Philly vigil

In response to Tim Wheeler’s article, May 27, with a theme of “Support Our Troops, Bring Them Home” (PWW 5/27-6/2):

Since Dec. 7 (Pearl Harbor Day) people have gathered in front of the Unitarian Society of Germantown in Philadelphia with signs asking cars to “honk against war.” Almost every vehicle does!

Demonstrators from local religious and secular organizations will continue this peace vigil every Wednesday from 5 to 6 p.m. and expand into other high-traffic areas until we get our troops home!

June Krebs

American Jews and Israel

Growing up as Jews in America right after World War II and concurrent with the founding of Israel in 1948, most of us accepted without question the “cause of Israel.” We planted trees there, gave money when various crises developed and otherwise were loyal to a nation we never had visited and whose citizens we rarely if ever had met. “Israel, right or wrong” was our unspoken mantra.

Over time, it became clear to some of us that we had to re-examine our attitudes toward Eretz Yisroel, that perhaps its behavior not only was less than perfect in its relations with its neighbors but was, in fact, of quite questionable morality and potentially dangerous to regional and world peace.

We began to view Israel as America’s client state in the Middle East and joked that things would be simpler if America simply made Israel its 51st state. After all, most Israelis speak English, and Yiddishisms and Jewish food pervade American cuisine.

Susan Webb’s opinion page piece on Israel (PWW 5/27-6/3) should be read by all American Jews (and non-Jews) with an interest in Israel and in peace in the Middle East.

While the picture is as clouded as ever, it is quite clear that anyone interested in world peace and social justice for all must carefully examine her/his views on Israel and realize that blind loyalty to Israel no longer will do and that one no longer can look through an outmoded, outdated and far too narrow window upon a tumultuous, complex and ever-changing Middle East and world. The olive branch of peace does not necessarily grow on trees planted in Israel by American Jews.

Willard B. Shapira
Minneapolis MN

Blaming Carter?

I just got an e-mail asking for my support in censuring “The President.” Hey, I’m all for that! So I clicked on the link. But this group wasn’t referring to President Bush. They were talking about President Carter!

“Since leaving office, President Jimmy Carter has repeatedly undermined U.S. foreign policy, criticized the missions of men and women of the United States Armed Forces, as well as embracing known terrorists and terrorist organizations,” stated www.censurecarter.com.

They gotta be kidding, right?

Now that “The Decider” has clearly botched our foreign policy just as surely as he botched Katrina disaster relief by gutting Clinton’s outstanding FEMA program, the Bush bureaucracy has gotta find someone new to blame.

It’s all Jimmy Carter’s fault!

Now why didn’t the rest of us think of that?

I got an idea. How about we blame George and Condi and Powell and Rumsfeld and Cheney, the people who actually made all these rotten decisions? Sorry, Jimmy. No blame for you. Maybe next time.

Jane Stillwater
Via e-mail

Education is not a commodity

Marcella Velasquez learned she cannot not receive an Arizona General Resident scholarship because she came to Arizona at age 6 without immigration documents.

Below is a letter I sent to the Arizona Daily Star:

I am writing to respond to the many letters written about Marcella Velasquez, our recent high school graduate.

Some writers view this hapless girl as wasting a precious resource that is in short supply. To view education in this manner is to mistake it for a commodity. It is natural that people have this view since in the present multinational monopoly corporate culture all things in this world are commodities. We are rushing headlong towards insuring that, like any commodity, education has as high a price as possible. Before long, market dictates will cause the closings of universities and colleges, reducing the supply of education.

This happened to hospitals over the last 40 years as health care was commoditized. We have achieved the state in which health care is extremely expensive and millions of Americans die needlessly on the altar of corporate maximum profits. Education is a social function of society, not a commodity.

Jim Hannley
Tucson AZ

Relief for gas pains

With the real cost of gasoline now well above $10 a gallon — see web site (www.icta.org/press/release.cfm?news_id=12), and with “average” automobile ownership and operation costs over a lifetime now zoom-zooming past $500,000 (half a million dollars — you do the math), a few auto-related energy conservation reminders may be helpful:

Go car-free (see savings above); go carless; buy smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles and rent up or larger as needed; drive less; ride-share; trip-link or group errands; negotiate a fuel inefficiency retail price reduction for less than cost-optimally fuel-efficient vehicles; urge the auto industry to stop fighting reasonable fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emission standards and to adopt long-proven, cost-effective fuel efficiency technologies for new vehicles which would save consumers 25 percent or more in fuel costs today; support comprehensive public transportation and auto-alternative programs, for others if not for oneself.

Create your own auto and energy fuel conservation list and keep it handy. Share it.

Rand Knox
San Rafael CA