Don’t demonize Israel
Metro Times: I am writing to convey my utter disappointment with this publication writing such an unbalanced article about divestment (“Bucking for change,” Metro Times, May 11). As one of the leaders of the pro-Israel movement at University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and one of the organizers of the anti-divestment efforts, neither I nor any of my peers were spoken to for this article. In addition, not a single member of the Michigan Student Assembly, the body which voted against divestment, 25-11, was spoken to.
This is a time where for the first time in history there are efforts toward a true and meaningful peace in the Middle East. The leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority are working together to fight terrorism and ensure a peaceful future for both of their peoples. They are looking forward to the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the Northern West Bank this summer, the first step in the process of creating a peaceful Palestinian state. We should follow these efforts and work toward peace and collaboration, instead of criticizing and demonizing one side, Israel, in this often oversimplified conflict.
You failed to mention that in October 2002, University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman clearly declared that the university will never divest from Israeli companies. In a public statement, she stated that our campus includes a diverse population of more than 4,000 international students, and one of the largest Jewish and Arab American student bodies of any major university in the nation. The diversity of body and minds “provide[s] us with a unique opportunity and responsibility to study and debate, in an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect, the pressing issues facing our world.”
As the article mentions, divestment has been brought up on campuses across the country over the last few years. The reason why almost every large university in the country has voted down divestment, strongly opposing it, is that these student governments and university administrations understand that the divestment movement is a movement of discrimination toward Israel.
In addition, it has been stated by several members of the pro-divestment movement nationwide, including those at University of Michigan, that the goal of bringing up divestment repeatedly is not for it to pass and occur, but to draw publicity and get attention. Perhaps organizations should focus on furthering their own causes without demonizing others.
Israelis and Palestinians are working together to create a democratic Palestinian state alongside the current democratic state of Israel. We should be applauding these recent efforts to come to a peaceful agreement, not singling out one party over the other. A peaceful solution is on the horizon, and hopefully future generations will be able to benefit from the stability found in the region. —Alana Kuhn, West Bloomfield, American Movement for Israel co-chair, 2004-2005
Right about divestment
Thanks for the publishing Braden Ruddy’s “Bucking for change” (Metro Times, May 11). Comparing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the South African apartheid is not totally absurd, as Allan Gale claims. Just because defending Israel has become the norm in the U.S., Gale feels justified in attempting to cover up the racist actions of Israel.
It is no secret that blind allegiance to Israel has overrun our government institutions and leads our foreign policy, and not holding Israel accountable for their illegal occupation has been a large part of the problem. Divestment is one of the keys to holding Israel responsible.
Forcing Israel to change is a necessary step in resolving the hostilities and violence that have plagued that region of the world.
Israel’s illegal occupation and apartheid measures have become more exposed and explaining them away or justifying them should no longer be accepted. Like their Israeli neighbors, Palestinians are equally human and have the right to live freely on their own land. —Marion Mourtada, Dearborn Heights
Listen to Tutu
One Allan Gale is quoted as saying that comparing Israel to South Africa is “totally absurd.” I will take the word of Archbishop Tutu above that of Mr. Gale, and he said that apartheid South Africa was a picnic compared to Israel. South Africa never had roads on which Jews only could travel. It never had Apache helicopters sending missiles and bombs into densely populated civilian areas. It never had days and weeks in which entire towns were locked in, not allowed to leave. It never had dozens of women delivering babies at checkpoints while leering soldiers watched because they were not allowed to reach medical facilities.
I could go on, but I suggest that Mr. Gale pay a visit to the Occupied Territories before burdening the paper’s readers with his unconsidered opinion. —Miriam M. Reik, New York
Look inside the PAC
Thank you for presenting some information on what I agree is a very significant event — the introduction of the PAC structure into school board level politics (“Double vision,” Metro Times, April 20).
I was rather disappointed however at the lack of investigation and context presented in the article, leaving readers only the tame “he said, she said” press that we now equate with timid mass media. The sub-headline is also misleading, stating that “Some see Oakland County’s 20/20 PACs as a threat to schools, others view them as saviors” when the only independent voices (those not in one of the PACs or starting their own) in the article state that they find the the 20/20 PACs “disturbing” and “a very negative force.”
Here’s what I would like to see as a news consumer: When a group appears out of nowhere, is secretive about its membership and goals and has enormous funding from undisclosed sources, investigate its statements instead of just publishing them. If they say that they have a wide range of members, ask them for a list and interview some. Ask why they chose Sterling International Consulting Corporation as their PR firm (let alone how they paid for it), a business whose last notable event was an equally mysteriously obtained $600K contract for the terrorist-ridden country of Pakistan that was, in the words of its head Don Pero, “to create a favourable image for the country that is a vital ally in President Bush’s war on terror.”
I hope in the future that your editorial staff gives Mr. Kirschke the resources and motivation to investigate a story like this more thoroughly. A journalist should be pushed to pierce the clouds of mystery around groups like the 20/20 PACs, not to merely point them out. —Kelly Logan, Dearborn, firstname.lastname@example.org
Will they accept bath goods?
Mr. Lessenberry, I found your piece on Rudolfine Hendrix inspirational and heartfelt, I hope you give the same tribute to the mothers of the many other candidates who are running for mayor, as I believe all mothers are worth honoring. I hope you feel the same way. —Jamiel Martin, Detroit
As someone old enough to have been in attendance at the New York Dolls’ 1973 New Year’s Eve show at the Michigan Palace, let me be the first to nominate Serene Dominic for coronation of some sort for his “Guys In Dolls” article (Metro Times, May 11). In an age when the music biz reverberates with the sound of millionaires’ pension plans being topped up, it’s heartening to see two old scrotes like David Johansen and Syl Sylvain getting some column space, although it’s a wee bit late for Johnny Thunders, Jerry Nolan, Arthur Kane and Billy Murcia.
Let’s face it — Dominic did his homework, apparently asking Johansen all the right questions (at least in this reader’s mind) and allowing him to riff on subjects ranging from the band’s ill-advised embrace of Malcolm McLaren to his own immediate post-Dolls personal hell opening for metal bands in hockey barns to he and Syl’s reunion jaunt, which has seen them taking johnny-come-lately “garage bands” by the scruffs of their necks and thrashing them to within an inch of their sorry lives.
In their heyday, the Dolls were fueled by every substance known to man and while they never actually set the charts alight, they did to anything else that got in their way. Those two glorious albums on Mercury remain their high water mark. Being partially responsible for hair metal is their nadir. Vive Le Dolls and Vive Le Dominic! —Clark Paull, Livonia
Errata: The article “New breed of Panther” (Metro Times, May 4) should have referred to the organization founded by Marcus Garvey as the Universal Negro Improvement Association. It also should have referred to Bobby Seale as a co-founder of the original Black Panthers. The article “Bucking for change” (Metro Times, May 11), should have reported that the Presbyterian Church USA was the entity that voted to divest from companies involved with the Israeli occupation.Send comments to email@example.com