First Published: Morning Freiheit, May 4, 1975.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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This is a copy of a letter that Sam Pevzner, Executive Director of the Jewish Cultural Clubs and Societies and member of the Editorial Board of Jewish Currents sent April 4 to the Editor of the Daily World.
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April 4, 1975
205 West 19 Street
New York, N.Y. 10011
In the World Magazine of March 29th Dr. Herbert Aptheker’s article titled “Let’s Set the Record Straight” (based on his speech at the Jewish Affairs dinner January 12th) needs some record-straightening itself.
I agree with much that Apthker writes about the Middle East and with much I don’t. However, it is not my purpose here, in a letter, to discuss the agreements or disagreements. However, when a man who is noted as a scholar and historian, to whom facts and truth should be paramount, ignores facts or distorts the truth in order to attack someone with whom he is in disagreement then he is acting not as a Marxist or a genuine historian and scholar should.
I refer to Aptheker’s attack on Paul Novick, editor of the Morning Freiheit, as follows:
“... and he who is fighting the Palestinian people from gaining their just demands is a colonialist, a chauvinist, an annexationist...”
I will ignore the name-calling condemnatory words like “colonialist,” etc., except to say that it is a practice copied from powerful individuals in the Soviet Union during the 30’s, 40’s and early 50’s who persecuted and even destroyed devoted leading and rank-and-file Communists under the “revolutionary” charges that they were “nationalists,” “Zionists,” “Cosmopolitans,” “revisionists,” “counterrevolutionaries,” and what not, a practice halted and condemned by the 20th CPSU Congress, with the subsequent “rehabilitation” of most of the victims of this cruel accusatory practice.
When I read that Novick “is fighting to prevent the Palestinian people from gaining their just demands ...” I rubbed my eyes in utter disbelief. Where has Aptheker been all these years? It is evident that he has not read the Morning Freiheit or the many reports and articles Paul Novick wrote on the Middle East crisis for many years. If Aptheker has read them then he debases himself with the use of deliberate falsification.
Paul Novick, the Morning Freiheit of which he is editor, and the entire progressive Jewish movement supported the struggle and right of the Palestinian people for self-determination and full national rights ever since the issue has been cn the world agenda. Novick and the Morning Freiheit have always strongly opposed chauvinism (of both the Jewish and Arab variety) and annexationism. I challenge Aptheker to quote one line, one word from Novick’s speeches and writings which indicates that he “is fighting to prevent the Palestinian people from gaining their just demands.”
Since as a “scholar” Aptheker should like to deal with original sources, I herewith quote a few from many that Paul Novick contributed in expressing his support to Palestinian rights and self-determination:
On December 13, 1970, Paul Novick together with a number of leaders of the progressive Jewish movement issued a statement on the Middle East situation (Morning Freiheit, English Pages Dec. 13, and 20, 1970) in which it is declared:
“The solution of the refugee problem will be made easier if the Arabs in the occupied territories – the West Bank of Jordan and the Gaza Strip – obtain the right to statehood in the form of their own choice.” Then later in the statement: “In their struggle for national liberation, for freedom from imperialism and feudal oppression, the Arab peoples should receive the sympathy of the Jewish people and the people of all countries.”
Regarding annexationists the statement had this to say:
“... we hold that in Israel too there are elements that block the way to a political settlement and peace. The obstacles come not only from the overt annexationists, the Menachem Begin elements, but also the ’partial’ annexationists.” On Sunday, November 18, 1973, there appeared in the Week in Review section of the New York Times a large ad issued by leaders of the progressive Jewish movement, including Paul Novick. It had this to say on the Palestinians: “Another barrier to peace is the status of the Palestinian Arabs and refugees. We believe the Israeli cabinet should declare its support of self-determination for the Palestinian Arabs... This approach is in line with the original U.N. Resolution of 1947 for the establishment of two independent states, a Jewish state and an Arab state, on the territory of Palestine.”
A relevant note: Paul Novick was not only a signer of the above two statements, but participated in the drafting of them.
Aptheker quotes Novick on his condemnation of terrorism against innocents from an article (based on Novick’s Town Hall speech of November 23, 1974) printed in the English Pages of the Morning Freiheit of December 22, 1974. He answers Novick with a rather inhumane justification for the terrorist massacres by some Arab groups, giving it a “revolutionary” and “liberation” coloration which in many respects does not apply to the Middle East situation.
But what is hard to understand is how is it that Aptheker does not quote from the very same article the proposal Novick makes in relation to the Palestinians? After all, if one is going to attack Novick on his position in regard to Palestinian self-determination, based on an attack against a specific article, why not quote from that very same article?
In that article Novick suggests a five-point program for the achievement of a Middle East peace. Under Point 2 he says:
“The right for the national self-determination of the Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza must be assured.”
Novick goes on to say:
“The chauvinism on both sides must be curbed ... Neither can we disregard the chauvinist and annexationist attitudes of the right-wing Likkud in Israel, of the religious fanatics or of Moshe Dayan and his supporters within the governing coalition who refuse to hear of any solution based on the Security Council Resolution No. 242... ”
The Morning Freiheit, Novick, and the progressive Jewish movement have not only opposed the terroristic acts by Arab groups but it has condemned the shedding of innocent Arab blood through the retaliatory actions of the Israeli government.
Evidently in his eagerness to attack someone he disagrees with, whether Novick or anyone else, Aptheker is ready to stain his integrity as a scholar or Marxist, to ignore facts and distort truth. Too bad and too sad.
As the Daily World article says in the title: “Let’s Set the Record Straight.”