Abrahamic Initiative on the Middle East

Grounded in Abrahamic Theology

Seeking a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians
through political advocacy

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Letters to the Editor

From Judith Ferster to The Durham Herald Sun

On April 3, under the aegis of Jews for A Just Peace North Carolina, eighteen Jews, Muslims, and Christians handed out leaflets to concert-goers on their way to Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill to hear a concert by the Israel Philharmonic.  

Their leaflet pointed out that while the Israeli government ends “cultural emissaries” like the orchestra to demonstrate the country’s vibrant culture, the occupation of the West Bank makes cultural life more difficult for Palestinians.  For instance, last July, some of the members of the Ramallah Orchestra, mostly in their teens and 20s, were denied permits to enter East Jerusalem to play a concert of Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony. 

The leafletters carried signs that said, “Without Justice, there’s no harmony.” The leaflet asked patrons to tell Carolina Performing Arts not to book Israeli “cultural ambassadors” while Palestinians can’t perform as freely.

The letters below are in response to the Daily Tar Heel letter to the editor regarding the protest, that complained about the protest:


From Jerry Markatos to Daily Tar Heel

It was odd to read a letter accusing those leafleting at the Israel Philharmonic concert of anti-Israel and anti-performer bias and of creating a disturbance.  A disturbance?   That assessment of the polite and deferential activity preceding the concert would surprise, I think, the six campus police and the security detail accompanying the performers, who enjoyed a quiet evening.   

 As a photographer documenting pro-democracy and human rights movements, I made several photos of that action.  I witnessed many appreciative remarks from concert goers, as well as a few angry words that the activists from Jewish, Palestinian and interfaith peace groups did not return.  

When I was at UNC in the 60s, fellow students and townspeople helped awaken me to urgent causes like civil rights and a war of aggression in VietNam.  I’m proud to see wake up calls continuing today.  A year or two ago when a firebrand provocateur brought disrespect and inflammatory accusations to the campus regarding Palestine, student groups potentially at odds over the issues joined in a walkout.  Their joint editorial on this page rejected blind tribalism and called for a just peace.   

I’m confident that the torture, occupation, high tech assassinations and bombings our own government has imposed in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries is opposed by the groups whose activists participated in the concert leafleting.  Are they/we anti-American for doing so?  Are they/we anti-Israel for supporting cherished Jewish standards of justice that Washington and Tel Aviv influence each other in ignoring? 

Boycott Divestment and Sanctions have worked when other efforts fell short.  Additional pressure is needed, and this UNC alum thanks the Jewish, Palestinian and interfaith leafleters for inviting the rest of us to help! 

Jerry Markatos ’64 Pittsboro NC


From Sam Bryan to Daily Tar Heel

I respectfully take issue with some of Max Levin’s word and phrase usages:

“The Israeli-Palestinian conflict”. Calling it like it is would be the “Israeli occupation of Palestine”.

“nuanced” . The occupation of Palestinian territories by Israel for 48 years is not a nuanced issue.
It is a simple violation of international law.

“disagreements”. You don’t call the illegal appropriation of land, destruction of homes, restriction of movement, etc. “disagreements”.
 If someone stole your car, you wouldn’t say you and the thief were having a “disagreement”.

“the protestors’ chosen method to delegitimize … Israel”. The protesters were protesting the injustices of the Israeli government
 inflicted on the Palestinian people. They were not delegitimizing Israel. A curios, if not ironic, accusation. The Israeli government has delegitimized itself.
 The protesters if anything were seeking to relegitamize it.

Regarding Levin’s closing sentence, I would say on the contrary, let’s give the Daily Tar Heel credit. They have created this space,
 the on-line comment area we are in, where issues may be discussed and different points of views expressed.
One would hope that its audience is in fact thereby enlightened.

Sam Bryan ‘63