Letters for December 28, 2006

Charge ’em

Re “Greedy vultures” by Jeff vonKaenel (SN&R Feature Story, December 14):

As a reporter at a daily newspaper, this is something I care about. I wholeheartedly agree that readers should pay for online information. You should know that this idea got hissed when I suggested it at a Rotary Club speech I gave a while ago. But it’s the future. It’s just going to take a long, long time.

As you hinted, we have an example. Remember the term “pay TV” and how everyone hated it? It took decades for cable TV to take hold. Yet now I pay $128 a month for cable and high-speed Internet together, and so do millions of others. The same can happen for news. Nobody can report the news like newspapers, or gather “the agreed upon facts,” as you so eloquently put it. Anyone can operate a Web site—Rush Limbaugh has one!—but newspapers or their successors will own and operate the Web sites that people turn to for reliable information.

We’ll just have to charge ’em for it.

Lew Griswold

Newspapers are so B.C.

Re “Greedy vultures” by Jeff vonKaenel (SN&R Feature Story, December 14):

Who among us has not gasped in the B.C. (Before Craigslist) days when told the price of a square inch of classified advertising in the newspaper? Somebody thought they were in the printing business when they were really in the advertising business and decided not to compete in that arena. Newspapers should have invented Craigslist, but instead went along their merry way, charging incredulous prices for minuscule advertising.

Interestingly, I subscribed to a paper under their “half the newsstand price” promotion a couple of months ago. For the first four days, I only received one paper. Two of those days after I called, the paper was finally delivered way after my coffee, and the fourth day, a Sunday, even after my call, the paper never came at all. Not wanting ever to deal with the paper again, I told them not to deliver to me any more. But they got my $23. My very cordial letter advising the publisher of this problem was ignored (I was in business myself for many years, and if I was doing something that upset my customers, I considered it a blessing if a kind soul let me know).

So, the newspapers overcharge for advertising and under-deliver to subscribers. That does not seem like a recipe for success to me.

Douglas Drake
via e-mail

Reconciliation, not discrimination

Re “The Lobby” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R News, December 14) and “Carter babies the Palestinians” (SN&R Letters, December 14):

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s extremist policy positions drive U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. The lobby brands any disagreement with its extremist positions as anti-Semitism. The latest victim is former President Jimmy Carter, who is being viciously attacked because he dared to write about Israeli harassment of the Palestinians in his latest book.

In sharp contrast to the Jewish tradition of fighting bigotry, AIPAC and its legion of affiliates defend and encourage Israel’s discriminatory practices.

Unless Israel intends to pack up and move, it’s got to live where it is. If AIPAC were a true friend of Israel it would lobby the U.S. government to counsel the Israelis to abide by international laws (e.g., U.N. Security Council resolutions, Geneva and Hague conventions), make concessions and seek conciliation with its neighbors.

Brigitte Jaensch

Clearing up the message

Re “The Lobby” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R News, December 14):

It was predictable that the message would get obscured when Jewish Voice for Peace protested at an AIPAC event on December 3. The event attracted bands of flag wavers: the “Israel can do no wrong” cheerleaders in blue and white and others showing “unconditional support for the Palestinian cause,” as R.V. Scheide reported, by waving Hamas and Hezbollah flags and brandishing inflammatory slogans to demonize anything Israeli.

Amid the sideshows, JVP’s center ring must have seemed a bit boring and less photogenic. While it’s true that we eschew “unconditional” support for any warring side and reject demonization of any people, the spectrum of views on Palestine/Israel is not linear. Nor can the complexities of the conflict be reduced to a neat “balance” between two very unequal sides.

The report mentioned only one JVP slogan at the protest: “AIPAC doesn’t speak for me.” While accurate, it overlooked the fact that our action was primarily designed as one of more than 100 around the world that weekend in response to a call from Israelis and Palestinians actively resisting the Israeli occupation to focus attention on the ongoing siege of Gaza. Nearly 1.5 million Palestinians are being held prisoner in a tiny territory deprived of livelihood, power, adequate food and water. Until a tenuous cease-fire this month, they’d been subject since June to an unprecedented level of bombardment, home demolitions and other attacks by Israeli forces that left hundreds—most civilians—dead.

None of these measures did anything to achieve Israel’s ostensible goals: to free a captured soldier or stop the firing of homemade rockets from Gaza into Israeli towns, which, like all attacks on civilians, are to be condemned.

JVP joins most of the world in calling for an end to the Gaza siege and to U.S. support for Israeli occupation; to other militarist policies like the devastating summer attack on Lebanon, openly encouraged by the Bush regime; and to the latest saber rattling by Washington and Jerusalem aimed at Iran.

One of JVP’s goals is to challenge the assumption that AIPAC speaks for very many U.S. Jews, let alone all. But at the same time, we challenge the myth that AIPAC and other “pro-Israel” groups are so powerful as to actually dictate U.S. policy against “real American interests.” Fans of the Walt-Mearsheimer article last spring that Scheide mentions ignore that the United States has consistently backed corrupt militarists, dictators and oppressors worldwide for decades, even when the objects of such support lacked Washington lobbyists.

Scheide quotes me as saying that AIPAC’s operation is not “sinister or conspiratorial.” What I tried to make clear was that it is no more so than other powerful conservative lobbies. Moreover, AIPAC’s message is indeed sinister, and we actively oppose it. As for what is “way off base,” I was referring specifically to the fallacy that AIPAC actually runs U.S. foreign policy.

JVP stands for the human rights of Palestinians and Israelis alike. We’ll continue to provide active support for groups of Jews and Arabs in the Middle East that struggle for that vision of peace, justice and equality, and we’ll work alongside others for a totally different U.S. foreign policy that supports such goals in Palestine/Israel and everywhere else.

David L. Mandel, Jewish Voice for Peace

Editor’s note: David L. Mandel’s name was incorrectly spelled in the story. It has been corrected in the Web version.

Save the pike!

Re “Pick your poison” by Alastair Bland (SN&R News, December 14):

I would like to speak up for the pike and any other species of plant, animal or human that is in danger of being eradicated.

I’ve always thought it insane to massively slaughter any living being. The pike are here. What we need to grasp is that nothing stays the same. All things evolve and change. The water here is more polluted than we acknowledge; this fish should be hailed as the shark of the fresh water and embraced as being a new part of our fishing community. Anglers say the pike is a delicious meal and a great sport to catch.

If you are interested in decreasing populations, why not hold a fishing tournament or allow unlicensed pike fishing? In Alaska, they’ve invented “pike police,” in which anyone is encouraged to hunt pike and keep as many as they like. Unlimited fishing, unlimited meat; sounds like a win-win situation.

To poison a living being who has the same right to exist as any other being is absurd.

Seracy Cunningham

Scheide needs soul

Re “Live nude girls” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Feature Story, November 16):

It’s my duty as a human being to point out that R.V. Scheide should be arrested by the word police for suggesting that some kind of “intimacy” is the thing that he and other men are attempting to purchase from exotic lap dancers.

In most cases they don’t pay women for intimacy or even for the sexual experience itself (I bet Scheide can easily get that for free); they pay these economically disadvantaged women for the “no strings attached.” In fact, these are the type of men that view women’s bodies as consumable commodities. They might as well put them on the stock exchange.

And what does a consumable become after it’s been consumed? Trash. The thing Scheide and other men like him are lacking is soul, and there’s nowhere they can go to buy that.

Rhiannon Foucault