Thomas Jefferson Instructs the New York Times


I rise to the defense of the much maligned capitalist class, attacked for being destructive of nature. No! The greatest threat comes from archeologists looking for the stupidest words ever written. And, as usual, all for naught. The most unreal dictums, in serried ranks, can always be found, right here, in worldly Manhattan, in New York Times editorials.

In 1922, Mussolini’s Fascism was “the most interesting governmental experiment of the day…. We should all be glad that he is going at it vigorously”. In 1933, the Jewish-owned paper had “qualms” about Hitler, but its editorial the day after Hitler came to power concluded that “national finances will be kept in strong and conservative hands…. There is thus no warrant for immediate alarm. It may be that we shall see the ‘tamed Hitler’ of whom some Germans are hopefully speaking.”

Eventually the paper apologized for some of its imbecilities. A new editorial persona was created. Columnist Leonard Silk described its would-be image as “disinterested, pure,” an “apostle of moderation.” It would teach enlightenment to corporations, & respectability to the deprived. In 1967, it patiently instructed Martin Luther King. Linking “personal opposition to the war in Vietnam with the cause of Negro equality…. could very well be disastrous for both causes.”

Now Gail Collins & her editorial board have told the Palestinians to shape up or ship out. “Mr. Sharon, You’re Up at Bat” (11/19) sagely informs them that “A peace deal will be possible only if a new Palestinian leader can establish enough authority to prepare the Palestinian people for what they must accept if they ever want an independent state: a Jerusalem shared between the two countries, final borders based on 1967 lines and a recognition that for all but a symbolic handful of refugees, the right of return will be to a new Palestinian state, not to Israel. Such a deal was difficult enough for Mr. Arafat to accept; it will be even harder for a new leader who comes to the table with only a fraction of Mr. Arafat’s authority with his people.”

I’ve had several letters published in the paper. But they’ve told me that they get tens of thousands & only run about 3000 a year. So I don’t expect them to run the very few that I now send in. But the issues involved in their latest barrage of idiocies compelled me to send in the letter below, so they could accept it or reject it, before going public with it in CounterPunch.

Arafat’s death is a distinct mile stone in the Palestinian struggle, & in America’s relationship to it. Everyone, not merely the Times, has an end game strategy in mind for them. My letter puts the journal’s rant up against the best in the American tradition. Judge for yourselves as to how it stands up.

In the modern world, whatever the state hands out to 1 element in the society, rights of return or shit pies, its got to give out to everyone. Anything less than equality is a recipe for strife, in this case for X number of dead Israelis, Y number of dead Palestinians.


To the Editor:

Your 11/19 editorial, “Mr. Sharon, You’re Up at Bat,” insists that Palestinian refugees, born in Israel before its establishment in 1948, & their children, must wave their right of return to their native soil, as a condition for the establishment of a Palestinian mini-state on some of the land subsequently conquered by Israel in 1967. But Israel guarantees me, a Jew born in Brooklyn, a right of return, because my ancesters lived there 2,000 years ago. It even guarantees gentile converts to Orthodox Judaism, with no ancestral connection to the country, the right of ‘return’ it denies Palestinians who still have the keys to their family’s peasant hut.

No mincing words. The Israeli people will never get peace if they continue to go along with Zionism’s denial of an equal right of return to the gentile natives of their country. In 1818, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to a Jew, Mordecai Noah, which is completely applicable to today’s Israel and provides the only honorable basis for peace:

“Your sect by its sufferings has furnished a remarkable proof of the universal spirit of religious intolerance inherent in every sect, disclaimed by all while feeble, and practiced by all when in power. Our laws have applied the only antidote to this vice, protecting our religious, as they do our civil rights, by putting all on an equal footing.”


LENNI BRENNER is the editor of 51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration with the Nazis and a contributor to The Politics of Anti-Semitism. He is the editor of Jefferson & Madison On Separation of Church and State: Writings on Religion and Secularism. He can be reached at BrennerL21@aol.com


Thomas Jefferson to Mordecai Noah, May 28, 1818

I thank you for the Discourse on the consecration of the Synagogue in your city, with which you have been pleased to favor me. I have read it with pleasure and instruction, having learnt from it some valuable facts in Jewish history which I did not know before. Your sect by its sufferings has furnished a remarkable proof of the universal spirit of religious intolerance inherent in every sect, disclaimed by all while feeble, and practiced by all when in power. Our laws have applied the only antidote to this vice, protecting our religious, as they do our civil rights, by putting all on an equal footing. But more remains to be done, for although we are free by the law, we are not so in practice. Public opinion erects itself into an inquisition, and exercises its office with as much fanaticism as fans the flames of an Auto-da-fé. The prejudice still scowling on your section of our religion altho’ the elder one, cannot be unfelt by ourselves. It is to be hoped that individual dispositions will at length mould themselves to the model of the law, and consider the moral basis, on which all our religions rest, as the rallying point which unites them in a common interest; while the peculiar dogmas branching from it are the exclusive concern of the respective sects embracing them, and no rightful subject of notice to any other. Public opinion needs reformation on that point, which would have the further happy effect of doing away the hypocritical maxim of “intus et lubet, foris ut moris” [“within as pleases, without how maintained”]. Nothing, I think, would be so likely to effect this, as to your sect particularly, as the more careful attention to education, which you recommend, and which, placing its members on the equal and commanding benches of science, will exhibit them as equal objects of respect and favor. I should not do full justice to the merits of your Discourse, were I not, in addition to that of its matter, to express my consideration of it as a fine specimen of style and composition. I salute you with great respect and esteem.


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