Dave Maass' "The Birthright Stuff," on his experience on a Birthright Israel trip, was puzzling. Maass seems to be pretty informed about the grave situation in Israel and what he correctly refers to as the occupied territories. However, he missed an opportunity to bring up important questions about racism--especially as it relates to Israeli settlers and the ideology a program that calls itself "birthright" promotes.
It is wonderful that young Jews are able explore their ancestors' history and traditions, but I am shocked that so few have recognized the racist and derogatory sentiments that are usually associated with the term "birthright."
A birthright assumes superiority and privilege that democratic and just societies are supposed to reject. The extremely racist settlers Maass describes in his article are part of the problem with a belief in a Jewish birthright. This birthright ironically gives non-Israeli Jews--whose families have never lived in what is Israel--more rights than Palestinians whose families are still living in Israel and the territories Israel continues to occupy.
It is unfortunate that Maass simplistically attributes extremist Israeli settlers' racism to having only seen violent Arabs. Israeli settlers living in the occupied territories live under a separate law than do Palestinians because Israel legally distinguishes people by their ethnicity and their birthright.
Fortunately, Maass' interview with a Jewish International Solidarity Movement activist ("Interview With a Human Shield") reveals the horror that Israel's commitment to the Jews' birthright has created for Palestinians. Making life better for the Palestinians will also make life better for Israelis. Accepting racism won't.
I commend you for publishing these witness reports ("The Birthright Stuff" and "Interview With a Human Shield," May 29) to the terrible circumstances which I believe are the cause of Sept. 11.
I was recently with a Women's International League for Peace and Freedom vigil in front of the Jewish Community Center with a sign that said, "Remember Rachel Cory." (Rachel Cory is an activist who was killed in the occupied territories.) I got a surprising amount of animosity, and one young man who identified himself as an Israeli asked how I knew Israel was responsible; he thought it was "hearsay." He commented that he did not need me to be his conscience; he knew anti-Semitism to the core, and walked across the road.
I think it is important to acknowledge that opposition to the occupation of Palestine by Israel is not anti-Semitic; it is pro-human rights. Women in Black has locally been making this statement since before the bombing of Afghanistan. Join us every Friday at 5 p.m. at Euclid Avenue and Speedway Boulevard
--Polly A. Connelly
Normally, I read The Weekly for laughs and a look at the ads for topless places. However, "The Birthright Stuff" (May 29) was excellent. It is Wall Street Journal caliber, and that is as high as I can go.
I am not Jewish, but I can see why people go there. However, sooner or later, the Palestine question has to be settled. Recent studies indicate the Arabs in the area are closely related to the Jews. If they could get together, they would be an economic force worth watching.
--Stuart A. Hoenig
I want to commend your staff writer, Chris Limberis, for a thought-provoking, intelligent and, yes, witty article ("Swing Shift," May 22)!
Chris Limberis has the talent to delve into the struggles of a lost woman, Nonie Reynolds, aka "Chandler," with apparent ease. This article reminds me that the media is always there to explore the darker underbelly of our basic nature with aplomb and style.
I think the quotes (from a made-up interview with "Chandler" in Over 50) were especially dazzling, especially the "prowess and stamina" quote. It was in the vein as the over-usage of "fuck" to spruce up thoughtless and ultimately boring books or films; the ingenuous use of these quotes did shock and grab one's attention.
As I wrote, Chris Limberis is an intelligent and witty writer. Anyone who can write an article skimming only the surface of a fascinating topic (why do women or men prostitute themselves for money?) is a major talent.
I am sure the Mailbag will be deluged with responses. Keep up the great work, gentlemen!
--Sarah Abigail Masse
On May 22, you published a letter from Matt Scholz challenging your decision to run an interview with Stephanie Ann Stevens about her metaphysical clap-trap ("Metaphysical Master," TQ&A May 8). You gave his letter the heading "Someone Give This Guy a Chill Pill." Yet on the very next page, not even six inches away from Mr. Scholz's letter, you published a diatribe from regular columnist Tom Danehy ("Rule Violations"), in which he talks about pissing in the coffee of a young woman who annoys him by using a cell phone in the UA Library.
Apparently it's perfectly acceptable to contemplate spraying human waste into the beverages of those who commit minor social offenses, but when someone else uses reason and articulate sarcasm to rightly chastise your paper for pandering to fools, scam artists and the self-delusional, he requires medication to improve his attitude.
Regarding Connie Tuttle's column, "The Empire Strikes," in the May 22 edition of the Tucson Weekly: Ms. Tuttle complains that money spent on "defense" takes away from funding for basic local services, including the funding of summer school. The federal government is not required to provide these basic services; in fact there is legitimate debate as to whether the federal government should provide these services on a local level at all.
The federal government is constitutionally required to protect our borders against our adversaries, regardless of their motivation for attacking us. Her use of the term "axis of evil" in referring to the Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld administration is a misappropriation of the term and cheap intellectualism; the "axis of evil" mentioned by President Bush refers to regimes that support terrorism, nuclear proliferation and genocide. It does not refer to a difference of political views.
There is also no historic basis for her claim that the United States will fall, as have all previous empires; all previous empires were either monarchies or dictatorships. Our nation (not empire) is built on a representative system of democracy, "conceived by a bunch of European white guys." Do I detect a hint of racism? What about a nation conceived by a bunch of blacks, or Hispanics, or ... women?
Ms. Tuttle harms her cause with her insulting demeanor and childish name-calling. Is "twit" the best she can do regarding our president? How does this help sway the 50 million people who voted for the twit?
I don't usually read Tom Danehy's column, but for some reason his "Rule Violations" (May 22) caught my eye.
His recent experience at the UA Library is only too typical of the general lack of propriety in many of today's advantaged youth. I can understand his outrage at this boorish teenager--chomping food and slurping her over-priced coffee while yammering on her cell phone. The singular privilege in being able to attend the university in the first place never passed through her addled brain, I am sure.
Tom's staring at her in disbelief only prompted, "Do you have a problem?" I can't help but be reminded of a TV commercial of a few months back from Booger King, Jerk in the Box or some other animal-flesh peddler. In the ad, broadcast endlessly, another desensitized moron sits down in the New York Public Library, and to the astonishment of everyone there, begins to chow down. I wonder if Miss UA saw that as model behavior, as well as similar commercials which add to the vulgarization of America.
Tom Danehy's verbal confrontation with her is what every other sensible person wants to do in similar situations but are prevented only by fear of appearing politically incorrect.
Please allow me to correct what was hopefully an inadvertent misstatement by David Euchner, chairman of the Pima County Libertarian Party, in his letter. "Real Libertarians Don't Take Clean Election $" (May 22). To quote Mr. Euchner, "(Clean Elections) is a program that takes money from taxpayers against their will and gives it to political candidates. This is campaign welfare."
Clean Elections is financed by surcharges on civil and criminal fines. The legality of this method of finance was recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Payers of these fines may also be taxpayers, but the taxpaying public at large does not pay for Clean Elections.
I agree with much of the Libertarian philosophy, but if the party finds anything acceptable about the legalized bribery otherwise known as "traditional" campaign finance, it deserves to remain a fringe movement with little popular support.
--William C. Thornton
Sometimes, I wonder: What if we just gave every store owner and landlord downtown $10 million and told them that was all they were going to get from us? That sure would have saved us a lot of money if we did that 30 years ago instead of our reckless pouring of money into revitalization of a "downtown" that basically does not exist, where we have some tattoo shops and a few bars for our past hundreds of millions in revitalization funds.
D. A. Barber has a delusion ("On Track?" May 15) that running an empty trolley through "downtown" will somehow help. Why not go ask the Fourth Avenue merchants, who are thriving because of an almost complete lack of "help" from the city during the last 40 years, about it? What helped more--the trolley or the 40 bike racks that got put in at about the same time as the trolley started running at a huge cost to taxpayers?
The "downtown" has already gotten the huge Aviation Parkway put in--a fat lot of good that did--at great expense, and lots of other features like designer stoplights, trendy brick sidewalks, the bus terminal, the $2 million dollar snake bridge to a dead-end bike path, and on and on. We got pretty much nothing in return. The collection of struggling bars and restaurants and a few galleries could easily fit in a medium size strip mall and they would all see significantly better sales.
"Downtown" is far too small and poorly located to ever really thrive again. We would do far better just condemning the properties and making a large park than we will giving yet more welfare to those public money junkies.