Letters to the Editor | June 6 edition

Readers write in about the Day of Remembrance, and Palestine.


I have read the several past issues of The Beachcomber, with interest in the Day of Remembrance. My heart is heavy over the ugly history in the U.S. concerning incarcerations of “enemy aliens” and, in the case of the Japanese during World War II, “enemy” citizens. It seems this country has not learned, and is, in various physical and emotional ways, continuing to punish people for being different.

The exile of the Japanese was public and showy, with “them” and “us” out on display, shaming innocent people forced to parade into imprisonment.

Know that Germans and Italians were also taken, in secret, at homes and places of employment. The government knew where each man was, watched him, and at an appointed time, FBI agents came and took him away with any incriminating evidence found. Because of the undercover manner in which this happened, few besides the families of the men knew, and humiliation kept it secret for decades.

My German grandfather was one such man, taken from his home by two agents in the night. He was deemed dangerous, among other things, for being the editor of Seattle’s German language newspaper and gathering with German friends for dinners and songfests. After the war, he was followed, coworkers and neighbors interviewed. I have his FBI files.

Grandpa kept a diary and photographs. But the incident was never spoken of. Shame is a powerful force.

As an adult, I researched the story, amazed at the machinations of the FDR administration, and by the intensity of the secrecy.

We must be aware that this happened. Each time I hear of a Day of Remembrance, or walk the paths at Mukai Gardens, I think of all the men who, like the Japanese, were deemed dangerous enemies because of their heritage. They, too, were ridiculed with caricatures and poor imitations of their accents. They, too, had cruel nicknames hurled at them. But, for the most part, their experiences go unchronicled and so are lost to memory, if, indeed, it ever existed there at all.

We must not forget. We do so at our peril.

Debbie Butler


In response to a May 30 Beachcomber Letter on Israel and Palestine:

Kill one person, you’re called a murderer. Kill 10,000, you’re called Prime Minister or Mr. President.

Imagine: Several thousand armed men come to Vashon. They say they have roots here. They massacre 200 people, frightening the rest of us to leave. They steal our homes. We flee to open areas in Seattle. We’ll be there for over 50 years. The armed men harass and kill some of us. We form a defensive militant group they call terrorists; we call the group freedom fighters. The group comes to be called Hamas.

Israel turned away trucks bringing needed supplies to the Palestinians. Israel destroyed hospitals, universities, libraries, schools, and water, sewage, and electrical systems in Gaza. Israel’s war has damaged or destroyed at least 62% of the homes in Gaza, according to the United Nations. They have killed more than 36,000 Palestinians. Those include Hamas members, but we know they also took out doctors, nurses, journalists, aid workers and lots of children.

You say that’s not genocide, so would you consider scheduling your next vacation in Gaza? Do you only call it genocide after they’re all dead?

Netanyahu says he wants to free the hostages and defeat Hamas. Are the 36,000 dead, 13,800 of which were children, due to a bomb or two gone rogue? Maybe he really means well — or maybe the IDF needs more target practice. I find no conclusive proof of these tales of Hamas using hospitals and schools. And when did digging tunnels become a sin?

So you say the student protests are part of a war movement to eliminate Israel? Nonsense. What a way to defame people who are protesting murder.

You say it’s blood libel to accuse Israel of genocide, and saying that doing so endangers Jews. Baloney! Bring on the truth! I’m Jewish. Israel is definitely guilty of genocide. 73% of the Israeli people favor the war (massacre). They think they’re home, but morally they’re lost, still wandering in the wilderness.

Shelley Simon