Baha'i News -- Sacramento Bee Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor

Israel's theocracy

Sacramento Bee
Published 2:15 a.m. PDT Thursday, August 29, 2002

Re "Mixed Motives," Our views, Aug. 24: The Bee claims that Israel is "the only real democracy" in the Middle East, but how can a state be defined as democratic when that state has a racial or religious test for citizenship? Israel has refused, in violation of international law, to allow the return of refugees while claiming that such a return would violate "Israel's national character." Furthermore, how can the United States, a society based (at least nominally) on equality, be a "longtime ally" of the world's current champion of apartheid?

It is essential to remember that Israel is a society that has been captured by religious extremists and that this "Talmudic Taliban" no more represents the average Israeli than President Bush represents the average unemployed Enron employee.

- Mark Schooling, Sacramento

Jerusalem's neighborhoods

Re "East Jerusalem terrorist cell busted, Israel says," Aug. 22: Like The Bee, many are under the mistaken belief that east Jerusalem is traditionally Arab. Yet as the history of Silwan (the neighborhood in which the suspected terrorist lived) demonstrates, this is far from the truth. Until the 1930s, Silwan was a Yemenite-Jewish neighborhood. The Yemenite Jews were forced out of Silwan during the pogroms that Fawaz Turki, son of a prominent Palestinian agitator, has called The Troubles of the 1930s. Since then, no Jew has lived there.

But if any Jerusalem neighborhood has a tradition it is that which Saladin articulated during the Third Crusade when he bid Jerusalem take heart in rebirth. "All the seed of Ephraim who desire may return in mirth, who are left to Mosul and Egypt's dearth, and those dispersed to the uttermost ends of the earth. May all sides gather unto her and settle within her borders."

It is a tradition that is very much alive in today's Jerusalem, where the Christian, the Indian, the Bahai, the Muslim and the Jew regularly pass one another on the ancient cobbled streets.

- Inna Tysoe, Sacramento

Palestinian malnutrition

Re "Malnutrition stalks kids in territories," Aug. 6: The significant malnutrition of Palestinian children is a very sad situation. The solution for this is very simple. The U.S. government should issue scrip instead of the cash that Arafat receives. The scrip should be spent for food and medicine in the United States only -- by the Palestinians. This way the U.S. will know how the money it gave will be spent -- not to Arafat and his administration who are unaccountable to answer how they spend this money. Also, the U.S. will benefit from the business it receives. - David Blumenthal, Orangevale

Volunteering Clinton

Re "Clinton: I'd die for Israel," Aug. 3: I find it very odd that in Bill Clinton's recent speech, he says that "\ would personally grab a rifle ... fight and die \." This is a man who used all his skills and tricks to avoid serving his own country years ago. But then, Clinton was, and still is, a great con man. After all, he's safe. Would Israel really find use for a 55-year-old rifleman with no experience (military, that is)?

- Walter G. Huecker, Roseville

South Africa peace model

Re "Let South Africa be model for Mideast negotiations," Other views, Aug 16: I am afraid that Michael Hill is under the delusion that all is well in South Africa. Unfortunately, a clearer look may indicate that the jury is still out. Ethnic violence between different tribal groups remains commonplace. Crime figures are staggering. Corruption is rampant, and the economy is in shambles. Health care is a joke, and the AIDS epidemic spreads unchecked by educational or governmental intervention.

Population groups close themselves in their townships, with the whites, middle-class blacks, Chinese and Indian groups erecting fortified and guarded neighborhoods in order to exclude the poverty-stricken majority black population. Each neighborhood shares the common features of high walls topped with razor wire, broken glass or electric fences. The police force is understaffed, underpaid and receives no respect.

The result is an atmosphere of suspicion and hatred that evokes the bad old days of apartheid. Any honest and unflinching look at South Africa would make clear that the issues of South Africa are far from solved, and therefore this is a poor model for Mideast peace.

- Timothy McCulloch, Davis

Taiwan and China

Re "Taiwan president courts China's anger," Aug. 4: Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian was quite clear when he declared, "Taiwan is not a part of another country, not a local government or a province of another country." The sub-headline completely twisted Chen's words by claiming that he stated, "Province is a separate country." Chen's point is a historical fact. Taiwan exists as a separate, autonomous country that is governed only by its 23 million people. They have chosen the path of democracy, freedom, human rights and peace with their neighbors. Since he was elected in 2000, Chen has offered Beijing numerous concessions and goodwill gestures, including his promise not to seek a permanent split as long as China doesn't attack, expanding trade and business ties with China, and his willingness to sit and discuss all outstanding issues between the two nations.

For the survival of his country, it is only right for Chen to call for a national referendum so that the people of Taiwan can exercise the right to choose their own future.

- Charles C. Chang, Gold River

The fast track railroad

I am disgusted that legislation combining five different trade bills was pushed through the House, giving the OK for fast track. Congress and the public had less than 24 hours to review the legislation. This is not democracy.

There is broad support in this country and around the world for policies that strengthen local economies and protect workers' rights, human rights and the environment. Neither NAFTA nor FTAA do that. Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement and Free Trade Area of the Americas give corporations power to sue governments if a government enacts or enforces a law that would hurt corporate profits.

Fast track would give one person, the president, the power to negotiate trade deals without congressional or public input, other than a yea or nay from Congress after a brief review. Should something as critically important as the economy, people's livelihoods, the health of the environment, the sovereignty of nations, world poverty, destruction of the world's rainforests and world political stability be given such short shrift?

- Carmen Pereira, Sacramento

Global ills, local answers

Re "Rich vs. poor: Money a key issue at U.N. summit," Aug. 26: The dispute between United Nations negotiators is the same dispute going on in Congress and the legislatures of all states writ large. Whenever government gives away money, a lot of people will line up to demand their share. However, many recipients lack concrete plans for using the funds and are unwilling to be held accountable. Poverty has been a problem for thousands of years. No government, ancient or modern, has been able to eradicate it. Yet, as a whole, the Earth's population is far better off today than ever before. Why? Not as a result of government handouts but as a result of technological breakthroughs (mostly from the private sector) and through efforts by charitable organizations.

Inefficient bureaucracy and corruption are endemic to all forms of government, and are especially pronounced in many developing countries. Taking money from rich taxpayers or rich countries and throwing it blindly at welfare recipients or Third World nations may help liberals sleep better at night, but it isn't going to do anything to solve the problem.

- Mark Androvich, Folsom

Healthy water

Re " 'Eight glasses of water' theory is all wet, some say," Aug. 20: If Dr. Heinz Valtin "undertook an exhaustive hunt" for evidence supporting the importance of adequate daily water intake he must be using a different definition of the word "exhaustive" than is commonly accepted. It took me about three minutes of Internet searching to come across Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj, in his books and Web site, offers more than enough evidence to support the theory -- not "myth" -- that adequate water intake is essential to daily and long-term health. He also discusses corrupt medical and drug industry practices that keep the general public ignorant as to the severity and danger of chronic dehydration as a way to keep us continually dependent on drugs that mask the symptoms of chronic dehydration.

- Paul Yturriago, Davis

©Copyright 2002, The Sacramento Bee

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