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‘CONCERNED' & 'PERPLEXED' BY PALESTINIAN ARTICLE

Editor,

As a new resident of Savannah and avid reader of Connect Savannah, I am concerned that your recent piece “Abrahams Children, Too” was not a balanced and informative cover story on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, but rather an interview with supporting editorial content.

I was perplexed to find strategically omitted facts as well as very little historical background. As a guest and member of the International Solidarity Movement, Mr. Reed should be defined as a Palestinian activist -- not a “peace activist.” According to the Mission Statement of the ISM, it supports the Palestinian national struggle through non-violent means yet recognizes the armed struggle “as their right.”

I was especially interested why you didn’t press Mr. Reed as to why he did not meet with citizens inside the State of Israel other than the Israeli members of ISM he met in the territories? Reed

admits that his trip was not “objective” -- why is that okay? There is no information in the story about Israeli and Jewish groups that work for peace in the region -- especially those who attended the Freedom March.

The structure of the interview allows Mr. Reed act as de facto reporter. He states incorrect facts about the militant Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. According to the Council for Foreign relations the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade was responsible for at least six suicide bombings from 2002-2003. By many people’s standards, this is not the work of an “armed resistance” but rather the work of a terrorist organization.

Reed later discounts the militant (aka terrorist) threat to Israeli civilians as a military “rationale.” Even President Abbas categorically denounces all violent attacks against Israeli civilians and is openly working to stop the suicide bombers as well as arms smuggling.

Finally, you allow Mr. Reed to provide misleading information about Jimmy Carter’s involvement in the recent Palestinian Authority election. President Carter is internationally respected as an unbiased election observer. He observed that access to the post offices in East Jerusalem was fair. Jimmy Carter negotiated an agreement that would allow Palestinians to vote in post offices in East Jerusalem in an effort to provide a compromise that would not violate any policies or laws of the democratic legislatures of Israel or the PA. This was the same compromise supported by the PA in the previous municipal election.

I am truly concerned that a progressive publication reporting in such a conservative community would provide so little educational content on such an important topic. It has a responsibility to its readers and advertisers to educate.

Moreover, the article seems to be advertisement for Reed’s weblog which is mentioned at the beginning as well as the end of the article. Why don’t you provide links to other historical sites and peace activist organizations?

Paul Hackner



Editor’s Note: For readers who missed the article in question, we wanted to stress that Mr. Hackner is correct when he says it was “an interview with supporting editorial content.” We made no effort to disguise that fact.

We do want to acknowledge two errors of fact on our part: 1) The “green line” is the 1948 cease-fire line that created the areas now known as the “West Bank” and the “Gaza Strip”; it is not the same as the “Wall,” as we implied in the article. And 2) the Christian Peacemaker Team helped the International Solidarity Movement to design its training program, but the administration of that training is

done by the ISM, not the CPT.



DRUG INDUSTRY CONTINUES HYPOCRISY IN VIOXX CASE

Editor,

Last week an FDA panel voted to allow continued sales of Vioxx-type pain relievers potentially linked with thousands of deaths. Pleas by users of the drugs that the medication was essential to the quality of their life -- relieving severe pain and continuing discomfort -- were cited as being central to the vote.

Horsefeathers! For more than a decade people using marijuana as medicine have made similarly compelling pleas for regulatory compassion. Federal medical marijuana policy has remained bitterly hostile.

The lobbying and economic clout of the pharmaceutical industry is a better candidate for the cause of this outbreak of compassion. One basic difference is that potentially poisonous substances spawned by science are regulated by and subject to policy set by panels of health industry participants.

The criminal justice system, on the other hand, regulate marijuana and hemp, substances with millennia of service as vital medicinal, cultural and renewable industrial resources (rope is only one example).

A neat conspiracy case can be made for determination of such critical policies as health care and energy, maybe even defense/aggression, by powerful industrial and commercial interests. It is probably more precise to say that such interests have entwined themselves in the economic and policy fabric and are bound to be represented in any policy decision. Hundreds of thousands of sufferers benefiting from use of medical marijuana are not nearly so well represented in the cloth of policy.

How many citizens does it take to make as much noise as a single corporation? How many should it take?

Jess C. Henderson



BUSH SETS CLIMATE FOR ABUSE

Editor,

Just as tempe (or “time”) is a key factor in chess, climate is also key to leadership. The kind of climate a leadership sets creates much of what comes from that leadership.

Take for instance the Democratic Convention in Chicago back in the 1960s; rioting occurred in the streets. Some people blamed the rioters, some the police for the violence.

However, the climate that Mayor Daley set of permissiveness of police violence was at the heart of the rioting. Had restraint and sophisticated methods of crowd control been used, the scene would not have gotten as crazy and bloody as it did.

In the same vein, the Bush administration had set a climate for prisoner abuse. Had Bush and company not begun by claiming that terrorists fell outside the terms of international standards for humane treatment of prisoners, the abuses that have cropped up not only at Abu Ghraib but also at Guantanamo as well as other prisons would not have blotted America’s image.

The Bush administration sought not to adhere to ethical codes on treatment of prisoners but rather to get around those standards. The climate Bush set permitted guards to mistreat and abuse prisoners.

What the Bush administration would like us to believe is that the torturers were just a “bunch of bad apples.” Some would even want to lay the blame on the terrorists for bringing on such extreme measures of mistreatment.

Yet the blame lies not with the terrorists or the guards just as it did not lie with the rioters or police in Chicago. No, the blame lies with the Bush administration for the climate it created in permitting prisoner abuse.

Will Strong



TWO LOCAL PROFILES

Editor,

A Savannah - Chatham County profile:

• Gourmet Food Choices: Pig picking, Lowcountry boil plus three sides (grits, coleslaw, french -- pardon me -- freedom fries)

• Transportation Choice: Pick up trucks equipped with gun rack, Confederate flag and cell phone.

Suburban island living (Wilmington, Skidaway, Dutch, etc., private gated communities) Priorities:

• Golf courses, groups, image, prestige

• Food Choices: Imported Brie, wines (must be corked), sushi, shrimp and Southern Alliance night, pig picking, Lowcountry boil, definitely freedom fried.

• Transportation Choices: Golf carts, Mercedes and Lexus SUV’s, Hummers, Jags and BMW’s (all must be leased and have cell phones).

• Necessary Services: Abundance of banks, stockbrokers, financial advisors, consultants (shades of our government) and take-out foods.

Sal Miceli





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