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Letters to the Editor

Wednesday May 16, 2001

Jewish rights to Israel ‘pre-existing’ 


I write in response to a letter in the Friday, May 4 issue of The Berkeley Daily Planet, calling Israel’s settlements “immoral and illegal.” Even supporters of Israel often miss the point that the basic legal document governing the disposition of the territories in the League of Nations Mandate of 1921, which obliges the Jewish Agency or its successor, which today is Israel, to not only govern the land but to settle it. 

All other resolutions and agreements are not binding under International law. That is why, by the way, the United States calls the settlements nasty things at times, but it NEVER calls them illegal: it cannot. 

The Mandate did not “grant” the Jewish people the right to the Land of Palestine, as the British called it, it “recognized” the Jewish people’s ancient rights, meaning that Jewish rights are considered “pre-existing” rather than newly created. 

I have more detail concerning this subject, but though interesting and important, it may seem a little obscure to the general reader or the reader bent on attacking Israel. 


Carol Shivel 



Parking minus ‘ing’ = transit 


What do you et if you take the “ing” out of Parking? You get a park. Does Berkeley need more parks or parking?  

At least a third of downtown Berkeley is paved in asphalt. Another 5/6 is committed to concrete. The last sliver is green. We can't afford to lose more land to automobiles. The BHS tennis courts were recently paved over for parking. Sounds like Martin Luther King Park is being considered for the next parking lot. Lovely. 

Downtown has enormous transit resources which could be better marketed, and marked. Though the bus schedules, which serve Berkeley, are the biggest mysteries in the universe, the busses actually run. The No. 51, for example, runs every ten minutes on weekdays. Amazing. There are a dozen more bus lines serving the downtown. 

If the political will in this community focused on public transit instead of automobiles, you'd have what's called a “win-win” situation.  

Deborah Green 



Thanks for  

good works 


On behalf of Berkeley Youth Alternatives we would like thank Congregation Beth El for all the time and dedication that went into planning and carrying out the “Sukkot in April” project. They painted our building and it looks wonderful! We know how much work goes into putting together such an awesome community-building event, and we really appreciate all that they did in order to make it so successful.  

Our friends, families and children have all commented on how much more welcoming and brighter BYA looks. The effort and care that they put into helping BYA was a true Mitzvah! 


Niculia Williams, 

Executive Director, Berkeley Youth Alternatives 


New film brings out more than ‘mistrust’ 


That was an interesting article in the Monday Berkeley Daily Planet's Bay Briefs, “Asian Americans wary of movie's influence,” reporting on the apprehension of Bay Area Asian Americans over the new movie “Pearl Harbor.” However, the use of the sanitized word “mistrust” in describing the imprisonment of Japanese-Americans in “relocation camps” during World War II was disturbing. I think the correct word is racism. 

Asian Americans have every reason to be apprehensive of this latest glorification of past wars in preparation of future ones. Just look at the kneejerk anti-Chinese racism that spewed forth in so much of the American media after the recent U.S. spy plane incident, including the notorious Oliphant cartoon that revived anti-Asian stereotypes that one would have hoped had ended when World War II did.  


Steve Wagner 




FBI withholding evidence not uncommon as seen in Peltier case 


The withholding of evidence and obstruction of justice appear to be habitual FBI practices. In recent months, this pattern has become frightfully clear. 

Revelations of FBI misconduct in Boston are appalling. The FBI manufactured evidence, which put two innocent men in prison, while the real murderer were protected and allowed to kill with impunity. 

Evidence about FBI misconduct in the Birmingham bombings is no less disturbing. For years the FBI did nothing to pursue the racist murderers of the four young girls, all the while knowing who the culprits were. And now it has been revealed that the FBI illegally withheld evidence relating to the Oklahoma bombing. Somehow, the news comes as no surprise. 

Equally troublesome is the case of Leonard Peltier, the Indigenous rights activist considered by Amnesty International a “political prisoner” who should be “immediately and unconditionally released.” The FBI is also withholding evidence in his case. 

Peltier was convicted of killing two FBI agents after the FBI coerced witnesses, utilized false testimony, and intentionally withheld a ballistic test reflecting his innocence at trial. The ballistic test was later released through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit and it prompted the U.S. Prosecutor to admit, “we can’t prove who shot those agents.”  

Yet, Peltier has remained in prison for over 25 years and the FBI refuses to release the 6,000 documents still held in secret files today. 

Before another victim is allowed to languish one more year in prison, Congress should hold investigations into the FBI’s handling of the Peltier case and subpoena the remaining 6,000 documents. 

When the most powerful law enforcement agency in the country considers itself above the law, each of us becomes a potential victim of injustice. 


Marco Barrantes 



Try transit first  


Each day I walk my dog. I often fiddle. Many times a week I am in Civic Center Park. I shop at the Saturday Farmers’ Market and participate in many festivals held in the Park. I am dismayed to hear and am opposed to the park being torn up and its many festivals and the Saturday Farmers’ Market being unavailable to us while the Park is dug up to create an underground parking garage. 

I don’t want to lose my park, even temporarily. Don’t dig up Civic Center Park. 

Building such a garage will not help my street (one block from Civic Center Park) as everyone who parks up street while working or shopping nearby will continue to park on the street where it’s free! If the Civic Center Garage is free too these cars might move off my street, but I’m sure the city would not give free parking when the spaces cost so much to build ($22 million is $45,000. for each space). 

Before we even think about whether or not to build a garage, we should offer employees and shoppers transit incentives (discounts) to use alternate transportation first. It’s so much cheaper to let someone have a transit pass discount than it is to build that person a parking space. Even UCB did the class pass.  

Can’t the City of Berkeley be the leader we claim to be and take the lead? It might turn out that we don’t need a garage at all if enough people use transit once in a while. Let’s be the transit first Berkeley we’ve been saying we are.  

Morgan Fichter