Articles by Jeffrey Goldberg and Susan Taylor Martin | Jan. 18
For Mideast peace, end the teaching of hate
Thank you, Jeffrey Goldberg, for the Perspective article, Why Israel can't make peace, and to the St. Petersburg Times for publishing it. It stirs the brain cells, as contrasted with merely strumming the heartstrings, as in the Susan Taylor Martin article (For civilians in Gaza, there's no escape from fighting). While Martin laments the plight of Gaza's citizens, and rightly so, she offers no basis on which to improve their plight. Goldberg on the other hand does, but his implied solution requires a change in ideology and religious dogma.
For once a newspaper article openly discusses the origins of Hamas and Hezbollah Jew-hatred, the true obstacle to peace. Further illuminating Goldberg's thesis is a book by Andrew Bostom, entitled: The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism, in which the writings of the Koran, Hadith and Sira on this topic are clearly advanced, along with the viewpoints of modern commentators. Only through such understanding, versus naivete, can the world community ever come to a solution on the plight of Gaza's residents, or to a larger-scale solution to jihadist terrorism worldwide.
Israel cannot solve the plight of Gaza's citizens. They tried by forcefully evacuating all Israelis from Gaza and ceding the land to the Palestinians, but the experiment was a failure, leading to the ascension of Hamas, an incessant shelling of Israel from Gaza and hence the necessity for the latest defensive war. Why the experiment failed is articulated in Goldberg's article and expanded on by Bostom. It is imperative that we all understand this.
Peace can only come when hatred ceases to be taught. This is not about moral equivalency; it is about moral behavior, and the onus must be placed squarely on those who promote hatred. To achieve Martin's implied goal of improved human condition we must heed the lyrics of Rodgers and Hammerstein, "You've got to be carefully taught," and Crosby, Stills and Nash, "Teach your children well."
Only when Palestinians cease teaching their children to hate Jews and other infidels will there be any chance for either a lasting peace in the Middle East or an end to jihadist terrorism worldwide.
Robert H. Weisberg, Tierra Verde
When you elect terrorists
I take issue with Susan Taylor Martin's article on Jan. 18. Her heart bleeds for the civilians in Gaza, but not for the innocent Jews who daily absorb rockets.
Gaza is run by a terror organization. Israel is run by responsible people. Hamas was duly elected by these very civilians whom Martin defends. Jews, on the other hand, want nothing more than to live in peace. That's why Gaza was given away in 2005, before it became a launching pad for Hamas rockets, intended to kill Jews. Martin is dead wrong in arguing that you can't blame Gaza civilians for electing Hamas to public office. Sorry, but it's a sad truth of history and international law that the people of rogue nations will get hurt when they elect psychotic despots to power.
If the so-called "Palestinians" want to become a real nation, all they need to do is put aside hatred and learn to be responsible about whom they put in power. Otherwise, they will sadly get caught in the crossfire when the "Zionist infidels" have to act in self-defense to take out Hamas.
Michael Stepakoff, Palm Harbor
Targeting the U.N.
We learned recently that Israel had attacked the United Nations headquarters in Gaza, destroying food and other humanitarian supplies that were stored there. A couple of weeks ago, they fired on a U.N. school, killing a number of children.
These are not new tactics. In April 1996, Israel attacked a well-known U.N. outpost in southern Lebanon housing over 800 Lebanese who had taken cover there. More than 100 were killed.
I don't think the Israeli army is so inept that these things were mistakes. I think it was sending the same message to the United Nations that it sent to the people of Gaza: "We are the most powerful military force in the Middle East and we are backed by the United States. So get out of our way."
Joseph A. Mahon, St. Petersburg
No tears for Gaza
Susan Taylor Martin is again writing from her extremely myopic vision of Gaza and Hamas. After picturing the poor, mistreated Gazans (having electing a terrorist government, exactly what were they expecting), she notes that the right of free passage never developed.
The reason it never developed was that the first people in line to cross into Israel were the suicide bombers seeking to blow themselves up on buses and in pizza parlors.
I have long suggested that the Israelis choke off Gaza. Stop all electricity, gasoline, water, medicine and allow them nothing. Shortly those old black-robed women will be in the streets beating Hamas with sticks. When the women get tired of all that squalor and their children dying, the problems in Gaza will start to turn around.
Lynn O'Keefe, Largo
Law of self-defense
The Palestinians, through their elected officials as well as many other groups, have declared total war on Israel, with their acknowledged goal as Israel's extermination. This is called "genocide," and no one doubts that if they had the means, they would do it.
How can any group that makes such declarations be considered anything but a pariah in the world community?
If Israel decided to completely wipe out this cancer that continually threatens them, who would blame them? This is called the law of self-defense, and it applies to nations as well as people.
Mitchell McConnell, St. Petersburg
In Pakistan the Taliban recently bombed five schools as part of its effort to prevent the education of girls. Some boys schools were also bombed. This seems disgusting and primitive from our vantage point as a Western civilization. How could they be so cruel? Were they financed by Syria? Where were the weapons made?
By the way, Israel also bombed at least two schools in Gaza during the same period, using aircraft, munitions and financing from the United States.
Mark E. Reinecke, St. Petersburg
Seniors should remember: Some income beats none
"I'm on a fixed income." "I'm a senior citizen." "I can't afford that."
Sad to say (age-wise), these three statements all apply to me.
But I read an article on Jan. 10, Families feel COBRA's sting, that comments on the COBRA program, the cost of which "is prohibitively high for many, especially when compared with average unemployment benefits." Also there have been many recent TV spots about food stamps, unemployment, downsizing and outsourcing on a national level.
This makes me think of my fellow seniors as crybabies. True, a fixed income may limit you, but you can't deny it is an income. Medicare may not be what we had, but it is health care. All we have to do is live another month and we get paid — for living! The millions of people laid off have no income, save for unemployment which, according to the article, isn't even enough to pay for health care here in Florida.
We seniors lived in a society of American goods, made in America by Americans who never considered another country as a source of anything except immigrants, and which could be a vacation destination. Many of us retired from jobs where we spent most of our entire adult life. Now many of us have stock portfolios that demand performance from companies pretty much encouraging outsourcing and downsizing. Looks like we're doing this to ourselves, huh?
Joe Brickman, Largo
Out of work, and out of patience | Jan. 18, story
Your article regarding dealing with the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation really hit home.
My son, who lives in Brandon, has been trying to talk to a "live body" at that office for three weeks to no avail. I decided to call them, just to see what it was like. Their current voice mail says "Due to heavy calls, the average wait is one hour." At that point, their phone immediately cuts you off. Not only does their phone cut you off, but there is also no actual office where someone can talk to you face to face.
Obviously no one is going to contact the unemployment office unless they have lost their job. To subject these unemployed citizens to this type of treatment is unconscionable. After reading your article and visiting their Web site, it appears they are more set up for denying a claim than allowing someone to make a claim.
Helen Dewalt, St. Petersburg
Officials get their way
To paraphrase the late Rodney Dangerfield: "We can't get no respect." Howard Troxler in his Jan. 22 column (What did they think "contract" meant?) referenced the Pinellas County School Board breaking the contract between itself and the teachers' union. Even though it was a flagrant breach, the superintendent simply stalled until it was too late to change things and then said, we're going to do it anyway.
Unfortunately, with government officials, this seems symptomatic today. A glaring example is the Florida Legislature's raiding of the Lawton Chiles Endowment Fund. Just because the state is in a financial crisis they figure it's okay to penalize the least fortunate and take from a fund that was intended for the benefit of children affected by the scourge of Big Tobacco. How is it that we're able to aid private NFL football teams to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars for stadiums, but when it comes to children and education all of a sudden we ain't got no money? I guess we can't get no respect!
Stephen L. Goodman, Tampa
Middle school teacher contract
Think of the students
Being a middle school teacher, I have been able to read a lot of correspondence within the system that Pinellas County teachers and employees have shared in reference to their opinions about teacher contract negotiations and violations.
I support the fact that our contract was violated, and there should be some resolution and accountability. In fact, I was ready to support going back to five out of six periods a day for second semester simply because that is the proper thing to do. However, one conversation with my eighth-grade son during winter break completely changed my mind.
"Hey, Mom, are they really going to change our schedules and take away one of our classes when we go back to school second semester?"
"I don't know, honey? Why do you ask?"
"Because if they do, I'm going to lose one of my favorite teachers."
My heart skipped a beat. That was enough said for me.
Let's allow our children to finish the school year with the least amount of disruption as possible and do our best to resolve this issue before the start of the next school year. After all, our students are the reason we chose to become teachers in the first place.
Janet Whedon, Clearwater
I now know why insurance costs are so high. After a major surgery, it was necessary for me to get one of those seats you put over a toilet. I was provided one by a home health care group because the one I ordered wasn't going to arrive in time. The one I ordered was $20 off eBay, practically brand new.
Then I received the statement from my health insurance on the claim from the home health care group. The cost was $212! Now I'm sure it was newer, but something I paid $20 for — and they charged $212.
I found the exact chair online, regularly $109, on sale for $97. That's a difference of $115. That is why our medical insurance is so high!
S. Bennett, Largo
Let's designate a "clothing optional" beach Jan. 17, letter
An unsavory sight
Considering the tiny percentage of Americans who really look good with no clothes on, I believe we should be spared this dismal prospect.
My sister and her husband, both very liberal free thinkers, worked for a while at a nudist resort. They still shake their heads in amazement at how unappealing people look with no clothes on.
It's bad enough we have to be reminded of the pitiful physical condition of the average American in their swimsuits at the beach. Please spare us the sight of their nude bodies.
Pete Wilford, Holiday
Let's designate a "clothing optional" beach Jan. 17, letter
An unwelcome option
My family has a long and happy attachment to Fort DeSoto Park/Mullet Key. Just before World War I, my father installed electrical generators at the fort under an Army contract. In my time I buried two whales and numerous sea turtles there as chief of the National Marine Fisheries Service Law Enforcement Division. All six of our children grew up exploring the beaches of the park. One of my sons was a lifeguard there. We now have a little wooden sailboat to teach our grandchildren to sail along the fort's northern boundary.
During all these years we have had free run of all the beaches at Fort De Soto Park with little or no concern for the safety (physical and moral) of our progeny. It will be a sad day for us and very many like us if the county should designate "clothing optional" areas of our beautiful park.
Charles M. Fuss Jr., St. Pete Beach