Editors, Daily Planet:
The Sept. 13 letter from Doug Fielding is not totally correct. The first meeting about the park did present the proposed plans for the park with the full-size baseball field. That was over seven years ago. I live in the neighborhood and went to that meeting. I was excited about it and looked forward to a new park in our community. I was shocked that anyone would be against a park in Berkeley.
The latest design has been revised with input from East Campus, The Early Childhood people and the Fire Department, among others. It has fantastic upgrades for the farmers’ market, including power for each stall. The closed-Derby design is clearly superior to the open-Derby plan.
The kids is my neighborhood were in ninth grade at the time the park was first proposed. They played sports in the street throughout their high school days. Now they are all moved out of the area. There are more boys and girls than ever participating in high school sports. The community benefits greatly from a big park and greenspace. I really see no reason not to build the biggest and best park we can.
This is a park that will last for many generations and many years. No houses need to be torn down, no businesses moved. Lets not be shortsighted and go with an inferior design, just to save some money in the short term. We as neighbors need to trust the school district to hire the top planners, designers and architects, and let them do their jobs. Let’s build a park we can be proud of like the Rose Garden, Live Oak and Cordonices, to name a few. These well designed parks have stood the test of time.
Beyond all the sports field issues is the fact that we have an opportunity to build a great park in a dense old city like Berkeley. Lets not get sentimental about 27,000 square feet of concrete. Close Derby and build a great park.
Editors, Daily Planet:
Roberts confirmation hearing: Let’s hope John Roberts is not an ideologue on a mission.
Do you get the feeling Supreme Court nominee Roberts is deceiving America much as George W. Bush did? We’ve had to wait five years to figure out Bush, and what he was up to. Will we have to wait another five years to figure out what Mr. Roberts is up to? He’s sure not telling anyone at the confirmation hearing.
Look how President Bush has turned America upside down over the past five years. Where is America headed? Will Roberts do the same with the judicial system?
Bush pushed his war agenda on America and now he is pushing John Roberts as Chief Justice for the Supreme Court—a flashing red light.
Editors, Daily Planet:
Walking through Sproul Plaza at UC Berkeley, the gathering point for my university, I heard a series of patriotic songs. Drawn by “God Bless America” and a country song that claims putting a boot up people’s behinds is the American way, I wandered to a series of tables where a group had set up flags, patriotic signs, and gave away Bush/Cheney stickers to passersby. These young men were getting a head start celebrating Constitution Day, Sept. 17.
Starting this year, all educational institutions across the country receiving federal money are forced to commemorate yearly the signing of the Constitution. The law was slipped into an otherwise mundane spending bill by Robert Byrd, a Democrat from West Virginia.
Constitution Day is being hailed across the country as a triumph for civic education, a law that will help supplant ignorance of the Constitution with knowledge and admiration. Andrea Neal, in the Indianapolis Star, says “the idea behind Constitution Day is to help more young Americans understand why the Constitution is special.” Others echo Neal’s enthusiasm, applauding a seemingly inoffensive inquiry into the most fundamental document of American government. Unfortunately, theory differs from practice.
What Constitution Day really means for students across America is presaged by the ways we are told to celebrate it. Pamphlets and websites are adorned with flags, the preamble, dramatic lighting, and founding fathers—all juxtaposed to evoke a feeling of awe. Constitution Day, Inc., a non-profit group promoting Constitution Day, has dedicated it to the military, and endorses the reading of the preamble across the country. The day will finish with “bells ringing across America” they say.
If the goal is to teach young people about American government, this event will do nothing to further the goal. The preamble is the only part of the Constitution that says nothing about how the government will actually work. The point of the event, it seems, is to provoke emotional reaction to the Constitution and the military.
Students need thoughtful deliberation and reasoned criticism, not chauvinistic patriotism. Constitution Day, unless done in a thoughtful manner, will only lead to guttural responses toward government policy, which is exactly the opposite of what we need today.
UC Berkeley student
Editors, Daily Planet:
Construction of concentrated low-income housing, as advocated by Randy Silverman, rent control commissioner, is a natural step as the era of rent control recedes. But every experience of large low-income projects from Chicago to San Francisco also has a tale of woe attached to it. Dispersal of affordable units in larger market-rate buildings is better for the beneficiaries and the public.
CSU East Bay, where I teach, does not endorse any political or economic model to the contrary of Glen Kohler’s statement. Berkeley succeeding as a city is the best living endorsement of the enlightened liberal politics I advocate. For that to happen the schools must be good, the crime rate low and the quality of life high even as the blessing of diversity is experienced.
Berkeley does not succeed in showing what liberal policy can achieve if our schools do not perform. Currently one-third of students are testing below minimum standards. The unique policy of non-enforcement of residency is root to why the schools are always broke yet are uncommonly well funded. A city as intellectually and artistically gifted as Berkeley simply must do better. Parent and taxpayers yearn for some forum to reevaluate this policy.
MIDDLE EAST HISTORY
Editors, Daily Planet:
Janet Sakamoto’s revision of Middle East history (Sept. 13) would make the stuff of great comic relief if it didn’t add to the expanding maw of ignorance and bigotry so prevalent in these parts.
Sakamoto would have you believe that in 1967, Nasser’s army moved into the Sinai simply to take the sun. Apparently, she isn’t aware that Nasser openly stated that his intent was the destruction of Israel. Moreover, if the U.S. saw thousands of well-armed followers of Bin Laden on its borders, how do you think this country would respond?
Later Sakamoto makes the outrageous claim that in 1948, the armies of five Arab nations moved toward the Israeli border specifically to protect the “new Palestinian state.” Ms. Sakamoto makes such a ludicrous pronouncement in utter disregard of numerous verbal and printed statements of Arab leaders stating unequivocally that their purpose was to eliminate the then embryonic Jewish state. Hey Janet, if you actually believe the Arab invasion was launched to simply protect the poor Palestinians, I have a bridge to sell you....
Now what is the source of such rich historian fiction? I once overheard pro-Palestinian propagandist Alison Weir advise those she wished to convert to read The Middle East for Dummies. Not surprisingly, Ms. Sakamoto cites the Encyclopedia Britannica—a Readers Digest for Dummies—as the source of her Middle Eastern fantasies.
Gee Janet, I’d like to think it won’t have been beyond the scope of your intellect to have cracked open any of the myriad excellent examinations of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict written by highly regarded historians. Or would that be too much to ask of a Palestinian partisan?
MORE ON MIDDLE EAST
To emphasize the core point of my recent letter, that those who dislike facts tend to sling insults, Janet Sakamoto of Albany says I “can’t help (myself) from lying,” and asks why I don’t invite readers to consult sources.
First: If Ms. Sakamoto conclusively disproves any of the other 11 statements of fact in my recent letter, I will take her to Berkeley Honda and buy her a car.
Second: I encourage anyone more interested in fact than in fundamentalism to read Politics, Lies and Videotape by Yitschak Ben Gad; Jewish Literacy by Joseph Telushkin, or Battleground by Samuel Katz.
I would also like to request that the Daily Planet cease and desist from publishing libelous character attacks against me.
STILL MORE ...
Editors, Daily Planet:
Ms. Sakamoto calls David Altschul (who I don’t know) and myself “liars” for respectively asserting that the Arabs started the 1948 War and the Six Day War. Harsh stuff. She bases her accusations on information she uncovered in the Encyclopedia Britannica (EB). Fearing that Altschul and I have been deprived of new cutting edge research, I ran to Berkeley’s new downtown library. The entire EB contains only a few scant sentences on either war, mostly in an entry entitled, “Arab-Israeli Wars.” This is a mere half-page article covering all of the wars (no wonder the last time I relied on the EB was in the sixth grade). First, the 1948 War. Contrary to Sakamoto, the EB does not say that Israel started the war, but states the order of events as (1) the Arab armies occupied Palestinian areas, then (2) they attacked and destroyed the oldest part of Jewish Jerusalem, and then (3) they marched down the valley that leads to Tel Aviv, where they were repulsed. Elsewhere, in the entry under “Israel,” the EB clearly indicates who did start the war : “On May 14, 1948, the State of Israel was proclaimed and Egypt, Transjordan (later Jordan), Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq declared war on the new country. Israel won the war.” Altschul is vindicated.
But has Sakamoto also wronged me?
When one places a person’s written words within quotation marks, it is accepted practice to use the exact words, especially when the quote is used to justify an accusation of lying. Ms. Sakamoto explicitly calls me a liar based upon the following made up quote: “The War (1967) began when Nassar sent his armies into Sinai.” My actual words published in the Daily Planet’s Sept. 2 issue were:
“Arafat’s attacks on Israel began in 1965 precisely because he did not recognize that [armistice] line, and the 1967 war was precipitated by the Arabs who felt that Israel’s true border should be the sea. The war began when Nasser famously boasted ‘I will throw the Jews into the sea.’ He then blockaded Israeli shipping (an act of war) and sent his armies into Sinai.”
The venerable EB backs me up. Under “Palestine” EB writes that the PLO was created in 1964 and was dedicated to “the destruction of Israel.” There is only one short paragraph about the Six Day War in the half page “Arab-Israeli Wars” entry. It reads in its entirety: “In early 1967 Syrian bombardments of Israeli villages had been intensified. When the Israeli Air Force shot down six MiGs in reprisal, Nasser mobilized his forces near the Sinai border. During this war Israel eliminated the Egyptian air force and established air superiority.” A brief entry under “Nasser” indicates that “war broke out after Nasser had requested the U.N. to remove its peacekeeping troops from the Gaza Strip and Sharm ash-Sheykh [i.e., Sinai], then closed the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping.” For those who desire more details than these about the lead up to war, I recommend Michael Oren’s definitive history, Six Days of War, or simply go back to archived news accounts of those days, especially the period of May-June, 1967.
With a score of 2-0, I believe that Sakamoto owes Altschul and me a published retraction and apology.