Readers react to Baruch Kimmerling's essay on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and discuss how the steroid scandal changes baseball's past and future.

Published December 7, 2004 9:26PM (EST)

[Read "The Two Catastrophes," by Baruch Kimmerling.]

To quote Ronald Reagan (and I never thought I would do so), "There you go again." Kimmerling's article is in the spirit of his hero, the famous stone thrower Edward Said, giving an entirely one-sided picture of a complicated situation.

There is no mention of the fact that the Israelis accepted the U.N. partition and the Arabs did not -- threatening to wipe out the Jewish population behind the five victorious Arab armies -- and that the Armageddon was scheduled to begin a month after the Haganah took Qalunya. There is no mention of the fact that Qalunya -- and Deir Yassin -- lay on the road from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and that it was crucial to secure that road. But Jerusalem, according to the partition plan, was going to be an international city, and had the Arabs agreed to the partition plan there would have been no need to secure the road. There would still be Qalunya and Deir Yassin, not Mevaserret Zion and Har Nof. Given the fact that the Jews knew they would be fighting for their lives on May 15, did it not make sense to secure territory in a way which made that battle feasible?

The proximate cause of the Naqba was the Arabs' refusal to accept the partition, not the Holocaust. Most of the Arabs in the Galilee stayed, and became the most prosperous Arabs in non-oil-producing countries in the world -- the best educated, and among the very few with some say in their own government.

-- Michael Goldberg

In Baruch Kimmerling's opinion piece about forgetting and the Holocaust, he discusses two contradictory reactions of Jews to the Holocaust. One of them is the lesson that "after what the Gentiles did to us, we also have moral sanction to do almost anything to the Gentiles."

This is a terrifying conclusion. Not only does it lead to more pain and grief and shattered lives, but it does something much more harmful to the Jews themselves. When a victim turns the atrocities he has suffered back onto his abusers, he is legitimizing those atrocities. He is, in effect, saying that there are circumstances that justify those terrible acts. He is laying the groundwork for those acts to be repeated in the future.

-- Paul Henry

Any discussion of the Palestinian-Israeli issue that does not refer to the five Arab countries trying to destroy Israel in 1948 is highly suspect. The vast majority of Palestinians who left their homes in 1948 did so voluntarily at the suggestion of the invading Arab armies. They were told to get out of the way, that once the Arab armies finished their genocidal work, the Arab families could have a Jewish home for the taking. Don't blame the Israelis for this not happening. While there were isolated incidents like Deir Yassin (condemned by David Ben-Gurion), they pale in comparison to the number of atrocities committed by any other army in wartime.

Also, the Palestinians are not blameless for their activities during the Holocaust -- their leader (Yasser Arafat's cousin, the mufti of Jerusalem) made broadcasts from Berlin exhorting his people to kill the Jews.

Finally, a balanced article should mention the fact that while a few hundred thousand Arabs fled Israel, a few hundred thousand Jews were subsequently thrown out of Arab countries -- the difference being, the Jews were settled; but the Palestinians' Arab "brothers" have left them to rot in refugee camps for more than half a century.

-- Michael Mendelevitz

[Read "Shocked, Shocked!" by Steve Kettmann and "I'm in Denial," by Joan Walsh.]

There is no doubt that before his run in the last couple of years, Bonds was among the great players of his generation and a probable Hall of Famer. But when Walsh says that with or without his extra help Bonds is a great ballplayer, she misses the point.

There are four great offensive records in baseball -- home runs per season, home runs per career, 56-game hitting streak and the .400 batting average (not a record, but treated like one). Bonds has one of those records. He's going to get another one. At least.

What if other borderline Hall of Famers had had the chance to increase their numbers so dramatically at the end of their careers? If Andre Dawson had the, shall we say, "same opportunities" as Barry Bonds, maybe he wouldn't be waiting for a ticket to Cooperstown that probably will never come despite an MVP, another Rookie of the Year, 438 home runs and a closet full of gold gloves, silver sluggers and all-star-game appearances. If Mike Schmidt had taken drugs to pump up his muscles, maybe Bonds would have to hit far more than 756 home runs to pass Schmidt's mark.

Bonds' end-of-career power surge defied logic, and even the physical symptoms of steroid use weren't enough to convince Barry's apologists. Apparently, neither is grand jury testimony.

-- Damien Newton

Steve Kettman's efforts in exposing the extent of steroid abuse in professional sports is long, long overdue, but I don't think he thoroughly understands the societal damage caused by steroid abuse.

Any man taking large quantities of steroids and growth hormones without a legitimate medical reason is trading dramatic increases in performance for a drastically shortened life span. A great many former athletes are now flaming out in their 50s or even their 40s as the toll on their endocrine systems come due. Remember Arnold Schwarzenegger's heart problems? And 'roid rage exacts its own toll: Abused spouses are an endemic problem in football.

But perhaps the worse consequence of steroid use is that it destroys the importance of sports as a means of measuring human capability and achievement. Why should poor kids aspire to athletic excellence when they know damn well that the only ones winning are the cheaters who can afford steroids? Why be inspired at all by the achievements of an athlete whose level of performance you can never, ever match?

-- Michael English

I'm surprised to see Joan Walsh's worshipful piece about Barry Bonds. I never thought I'd see her adopt the same stance that Bush supporters take toward all the misdeeds of the administration: "I don't know and I don't care." Surely she must realize this is a very disingenuous position to take, especially for someone trying to practice serious journalism.

Hero worship is an inappropriate position for Salon's managing editor to take.

-- Tom Anderson

There's another layer to the hypocrisy and hysteria surrounding the recent steroid "revelations" that's not getting talked about sufficiently: how we got this "information." It's all from leaked grand jury testimony.

It is still the law of the land that such testimony is taken with a legal mandate that it will be kept secret, and Bonds' testimony should have stayed that way. This is, of course, not the first time in recent memory that legal proscriptions against revealing grand jury testimony have been violated with impunity. But let me ask you: Is crucifying a few millionaire athletes worth hastening the destruction of an important (though justifiably controversial) component of a U.S. legal system that is already in crisis?

-- Steve Fore

By Salon Staff

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