Letters for November 27, 2014
Comments on the commentary
Re “Peace for Israelis and Palestinians” (Guest comment, by Michael Leitner, Nov. 20):
Chico State recreation professor Michael Leitner says that Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005—hence, the massacre of 1,462 Palestinian civilians last summer had nothing to do with “occupation.” Instead, the slaughter was precipitated by the actions of missile-firing, Israel-hating terrorists. There is no other explanation for the actions of Hamas—they just hate Israel.
Leitner fails to mention the fact that while Israelis call it “disengagement,” they have maintained absolute control of Gaza’s borders, airspace, coastline and import-export since 2005. Gaza is a virtual concentration camp, with almost 2 million Palestinians imprisoned by the Israeli military. Anticipating disengagement, in 2004, it was stated by then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s chief of staff, Dov Weissglass, that this move would allow Israel to “freeze” the peace process. And frozen it remains, as Israel continues to steal more land and build more illegal settlements in the West Bank.
Setting aside the issue of whether Leitner’s “leisure research” is a legitimate university-level pursuit, who could object to anyone organizing soccer matches between Jews and Arabs? Nonetheless, promoting the idea that peace will be attained through recreational activities—while Israel violates the most basic codes of morality and justice—is just playing games.
I also strongly condemn the violence perpetrated by Hamas. I oppose the killing and maiming of innocent civilians by whomever commits this. Israeli forces killed far more people in Gaza (not all “human shields”), while very few Israelis died from attacks from Hamas.
Michael Leitner ignores the fact that Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, in calling for two states and peace, has bent over backward to seek peace with Israel. Unfortunately, all Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition partners want is to grab more land for more settlements, and they will never agree to a Palestinian state.
A peace agreement between Israel and the PA in the West Bank would force Hamas in Gaza to agree to the same, or they would lose power there. How many Israeli settlers have been hunted down and prosecuted by Israel for hate crimes against Palestinians, including the torching of a mosque? Virtually none. This was reported in the Israeli periodical Haaretz.
Mr. Leitner claims to be “pro-Israeli/pro-Palestinian” but then goes on his pro-Israel diatribe. Clever. I assume this is Part I of a two-part commentary. In Part II, Mr. Leitner, please address:
Israel’s divide-and-conquer policy responsible for its supporting Hamas’ founding and Israel’s terror-bombing of Gaza following Hamas/Fatah June 2014 unity agreement; connection between U.S. refusal to call for nuclear-free Middle East and Israeli nukes; why PM Sharett claims Israel has a policy of “state terror”; why PM Begin and Gen. Gur claim Israel makes no distinction between military/civilian targets; what is the Dahiya Doctrine and why did Gen. Galent say it will “send Gaza decades into the past”; documentation of Israeli ethnic cleansing policy in PM Ben-Gurian’s diary; how the Iron Dome is a video game “sound and light” show that hypes its success, guaranteeing more U.S. taxpayer funds; what Israelis mean by ‘mowing the grass’; why Israel bombs Lebanon with 4 million cluster bombs as a truce approaches; why Israel uses chemical weapons; Israel’s illegal settlement policy and water; Israeli redefinition of “occupation,” which if applied means the Nazi’s did not “occupy” their concentration camps. Fair and balanced. Look forward to it.
What strikes me about Mr. Leitner’s guest comment was not what he said but rather what he failed to mention. He was in Israel during Israel’s massacre in Gaza last summer, and describes very clearly the fear felt by Israelis as Hamas fired 5,000 rockets into Israel, and killed 66 Israeli soldiers and six civilians, including a child, while at the same time Israel killed 2,200 people in Gaza, including 519 children. Never mentioned was Israel’s long history of driving Palestinians out of their homes at gunpoint, and killing or imprisoning those who try to fight back.
Leitner claims that Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005. He failed to mention that Israel has completely blocked all of Gaza’s borders and coast. Israeli gunboats fire on Palestinian fishermen if they get more than 3 miles from the coast. Palestinians returning to Gaza have to pass Israeli soldiers who might force them to wait several weeks or even refuse to allow them to return home. Suppose a foreign power blockaded America’s ports? Would we not fire rockets at them until they lifted the blockade?
Professor Leitner does not seem to understand the causes of this conflict.
Dear Congressman Doug LaMalfa: President Obama’s executive action regarding undocumented aliens is not “amnesty” as most Americans would understand it. Obama’s order is “deferred action” or, more accurately, “deferred deportation” under the prescribed conditions he set out for the period of his presidency—nothing more, nothing less, and I applaud it. I wonder how many undocumented aliens will apply since it is only good for at most two years and a little less than two months and there is no guarantee that a subsequent president will continue the policy.
Mr. LaMalfa, if you think you can force Obama to deport anyone, try. Deportation is an authority residing exclusively in the executive office and he exercises it with wide discretion. And, as President Andrew Jackson said in a letter to his friend John Coffee: “the decision of the Supreme Court has fell still born, and they find that they cannot coerce Georgia to yield to its mandate ….” In other words, where is the Supreme Court’s army to enforce a decision requiring Obama to deport anyone, should it so order. Of course, nothing stops you from proposing a comprehensive immigration bill with Obama’s veto power in mind.
Our national bird is an ill eagle.
Stephen T. Davis
Dissing the progressives
Re “Merger stalls” (Newslines, by Howard Hardee, Nov. 20):
The Chapmantown neighborhood is one of the oldest in Chico. It was where the working class lived when the Bidwells were still alive. The early founders of Chico adjusted the city boundaries to deny Chapman citizens the right to vote for City Council. At the last council meeting, Democratic Party operatives Jane Dolan and Bob Mulholland broke various procedural rules, such as speaking over the allotted time limit, during their successful effort to get the four Democrats on the council to vote against giving Chapman citizens the right to vote.
Later in the week, President Obama gave undocumented immigrants with children born here the ability to stay and raise their children in the only home they have ever known. I find this moving, as one of my ancestors came here with John Bidwell as an undocumented immigrant, and the Mexican authorities allowed him to stay. Guess which Democratic Party I am proud to be a part of? It’s not the Dolan-Mulholland one.
Topics like this are very tough for me to take a position on because I ultimately want individuals to decide their own future instead of unelected bureaucrats and/or political elitists who often demand that they know what is best for everyone. But I also would imagine that the nitrate contamination issue probably isn’t extremely overexaggerated like most Big Government progressive agendas often are.
The main thing that caught me by surprise was that I would have never guessed progressives like Bob Mulholland, Jane Dolan, Tami Ritter, Randall Stone and Ann Schwab would have been so upset about unelected bureaucrats (LAFCo) and state politicians telling us what we can and cannot do in Chico and Butte County!
I guess they don’t like being on the other end of the authoritarian sword? I wonder if they are now thinking more like Libertarians and possibly State of Jefferson supporters instead of continuing to support Big Government Sacramento bullies. And what a predictable surprise that Scott Gruendl would potentially get us into yet another lawsuit before he officially leaves the council.
‘Be here now’
Re “Bad-news bearer” (Greenways, by Evan Tuchinsky, Nov. 13):
Guy McPherson spoke about climate change at Butte College. Though McPherson is sometimes dismissed as a doomsayer, I was intrigued by his paradoxical blend of dire scientific information predicting environmental demise mixed with a Zen perspective.
McPherson showed several scientific graphs of the irreversible nature of carbon and methane factors driving climate change, and shared quotes from scientists. His recommendation for what people do in the face of the potentially severe environmental havoc ahead amounted to, “Be here now.” At the heart of McPherson’s climate “wake-up-call” message is how now, more than ever, humanity needs to be present.
By embracing the seriousness of what humanity is facing, we can let go of things that don’t matter and prioritize pursuing those relationships and activities that provide the greatest meaning and joy. When time is short, it is liberating to let go of unfulfilling pursuits.
Could being in the present moment and doing something that sounds as trite as “follow your bliss” help us cope with the climate upheaval many scientists believe we are on the cusp of? Whether you agree with his scientific conclusions or not, his message encourages all of us to follow our hearts, re-evaluate our priorities and work together to meet the challenges ahead.
Overpopulation and immigration
Re “Ebola’s a gift” (Letters, by Nathan Esplanade, Nov. 13) and “How callous” (Letters, by Ani Sky, Nov. 20):
Many are unable to foresee future results of what an overpopulated world, poverty and a limited concern for the environmental capacity can bring upon us. Mr. Esplanade’s letter may well have been callous, but was certainly very astute, pointing out the roll a disease such as Ebola will have in elimination of humans, in an inevitable global pandemic. Overpopulation will bring us to extinction.
President Obama’s recent executive order concerning illegal immigration underlies just this situation. His basic premise was that we cannot monitor and regulate our national border. Our country was invaded by already overpopulated countries. Since the 1970s, when the quiet invasion began, we have been overrun with the masses of downtrodden. While we played world policeman, we neglected to police our own country from intruders.
Our political system needs to be improved, because we are not self-governing at all when capitalism and corporate control rules. Organized religion is also a big player in this mess.
We must end immigration into this country. Its time has come. Any illegal immigrant should concede to sterilization to stay here, or instead have a choice to return to their country of origin. Sadly, I know of no easy answers.
More on the Middle East
I am distressed at the rising violence in Jerusalem in recent days and weeks. It is clear that Palestinians are being driven to despair with the continuing Israeli takeover of their lands, their homes, their places of worship, their lives. With despair comes violence. Whatever nonviolent attempts Palestinians make to promote peace are thrown in their faces by nonstop arrogant actions of Israeli settlers, the Israeli army, the Israeli government.
Atrocities committed daily by Israeli forces against Palestinians are rarely reported in the news. There is no end in sight. There will never be peace as long as Israel continues to perpetuate violent oppression against the Palestinians.
The United States funds Israel with over $3 billion in military aid, much of it used to terrorize innocent Palestinians, while President Obama voices lukewarm disapproval and Congress remains silent. We Americans are funding this horror. In the name of peace and compassion, tell the White House and Congress, they must break the hold of the “special relationship between U.S. and Israel.” It’s time to end U.S. aid to Israel until Israel ends this brutal occupation. Please let them know it’s time for a change! White House: www.whitehouse.gov/contact, 202-456-1111. Congress: 202-224-3121.
Beware the bubble
Our financial institution’s policies are destroying the middle class in our country.
The policies are for now benefiting the 52 percent of the population that own the right stocks. I believe stocks are one of the riskiest investments and they are flourishing only because of the actions of the Federal Reserve.
The fed keeps interest rates low, meaning the 48 percent of the population not in stocks is losing money each year on their savings; they are encouraged to borrow and gamble in the markets. The fed also lends money at .75 percent to financial institutions that are now considered FDIC-insured banks. This includes the big boys like Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, etc. Since the money is nearly free to them, they have no qualms about gambling with it. They also know their losses will be covered.
Stocks are a bubble waiting to pop.
Pensions are the problem
Again, Chico police employees put more money into local campaigns than any other group. In addition to the Chico Police Officers’ Association, former police Chief Mike Maloney formed his own PAC, allowing police employees to get around rules limiting contributions.
The new council majority will negotiate with a police department asking for 5 percent raises as well as payment of various benefits currently paid by employees. The city already pays over 25 percent of their pensions while most police employees pay 9 percent. Salaries in the police department average over twice the local median income.
Police employees continue to complain they are understaffed, ignoring practical suggestions to lower their salaries to reasonable amounts and pay a more rational share of their own pensions in order to loosen up money for new hires. Despite an obvious conflict of interest, the proposal still includes a provision that the city collect union dues from employees who do not wish to be union members, this money being poured into campaigns at election time.
The city is currently suffering “liabilities” over $75 million, about $50 million of which are pensions. We’ll soon see how new council members installed with CPD money will react to the cops’ demands.