Touchy topic

A University of Nevada, Reno professor, frustrated at the suppression of pro-Palestinian views in the United States, ponied up a thousand dollars for a full page advertisement in the Progressive magazine.

Jake Highton used the space to reprint one of his Sparks Tribune columns on Israel and the Palestinians. He apparently tapped into something, because he immediately started hearing from others who shared his views and also believe their viewpoint does not get into the mainstream media.

“The crimes of Israel are vast. … It has caused Palestinians thousands of deaths, great suffering and immense anguish,” Highton’s column read. “Israel has engaged in criminal onslaughts in Gaza. Israeli armed might has destroyed or damaged mosques, hospitals, schools, factories, police stations, a prison, parliament and ministries.”

Highton called Gaza “the world’s largest prison.” He wrote, “Israel has invaded Lebanon three times. Israel occupies the Golan Heights, territory that belongs to Syria.”

One Florida resident wrote Highton, “It has given me a glimmer of hope because before I read your article I’ve felt that I must be the only one in this country with your perspectives on Israel’s actions against the Palestinians and its grip … on our foreign policy, except for the anti-Jewish bigots and fringe group nut-cases, sadly!”

Another asked for permission to make copies “to take to a Palestinian support group I founded, together with two Methodist ministers and a couple from Pax Christi. … We meet monthly for an amazing pot luck supper… The following day, a Saturday, we meet at noon for an hour long vigil in downtown Naperville (a fair sized suburb of Chicago) with our signs in support of Palestine, flags, etc. Have been doing this rain, shine, snow, all these years. We get as many as 60 members at a meeting.”

Highton, long an admirer of the Jews as “the most intellectual people on the face of the earth,” said many of his correspondents worried that their criticism of Israel would be construed as anti-Semitism, a factor that often chills Middle East debate. The only hostile message Highton received came close to applying that poisonous label to him. The writer said Highton’s ad “fell just short of [the German newspaper] Der Stürmer which died with the passing of Adolf Hitler.”