Joe’s message:

Alan, I have a serious question that I would like to have your opinion on. Netanyahu is quoted as saying the Holocaust was not Hitler’s idea. As a Jew, I want to support Israel. I want to believe that Israel’s problems stem from individuals and groups that are vehemently anti-Zionist. But I keep hearing stories about Netanyahu’s recalcitrance to consider any reasonable peace plan and I hear so much about how non-Jews are treated poorly in Israel, that I have to question what is really going on over there. This statement  by Netanyahu [regarding the Mufti and Hitler] has me wondering if he is not teetering on the edge of paranoia. What’s up with this guy?

My response, with edits:

Wow, Joe. That’s a lot of ground to cover. To really do it justice, we ought to get together for lunch when I am back in Sacramento. In the meantime, I will give it a shot.

These are very complicated issues, with lots of history and context.  Most people draw their conclusions from reading the NY Times and watching CNN.  I understand why, but that does not do it justice.


You and every Jew have every right to be very proud of Israel.  Yes, it has many, many problems.  (Find me a country that doesn’t.)  But when you consider history, neighborhood, composition, threats, this place is really unbelievable.

About 8.3 million people.  About one million people from the former Soviet Union, not people steeped in democracy.  Millions of people or the children of people from Arab nations.  Not steeped in democracy, plus many are understandably bitter about their treatment in the Arab nations and when they first arrived here.  About 21% (1.7 million) of the population is Arab/Palestinian, many with torn, ambivalent feelings about their place in society.

We have bigotry, fear, racism, threats, terrorists, Iran nukes, children going off to war on a regular basis.  And, yet, we have a fully functioning democracy (with problems, of course).  Free press; an activist, independent court;  people (Arab Knesset members) standing up in the Knesset saying things that if similar things were said in Congress, would cause them to be run out of the country as traitors; gay rights, minority rights, women’s rights, etc. etc.

Yes, we have our bigots and racists, but we have myriad of people and organizations standing up and fighting for a free press, against racism and bigotry, and for peace.