Monday, March 19, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Tuesday's letters: Israel's deadly system of apartheid

Israeli troops expand Gaza ground mission | July 19

Israel's deadly system of apartheid

I had just finished reading Max Blumenthal's latest book, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, when the news appeared that a 16-year-old Palestinian with relatives in Tampa had been brutally killed by Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem. Later I learned about the inhumane beating and unjust arrest of a 15-year-old American boy of Palestinian origin by Israeli police. I was horrified to find out that it was a student from my U.S. government class on vacation to reconnect with family.

In Blumenthal's book, he documents an organized assault on civil liberties by Israel's current political leaders and the emergence of a state-funded religious nationalism in which Orthodox rabbis publish books on how and when to kill Gentiles. Israeli parliamentarians call for the expulsion of Palestinians or their genocide, while mob violence targets Palestinians and African asylum-seekers because government officials consider them "demographic threats" to Israel. Young boys, men and sometimes even women are yanked from their homes in nightly raids by the Israel Defense Forces and kept in prison without charges for months and years. Nonviolent, peaceful protesters in the West Bank are attacked daily with rubber bullets, tear gas and sometimes live bullets.

Countless airstrikes by Israeli defense forces are currently killing hundreds and maiming thousands of Palestinians, mostly civilians, just as Operation Cast Lead in 2008 killed 1,400 Palestinians and left Gaza in ruins. This is the face of Israeli occupation. It is racist, oppressive and a system of apartheid with its "Jewish-only" roads and tall separation walls.

Pilar Saad, Tampa

Israeli troops expand Gaza ground mission July 19

Palestinians to blame

Palestinian leaders are sacrificing the lives of their own people in their zeal to kill Jews and destroy Israel. They launch rockets (over 1,000 in one recent week alone) from thickly populated areas, then hide among women, children and the disabled. Before Israel responds, it repeatedly warns Gaza residents to get out of the way. But Hamas reserves its shelters and tunnels to hide its terrorist leaders and smuggle in weapons.

Israel developed the Iron Dome and a network of shelters to defend against repeated attacks by its neighbors, with the result that there is little footage of sobbing Israeli women and children. Instead people read daily about Gaza deaths without understanding the reasons why these people die while Israelis survive.

How to end the carnage? No doubt many would like Israel to commit suicide by laying down arms to placate angry terrorists. The alternative is for Palestinians to stop attacking the Jews, and use the substantial monetary aid they receive to build a decent life for themselves.

Liz Drayer, Clearwater

Drinking and popular culture

Stop glamorizing alcohol

"I like us better when we're wasted,/It makes it easier to fake it/The only time we really talk,/Is when our clothes are coming off/I like us better when we're wasted …"

These are the opening lyrics to a current hit on the radio titled Wasted, sung by Tiesto. I am a rising senior at Johns Hopkins University pursuing a public health degree and applying to medical school. Over the past three years of college I have witnessed many of my peers throwing up from hangovers and telling stories of how they do not remember the night before after getting "wasted." I've seen them anxious to get a morning-after pill, worried they may have been taken advantage of.

I am sickened by the catchy tune accompanied by degrading lyrics in this song. It gives the wrong idea about alcohol and seems to glamorize drinking to excess. It also promotes the idea that it is okay to use alcohol to escape from reality.

Why can't singers and songwriters use their influence to promote healthy lifestyles? This could help the current alcohol abuse problem among all people — including those who are underage.

Taylor Wiseman, Tampa

Florida judge okays gay marriage | July 18

Tolerant Christianity

I was thrilled to read in the Times that Judge Luis Garcia ruled Florida's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. I was dismayed that your reporters chose to quote only one Christian source, Anthony Verdugo of the Christian Family Coalition. Verdugo is a loud voice for a conservative Christianity that is unwelcoming and exclusive.

If your reporters quote a politician, they ask for a response from the other side. I suggest that you take the same approach with Christians. For example, the United Church of Christ passed a resolution in 2005 affirming marriage equality for all. My congregation, Lakewood United Church of Christ, welcomes LGBT Christians into the full life of our congregation and has done so for years.

So please, if your reporters must find Christian sources to quote, then I suggest that they look beyond the loud preacher who makes a sensational story. In short, your reporters should dig deeper; don't go for the easy quotation. There are plenty of inclusive, loving Christian sources. We just don't scream as much.

Mark Gibson, St. Petersburg

A big step for marriage equality | July 18, editorial

All marriages not equal

Once again, the Times uses the words "marriage equality" to herald a court decision against the position of most Americans. There is no equality between heterosexual and homosexual marriages. A homosexual marriage, by definition, will never produce children without outside help and tears a hole in the traditional American fabric of marriage.

Homosexual marriage is not about equal rights, since homosexual marriage is not equal to heterosexual marriage but is about redefining marriage. The court's decision even acknowledges it is flying in the face of majority opinion in America.

Christopher Martinez, St. Petersburg

Rare surplus for budget | July 17

Try some prudence

The good news: Pinellas County has a surplus due to higher property values. The bad news: Like children, the commissioners scramble to find ways to spend it. Why not exercise a bit of common sense and save this money for the next crisis? Heavens, perhaps a tax cut may even be possible.

Marilyn Renner, Dunedin


Monday’s letters: Protect Floridians’ right to privacy

People push for changes at Constitution hearing | March 14Protect Florida’s right to privacyI attended the Constitution Revision Commission’s public hearing at USF St. Petersburg last week. I was there because I thought it was important to have m...
Published: 03/18/18

Sunday’s letters: Effort to stem pet cruelty pays off

Puppy millsEffort to stem cruelty pays offThank you to everyone who contacted their legislators, and a huge shout-out to the Tampa Bay Times for letting us know that state legislators were considering a bill to eliminate the hard-achieved gains on lo...
Published: 03/17/18

Saturday’s letters: Insurer focused on repairs, not fees

Citizens hit with $12.7M verdict | March 15Insurer’s focus: repairs, not feesCitizens Property Insurance Corp. has spent the past several years making sure that insurance proceeds for sinkhole repairs are used to restore a home and make it whole....
Published: 03/16/18

Friday’s letters: Put young people to work rebuilding infrastructure

Smart way to pay for infrastructure | March 13, commentaryMake rebuilding a youth project Raising gas taxes to pay for infrastructure may not be the best way to go. I suggest we re-invent the old WPA (Works Progress Administration) and draft high...
Published: 03/13/18
Updated: 03/15/18

Thursday’s letters: An alternative for giving: Breadcoin

Panhandling paradox | March 11Innovation in giving: BreadcoinPanhandling is destructive to the donor, panhandler and our community — a guilt trip that erodes personal dignity, respect and self-worth, making the recipient more beholden and entitle...
Published: 03/13/18
Updated: 03/14/18
Wednesday’s letters: Daylight bill is bad for business

Wednesday’s letters: Daylight bill is bad for business

Daylight saving timeDaylight bill is bad for businessI encourage Gov. Rick Scott to veto the daylight saving time extension bill. It makes no sense. It puts Florida out of sync with the rest of the country. Commerce will be affected. The entire Easte...
Published: 03/13/18

Pasco Letter to the Editor for March 16

Re: Pasco to test roadside recycling | March 9 column Pasco County (and its residents) have financial incentives to recycle, but the participation rate is low. Clearly, Pasco County either needs to make recycling mandatory — by making residents r...
Published: 03/13/18
Tuesday’s letters: Billionaire’s personal agenda

Tuesday’s letters: Billionaire’s personal agenda

Billionaire targeting young voters | March 7Using youths in personal agendaIs anyone surprised that Tom Steyer is using his extreme wealth to support his personal agenda and the liberal agenda of the Democratic Party? His real motive, hidden in h...
Published: 03/12/18
Updated: 03/13/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for March 16

Re: Pasco to test roadside recycling | March 9 columnOur community, Briar Patch, in New Port Richey has really gotten on board with the recycling program. Many homeowners diligently separate garbage from recycling material and place it curbside f...
Published: 03/12/18

Thursday’s letters: Gun limits, maybe; confiscation, never

Gun controlLimits, possibly; seizures, neverThe antigun left-leaning media constantly refers to the "gun lobby" and the National Rifle Association when trying to ban and even take guns away from legitimate owners. They blame organizations for the act...
Published: 03/07/18