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Letters to the Editor

Wednesday May 09, 2001

Israel discriminates 


Ms. Liss (May 4, 2001) appears to be living in a world of myth. Contrary to her belief, Israeli law systematically discriminates against non–Jewish citizens 

Twenty percent of Israelis cannot “work and live where they please.” Non–Jews are only permitted to own or lease property in 7 percent of Israel. This blatant discrimination was recognized by the Israeli High Court of Justice in March 2000, when it ruled on a petition brought by an Arab Israeli couple who were barred from purchasing a home in the neighborhood they desired. Sadly, the High Court held that discrimination was permissible under unspecified “special circumstances.”  

The responsibility for repatriating the five million Palestinian refugees, who now constitute the world’s largest refugee population, is Israel’s. Under international law and United Nations Resolution 194, Palestinian refugees have the right to return to the land they were driven from. The onus is on Israel to comply.  

The purpose of bypass roads is to occupy Palestinian land, not to “avoid lynchings”. Had Ms. Liss read “Tacit Consent,” a report produced by the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, she would know that Israeli settlers routinely use the weapons provided by Israel to attack and kill unarmed Palestinians, and that the Israeli military turns a blind eye to these attacks.  

The lynchings that occur regularly in the Occupied Territories are committed by Israeli settlers, not Palestinians.  

Ms. Liss, I urge you to read for yourself the reports of every major human rights organization that document the use of excessive force against unarmed Palestinian civilians. I urge you to read the “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices” produced by the United States Department of State and learn about the systematic, legally sanctioned discrimination that pervades every aspect of life in Israel. Israel calls this discrimination “zionism.” South Africa called it apartheid. The Palestinian people are fighting against their apartheid oppressors, and people of conscience worldwide join them in calling for an end to the brutal Israeli occupation.  


Ameena Ahmed 



People first, before shopping 


If anyone had previously doubted Mayor Dean's pro-business, anti-neighborhood agenda, those doubts must now be laid to rest in the aftermath of her State of The City address. The $22,000,000 parking garage proposal, conceived behind closed doors, is not only a waste of taxpayer money, but an insult to the community whose needs extend far beyond finding a parking space. Picture 500 more cars swarming around Shattuck and MLK, while neighborhoods continue to crumble (unless you live in the hills) and our schools continue to be underfunded.  

The mayor has consistently sided with developers and business interests, regardless of neighborhood concerns, whether it be parking development moratoriums, building developments, or hard-ball fields in residential neighborhoods. She has, in effect, placed shopping rights over human rights; profits over people, at every turn. Along with council members Armstrong and Olds, she has attempted to block every piece of progressive legislation that has come before the Council. 

So, I am trusting that the Planning Commission, the progressive council members and community leaders realize the absurdity of making parking a priority in a city which is becoming increasingly harder to live in as a result of the mayor's actions and proposals. 

Michael Bauce 



Create creekside path  


Of all the many ideas for opening Berkeley public creeks to the public one of the easiest to attain, in terms of minimal bother to property owners and minimal re-opening of the creek, would be a path along Codornices Creek from Live Oak to the Rose Garden and Codornices Park.  

The public path would go through the much talked about Beth El property, then through a block and a half of back yard property where the stream is already open. The path could be the width of one of the innumerable five foot wide city maintained walkways that already dot the city hills. No houses would need to be eminent domained. Two property owners on Spruce would have to have a path through their creek side backyard, as would a few property owners on Glen Avenue, where most of the backyards are enormous.  

At some point, the talk of opening the streams of Berkeley needs to go beyond the talking. Codornices creek offers a chance to open a stream to the public with minimal inconvenience to property owners along the creek, and with the added plus of connecting three of our already in place parks, Live Oak, the Rose Garden and Codornices.  

An additional plus to a Live Oak to Codornices Park corridor is that the north fork of Codornices creek ends in a beautiful canyon with a hundred foot waterfall at its far end. Years ago the city maintained a path from Codornices Park to the waterfall. Today it is only an informal and narrow dirt path that hugs the side of the rather dangerously steep canyon. After the construction of the path through the Beth El, Spruce street and Glen Avenue properties the work crews could be maintained to to construct a good path to the waterfall. What a spectacularly beautiful long walk will then await the people of Berkeley and the visitors to our city.  

As for extending the creek below Live Oak. The first block runs open through backyards, and a driveway leads down to the creek from Henry Street.  

But below Henry, extension is blocked by an enormous parking lot and buildings. Ironically, enough, the owner of the property is another religious institution, in this case Mary of Magdelin Catholic Church.  


Ted Vincent 


A guy who’s just a little different 


This whole discussion of “bullying” may have its roots by everyone being “just a little different.” We are all unique and should take pride in it.  

The problem comes with the general tendency of others, especially teenagers, to enforce conformity. It can get out of hand, become a brutal habit that reduces the creativity of persons who are “different.”  

Every person should have a mentor, starting with the mother. Later the father and a teacher may be a personal confidant with whom this ‘different’ person can explore ideas and problems.  

The immature person who is left to flounder on his or her own, without the gentle guidance and support of a mentor, can imagine all sorts of crazy solutions to problems.  

In my case, I grew up way out on the prairie and went to a one room school. My parents saw that I would be all alone in a class if I started at the age of 6. They got special permission to start me at 5.  

The problem came later during my teenage years and made a big difference. I have spent my whole being different. Seldom having a mentor.  

Sometimes I was the mentor of new employees at my office and have been lifelong friends with those persons. Now in retirement, I enjoy being different. This is possibly my most creative period of life.  


Charles L. Smith,  


Anti the anti 

Now, let me get this straight... 

North Korea fires a missile. 

We fire an anti. 

They fire an anti–anti. 

We fire an anti–anti–anti. 

Have I left something out? 


George Kauffman