Huffington?

God help us.

-- Francis Assaf, Professor of French, The University of Georgia

I remember the film "Song to Remember," the subject of your January 10th Idler piece, very well. Back in the good old days, thirty-plus years ago, a local New York TV station had a TV show called Million Dollar Movie, where they showed the same movie several times a day for a week! And they also seemed to recycle the same movies every few months. I was quite young, and my three favorites were a pair of horror movies, "Giant Behemoth" and "The Crawling Eye," and "A Song to Remember." Because they were endlessly repeated all week, I'd watch them over and over and to this day remember these films more clearly than I do classics like Citizen Kane and Casablanca. It wasn't until I was much older that I realized that the blood on the keys at the end of "Song to Remember" didn't come from Chopin's fingers, which I assumed were battered from pounding the keys so hard in the final moments of La Polonaise, but that it came from the tuberculosis that was killing him. I thought he died from playing the piano too hard . . . talk about romantic endings.

Mark Horowitz

New York, NY

You have definitely reached the pinnacle of esoteric-ness with "A Film to Remember".

Andrea Sharp

And George Sand left her lover, the French poet Alfred De Musset, who then caroused, got syphilitc aortitis, with increased pulse pressure and visible head -bobbing-----known as De Musset's sign---the same heart lesion (different etiology) as a former room-mate of mine.

Leonard Linde, M.D.

Thank you for publishing Agustin Blazquez's Reflections on Cultural Exchanges with Cuba. Mr. Blazquez does a wonderful job of demystifying the commonly held perception that there is a real cultural exchange with Cuba and that art from Cuba is not politicized. Moreover, Blazquez speaks of the marginalization of Cuban exile artists by the American Media, art and other institutions something that the late great Reinaldo Arenas wrote about.

Arenas--for instance--writes that anthropologist and author, the late Lydia Cabrera, the world's foremost authority on Cuban Afro-culture and an exile was denied a Guggenheim Award. Arenas himself says that in exile as he became increasingly known for his anti-Castroism, academia closed their doors to him.

Radames Suarez

I thank you very much for publishing such a nice analysis on "Cultural Exchanges with Cuba" by Mr. Agustín Blazquez. This paper make easy to understand the real feeling of some people concerning the very wrong doing of the US policy in relation with Cuba.

Your sincerely,

Carlos Wotzkow


Thank you for taking the high moral ground and allowing Agustín Blázquez to voice his wisdom on the incredible volume of double standard that exists regarding Cuba - USA "cultural exchanges". It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that cultural exchanges to Cuba are a one sided affair, but since a large majority of the American public is ignorant on this, it doesn't hurt voicing this over and over again. Even though Mr. Blázquez "goes to town" as he lays down the facts, unfortunately a powerful minority still considers it politically incorrect to be pro democracy and anti Cuban revolution. Amusingly enough, the Castro friendly contingent gets all bent out of shape when anyone chastises their sacred cow - and this comes with all the well documented cases of human rights abuses committed on the island believe it or not. Remember that a grand percentage of those in the "art world" have been infatuated with the Cuban revolution either as a way to rebel against conservative parents, as an act of anti establishment immaturity, or simply because it's considered by some to be trendy and hip. These are the same people who will go great lengths to protect constitutional freedoms, and protest alleged censorship here in America, but look the other way, or even condone the actions of Fidel Castro. An example of this hypocrisy (which is happening now as we speak on 1-4-2000) is the trip by Rev. Joan Campbell of the National Council of Churches, as she travels to Cuba in order to speed up sending Elian Gonzales back to his father. Although the reverend uses the façade of her religious group to champion causes which are popular with Fidel Castro, she or her organization never says anything about the incredible amount of suffering caused by the Castro dictatorship. Instead as she did in her last Cuba trip, she plays into the wishes of the Castro regime by "apologizing" for the alleged harm the U.S. has done to Cuba. Although the biased cultural establishment (or elite) holds immense power in the way they promote communist Cuba, happily a vanguard has been established with articles such as this. I predict that in this new century the world will finally learn of the real cultural and political "embargoes/blockades" imposed not by the United States or Cuban American exiles, but from the very perverse soul of Castro's Cuban devolution. So thank you again for allowing the truth to be heard.

Mario Ramirez


Nice profile of Halle.

But surely her performance as the seductress in ``The Flintstones'' movie merited mention to placate us pop culture types.

Charlie Clark

"Cluck.Cluck. Cluck.

Flutter. Flutter. Flutter.

Look at what these bad boys have done now.

What does it all mean? This is really too much.

We need to really get a handle on this before it's too late!

The sky is falling."

Dear Editor,

Don't you get it?

All this 'ink' is exactly what these boys want.

This appalled indignation and criticsm is the only thing this 'art' is about and the more you and your colleagues cluck over it the more they 'succeed'.

Please find another topic.

I'm tired you 'validating' their 'statements' by clucking about them.

Deja Vu


Thank you for Agustin Blazquez's great article about Cuba and the truth about Fidel Castro's 40 years dictatorship.

It's time for people to take a stand and turn their backs on Mr. Castro's never-ending- choking hold on the once economically and culturally thriving island of Cuba.

Mari Rodriguez Ichaso

Sun, 5 Sep 1999 17:49:08 EDT

Having read the article of Agustin Blasquez : "Imagine Being in the Twilight Zone", about the horrendous regime that exists in my country, Cuba, I could not help writing to you to congratulate you and as well to thank you, for your decision of publishing this brilliant and enlightening essay.

In a very engaging and revealing way, Agustin try to explain how is life like for a normal Cuban citizen. I believe trying to imagine this from a free person perspective gives the best opportunity to envisage the real situation which is impossible to obtain just by visiting the country.

I agree that for some people reading this article, will go through such an unbelievable account of human right abuses that they will find difficult to believe and even will dismiss.

But I am sure that everyone will be so impressed, to the point of having to ask themselves some deeper questions in order to understand the reality of my country, and perhaps some will finally understand how inhumane and despotic the Cuban communist system is.

Yours sincerely

Omara Williams

Fri, 10 Sep 1999 13:12:04

Thank you for publishing the article entitled 'Imagine Being In the Twilight Zone" by artist and film maker Agustin Blázquez.

Mr. Blázquez is one of the few persons who does not hold back when telling the world the reality, truth, and abuses of communist Cuba. Fidel Castro's propaganda must be exposed, and Mr.Blázquez is just the man to do it.

Sadly, for four decades the American and international press has given the regime of Fidel Castro a free public relations push, describing Cuba as some humanistic, social justice utopia in the sun.

It is not by a long shot!

This is a fact, being that in Cuba today, as it was in 1959 when Castro took power, the human rights of millions have been constantly treaded upon. Lets also not forget the hundreds of thousands who have perished either via the tyranny of the communist party, or who have drowned trying to escape to Florida.

Remember, before Castro no one took to the sea to escape (even during the dictatorship of Batista), and just the fact that over two millions have fled the island since 1959 is indicator enough to realize that all is not well with Fidel Castro's socialist policies.

So thank you again for doing the right thing for democracy and human rights in Cuba and allowing the article to be shown on the internet.


Mario Ramirez

New York

Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1999 17:54:14

"Sometimes it seems like the whole world has ignored our call for freedom, and we are all alone in an indifferent universe of hypocrisy."

I want to congratulate your online journal for publishing captioned article in the September 1999 issue of The Idler, and, in particular, Agustin Blazquez for covering a subject that is full of controversy and misinformation: What Cuba is really like under Castro.

There are many frustrated Cuban-Americans who have unsuccessfully tried to explain to non-Cuban audiences the failures of Castro's Revolution.

The crux of the problem with the approach normally used by Cuban-Americans is that they articulate their arguments from their Cuban perspective.

To those who have not lived in Communist Cuba, this is very hard to understand.

Thus, I find that Agustin Blazquez' approach succeeds, whereas others have failed, because he describes what life would be like in the United States with a Castro-type government. Agustin uses examples that are very familiar to the average American, and, thus, is highly effective in getting his point across.

Finally, I wanted to expand on Agustin's question: Why do many Americans, who are supposedly against tyranny, feel sympathy for Castro and disdain for Cuban-Americans?

While I agree with Agustin that part of the problem comes from the lack of information about the living conditions in Castro's Cuba, there are other causes to this problem.

First, there is the anti-American sentiment that is shared by some oppressed groups who look at Fidel Castro as a gutsy leader who has stood up to the U.S. Government.

Second, there are the farmers who think that they can sell to Cuba their surplus crops, and, thus, ameliorate their financial plight.

Third, there are the businessmen who want to trade with Cuba and make a profit, regardless of the human rights violations that are prevalent in Castro's Cuba.

Fourth, there are the politicians in both political parties who want to cater to their constituents to win elections.

Fifth, there are the journalists and reporters who want to print stories that the public wants to read or hear.

Lastly, there are the intellectuals and university professors who want to preach from their ivory towers what they think is good for Cuba and Cubans.

Not one of these groups is interested in finding out what the Cuban-Americans have to say about what life is really like in Communist Cuba. Not one of these groups is interested in finding out the truth. All of these groups are willing to ignore the suffering and hopelessness endured by the majority of Cubans and political prisoners in Castro's Cuba for the last forty years, and concentrate on their own selfish interests.

This shortsightedness by a large sector of Americans has been, is, and will be very costly to American interests.

I don't think it is necessary for me to name specific examples to get this point across. In addition to encouraging those who want to find out more information about what is truly happening in Castro's Cuba to read this article, let me suggest an excellent movie, Bitter Sugar or Azucar Amarga, that is just as effective.

For a quick review of the movie, go to:, or if you are interested in purchasing your own copy, go to:

Jorge E. Ponce

In his "Twilight Zone" editorial Mr. Blazquez is right on. I have never understood how people who pride themselves in their "independent thought" can express it by supporting oppression.

Two obvious answers suggest themselves: either it's a kneejerk reaction against US policy, or they are so addled by left-wing political theory that reality can't penetrate.

In the first case these individuals believe that by adopting a pose diametrically opposite to current US policy they are expressing independence.

Independence, yes, thought, no. It doesn't take any smarts to be reactionary. As for the second case, there's really no excuse for it anymore.

Police-state Communism doesn't work.

Never has, never will.

The supposed "benefits" of such a state are theoretical, a strange state of affairs for an ideology whose entire purpose was to benefit mankind in the here-and-now.

In practice the only true beneficiaries of the Castro-Cuban state are the elites who run it and the foreign "fellow travellers" who pander to them.

Michael R. Little

Mon, 6 Sep 1999 12:10:51

From my experience, I must admit that the picture that Blazquez paints is quite an accurate one - and, unfortunately, it fits other "dictatorships of the proletariat" such as the Peoples' Republic of China..

However, in terms of what is better for the citizens themselves of that beautiful country, I still feel that we have been totally illogical in our approach towards communication with Cuba.

There we would have much more of a chance at opening the eyes of the populace than we could possibly have in China.

Emanuel Friedman, M.D.

Mon, 06 Sep 1999 08:58:46

Thank you for the article on Cuba. It is short informative and to the point.

One does not read this often in the daily press. Perhaps we have become insensitive to the outrage of the day.

A. Luzarraga

:Sun, 5 Sep 1999 18:53:53 EDT

I just read Agustin Blaquez and Jaum Suttons' excellent article, Imagine Living in the Twilight Zone.

It is indeed hard to imagine what it is like to live in Cuba unless we put ourselves in the shoes of the Cuban people, especially when, as Mr. Blaquez and Mr. Sutton point out, we are mislead by an often complicitous U.S. media into believing that Fidel Castro is a humanist and that Cuban exiles are nothing more than sore losers who want to return Cuba to the days of Batista or who are only interested in regaining lost property.

Labeled with such tendentious adjectives as "rightwingers," "intolerant" and "reactionary," exiles are disgarded with the wave of a pen.

Meanwhile, Castro continues to commit autocities such as the jailing of four prominent dissidents one of whom is near death on a hunger strike that is apparently not sufficiently important for the New York Times, CNN or the Washington Post to report on even though the European Union condemned Cuba for the jailing of these four intellectuals, but that is not to say that the New York Times, CNN or the Washington Post don't routinely report "human interest stories from Cuba".

While the dissidents languish in jail, we are often told about yet another group of U.S. students visiting Cuba on an exchange program or about some American artists performing there, or about baseball games, or about dolphins being purchased from the Chilean aquarium to be exhibited in the Havana aquarium, etc, etc....

Apparently, when it comes to Cuba, fluff is the name of the game.

R. Suarez

Mon, 6 Sep 1999 11:16:10 EDT

Subject: "Bedford Falls vs. Potterville"

Just read your article, "Bedford Falls vs. Potterville", and came away in complete agreement with you.

Although, it may be due to the fact that I've grown older and change overwhelms me at times. Time does change everything, for the good or for the bad.

Perhaps I'm the one who needs to adjust?

Jefferson D. Dunbar


I wanted to let you know I'm enjoying your online journal.

I just cited Alice Goldfarb Marquis' essay for an article I'm finishing for Nonprofit Management and Leadership.

Arthur C. Brooks Asst. Professor of Public Administration & Economics Georgia State University


Just read the three most recent Idlers. Excellent.

Though I disagree about the Rose show on Hitchens. I thought they were getting along pretty well, and Rose was failry kind. I saw it as further evidence that Hitchens has NOT been expelled from the club.

But the Littleton and Schama pieces were fantastic. Couldn't agree more.

Mark Horowitz, 5/9/99

I was liberated in Dachau and did not see Black soldiers any place on the day when the Americans came.

Alex Treiber - 04/12/99 15:50:49


Subject: Reflections on the Last Days

Date: Wed, 7 Apr 1999 09:32:08 -0400

My name is Lieutenant Colonel Ed Miller, US Army. Mel Rappaport kindly sent me a copy of your piece on the recent Spielberg film. I hope you do not mind my writing.

Your point on the film industry's utter disregard for fact is right on target and its one of the few things I get really excited about. Entertainment is one thing--one need not expect it to be 'true.'

However, when a producer of Spielberg's stature makes a 'documentary,' the issue of accuracy should be another matter. Too bad it isn't. Like it or not, people in this country often do not question the authenticity of films billed 'documentary.'

Whether Hollywood wants to accept its responsibility to impart at least the basic truths of an issue doesn't matter. I don't think the film industry should have a choice.

As a soldier, maybe it is I who 'doesn't get it' - after all, taking responsibility for things is part of my job.

In fact, it is for this reason that I'm working with a producer here in the Washington, DC, area on a documentary (and I do mean documentary) on the subject of my book, the Hurtgen Forest, 1944-1945.

This is the same reason I wrote the book-it may not be much else, and we may not be able to sell it to TV, but it will be an honest, and accurate portrayal of events.

Anyway, I appreciate it that someone of your stature is intersted in separating fact from harmful fiction.

Ed Miller, LTC, General Staff Author of: A Dark and Bloody Ground-the Hurtgen Forest and Roer River Dams, 1944-1945 (Texas A&M Press, 1995)

Contact Miller, Edward G., LTC, ASA-MRA

Contact the editor.
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