Friday, May 25, 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


Wednesday’s letters: Thanks to jurors for fulfilling civic duty

May is Juror Appreciation MonthThanks, jurors, for your serviceTrial by a jury of one’s peers is among the bedrock guarantees that make our representative democracy exceptional. Without it, the courtroom fates of defendants and civil litigants would ...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Thursday’s letters: Heated chemotherapy won’t treat most ovarian cancers

Heated chemotherapy has promising results | May 16Cancer treatment not a cure-all While we were pleased to see the story about ovarian cancer treatment, we are concerned that the article could mislead many patients. The treatment described has be...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/24/18

Wednesday’s letters: A princess gives us a lesson to live by

Royal treatment | May 21Princess offers advice for us allThe radiant and joyful Princess Anna Noela Lokolo of the Democratic Republic of Congo, recent Eckerd College graduate, has given us a huge gift in her parting words. "If people have a negat...
Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/23/18

Hernando Letters to the Editor for May 25

Re: Central High School bomb threat suspect to be tried as adult | May 4Angry mob rhetoric not helpfulWe have observed the public discourse surrounding the case of Mizella Robinson with increasing unease. A sampling of the more common sentiment...
Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/22/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for May 25

Re: Proposed TECO Solar Plant Opposed to the TECO solar plantAs a 21-year resident and property owner, I am writing in opposition to the proposed Tampa Electric Company solar plant in rural northeast Pasco County.The solar plant will be .2 miles from...
Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/22/18

Tuesday’s letters: If you don’t like the Electoral College, then amend the Constitution

The popular vote | May 20, letterIf you don’t like it, amend ConstitutionA recent letter supports the idea that a state should be able to change its Electoral College vote to match that of the national popular vote winner as opposed to the result...
Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/22/18

Monday’s letters: Focusing on the mental state of shooters misses the point

Texas high school shooting | May 18Criminals, angry people kill peopleSchool shootings are a distinctly American phenomenon. But shootings by people with serious mental illness represent less than 1 percent of all yearly gun-related homicides in ...
Published: 05/19/18
Updated: 05/21/18

Friday’s letters: Putnam and Publix, two P’s lose my nod

Publix pours cash to Putnam | May 17A pleasure to shop elsewhereMy family and I moved to Tampa in 1974, and have made Publix our favorite grocery store ever since. Forty-four years! That is why it makes me a little sad to have to say goodbye.Firs...
Published: 05/18/18

Saturday’s letters: For Florida to move forward, focus on a healthy and sustainable environment

Tampa’s future is bright | May 12Protect Florida, boost economyThis past year, Florida set another record-breaking year for tourism, welcoming more than 116 million visitors. While Florida boasts a unique quality of life and more than 1,300 miles...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18

Sunday’s letters: What conservatives stand for

How can conservatism survive after Trump | May 13, Nickens columnhed#6324 I think it obvious that traditional conservatism was squeezed out of the 2016 campaign narrative and has become a niche thesis owned by a small group of intellectuals. A gr...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18