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Letters to the editor May 20
May 21, 2010 | 3734 views | 0 0 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Paraphrase corrected

You wrote in your April 29 editorial, “Oren the lightening rod:”

“Some of those responses were over the top, such as computer science professor Harry Mairson’s. He called Oren an ‘apologist’ for Israeli war crimes.  Time out, please!”

I did use the word “apologist,” but I deliberately avoided the phrase or the accusation of “war crimes,” knowing full well what a “lightning rod” it would be on all sides.  Even the Goldstone report concluded that use of white phosphorus did not constitute a war crime, according to international law.

Time out, please! The misquotation is yours. 

What I wrote in the Brandeis student newspaper was this: “Dropping white phosphorus or napalm on civilians anywhere and being an apologist for it is not my idea of social justice.” That’s not an international judicial indictment;  it’s my personal opinion. “Brandeis University,” says our Web site, “has made a commitment to social justice an integral part of its mission.”

When legitimate criticism is misconstrued as something more extreme, either by accident or through rhetorical design, real discussion takes a step backward.

Harry Mairson

Waltham, Mass.

(Editor’s note: The author is a professor of computer science at Brandeis University. Mairson’s complete essay may be read at thejusticeonline.com.)

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