In regards to our article "Two
guys from Al-bireh, and Brooklyn" that ran last
month, we received countless letters, many of them not very
supportive. One fool even called many local businesses asking
for a boycott of our publication on the grounds that we
are "Pro-Palestinian." We always appreciate feedback,
and as we stated at the bottom of the article we keep hoping
for peace in the Middle East. It is a complicated conflict
and we hope the violence will soon end.
We takes no sides on the issue, but are concerned by the
new climate of censorship that is arising that insists we
run a counter article for every story that is published
about the conflict in the Middle East. If we ran a story
on the Bosnian conflict, we would not have been asked to
do the same. If we run a film review, are we obliged to
run one positive review and one negative? Insisting upon
such a counter article is a form of censorship.
Anyway, it was always our intent to cover the situation
holistically and we will be running a follow-up piece in
Many of the letters we received were strikingly racist.
The individual that was seeking a boycott had this to say
about our Palestinian neighbors in Brooklyn: "they
house(d) and worship(ed) with the cold blooded murderers
Anyway, here are the responses:
You have got to be kidding "colin cheney"! You wrote a
one sided pro Palestinian article which only permitted
unchallenged distortions and out right lies. What a sham
and a shame. Get informed and educated on the Mid East
subject before you buy such outrageous bullshit from your
Arab neighbors. Hey, didn't they house and worship with
the cold blooded murderers of 9-11? I can't help but wonder
why the thousands of Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism
do not get even a mention in your absurd article. And
more BS that Sharon is the problem- Arafat walked OUT
on negotiations with Ehud Barak to start a violent wave
of attacks on innocent Israeli civilians. The Palestinians
are not made crazy by the "Jewish." That you can blame
on Palestinian parents, Islamic religious clerics and
Arab political leaders who preach hate and intolerance.
The editor of this rag should really reconsider another
profession. It is offensive that after 9-11 Islamic terrorist
sympathies are being published. In any case any point
of view without balance is UNCREDIBLE. If I wanted Arab
propaganda I would watch Al Jezeera! Unsubscribe me from
this reviolting newsletter.
UNSUBSCRIBE ME - due to your1 sided arab (terror) support.
The article you
published by colin cheney was a gross distotion and morally
wrong. Have your
writers read a bit on the Mid East before you allow uncredible
to be published in your newsletter.
The latest suicide bombings broke out long before Sharon
was elected and
after virtually all of the West Bank and Gaza and Eastern
offered. That inconvenient factoid seems to elude your
intrepid reporter and
his interview subject.
There is a cost to be paid for deliberate targeting of
Jewish civilians for
maximum slaughter. That cost is being paid now, and will
keep being paid
until violence as a negotiating tool is renounced. If
Arafat kept his
promises and negotiated in good faith, there would be
a state already. He
chooses unapologetic terror as his primary tool and cynically
relies on the
inevitable response as a sympathy building tool. Just
like in 1948 when they
invaded Israel and then again in 1967 when they massed
on Israel's border and
boasted they would drive the Jews into the sea, Arabs
seemingly only pose as
victims when they are in fact suffering from the response
aggression. Don't do the crime if you can't take the time,
so to speak.
Did you ask your subject why the Egypt and Jordan illegally
occupied the West
Bank and Gaza from 1948 to 1967? What was stopping them
from granting a
state? Or why they used it as a launching ground for attacks
civilians for years before 1967?
2 years after the IDF left Lebanon, there are still weekly
on Jews from across that border. Will you have some sob
story when they
finally go back and clean up?
Will you interview the Jewish family that saw their baby
murdered last week in their home outside Jerusalem?
Considering the depravity of the dozens of suicide bombers
that came out of
Jenin, the response was not nearly as severe as it should
have been. And you
can print that and my name.
I feel deep sympathy for the guys from Al-bireh. However,
if one wants a
solution for the sad situation, getting the facts right
is an important first
step. without going into all the details, Ill just
point out one very
important misrepresentation in the article. ["Salah
points to Rabin's time
in office to demonstrate that Arafat has the power to
call a meaningful cease
fire, and that he would be listened to, if the conditions
"From 1994 to 1998, nobody mess with the Jewish,"
he said.] The fact is that
after Rabins murder, in November 1995, Peres (the architect
of the Oslo peace
agreement) took his place in power until the following
elections in May 1996.
A series of devastating suicide bombing in the center
of Tel Aviv killed
some 60 Israelis and brought about the election of hard-line
Imagine a couple of
powerful bombs in the corner of Bedford Avenue and North
7th street killing
dozens of people and think about the impact that it will
have. After 9/11 it
should be easier to imagine.
I've been hoping for peace with the Palestinians ever
since I was old enough
to think about such things. As an Israeli living in New
York, I've made sure
to go back to Israel during election time to vote for
candidates from the
peace camp. Unfortunately, Israeli goodwill is repeatedly
undermined by the
Palestinian inability to speak with one coherent voice.
Instead of a state,
the Palestinians had evolved in the territories a rule
by a collection of
murderous gangs, with Arafat serving as top dog rather
then a true leader.
Its a systematic problem in the Palestinian government
that prevents any
solution. I could go on and on, but I'll just add one
thing. There is a
tendency with intelligent, moral, liberal people to confuse
the weakness of
the Palestinians and strength of Israel with question
sympathizing with the Palestinian for the simple reason
that they are the
losing side. The truth is that Israeli might and Israeli
right are two sides
of the same coin. By being a democracy, with independent
court system, where
soldiers who get out of line (inflicting cruelty or looting)
where free press informs all Israelis about the FACTS
of the situation and
enable them to make good decisions, Israelis are also
able to show strength
and resolve in the face of a very difficult situation,
and remain the winning
side. The Palestinians as a society have failed to show
many of these
traits. Those young Palestinians who wish for change should
work on their
own society ills, rather then blow themselves up with
the hope of taking a
few Jews with them. Then they will find most Israelis
more then eager for
peacful and just co-existance.
Peace for all.
An Israeli in Williamsburg South Side
Even after reading your feature article regarding two
guys from Al-Bireh (Colin Cheney, May, 2002, V.26) and
your attempt to humanize the Middle East Conflict, I still
found myself lacking the sympathy your article intended
to conjure up. During war, the little people always bear
the brunt of the suffering. I understand that most Palestinian
refugees would certainly trade peace and live alongside
Israel an an independent Palestinian state. Most Israelis
would like to see this, too. However, Palestinian leadership
and their directives to terror groups that mastermind
terror bombings severly mislead their people. The sons
and daughters of those at the helm of the PA are not the
ones strapping explosives to their bodies. Their intent
has been and still remains the destruction of Israel,
whether short-term in an outright war or long-term by
insisting on a right of return for Palestinians into Israel
proper, where after years of integration into Israeli
society, they will systematically gain control of the
government and dictate anti-Jewish policy.
The accords drawn up at Camp David in the summer of 2000
by former President Clinton, former Prime Minister Barak
and Chairman Arafat would have given the gift of a fair
peace deal to more than just two guys from Al-Bireh. Arafat
has failed the little people of his community that he
is supposed to serve in attempts to reach impossible goals-
namely, the destruction of Israel and the establishing
of a Palestinian state in it's place. This is what he
could not accomplish at the negotiating table and has
resorted to terrorist activity instead to accomplish those
goals. Again, these goals do not serve his people's most
pressing needs as your article might imply but failed
to note specifically. You can ask the gentlemen from Al-Bireh
about that in your follow up.
And with regards to your pleas for sympathies and humanization
of this ordeal,
perhaps you should look past the the other side of the
Williamsburg Bridge where the stench of the World Trade
Center attacks still reeks before you raise questions
American or Israeli policy on their handling of terrorism
or how to combat it in Afganistan or the refugee camps
of Ramallah and Jenin where it's many roots remain. Israeli
policy puts the saftey of it's citizens first as it rightly
should while taking whatever precautions necessary to
do so without harm to innocent civilians. It is at times
hard to do so and that should be taken into account. Afterall,
war is a dirty business. Just ask some of the American
families and American-Jewish families who have also lost
loved ones to terrorist attacks in America and Israel,
Flatbush, Brooklyn, USA
For what it's worth, I would just like to throw in a letter
support--since I've heard you guys have been receiving other
feedback as well--for your coverage of the "Two Guys
from Al-Bireh." My
letter may be rendered meaningless by the fact that I'm
a friend of Colin's
and a Leftist Communist Pinko Scum, but nevertheless I feel
the need to
Colin's article carefully presented the story of one
family and one family
only. Any comments about Israel or about Jews were in
quotations, and in
fact I thought Colin made a point of showing how much
respect his subject
had for Rabin and the Israeli peace camp. Nowhere in this
violence advocated, neither by the subject nor explicitly
or implicitly by
our young 'fro-headed author.
In times like this all we have are stories to get at
the reality behind the
numbers and the competing diatribes from politicians.
And unfortunately, in
this case, the stories on both sides of the conflict are
full of tears and
blood. Too much blood, as the interview subject himself
Those who would have you tell a story of Israeli suffering
to "balance" your
coverage, or who accuse you of taking sides in this conflict
by telling this
story, miss the point. This story and others like it are
not just about the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or even about the Middle
East, but about the
effect that war has on civilians, local businesses, immigrants
to New York,
and the rest of us who live in the same communities as
Those who would have you ignore this man's story because
it doesn't flatter
their politics are basically asking you to keep silent,
to not cover, the
story of someone in your community. I personally never
want to live in a
community where the suffering of my neighbor is met with
silence because to
tell his or her story is seen as risky or controversial.
I know that
FREEwilliamsburg is a neighborhood-oriented paper that
will just as
compassionately cover the stories of Jews, or Afghans,
or Africans, or any
other locals whose stories call out to be told.
To ty to silence a story about Palestinians is to deny
that Palestinians are
suffering, which is beyond extremism. We all know that
there is too much
suffering on both sides. And to argue that every story
about a Palestinian
needs to be "balanced" by a story about Israelis
is to maintain the
tit-for-tat, "I did this because he did this"
attitude that got us in this
mess in the first place. The point is that this Palestinian
man is a
neighborhood figure with a compelling story.
I applaud FREEwilliamsburg's decision to cover this man's
story as I would
applaud the coverage, anywhere, of the real suffering
of anyone from any
country. This man's story is not a bomb. This man's story
is not a rifle.
And in the end, when all the bombs are finished dropping
and the rifles have
been fired, usually all we have are stories like this
drowned out at the time by the bombs and the rifles--to
teach us how it all
could have happened differently.
All the best,
Thanks for running this article (Al-bireh article)! People
need to hear more about the violence against civilians on
the Palestinian side of the conflict!
HUH???? Am I seeing correctly? You are printing unchallenged
Arab lies in the same city that was slaughtered by Arabs
on 9-11? That is outrageous and completely offensive to
me. I suppose your Christmas donations will be going to
Hamas this year. Shame on you!
Has NO ONE in the media figured out that there are TWO sides
to each story.........and more importantly, that the Arab
side is ALWAYS made up of well-constructed, yet total LIES
that the media has become accustomed to accepting BLINDLY.
Your publication is another blatantly antii-Israeli vehicle
for promoting Yasser Arafat's terrorists.
Shame on you, and shame on your publication.
To the Editor: I have read the article, Two guys from
Al-bireh, and Brooklyn, in your current issue and am distressed
at your one sided presentation of the situation between
Israel and the Palestinians. While I understand that this
article represents one man's take on the situation, I
would have expected you to also run an article representing
the other side of the story. Yes, there is a large Arab
community in Brooklyn but there is also a very large Jewish
population. You could very easily have also run a story
entitled Two guys from Kirat Arba, and Brooklyn or something
similar. News reports coming out of Jenin in the last
several days have dispelled the lies that there was any
kind of a "massacre" that took place there and in the
name of fair reporting you should have at least presented
both sides of the story since your editorial comment indicates
that you are not taking sides and wish only peace for
both peoples in the region. I will gladly forward to you
any of the numerous and wonderful stories I have read
in other media outlets which fairly and effectively present
the full story.
In regards to our Gay
Cindy Price premises the first installment of a two-segment
piece on discovering gay Williamsburg with a reader’s question:
“Where’s a good place to meet indie gay boys that are relatively
masculine in Williamsburg. Do they exist? Am I alone?”
The piece did not fully address the reader’s question. Instead
of going on a hunt for a haven of butch homosexual male
rock boys, the piece provided an overview of the experiences
at different gay-ish places. The question that the reader
poses,and that this piece was supposedly inspired by, contends
that there are soooo many gay-acting gays around Williamsburg
and that this is such a problem, Price and Co. (it sounds
like a law firm) would make it their mission to seek out
that “relatively masculine” gay Williamsburgian.
Why condone such views that “perpetuate mass distributed
culture and ideas (your mission statement)” that being straight-acting
is more attractive and thus being “gay-acting” is unattractive?
I was glad to see that the piece did not turn out to be
a mission for straight-acting men in Williamsburg as that
is a way of thought that is a disease in the queer community.
As if an “effeminate” gay man is not faced with enough discrimination
in this WASP-country of ours, to be turned on by his own
brothers is even more painful.
I enjoy and appreciate your website but I wanted to bring
this to your attention.
I really enjoy your recent column. I feel the same. Williamsburg's
party scene is so iffy for gays and straights.
I must admit despite the cute patronage and deluxe food,
sucks. It has terrific Southern cooking (although my friend
dad's fried okra is much better) but the service was uneven,
very lousy - at least on the night my friends and I went.
bartender doesn't know how to make mix drinks, so we were
drinking crappy watered down beer. (That happened at Galapagos
first opened. Why do people hire bartenders who don't
know how to make
drinks??) Then, we waited an 1½ hr before being
seated, which was
reasonable knowing how busy the place was that night.
Then we waited another
½ hour to get the wrong menus (brunch/lunch instead
of dinner.) No one
there care to bring us the correct menu even after we
asked four times.
Finally, we got ONE dinner menu and were asked to share.
at least three waitresses came and asked if someone has
helped us yet.
We said no. Then each of them said they'll get someone
to help us but
no one came! It was awful. No one brought us our drinks
and we were left starving for another 45 minutes. When
we did place our
order, we were informed many items on the menu were out.
So we order
what's available and watched guests at other tables enjoy
People who were seated after us got served first and already
After another 1½ hr, our food arrived but it was
all wrong! We were so
hungry we ate it anyway. We asked for the check soon after
our meal. Again, three waitresses told us they'll get
someone to bring
us our check, but no one did. Sure, one of the waitresses
but unhelpful. Another 45 minutes and still no check.
ridiculous. It was one thing that they were busy, but
another that they chose
to ignore certain tables.
Overall, it was just an unpleasant dining experience.
We Had No Idea
Although I greatly enjoy your paper, I must admit that I
long for a little political balance (the reviews of washed
up hacks like Todd Gitlin and Gore Vidal come to mind).
There are a few right-leaning, libertarians in Williamsburg,
Another letter about the Turkey's Nest
I am appalled at the outright classist review given the
Turkey's Nest on your bar review page. It truly shows
complete disregard for those that lived in this neighborhood
before it was "discovered". "Those who
complain about rising rents" perhaps have a right
to; after all, this is their home also, and prohibitively
high rents make it increasingly hard for it to remain
so. To slam a group based on economic status, and to then
callously criticize them as people who "piss away
their money on Quick Draw and cheap pints of Bud",
is lower class than the guys that you are slamming. Not
everyone has money at their disposal--and as for how people
spend what money they have--to each his own! Surely those
who piss away their money on lottery and cheap beer (not
only the working class, I might add) are no different
from those who piss away their money on Brooklyn T-shirts
What saddens me is the utter blindness to Williamsburg
as a whole; it does this neighborhood a disservice to
advertise it as solely young, affluent, and hip. Williamsburg
is working class. Williamsburg is Polish, Italian, and
Puerto Rican. It is ungracious to not treat everyone here
with the utmost respect in their home.
As a native Brooklynite I happily welcome newcomers--I
beg you, though, take care not to tread to carelessly
on the fabric that makes this such a wonderful place to
ps- By the by, is the fact that the bar is becoming more
of a hipster hangout a good thing?
Disclaimer from the Editor:
Opinions addressed in Free Williamsburg are
not necessarily our own, godammit!