By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
San Diego, California
Adamma Ince raises some interesting points about the inability of the reparations movement to catch on in the inner-city neighborhoods in which it is most needed. However, she seems to miss the fact that the general definition of reparations remains vague and that class issues, not racial issues, remain the most significant stumbling block to achieving real social reform. When slogans like "40 Acres and a Bentley" are seriously discussed, it is no wonder that a majority of middle-class America is suspicious of reparations.
How would reparations help schools? How might they foster economic opportunities for the impoverished? The answers to these questions are crucial. The idea of issuing a check to every African American is a notion as ridiculous as it would be ineffectual.
There should be little argument about the devastating cultural consequences we as a nation have suffered as a direct result of slavery. Legal action to help reverse centuries of discrimination is perhaps the best strategy. But as Ince suggests, the refusal of the well-to-do, both white and black, to get involved weakens the movement's political potential. For reparations to work, class barriers must be overcome. Given the the "earn your way" ethos of our middle class, it will be some time before reparations and real social reform is a reality for African Americans.
GRAVES END, HEBRON
Thank you, Sylvana Foa, for pointing out the eerie prevalence of Brooklyn accents in the hills of the West Bank [Letter From Israel, May 28]. Last summer, while working in Israel, I met a group of young Orthodox girls from Brooklyn who had been sent by their religious community back home on a covert mission. This mission involved the "reclaiming" of the supposed grave sites of Judaism's foremothers and forefathers.
Hosted by various Jewish settlements, these young zealots, protected by Israeli soldiers, would enter the Palestinian town of Hebron and attempt to clean up the desecrated grave sites, which had been graffitied in Arabic and were a common site of burning tires. The girls hardly understood the political ramifications of what they were doing, yet they were highly praised by the Brooklyn Orthodox community for their "courageous" actions. How a group of Brooklyn teenage girls ended up in a shooting zone in a Palestinian town under IDF protection is a question that has been gnawing at me since I left last summer, and I appreciate Foa for raising the issue.
A THORN GROWS IN BROOKLYN
I've found Sylvana Foa's writing about Israel and the Middle East conflict to be honest and balanced, not to mention refreshing and witty. However, I found her Letter From Israel titled "Blame Brooklyn" to be missing some important facts.
It is true that fundamentalist settlers from Brooklyn have been nothing but a plague on Israel and its efforts to make peace with its neighbors. I agree that the settlers' attitudes and actions are a danger to Israeli democracy and regional stability. But one has to ask: Did these people show up uninvited?
The answer is no. Successive Israeli governments, both Likud and Labor, encouraged them to come to Israelcynically manipulating them and their land-grabbing zealotry for their own agendas. The settlements may be a thorn in the side for the average Israeli, but for many Israeli politicians they have been a strategic bargaining chip with neighbors, a religious fig leaf for secular territorial ambitions, and a rallying point for right-wing and ultra-Orthodox constituents.
I applaud Foa for educating American readers about Israeli resentment toward the settlers. Mainstream media, with its inability to report complexity and its anti-Israel bias, will never tell this story. But you can't blame it all on Brooklyn: Foa should also tell us who brought these schmucks to Israel, and why.
OUR MAN IN PALESTINE
Although depressing, Kareem's Fahim's "Letter From Jenin" [May 28] and "Letter From Palestine" [June 4] mark a refreshing change from the skewed coverage prevailing in our media and from the censorship and restrictions on freedom of speech that students increasingly face at universities across the nation. I really appreciate the effort that the Voiceis making to provide balanced coverage of the Mideast conflict. I hope that your paper continues to strive for balance.
Bloomfield, New Jersey
I am enjoying the articles by Kareem Fahim. Can these weekly "letters" giving us a glimpse of day-to-day life in Palestine continue indefinitely?
IRE ON THE MOUNTAIN
R.C. Baker's article on Yucca Mountain was right on target ["Deep Time, Short Sight," June 4]. The science (hydrology and geology) show that site doesn't workit leaks. So the politicians have suggested an "engineered" solution. The best current solution is to leave the waste at the point of generation and not expose thousands of people to radiation during transport and the possible risk of terrorism.
St. Louis, Missouri
Have you ever sought shade beside a Mojave yucca? These shrublike trees with bayonet leaves can grow 16 feet high, and often develop in clusters that are joined at the base, as a desert survival strategy. That this large plant survives at all in the desert is awesome to me.