Israeli slayings shock across borders | March 15
Incitement to terrorism must be stopped
Last weekend's horrific massacre of a Jewish family in the West Bank is yet another chilling reminder of the depths of Palestinian hatred for Israelis and Jews. Three children — an 11-year-old, a 3-year-old and a 3-month-old — were stabbed to death in their sleep. The parents were killed minutes later.
The Palestinian terrorist who committed this heinous crime is still on the loose, hiding, to be sure, with the help of nearby villagers.
At a time like this, words can hardly capture the outrage and shock felt in the Jewish community. No dispute justifies the slaughter of a 3-month-old baby. No political conflict justifies stabbing to death three innocent children and their parents.
Yet, Palestinian and Arab media incite this violence on a daily basis. Palestinians are inundated with anti-Semitic images and degrading portrayals of Israelis. Palestinian school books demonize Jews and lionize "martyrs" — those who kill them.
The first step in any terrorist attack is the dehumanization of the "other." In this case, that dehumanization is being carried out by Israel's supposed partner in peace — the Palestinian Authority. The international community must call on the PA to immediately end the incitement in its official media outlets and in schoolbooks.
At a time of relative calm in Israel, when our eyes should be fixed on a final settlement to this conflict, we are instead reliving its darkest days. We pray that all Israelis and Palestinians come together to condemn the massacre of the Fogel family, find the terrorist behind it, and begin preparing for real peace — by ending the incitement to violence and by unequivocally denouncing attacks on civilians.
Brian Taub and Mitchell Drucker, co-chairmen, Jewish Community Relations Council of Tampa, Tampa
Tampa City Council
Unfinished business: panhandling, elections
As I prepare to leave the Tampa City Council, I want to emphasize two issues the new council should take up: panhandling and moving city elections to November.
The Hillsborough County Commission has passed an ordinance on street solicitation, and it is time for the city to act. My motion to discuss repealing the city's solicitation ordinance and putting Tampa under county jurisdiction — which would help police enforce this important public safety measure — was unfortunately not seconded.
Street solicitation and panhandling is first and foremost a public safety issue, and we must address it before anyone else is seriously injured or killed.
I also brought before the council the idea of moving city elections from March back to November to increase voter turnout and to save the city more than $1.4 million.
I hope the incoming council will take up these issues.
Joseph Caetano, Tampa City Council, District 7, Tampa
U.S. too passive
I remember President Barack Obama saying that Moammar Gadhafi should leave, but he has done nothing to facilitate that. There was talk of a no-fly zone, but nothing has been done to protect the people from the bombing and strafing of Gadhafi's planes. All the rebels' gains are being reversed.
I also remember a story about a guy named Nero, who "fiddled while Rome burned." Is Obama golfing while the Libyan people die?
Dr. Jim Bardsley, Madeira Beach
To fix our schools, treat teaching as a profession | March 15, commentary
Where are administrators?
Is no one reading between the lines of Joel Klein's comments? He writes, "Critics argue that we cannot fairly evaluate teacher performance, so the current lock-step system is the best we can do. That's ridiculous."
Well, if administrators are in fact able to fairly evaluate teachers, then why are they not doing it? If a teacher receives poor evaluations in the first three years in a school district, that teacher would not be granted tenure. Unlike what Klein said on 60 Minutes — that to receive tenure, all a teacher has to do is be able to breathe — a teacher is granted tenure by the district administration, and then only after years of observations and evaluations.
Simply put: If a teacher is not good enough, the district does not grant tenure. If there is a problem with a teacher who has been granted tenure, then it is the fault of the administrators tasked with evaluating candidates.
Marilyn Thayer, St. Petersburg
Clinton pledges millions in aid, incentives to Egypt and Petraeus favors U.S.-Afghan bases March 16
These two headlines caught my attention. Why are we spending millions that we don't have to assist other countries? Let's face it: It's time we stop spending our children's and grandchildren's future by supporting other countries.
We know too well that establishing bases in other countries never ends. We still have bases in Germany, Korea and many other countries. It's time to bring our troops home and deploy them along the Mexican border to help us stop the drug lords and illegals from entering our country.
Doris Houdesheldt, St. Petersburg
Sheriff lines up job handoff | March 13
Bravo to David DeCamp for this article. I am surprised that the public seemed to be unaware of how the power brokers actually conduct business. What I am shocked by is the arrogance with which it is carried out.
John Pikramenos, Tarpon Springs
Upholding the rule of law | March 16, commentary
During the last election cycle, we all heard politicians promising to listen to the people. I definitely recall people clamoring for jobs and spending cuts. I can't for the life of me remember anyone protesting that our country or state is falling apart because too many people are voting. Is it only a coincidence that smaller voter turnout is always better for Pam Bondi's political party?
James Archer, Clearwater