Letter: Misplaced Compassion for Bedouins
To the Editor:
On Christmas Eve, the Rev. Susan Langle of Trinity Episcopal Church in Claremont wrote with compassion regarding the situation of the Bedouins in Israel. She alleges that the government of Israel has used threat and compulsion. Further she goes on to applaud the divestment and sanctions movement exemplified by the American Studies Association.
While the Rev. Langle’s heart would appear to be in the right place, a holiday serving of facts induces a serious case of heartburn. As a retired academic and as someone who has spent time among the Bedouin of Israel, I would like to share with Upper Valley readers a few observations.
The Rev. Langle accuses Israel of denying Bedouins water, electricity, and schools. But the Bedouin are semi-nomadic, living much of the year in tents, which they often move. The rest of the year they reside in crude shacks with rough pens for their flocks. These are located helter-skelter across the landscape and are poor candidates for water, electricity and settled schools. The villages that are being offered to the Bedouin by Israel include water, electricity, and schools. Israel is offering the Bedouin exactly what the Rev. Langle claims they are being denied.
She goes on in praise of the American Studies Association efforts at boycott. She needs to be aware that only one-third of the ASA voted in that balloting, and the issue passed by 60 percent. In short, only one-fifth of the ASA approved the measure. It does not reflect a consensus by the ASA. Further, there has been a wholesale rejection of the ASA’s stance by large numbers of American universities.
Please, Rev. Langle, turn your compassionate heart to the plight of Uighur oppression in China, Tibetan repression, displacement of Amazon natives — and the ruthless treatment of Christians in Egypt and Iraq. To complain about Israel is naive in the light of genuine oppression elsewhere.
Jeffrey Colman Salloway