Letters To The Editor

RE: Israel, the United States, and the Rhetoric of the War on Terror by Maha Hilel

Hi Frank,

Great article. There is a fellow Hungarian/Canadian jewish physician, Gabor Maté, who himself is a Holocaust survivor - still condemns Israel's genocide of the Palestinians: https://x.com/NadineNilo/status/1712432606120140896

Take care,

Norbert Hanny

RE: Bombing Muslims for Peace by William Astore

From the article:

It sees all Palestinians as essentially members of Hamas and thus complicit in last year’s brutal October 7th attacks on Israel, making them legitimate targets of war, Israeli- (and American-) style. Just like the United States, Israel claims to be “defending democracy” whatever it does. Little wonder, then, that Washington has been so willing to send bombs and bullets to its protégé as it seeks “peace” through massive firepower and genocidal destruction.

Indeed, of late, there has been considerable debate about whether Israel is engaged in acts of genocide, with the International Court of Justice ruling that the present government should strive to prevent just such acts in Gaza. Putting that issue aside, it’s undeniable that Israel has been using indiscriminate bombing attacks and a devastating invasion in a near-total war against Palestinians living on that 25-mile-long strip of land, an approach that calls to mind the harrowing catchphrase “Exterminate all the brutes!” from Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness.

If all Palestinians were legitimate targets of war,  there would be no 21% of Palestinians living happily in Israel, at least so happy as not having any desire of leaving the country. If they would emigrate to an Arab or Muslim country, they would not be able to participate in a gay parade as the world-wide famous one in Tel Aviv, they would not have the rights and freedom they have in Israel. If Israel wanted to commit genocide in Gaza, there would be now hundreds of thousands of deaths there, instead of the terrible 20 or 30,000 alleged by the Hamas, a notorious liar (Israel claims that 9,000 were Hamas members). How many civilians were killed because Hamas uses them as shields? Israel is the only country in the world that announces where it is going to attack. I have no idea if Israel could have been mor target-oriented in its attack, saving civilians. But what was the alternative as a response to the barbaric Oct. 7 attacks? Does Astore has a better solution? Maybe doing nothing, sending a message to Hamas that it should repeat the doses? Maybe just destroy part of the Hamas terrorists and facilities? Peace is what Palestinians that are not terrorists want, those that are not fanatics, and Israelis who are not fanatics. There is only one reason for not existing peace between palestinians and israelis: fanaticism in both sides. My sister-e-law, who is visitin gus from Switzerland, was in Israel a couple of years ago and asked Palestinians what they thought about the 2-State solution. Many answers were astonishing: "We don't want a 2-State solution, we want just a one-State solution, just Israel." Because they know that under Israel, they would have civil rights and freedom, which do not exist in Arab and Muslim countries. 

If you can, send these considerations to Astore and ask him to show where I am wrong. 

Valdemar W. Setzer - Dept. of Computer Science, University of São Paulo, Brazil
https://www.ime.usp.br/~vwsetzer  -  https://youtube.com/@vwsetzer

RE: Three Versions of Judas by Jorge Luis Borges

Thanks for sharing this fine piece. I'll need to reread it many, very many times.

George M Young

RE: The false Promise of ChatGPT

Thank you for this excellent article by Chomsky et.al. Chomsky puts into words - in great clarity - what many, including myself, may feel instinctively, sub-consciously. The subjective value is always missing in whatever Chatgpt comes up with. Beyond the recital of facts and opinions found in this vast and highly energy-burning collection of AI data, the exchange involved in a "non-conversation" very quickly becomes boring and counter-productive. Answers always sound elaborate, and yet, there’s no meat to them. As an ordinary individual with no particular professional intentions, Chatgpt, for all its massive input and ingenuity, soon becomes another unused, dusty toy in the digital world. Imagine being stranded on a vacation with Chatgpt or a human. Which would you prefer? What a phenomenal waste.

Writer's name lost. Sorry.

RE: Death is Not Proud by Frank Thomas Smith

I LOVE this.  

2 minute hardly important points:

1. you wrote this nearly 11 years ago ?  are you really 92 this year Frank Thomas ?  that's quite an achievement

2. Man has not really been concerned with death for eons, or at least not with death of the body.  According to our friend Rudolf Steiner, even a few cultural epochs ago, people didn't really concern themselves with death.  They knew when a person died, but didn't have the modern angst about what happens when I die.  Sort of like animals - my cat knows the mouse is dead, but it means little to him except the fun is over. I have more weird examples but don't want to bore or offend you. Anyhow, I can easily find a reference for that if you'd like one. Death has taken on this looming presence because of the dark side of consciousness soul - intellectual doubt of spirit.  You bring that forward in your article.

Thanks for your wonderful submissions to my Inbox.


Raun Griffihs

in rural Canada, the Prison Outreach gal

RE: What Is Waldorf Education?

HI, Frank, 

Thanks for the very interesting article by Stephen Sagarin.

I have some comments on his text.

Steiner did not base himself on the educational work and principles of others. He used something no other educator had used. For instance, Emerson's and Pestalozzi ideas were correct intuitions they had; but their ideas did not stem from a direct perception of the spiritual world, as happened with Steiner. The latter used this perception to study the development of the human being, and also of history, and applied this knowledge to education. Nobody else did that. For instance, this prompted him to give a totally original view of the development of philosophy, based on the development of consciousness, in his monumental The riddles of philosophy (Die Rätsel der Philosophie, GA 18). The analogy of a child's development with the historical ontogenesis was not abstract but based upon direct spiritual perceptions. Sagarin seems to have difficulties with this fact when he writes:

Some Waldorf teachers may argue that principle four may be found in many schools, but that Waldorf schools mean something different by “spirit”. I’m not convinced of this however, and, in any event, it needn’t be so.

This shows that either Sagarin does not know enough Anthroposophy, or he could not accept it. The recognition of the spirit in the human being, and its development and reincarnation, as well as the existence and development of the other supersensible members, cannot be separated in any application of Anthroposophy. For a teacher, the recognition that they exist and understanding them -- only Steiner gave us this knowledge -- is enough to give an adequate attitude regarding his/her pupils. 

Speaking about that attitude, Sagarin does not mention the unselfish love the teacher has to devote to his/her pupils. This love has to be based upon the teacher's understanding of what a child is and his/her development according to age. Only Steiner gave us this knowledge. For instance, knowing that the mission of humanity is developing free will and unselfish love, the teacher must try to develop these qualities, according to the age of his/her pupils. Sagarin does not mention one of the basic principles of WE: the teacher in primary school (up to 8th grade) has to exercise "authority with love". In high school, the teacher has to be admired for his knowledge of the subject and of reality, her/his enthusiasm for them, and the respect s/he should dedicate to his pupils.

One aspect not covered by Sagarin is the absence of tests and flunking. I wonder if this was new in WE. But if not, Seiner introduced this idea not imitating what had already been proposed, but out of his knowledge of the terrible consequences they had (fear, tension and traumas) and that they were not necessary for good learning. Many WS give tests in high school, but mainly so the students may evaluate what they are learning and orient their teachers accordingly, also preparing the former for the terrible tests in college. Tests and flunking are a means by bad teachers to force their students to learn -- and forget the subject as fast as they learned just before a test. 

Once Steiner referred to the fact that some of his teachings were already known. He said that the truth is the same everywhere. But one should not ignore the many original ideas he brought, for instance for understanding the Bible (e.g. GA 122) and the Gospels (GAs 8, 103, 112, 114, 123, 131, 139).

Valdemar Setzer

Sao Paulo