stacks an’ stacks of letters.” (Thank you, Perry Como)

Actually, I don’t get many letters, snail mail or email. I don’t even get all that many comments. But we don’t need no steenkin’ letters–I’m gonna answer some questions anyway.

Q. You keep writing that Homeland is character driven. Well, I watched the last couple of episodes and it just seemed like regular television. What are you talking about?

A. Must ‘fess up here.  It looks like Homeland has jumped the shark. Originally the show was driven by Carrie’s (Claire Danes) relationship to Nicholas Brody (Damien Lewis) and Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin). No more. Season Two has devolved into a somewhat more complex and mundane Spy vs. Spy, much to my regret. I still watch it but am disheartened by the path it’s taken and no longer sing its praises. Another great show bites the dust.  Gotta love television.

Q. You extoll the virtues of Treme, but I don’t get it. Every time I turn it on, music is playing.  What kind of television show is that? A variety hour? I thought it was supposed to be about the aftermath of Katrina. What gives?

A. What gives is a unique program that is about the aftermath of Katrina, but also about people who adamantly cling to their New Orleans identity, which is, in no small measure, music and food. So the music is the meat on the bone. There are of course subplots, but each of them is connected in some way to the show’s central themes. Kudus to HBO for bringing it back for a third season (albeit, a shortened one) since it gets lousy ratings. But if you don’t enjoy a program where music is often the centerpiece, don’t bother watching Treme. I find it experimental and daring; plus I’m learning a whole lot about a distinctive, irreplaceable culture.

Q. It seems as if you have the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in your head 24/7. Haven’t you noticed the other hotspots around the world? And every time you write about the conflict you blame Israel. What is that about?

A. It’s about my background. I attended yeshivas from third grade through high school. Other than the Hasids in my high-school yeshiva, who were fervently anti-Zionist because they wanted a theocracy in Israel, I was spoon-fed a history that I later discovered was a whitewashing of the truth about the ways in which Palestinians and Arabs in Israel and out were/are actually treated.

I didn’t understand the extent until I was in college and another part of my personal history underwent a change. That had to do with the Vietnam War, which exploded the way I viewed the world. When I put the pieces back together nothing was the same. I understood what colonialism meant, the realpolitik of American foreign policy, and that understanding forged my commitment to those who were usually getting the short end of the stick. It became impossible not to rethink and relearn Israel’s history and its relationship with the Palestinian and Arab peoples. It would be totally hypocritical for me not to analyze that situation in the same way I do all others. And frankly, what I’ve written is what I believe and know it is backed by hard, cold, facts.

Q. It’s absolutely clear that you hate everyone who might be a Republican. That attitude makes me sick. It’s either your way or the highway for you and your left-wing friends and that’s just bullshit.

A. It would be if you were even close to accurate—but you’re not. I don’t hate all Republicans—as those Republicans who actually know me understand. I hate what the Republican Party has become. I grew up with Clifford Case, Jacob Javitz, and Nelson Rockefeller. And while I didn’t particularly support any of them, I believed, believe, they had honest concern for our social compact. That’s a long, long way from what the party is these days. Now the Republican Party is pushed around and controlled by people whose only concern is forcing their reactionary beliefs to become the law of the land. So, I don’t hate all Republicans. I hate the current Republican Party. I’m not too keen about the Democratic Party either.

Q. You’ve written that you’re finished with “legacy” publishers despite the fact that it was the “legacies” that published your first three Matt Jacob novels. Aren’t you ungrateful and bitter for no reason?

A. I used to be very bitter, but it wasn’t without reason. My third and then my fourth novel (which I took with me as part of a negotiated settlement) were met with ongoing attempts of censorship. In fact, during a protracted fight with the vice president of the house about the so-called villain of my third book, No Saving Grace (which they eventually published the way I wrote it) I was told to change the person’s nationality. When asked why there were no complaints about the embezzling priest, the vice president’s response was “Jews buy more books than Catholics.”  (Buy the e-book and see what I mean.)

When the same sort of pressure hit me about Ties That Blind, only aimed at Matt Jacob himself, I was done fighting and walked. At that time there were no e-books or print on demand. The only alternative to the legacies were vanity presses, aka rip-offs. So yes, I was bitter. But that bitterness passed as I grew to like jury consulting and loved the people with whom I worked. When e-books became a viable option, I retrieved all the rights to my books and decided to return to writing. The first three are available (check the Matt Jacob page on this web site) with the fourth just a few months away. Now my only censor is me and I much prefer it that way.

Q. Who the hell are you to put words in a dead person’s mouth like you did with Truman Capote?

A. A fiction writer. I make stuff up.

“You can only be afraid of what you think you know.” 
― Jiddu Krishnamurti



1. lack of proportion or equality
2. an instance of disparity or inequality


1. to cause to become exaggerated or unequal

English Collins Dictionary – English Definition & Thesaurus

It is with a heavy heart that I once again feel compelled to write about the Israeli and Palestinian conflict. Heavy because as I lay fingers to keyboard, The New York Times is reporting: After a meeting with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Israeli Army was “continuing to hit Hamas hard and is ready to expand the operation into Gaza.”

Heavy because my gut tells me that if Israel does invade Gaza, we are going to see a mass of civilians—women and children included, of course–defined as “collateral damage.” We’ve been here before.

In no way do I condone the missiles Hamas has been firing. I believe it’s legitimate for Israel to stop them, no matter who fired the first shot. My sadness has to do with how the Israeli government is choosing to stop them.

Newspapers have reported about the “pinpoint” bombing that killed a high ranking Hamas official, and even with this “pinpoint” strike, there were a couple of dozen Palestinian civilian casualties as well as three Israeli deaths. The last Israeli invasion of Gaza “left thirteen Israelis and more than one thousand Palestinians dead, hundreds among them civilians” (THE BOSTON GLOBE 11/17/12). Does anyone else see a problem with this picture?

My heart is heavy because comparing the body counts underscores my political opinions. I believe the ongoing disproportionate amount of deaths between Palestinians and Israelis leaves little room for Israeli apologists.

This disproportion is not new. In April 2011 I wrote a post calling for a regime change in Israel (http://zacharykleinonline.com/2011/04/ second entry down) I listed the following facts:

Since September 29th, 2000 to the present, 124 Israeli children have been killed. The number of Palestinian children killed during the same time period–1,452.
Since September 29th, 2000 to the present, 1,084 Israeli adults have been killed. The number of Palestinian adults during the same period–6,430.
Since September 29th, 2000 to the present, 9,226 Israelis have been injured. The number of Palestinians injured during the same period–45,041.
The current number of Israeli political prisoners or detainees is 1. The current number of Palestinian political prisoners or detainees is 5,935.
Since 1967 the number of Israeli homes that have been demolished for settlement reasons is 0.
Since 1967 the number of Palestinian homes demolished for settlement reasons—24,813.
Of the 40 towns in Israel with the highest unemployment rates, 36 are Arab towns.
According to the Central Bank of Israel statistics for 2003, salary averages for Arab workers in Israel (emphasis mine) were 29 percent lower than for Jewish workers.
U.S. government aid to Israel in 2009 was 8.2 million dollars of military aid per day.
U.S. government aid to Palestinians in 2009–0 dollars.
(These numbers and their primary sources can be found at http://www.ifamericansknew.org.)

That was then and perhaps the numbers are somewhat different now. However changed they might be, the disproportion will not if or when Israel invades Gaza again. This disproportion cannot be seen as defense regardless of Palestinian missile attacks. This is offense and the notion that the best defense is offense crumples in the face of dead and maimed children.

A whole lot of people have raked me for my ongoing support of the Palestinian people. Been called an anti-Semitic Jew (was also called a “self-loathing” Jew after my third Matt Jacob Novel No Saving Grace), one-sided, and blind to the acts of terror committed by Palestinians. The problem with all that is I’m not anti-Semitic or even one-sided. And I’m certainly not blind or silent about any acts of terror whatever the justification–real or imagined.

What I am is terribly, terribly sad. It rips my insides to watch a people to whom I belong, who were savaged into near extinction during World War Two, slowly but surely dehumanize another people. It tears me up to watch Israel become an apartheid state. It breaks my heart to even imagine how close Israel is creeping toward committing genocide. These are not the feelings of an anti-Semitic Jew; they are the emotions of someone watching his people change from the oppressed to the oppressor.

I used to believe in a two-state solution. Believed that had the 1967 boundaries been accepted along with internationalization of Jerusalem, peace would have been possible. I believed that had Israel legitimately dealt with Fatah or the PLO that preceded them, Hamas wouldn’t have had steady legs to stand on.

Now I believe it’s too, too late. The disproportion too, too great. Which is why my heart is heavy today for the Palestinian people, the ugly transformation that’s grabbed hold of Israel, and mostly for those who have died and those who will. Disproportionally.

History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, however, if faced with courage, need not be lived again. ~ Maya Angelou