Graphic Illustration

The illustration "Rocks Versus Rifles: How the Basic Weapons of Israelis and Palestinians Stack Up," in your October 24 issue, was more eloquent than any editorial or op-ed article that could have been written on the Middle Eastern conflict. Kudos to The Village Voice for commenting creatively on the violence in the Israeli-occupied territories.

Abdussalam Chouia
Executive Director
Council on American-Islamic Relations
Santa Clara, California

Explosive Situation

Upcoming Events

Your illustration "Rocks Versus Rifles" failed to mention the Palestinians' other weapon of choice: homemade bombs on public buses, airliners, and in public squares.

Rick Miranda

Silence of the Right

I was at the pro-Israel rally Alisa Solomon describes in her article "The Silence of the Left" [October 24]. I was present for two and a half hours, and walked the entire length of the rally on Second Avenue. Not once did I hear the "small but vocal and well-organized Jewish right wing—yeshiva students chanting, 'Death to the Arabs!' " whom Solomon claims "dominated" it. I have asked people from my workplace and social circle who attended the rally, and have read various news accounts. I cannot find such groups or chants being mentioned in any other account of the event.

Solomon's article did not mention the signs equating Judaism—not Israel but Judaism—with Nazism at the pro-Palestinian rally on the same street on the next day. The two Israeli soldiers who were lynched at the hands of a happy and cheering Palestinian mob on the very day of the pro-Israel rally also seem to have been conveniently omitted from her story.

If Solomon had truly looked around her (beyond, that is, the story she wanted to write from the start), perhaps she would begin to understand the true reason some of us who believed in and hoped for the peace process now find ourselves not full of hate, but full of sadness, heartache, despondency, and, yes, some cynicism—after watching a Palestinian mob gleefully holding their bloodstained hands up for the crowds and the cameras.

Jordana H. Marinoff

Alisa Solomon replies: Right-wing views officially dominated the rally: The ad for it and speeches from the stage defended Ariel Sharon's incendiary visit to the Temple Mount, denied that Israel shares responsibility for the violence, and insisted on sole Israeli control of Jerusalem. Jews for Peace Through Justice, while in no way justifying the despicable murder of the two Israeli soldiers, called for mourning all the dead, noting that because Palestinian deaths have been so disproportionate one must question the excessiveness of the Israeli response. As for the yeshiva students, if Ms. Marinoff did not encounter their disgusting attitudes, I envy her.

No Slouch

Thank you, on behalf of Arab Americans and the children in Palestine who dream of a place to call home, for Cynthia Cotts's October 24 Press Clips column ["Slouching Toward Jerusalem"]. I began to read it with the same numbness and pessimistic expectation I have grown accustomed to when I open the papers every morning. I search for a glimpse of truth amid racist assumptions ("they send their children out to die"), biased fallacies, and a barrage of punches to the gut by politicians I have elected to represent me. Cotts's column has restored some of my faith in the phrase "journalistic integrity."

Dania Ahmad
Mahwah, New Jersey

Cast Aside

Re Peter Noel's "Why Blacks Shouldn't Vote for Hillary" [October 24]: Not casting a vote is not only irresponsible but an insult to the memory of those people who marched and died so that we would all have the privilege. The question is not whether Hillary Clinton is a perfect candidate, but whether or not she is a better candidate than her opponent. If so, she deserves your vote.

Julia Shaw
Lexington, Kentucky

Not in Vain

Re Dan Savage's October 24 column about Ralph Nader being a "vanity candidate": It's my right to throw away my vote, or to not vote, without fear of electing the greater of two evils.

As for the comparison of the Green Party with the Reform Party, the dynamics in the way the two parties operate are not the same. The Greens are not going to implode because a wealthy benefactor did not create this party—it is a real grassroots movement.

Is it better to have a greedy Republican or a two-faced Democrat as president? I'd rather throw my vote away and go to Canada with Dan than vote for someone I can't trust.  

Steve Stannen
Columbia, Missouri

Wen Ho Leaks

I don't mean to quarrel with the underlying premises of Cynthia Cotts's October 17 Press Clips column headlined "Twin Leaks": that investigative reporting is a vital safeguard of democracy and that Times-bashing is great sport. But I must point out one factual matter that seems to have eluded Arlen Specter, Notra Trulock, the Department of Energy, The Washington Post, and most of the other news organizations that covered the Senate hearing.

Energy Secretary Bill Richardson identified Wen Ho Lee to our reporter on the record, and the information was attributed to him by name in the story of March 9, 1999. I can't speak for the many other news organizations that learned and published Dr. Lee's name that day, but no one "leaked" it to us. Therefore if Jim Risen identified Richardson as the source of the information in a conversation with Trulock, and I don't know whether he did or not, he was simply repeating something he'd already reported on the front page of our newspaper. Demonstrably, there were no "twin leaks." The exchange in the Senate over who "leaked" the name, and most of the news stories that followed from it, were based on a premise that was false, as anyone with access to an archive could have checked.

That sound you hear is an exasperated Al Gore sigh.

Bill Keller
Managing Editor
The New York Times

Working Class

Norah Vincent's column entitled "NYU's Labor Pains" [October 10] drastically misrepresents the reality of the graduate student workers' relationship to New York University. NYU provides a minimal stipend to graduate student assistants that averages only about $11,000 a year for teaching classes, grading papers, developing lecture plans, running labs, and researching, among other work. Sounds like a job description for a professor, right? And remember, those tasks are on top of students' own class schedules, comprehensive exams, and writing of their final thesis.

By pretending these employees are just students, NYU gets away with paying far below a living wage. But make no mistake about it—graduate student teaching and research assistants are workers. The National Labor Relations Board saw through NYU's weak argument earlier this year when it allowed a vote on the question of unionization. Since NYU appealed the April vote, the outcome is still unknown. NYU should stop its legal maneuvers and recognize graduate student assistants for what they are: teachers, researchers, and workers—and compensate them as such.

Christine C. Quinn
3rd District

Graduate Assistance

Norah Vincent's "NYU's Labor Pains" came out on a day on which 600 graduate assistants, clerical and technical staff, and John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO, were rallying at NYU for union rights. Ms. Vincent chose to ignore this action, just as she declined to interview any graduate assistants regarding their conditions. She did, however, interview me, and she ignored or misrepresented what I said. Ms. Vincent's claims that housing is a "good deal" at NYU and that health care costs are not "onerous" are simply her own opinions.

I stated explicitly to Ms. Vincent that NYU charges $900 per person per month for a shared studio apartment, dorm style, where spouses or partners are not allowed. This is not a good deal in any rental market, let alone New York City. Regarding health care, I explained that although NYU has provided some relief for some employees, albeit unlawfully and without bargaining with the union, there are still many other workers who pay from $1100 a year for individual coverage to $5000 per year for families. Having to pay 25 to 50 percent of your pretax income for family coverage is onerous.

Lisa Jessup
Organizer, UAW Local 2110

Norah Vincent replies: Neither Quinn nor Jessup is right to say that I misrepresented the facts, since they quote the same figures I gave. According to NYU, less than 10 percent of graduate assistants use university housing. Of those who do, only a small number share studios, and these studios are large—450 to 510 square feet. A quick glance at the Voice's rentals section shows that smaller studios in NYU's neighborhood usually go for more like $1300 to $1700, if you're lucky. As for health insurance, at $1100 per year per person (and for many grad students it's only $700), you're way ahead of the game. I'm a member of the National Writers Union, and I pay $3240 per year for myself alone—and that doesn't include dues.  

Tabloid Temptations

The timing of Peter Noel's article "The Last Temptation of Minister Benjamin" [October 10] was inappropriate in light of last week's Million Family March. I'm sure Noel knew of the allegations against Nation of Islam Minister Benjamin Muhammad long before publishing this story. The key to the story is the word "allegations." Nothing has been proven, and your decision to go with this story shows your unfairness to the black Muslim community and your goal to become a national tabloid.

Dennis Byron

Pointe of Honor

In response to Elizabeth Zimmer's October 17 Short List item on Julio Bocca and Ballet Argentino: Please, the group is from Argentina, not Brazil.

They represent our people, our art, and our history to the world.

Juan Manuel Romero
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Elizabeth Zimmer replies: I'm sorry. I know the difference between Argentinians and Brazilians. I slipped.

Some Crust

While I am respectful of Charles McNulty's various criticisms of "Snapshots 2000," a group of seven playlets at the Worth Street Theater Company ["Anything in Your Shorts?" October 17], in one detail he went too far.

It is untrue that only one pie is used for Peter Hedges's The Age of Pie. In fact, three pies are thrown about the stage. And not three single-serve little tortes—no, three humongous cream pies of the chocolate and banana cream variety that would overstuff the caloric intake of a theaterful of folks, not to mention the eight actors onstage. And while Mr. Hedges's published stage directions state eight, we believe that our three giant pies are equivalent to eight smallish pies any day. That's 2.8 actors per pie—pies whose purpose is to be licked and splashed in a 30-second ritual.

Trust me when I tell you it's more than enough. How do I know? I get to clean the mess up after every performance

Jeff Cohen
"Snapshots 2000"

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