Page One

Letters to the Editor

Friday December 26, 2003


Editors, Daily Planet: 

The article by George Bishwarat (“The Other Diaspora Israelis Must Confront,” Daily Planet, Dec. 9-11) is full of errors and distortions. Palestinians were not “driven out of Israel” in 1948 but left on the advice of the leaders of the Arab states. Israel absorbed over 600,000 of the 900,000 Jews who were driven out Arab lands. The United States supported the UN’s 1947 mandate which established two states, but the Arab states and the Arabs of Palestine rejected it. The combined aries of the Arab states attacked Israel the day after Israel was created.  

Today Arabs are citizens of Israel and serve in the parliament. Over 1.2 million Arabs live in Israel. If they were driven out in 1948, then where did they come from?  

Bishwarat’s article is full of outright lies and is a pure propaganda piece.  

Sanne DeWitt  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Verizon Wireless Company runs a commercial which depicts the U.S. Cavalry’s use of cellular phones to defeat American Indians. It is as anti-Indian as it can get. What was Verizon thinking? The people of this company demonstrate their 19th century mentality with this negativeportrayal. 

The U.S. Government during that century waged a genocidal war against American Indians in the name of expansion. American Indians were only defending their way of life when the government took their land. I demand that Verizon stop running these commercials which portray American Indians in a negative light. 

Billy Trice, Jr. 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

After reading Susan Fleisher’s letter (Daily Planet, Dec. 19-22) it finally dawned on me that we are rapidly approaching the Pentagon in the absurdity of spending money without questioning what we are getting in return, for surely the $11,533 curb cut has to be right up there with the $640 toilet seat and the $200 hammer. Outside of San Francisco, Berkeley has the most bloated, overpaid and underworked city government in the entire state. Berkeley pays the highest property taxes in the bay area but we certainly don’t get what we pay for. It’s typical that Susan Fleisher got no reply from Vicki Elmer and Councilmember Wooley-Baur. I could fill this whole page with examples of the incompetence and arrogance of the government of this city but I think I’ll have a beer instead and try to figure out how you can spend $11,533 on a curb cut. 

Mitchell Rose 




Dear Mayor Bates and Councilmembers, 

I want to thank you for approving Peter Hillier’s recommendation for an automated traffic enforcement program at the Dec. 16 City Council Meeting. 

I attended the meeting hoping I’d have a chance to speak in its favor. I planned to remind you all that Berkeley is still not a safe town for pedestrians and cyclists, and automated traffic enforcement will help. This program also can contribute substantial revenue to the city, the more it is rolled out throughout Berkeley, and that feature is very important during these severe budget times, when we face cutting important city services such as fire fighting. 

Given the severe budget, I also wanted to speak in favor of Mr. Hank Resnick’s letter to council in favor of Cost-Effective Traffic Calming circles. Stretching the budget funds across as many traffic-calming circles as possible is a more efficient use of Berkeley’s limited funds. Making Berkeley safer for bicyclists reduces the tremendously expensive demand for increased downtown car parking. 

I hope the automated traffic enforcement can be used extensively in Berkeley and applied to speeding and crosswalk violations. My experience Tueday night reinforces that (automated) traffic enforcement in Berkeley, has tremendous potential to not only eliminate the city’s deficit, but to give Berkeley a huge surplus!  

On my walk to the meeting, I had a very close call with a car racing down the Hearst Avenue Expressway and ignoring me & another person in the Le Conte Avenue pedestrian crosswalk. When I walk my darling dog, Flower walks a few paces in front of me on her leash; and if I had been walking Flower to the UC campus this time, in that crosswalk, she’d surely have been roadkill. 

On my walk back from the meeting, I had another close call in the pedestrian crosswalk at the Oxford Avenue Racetrack, at Addison Street. I was clearly in the curb lane when the car was a half block away, speeding southbound, in the innermost lane. The car did not slow down as I entered the middle lane, so I had to halt (& consider racing back to the western sidewalk). The car ultimately skidded 20 feet as the driver slammed on her brakes just as she reached the crosswalk. She apologized and said she hadn’t seen me, despite my light clothing. She denied that she had been speeding excessively, despite the long skid, and she promised to be more careful in the future. 

Berkeley can & must become safer for pedestrians & bicyclists. Illegal and unsafe car drivers can & should finance the city’s way out of our budget mess. Car driving is a privilege, rather than a right, and drivers need to obey the laws. Without adequate traffic enforcement, car drivers apparently have no incentive to drive safely. I’d like to see automated traffic enforcement provide the catalyst to create a safer Berkeley. 

Mitch Cohen 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Jesus was a pacifist and a peace activist. He still is. 

The Jesus that I know and love is so filled with compassion that He makes special field trips to Hell, taking pitchers of ice water to those who ignore “Thou shalt not kill” signs to their own peril. 

He also brings fruit baskets to the poor. 

And He is dead-set against corporate welfare too. It’s that “eye of the needle” thing. If Jesus had staged His Second Coming last month, for instance, he would have been out protesting in Miami. And Bush, Halliburton, NAFTA and them would have had Him beaten, jailed and sent off to Guantanamo (Jesus was, after all, a Palestinian.) 

So. In Christ’s name, let’s all have a Merry Christmas, bring our troops safely home from Iraq and send Bush, Rumsfeld, Perle, Wolfowitz, Cheney and them off to fight their own deceitful sleazy wars so that it will be them, not us, who end up in Hell. 

In honor of the birthday of the Prince of Peace, may those of us who would be Christians make a solemn vow to do unto others as we would have others do unto us.  

And let’s also start to practice what we preach. 

Jane Stillwater