June 17 Letters to the Editor

Posted June 16, 2010, at 6:56 p.m.

End the blockade

The killing of nine Turkish activists by Israeli commandos has drawn much attention to the three-year Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip, home to 1.5 million Palestinians.

Israel insists the closure is necessary to prevent Hamas from acquiring weapons. However, it has barred from Gaza many products, necessary for productive daily life, that have nothing to do with weapons: fresh meat, cattle, toys, notebooks, writing implements, heaters, fabric for clothing, fishing equipment and much more. Israel won’t allow cement, badly needed to rebuild thousands of homes that it destroyed in January 2009, claiming that Hamas will build bunkers with it.

No less inhumane are severe restrictions on travel to and from the strip, even for medical needs. Indeed, many view Gaza as a huge prison.

Through this ruthless closure Israel aims to punish the Palestinians and pressure them to remove Hamas from government. However, Hamas is firmly in power, and it is highly unlikely the blockade will achieve that goal.

Recently Israel came under growing international criticism and pressure to cease this blockade. Not surprisingly, many see this policy as cruel collective punishment. One wonders whether the closure isolates Hamas or Israel more.

I was born and grew up in Israel, and am an Israeli citizen. To maintain its security, Israel possesses effective military and technological means and does not need to bar foods and cement from Gaza or prohibit people’s movement. Indeed, ending this senseless closure will benefit not only the Palestinians but also Israel.

Alex Grab

Old Town

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Reading required

Moving up the socioeconomic ladder in life requires reading skills.

Recent years have seen the number of young adults who are high school dropouts increase at Literacy Volunteers of Bangor as they discover that a high school diploma is necessary for any hope of a decent job.

When their “crisis” moment happens, LV-B is there to help some receive their GED certificates and help others to read and understand.

However, when I read in the May 20 BDN editorial, “Poverty of Reading Skills,” that two-thirds of our nation’s fourth-graders are not proficient in reading, it took my breath away on where our nation’s future may be headed.

As a financially bare-bones organization, we welcome anyone who is interested in teaching an adult to read. No teaching experience needed, just the desire to help a neighbor attain skills that may take them to the next rung on the socioeconomic ladder. Please consider becoming a volunteer literacy tutor. Call 947-8451.

Terri Wlodarski, LV-B board member

Orono

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Israeli war crimes

Why doesn’t anyone in the mainstream media ever point out that Gilad Shalit’s capture and the rocket attacks on Sderot were the Hamas response to Israel’s having broken Hamas’ 16-month unilateral cease-fire?

Israel killed a family of seven with indiscriminate shelling. The cease-fire had been undertaken by Hamas to relieve the humanitarian crisis in Gaza brought on by Israel’s blockade and to avenge the “collateral damage” in the continuing campaign of “targeted killings” of Hamas leaders.

Israel also kidnapped and jailed most of the legally, and fairly elected members of the Palestinian government.

All of these actions by Israel are war crimes. They are direct violations of the Geneva Conventions.

The capture of Gilad Shalit, by contrast, was a legal act of war. Shalit is simply a POW. Not allowing Red Cross access is Hamas’ only violation in that instance.

As to the rocket attacks, they are war crimes, similar to the Israeli shelling, but it’s hard to listen to President Obama refer to Hamas “raining rockets” on Israel when you consider the principle of proportionality.

In 2004, for instance, there were 818 Palestinian deaths compared to 107 Israeli deaths. In July of the same year, The New York Times reported 400 percent of Israeli deaths compared to 39 percent of Palestinian deaths.

That is, they didn’t even mention 61 percent of Palestinian deaths while inflating Israeli deaths by a factor of four.

Michael S. Moore

Veazie

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/06/16/opinion/letters/june-17-letters-to-the-editor/ printed on July 31, 2014