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Dean Tom Farer and Rob Prince Attacked as `Israel Bashers’ and `anti-Israel’ in the Intermountain Jewish News

February 14, 2009

Note: I’ve been criticized, attacked before in the media – but never in the same breath as my dean, Tom Farer. The comments came in a letter to the editor in the new issue of the Intermountain Jewish News. A letter to the editor appeared in the paper’s most recent edition written by one Dick Wisott, entitled `Beware of Anti-Israel Professors At DU’. Dean Farer and myself are featured. Together! It has not (yet) appeared in the on-line version, but it is there in the printed version of the last issue which some friends received yesterday in the mail. Compared to some, it’s pretty mild, old hat kind of criticisms – and to give the writer (don’t know him) credit – he got his quotes from our op eds accurately enough.

My first impression is that that criticism was written by someone who attended a panel discussion at the Korbel School held on January 22 in which Dean Farer, Dr. Josef Szyliowicz and myself – all Jewish it turns out – participated. While there were some disagreements about the role of oil in US Middle East Policy and the failure or lack there of the Bush Administration’s `War on Terrorism’, all three of us showed some level of support for the Saudi Peace Proposal as a basis for moving forward and resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There was one man in the audience, looked to be about my age, dressed informally (blue jeans), longish hair, but seemed uncomfortable and took alot of notes. Don’t know if it was Wisott – and if it was, that is fine…glad he was in attendance actually. I wish there were more like him in the audience.

In any case…

But after reading the letter in the IJN I think it is probably more someone who read my op ed `Blind In Gaza’ which appeared in both the Rocky Mountain News and the Boulder Daily Camera in early January. Tom Farer’s piece appeared at about the same time in the national blog `Huffington Post‘. Of course there is no discussion in the criticism of Farer and Prince of the ideas put forth, just the usual cheap and empty character assassination and whines that we are `anti-Israel’ and `Israel bashers’.

A brief google search was interesting:

Wisott, retired in 2000, was a senior VP of ING Security Life, in charge of Senior Markets at the financial services firm. Don’t know where he counseled seniors to invest. Wisott apparently is someone familiar with the University of Denver. He is described as `an avid member of the University of Denver’s VIVA! program.’ (For $100 a quarter, people age 55 or older can take unlimited classes in topics ranging from economics and philosophy to golf and music.) Wisott also audits DU’s regular classes. “You can audit any class but computers and languages for $25,” he is quoted as saying on a website.

Interestingly enough his work with seniors continued after retirement. He founded and heads Seniors Inc, a group that lobbies for Colorado – and the nation’s senior citizens. In this capacity he felt that AARP sold out seniors in the drug prescription deal. A piece which he apparently co-authored on the subject appeared on Alternet. It was pretty good. (click here) I happen to agree with him on that one and think about it every time I have to buy drugs for my 90 year old mother with Alzheimers – what a rip off the drug plan was/is. I have to wonder if he isn’t a part of a circle that does fine work for the elderly centering around a certain former ADL-Colorado director who has similar interests.

My hunch is that other than our differences on Israel and Palestine – that we’d agree on many other issues. That is one of the tragedies of this issue, the way it divides many potential allies and friends. I wouldn’t be surprised – I don’t know – if he is a liberal democrat in the main. Wisott’s portrait is common to me – I find here in Colorado more often not, the most zealous defenders of the Zionist faith are liberal Dems, the true believers – they represent AIPAC’s and the ADL’s backbone in Colorado and I would imagine to a great extent elsewhere. They don’t respond on this issue with responses of substance, ie – counter the arguments presented by Farer or me – but, led by the likes of Abe Foxman and Alan Deshowitz, – intellectual thugs of national prominence – simply resort to cheap personal slander.

So, Mr. Wisott – did Israel commit war crimes or not in Gaza? Is Gaza, as Farer argued in his piece in Huffington Post, an open air prison or not?

I received a copy of Wisott’s letter from a Jewish friend who gets the paper although she has never subscribed to it and wondered why it was that she receives it at all.

Her email was amusing.

It started by saying `Have you seen the letter from someone named Dick Wisott to the editor of the Intermountain Jewish News this week (Feb. 23)? The letter writer calls you and Dean Farer “anti-Israel” and “Israel bashers” for your writings on Israel’s injustices in Gaza.

It (the email) ends with the note: `keep up the good work’.

I enclose as attachments 3 pieces

1. The said letter to the editor in the Intermountain Jewish News.

2. Dean Tom Farer’s piece in Huffington Post.

3. My piece – which I entitled `Blind In Gaza’ which was published in full with title in the Boulder Daily Camera and slightly edited without the title in the Rocky Mountain News

Here is the note I sent to some friends with copies of the IJN piece:

This is something new… not being attacked…but being attacked in the same breath as my dean, Tom Farer, at the Korbel School of International Studies. The letter appeared in the printed version of the Intermountain Jewish News; it is not, it appears, on the website

If you are so inclined, suggest you respond with an email/fax…to

(303) 861-2234 (phone)

(303) 832-6942 (fax)


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