Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Update from Senator Toomey's Office

This morning I received a phone call from Ben Kochman of Sen. Pat Toomey's office in Washington. He wanted to apologize for "sending the wrong letter" (see my previous post). We also discussed what I had originally written the senator about, namely the administative detention of Khader Adnan, and administrative detentions in general. 

I gave him a lengthy account of Israel's unjust treatment of Palestinian detainees, whereby they are held without trial, indictment, charge or access to evidence. I told him that if similar incarcerations were happening in the United States or, say, in China, people like the senator, and many others in the U.S. would be up in arms against them. His main argument for Sen. Toomey and others in the American political arena not condemning Israel was that it was a close ally. He gave as example the British legal system, in which – he claims – people are presumed guilty until proven innocent (I'm pretty sure he's confusing the U.K. with some other European country). Yet it would be unheard of for the United States to condemn its sovereign European allies for conducting their legal systems in manners contrary to the American one.

I reminded Mr. Kochman that human rights do not discriminate between Palestinians and Israelis, and that even among Jewish voters in Pennsylvania there is a growing recognition of the universality of the crisis in the Middle East. I asked him to convey to Mr. Toomey our message, that criticquing an ally is actually the friendly thing to do. "As an Israeli citizen who is critical of my own government, I find it alarming that the United States blindly supports human rights violations carried out by Israel," I said, indicating that Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the United Nations Human Rights Commission and the European Union have all harshly criticized Israel practice of administrative detention.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Educating Senator Toomey

A couple of days ago I signed a petition regarding Khader Adnan that was sent to "my" members of congress, including Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA). Today I received an e-mail from the senator, which had nothing to do with my original letter. I just wrote back to him. I am pasting my response, along with the senator's letter.

Senator Toomey:

I am pasting below your reply to my urgent message regarding the administrative detention of Mr. Khader Adnan, a resident of the West Bank village of Arrabeh, by the State of Israel, of which I am a citizen (I am a permanent resident of the United States).

Clearly, you were in error sending me a form letter affirming your love and devotion to Israel as a beacon of democracy. I spent most of my life in that country, and I know how false that characterization is. Furthermore, it is completely irrelevant to the life of Mr. Adnan and the 308 other Palestinian individuals currently being held in Israeli jails without being indicted or charged of any specific crimes, without them or their attorneys having access to any evidence the state may have against them, without any possibility to cross-examine witnesses, and without recourse to any meaningful appeal process.

Mr. Adnan has been on hunger strike for 66 days. It seems as if, following a preliminary hearing in the Israeli Supreme Court, he may be willing to resume eating today in exchange for a commintment by the state to release him on April 17, 2012. But this is inadequate. He is still held without charges, and so are over 300 of his compatriots.

I strongly urge you to contact your friend and ally, Mr. Netanyahu, and explain to him, that as a democracy, Israel cannot behave like the dicatatorships from which it so fervently seeks to distant itself.

Uri Horesh

From: "Senator Pat Toomey"
Subject: Reply from U.S. Senator Pat Toomey
Date: February 21, 2012 12:27:02 PM EST

February 21, 2012

Dear Uri,

Thank you for contacting me about support for Israel. I appreciate hearing from you.
I believe that Israel is the United States' greatest ally and friend in the Middle East and is among its best allies in the entire world. Israel is a beacon of democracy and freedom in an area of the world largely suffering under dictatorships and political persecution. A strong relationship with Israel strengthens both countries in the continuing fight against global terrorism.

In addition, I recently travelled to Israel and met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and other senior officials. During my discussions there, it was apparent that Israel continues to face extraordinary challenges to its security and general welfare. Israel deserves no less than our full assistance as it continues to struggle for its survival.

In the Senate, I also have had the opportunity to cosponsor important measures backing Israel. For instance, I am a cosponsor S. Con. Res. 23, which declares that it is the policy of the United States to support Israel in maintaining defensible borders and that it is contrary to U.S. policy and national security to have the borders of Israel return to the armistice lines that existed on June 4, 1967.  I am also a cosponsor of S. Res. 185, reaffirming U.S. commitment to a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and reaffirming opposition to the inclusion of Hamas in a unity government unless it is willing to accept peace with Israel and renounce violence.

That said, I understand your views about Israel and value your input. As I continue working with my Senate colleagues on this important issue, please be assured that I will keep your thoughts in mind.
Thank you again for your correspondence. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of assistance.


Pat Toomey
U.S. Senator, Pennsylvania

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Urgent Appeal to the EU on Behalf of Khader Adnan

Thanks to Ali Abunimah of Electronic Intifada, we now have the e-mail address of Catherine Ashton, Vice President of the European Commission, who had intervened numerous times on behalf of Israeli POW Gilad Schalit, when he was held in captivity in Gaza. We are now asking her to urgently intervene on behalf of Khader Adnan, before it is too late. 

I also cc-ed Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, and the consulate general of Israel in Philadelphia, where I live.

Feel free to copy, paste, and change around as you feel fit. Just, please, act fast.

From: Uri Horesh
Subject: Urgent Appeal: Mr. Khader Adnan
Date: February 16, 2012 6:33:23 AM EST

Dear Baroness Ashton,

I write to you with grave concern for the welfare of Mr. Khader Adnan, a Palestinian national, who has been detained by the Israeli military for 62 days now under what is known as "administrative detention," i.e., incarceration without a specific criminal charge, let alone trial, evidence or conviction. He has been tortured and humiliated during this process by his captors, and has therefore decided to go on hunger strike, which is now about to cost him his life, unless urgent international intervention is put forth.

Your Ladyship has been known to intervene in cases of captivity in the past, most notably that of Sgt. Gilad Schalit. Mr. Adnan is in dire need of such intervention. Physicians for Human Rights - Israel have determined that his life is in "immediate danger:"

I, an Israeli citizen, have appealed to the military commander who has issued his detention warrant, to the military judge advocate general, to the Israeli minister of defense, and to the consul general of Israel in Philadelphia, where I currently reside, but to no avail. It is rare for a citizen of a country to turn to a foreign agency for intervention, but it seems as if the powers that be in my own country have failed to show moral fortitude.

Once again, I urge you to act on behalf of the European Union, and indeed, on behalf of humanity, and save Mr. Adnan's life.

Sincerely yours,

Uri Horesh

Uri Horesh
Philadelphia, PA

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Deputy Editor of The New Yorker Responds to "Queer" Letter

Much to my surprise, less than 22 hours after I sent my letter to The New Yorker, I received a response. Not a form letter or a nicety from some clerk, but a substantial letter addressing the issue at hand from the deputy editor of the magazine. It is perhaps not the best response one could hope for, but as you will see, it restores much of the dignity that the magazine may have lost for a day or so. I'll just paste it below for your perusal:

From: "McCarthy, Pam"
Subject: Re: via contact us form
Date: February 15, 2012 5:20:49 PM EST

Dear Uri Horesh:

Thanks very much for writing — I’m glad to have the chance to set the record straight.  We do understand the distinction between the terms “queer” and “gay”; we are very familiar with the political and academic discourse of queer theory; we have used and will continue to use the term “queer” in our pages. And we think that our readers are knowledgeable on this front, which is one reason we didn’t publish Ms. Peterson’s letter asking that we “educate” them. They know and we know. The only reason we didn’t use “queer” in this case was that it seemed unclear in the context of the abbreviated listing — there was no clue that “queer” in this particular instance, and the dance itself, had to do with gender identity.  I do see your point about non-synonymity, and I suspect that there was probably a better way to achieve our goal of clarity.  I appreciate your writing to point that out, and I will make sure that everyone working on copy here understands that the two terms are not synonyms.  

Pam McCarthy
Deputy Editor

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The New Yorker won't print "queer?" Let's make them!

I just sent the following letter to the editor of The New Yorker and I suggest that many more of us send similar letters, until they get the point.

Go to: and fill out the contact form.

The Bilerico Project recently made public ( that The New Yorker had not only refused to print the word "queer" in the description of a dance performance, but had also substituted it with the non-synonymous word "gay." Furthermore, when Cassie Peterson, one of the artists involved in the production, wrote a letter to the editor asking to clarify that "queer" was, in fact, a bona fide term used in political and academic discourse, the editors of the magazine refused to publish that as well.

I am trying to convince friends and colleagues from the queer community to send letters such as this to the editor. I sincerely hope that you will publish at least one. And that it will include the word "queer" at least thrice.

הארץ Haaretz

العربية.نت | آخر الأخبار Al-Arabiya