Letters for December 27, 2007

How others see the Promised Land
Re: “Parted like the Red Sea” (Cover story, by R.V. Scheide, CN&R, Dec. 20):

Thanks for the piece on JVP [Jewish Voice for Peace] and the utter Nazification of the Israeli government. This is essential and courageous coverage. The more people exposed to something other than varnished cliché, the better.

Shimon Osha Drobitzky
(“aka Sanford Dorbin,
surname courtesy INS”)

[You] present the protests against AIPAC as “criticisms of Israeli policy” and neglect to mention that the protesters, including JVP’s David Mandel, were calling for the dismantling of Israel. Some of the protesters were of the classic anti-Semitic variety. None showed the slightest desire for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Who wants peace? The pro-Israel counter-protesters do. That is why [you] had to use a picture of San Francisco Voice for Israel activists as the poster children for peace activists. San Francisco Voice for Israel knows that these protests outside of AIPAC events are only nominally about AIPAC and more about the existence of even a single Jewish state on the planet.

San Francisco Voice for Israel takes no position on AIPAC and its positions. In fact, at least a few of our activists present at the AIPAC events are opponents of AIPAC. What we do support is a secure Jewish state with defensible borders free from attacks of its neighbors.

Dan Kliman

As a Jew whose family came to America to escape Nazi Germany, I say that the Israeli occupation of the Palestinians, which has caused them much suffering, must end. The confiscation of the Palestinian people’s homes, farms and businesses, along with the hording of water by the Jewish settlers, is immoral.

The Arab Peace Initiative proposed earlier this year by the Saudi Crown Prince [Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz] calls for an Israeli state and a Palestinian state side-by-side. Even the Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh endorsed this plan. Haniyeh and the moderate elements of Hamas must be brought into the negotiations.

For the security of all, our government must make it a top priority to settle the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Anyone who thinks that Israel can live in peace and security while continuing the occupation is living in a fantasy world.

Walter Ballin

So, does this make us Scrooges?
Re: “Turn down the lights” (Editorial, CN&R, Dec. 20):

Taken to its logical extreme, the attitude expressed in this editorial could apply to limiting a wide range of nonessential human activities.

Just as it isn’t “necessary” to have Christmas lights or other holiday displays, it isn’t “necessary” to go to the movies, have a night on the town, attend a concert, watch a 4th of July fireworks display, fly to see loved ones in a different state, grill food outdoors on a barbecue, drive to the Bay Area for a sporting event, consume alcoholic beverages, buy new “in-fashion” clothes, or travel overseas.

A lot of things that make life more pleasant don’t always make the best economic or environmental sense.

Greg Redeker

Sir, yes sir!
Re: “Never-ending story” (Campus, by Melissa Daugherty, CN&R, Dec. 20):

Hazing is the harassing of individuals, forcing them to do humiliating tasks. Is it hazing if the individuals know they will be hazed? When willingly joining the Army, you know you could die. How is that any different from pledging a fraternity?

Matt’s Law was passed in 2006 and increases the hazing penalties from misdemeanors to felonies when serious injuries or death has occurred. At Chico State, three members of a fraternity are being charged with violating Matt’s Law. There have been no documented incidents of injury or death in the case, but somehow they are being charged with violating the law.

Hazing has become a term that is now affiliated primarily with the Greek systems at universities. Pledges rush a house, spend a semester getting “hazed,” and then become official members. While the distinctions between hazing in the Greek system, professional sports and corporate America may seem different, they really aren’t.

John Wooden, Jay Fiedler, Ashton Kutcher and Blake Nordstrom are all members of nationally recognized fraternities. Ask them if they were hazed. Ask them how fraternities shaped them to be the men they are today.

In no way am I condoning hazing at any level. But hazing should be stopped from the top down, not the bottom up. Just because California has a strict no-hazing law doesn’t mean it has to be enforced improperly.

Justin Klueger

Mine matters
Baldwin Contracting is trying to get the supervisors’ approval to have a gravel pit on River Road six miles west of town. In the process of extracting the gravel, Baldwin would eventually create a hole 70 feet deep and 1 1/2 miles long. Although the land-use element in Butte County’s general plan does allow for mineral extraction, it also states that the county’s policy is to “encourage the reclamation of lands subject to mineral extraction.”

Since the water table in this area is fairly high, the mined area will partially fill with water, so Baldwin got the bright idea that if they called this hole in the ground a “wildlife habitat” that this would fulfill the reclamation requirement, but that is absurd! You could say you’re reclaiming the land to a garbage dump or a used car lot or any number of things, but simply using the word “reclamation” doesn’t necessarily mean that this meets the guidelines of the general plan.

If you are concerned about the permanent destruction of almost 200 acres of prime farmland or about this project’s lack of compliance with the land-use policies of the county general plan, please contact your supervisors or attend the Board of Supervisors meeting Jan. 8 to let them know that you oppose this horrendous project.

Darlene Bruce

Altacal Audubon Society—a conservation and education organization serving Northern California with an emphasis on birds and their habitats—has reviewed the Environmental Impact Report for the M&T gravel project. Based upon the recommendation of our conservation director, Altacal is formally opposing the proposed project due to the negative impacts it will have on a number of local bird and animal species of concern.

We think that the community should have an opportunity to better understand the habitat and wildlife endangered by this project. To assist in this, Altacal has scheduled a free field trip Jan. 5 to the area near the proposed project. For more information, contact Scott Huber at 899-5957 or Dawn Garcia at 513-1785.

Scott Huber

Taken for grant-ed
People should realize that the incessant search for grants and funding is perhaps the biggest force acting to lower our living standards. The wasted search is followed by red tape, bureaucracy, and ultimately the inflation caused by more money chasing fewer goods.

We’re presented ideas like building $200,000-plus affordable apartment units at a time when there is so much housing that we could just buy these people a house, instead of subsidizing part of their rent. Unfortunately, giving away a house presents the same problem as giving away a grant: There has never been a short supply of self-serving beggars, fools, or busy-bodies.

Charity is for compassionate social and religious groups, not politicians and bureaucrats.

Norman Elarth