A THREATENING LETTER CAME MY WAY

Three days after the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, I received in the mail a letter. The envelope had no return address. I immediately knew that this letter was about my writing letters to the editor of our local newspaper, The Journal News in which I was not so much criticizing Israel but informing the readers who have been fed, at best, half-truths by the media, if not outright lies.

Until September 14, I was only getting letters of support, encouraging me to “keep up the good work.” Some of those letters were anonymous (like this one) and some of them were signed with a return address. I was also getting phone calls, all of them in support of what I am doing and in all of them, the person on the other end of the line wanted to stay anonymous. It doesn’t bother me at all if those supporters want to stay anonymous. I can understand why (see criticize Israel at your own peril). It is gratifying, however, to see that there are readers who appreciate what I am doing, who want to know more and who are eager to get the facts.

On Friday, September 14, 2001, I received the first letter whose author does not agree with me. I don’t mind receiving such letters. The problem is that this very first letter was also a threatening letter. It reads as follows:

I've read your letters in the local newspaper, you and your rotten Arab murderers. I know where you live. Write one more of your lousy letters, you filthy Palestine bastard, and you and your bunch of relatives will regret the day you were born. You son of a bitch.
Immediately after reading the letter, I went to the police station to report the incident. The officer on duty did what he had to do. I also contacted the United States Commission on Civil Rights in Washington, D.C.

I did also what I considered very important. I wrote to the editorial page editor of The Journal News to inform him of what happened and enter a plea:

I would like to emphasize that I do not intend to stop writing. I am requesting here your assistance to expose this act of cowardice, which is also, according to the police officer, a federal offense. You are in a better position to know how can this be done.
His response was reassuring.
We have and will continue to write editorials condemning such things... We have called acts of hatred and intolerance another form of terrorism. As a matter of fact, another such editorial was in the works for Tuesday's newspaper when I got your letter. I admire your resolve not to be cowed by the attempted intimidation.
As a matter of fact, that Tuesday an editorial came out referring to this incident:
A Journal News reader yesterday reported receiving a threatening letter from someone who referred to his pro-Palestinian letters that have appeared on this page and warned of consequences if he wrote again.
That, too, is an attack on “our way of life, our very freedom.”
Furthermore, a reporter from The Journal News contacted me and interviewed me for an article that he was preparing on incidents of that kind. His article was published the same day the editorial was out.

My heartfelt thanks to The Journal News, its editorial page editor and the reporter. Their efforts are deeply appreciated.

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