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Readers' Forum

Tell us what you think of the ideas you find in YES! magazine

Our threatened vote
After I read “Safeguarding the Vote,” by Doug Pibel (YES!, Summer 2003), I received an e-mail by the actor Peter Coyote, written to his senator, Barbara Boxer. It is available at www.mapcruzin.com/news/bush041603b.htm.

Both pieces seem vital to be heard and understood by as many millions of us citizens as possible—soon!  We are fortunate in having an early alert about this emerging scenario of manipulating the vote, well in advance of the elections of 2004.  Each piece reinforced the credibility and urgency of the other, coming as they do from very different sources. Together they are more than twice as compelling.

Elena Chvany
via e-mail
“Safeguarding the Vote” is available online at www.yesmagazine.org/26courage/pibel.htm

Making Peace
I want to thank you for the book Making Peace, which I've been perusing gradually and finished last night. It's so encouraging to read about people who care about peace and social justice and who are doing something about it.

Janet Smith
Naples, Florida
For information on how to order Making Peace, see page 64.

It depends on us
I am a liberal, progressive, pro-justice, pro-peace, green, Christian Democrat. I am feeling profoundly guilty because I bombed Iraq, killing thousands of innocent people.
I also recently bankrupted California and allowed a corrupt multi-national energy corporation to bilk millions from us and drive thousands out of work.
I allowed a near-fascist junta, which betrays both our people and our troops, to steal the White House, and I supported a cowardly Congress and Senate in capitulating to the dissolution of our democracy.

How did I do all this? I did it by not participating fully in my democracy. In the last three years, I only voted. I did not work at my precinct office, I did not write my editors or my state and federal representatives. I did not phone canvas, and I did not go door-to-door.
It is not too late. For every hour we have spent marching, we must spend 10 hours over the next 21 months engaging the electoral system. We must write our elected officials. We must organize, not for marches, but for votes. We must organize among the young, the working poor, and people of color, three groups we traditionally leave to be seduced
by the Republican Party.

Bush was able to steal Florida by less than 600 votes. Think how few of us could have changed so much in the last two years.

We must acknowledge the difference between the obnoxiously imperfect and the irrevocably destructive among our candidates, while we work to put someone actually good and true in office. If we don't, we are going to lose the option of putting anybody in office.

K.D. Mussetter
Sebastopol, California

Reading YES! in prison
I want you to know how uplifting it is to read a publication like yours while incarcerated. With so much negativity in the world (and in here), it's really great to hear about what positive things are happening.

Evelyn Ace
Dublin, California

Rachel Corrie and Israel
The murder of Ms. Corrie (YES!,Summer 2003 issue) was tragic and criminal.

Unfortunately, she was not the “first American to be killed in this way.” U.S. citizens of Palestinian descent were killed in the Occupied Territories by the Israeli military prior to Rachel Corrie's death, and their Palestinian ethnicity did not make their U.S. nationality any less valid.

Hunter Cutting
San Francisco, California

...
Where are the Associated Press photographs of Rachel Corrie screaming anti-Israel invective and burning American flags? At what point were you planning to mention the sponsorship of Jeff Halper by the Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee?

If you truly strive to be a “Journal of Positive Futures,” I would suggest first, studying the past, positive and otherwise, and second, knocking it off with the knee-jerk sympathy for whatever appears to be the most liberal cause. I'm sure most readers read Halper's article and felt awful or angry.

For those of us who have been studying Israeli policy and Arab terrorism and visiting the region for years, what is awful is how easily well-intentioned people are manipulated, and what makes me angry is how quickly such one-sided, narrow accounting is published.

Rebekah Linkowski
Eastchester, New York

...
In your Summer 2003 issue, Sarah Ruth van Gelder calls Corrie's death as anti-American as the attack on the World Trade Centers, and Jeff Halper's article states that the Israeli driver of the bulldozer deliberately killed her.

All reports I have heard and read agree that her death was a horrible accident. Rachel's colleagues from the International Solidarity Movement who witnessed her death confirm that she was crouching on the ground and was invisible to the driver.

The bulldozer in question is not the ordinary construction vehicle your readers are familiar with. The bulldozers used in Gaza are armored vehicles built for combat. (A picture of the vehicle is included in Halper's article.) The driver is over 15 feet off the ground and completely enclosed. Windows are tiny and visibility is limited. The driver could not possibly see Rachel crouching on the ground and absolutely did not run over her on purpose as Halper indicates.

Many, many other Americans have been killed in recent years by Palestinian terrorists, terrorists whose homes Corrie was defending. It is very difficult to distinguish between the “terrorist” Palestinians (and their collaborators) and the innocent Palestinian “victims.” Israel has been fighting for its existence since its creation 55 years ago. In this environment, relationships and distinctions between friend and enemy are very complex.
Many of the homes Corrie and others defended are covers for weapons-smuggling tunnels that lead to suppliers in Egypt. Access to these tunnels is often concealed by beds and cribs with sleeping children and babies. The Israeli army locates these tunnels and the media portrays the army as attacking babies. An Israeli ambulance responding to a 911 call from a woman in labor is met by an armed ambush. That ambulance is then loaded with weapons and terrorists and driven into Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, etc., to blow up civilians enjoying their afternoon at the market.

Nothing in Israel is as clear-cut and simple to understand as we Westerners would like to believe. You did a great disservice to the Israeli people and the peaceful Palestinians, and most of all to your readers, by publishing Halper's article and neglecting to portray the broad reality of the situation. There are hundreds of people throughout Israel who are beautiful examples of “finding courage” to pursue peace. It is shameful for you to ignore them and present an outrageously biased picture of the Jewish-Palestinian issue in Israel.

Sandi Goller
Highland Park, Illinois

Editors' note: On June 26, Israel's military prosecutor exonerated any Israeli soldier in Rachel Corrie's death, confirming Israeli Defense Forces statements that the driver of the bulldozer had not seen Corrie because she was behind a pile of earth, and had not intentionally run over her.

Eyewitnesses with the International Solidarity Movement, however, said that Corrie was 100 feet in front of the bulldozer and the driver could see her when he moved closer. Photographs of Corrie in front of the bulldozer show her standing, wearing a brightly colored vest. No pile of dirt between her and the driver's line of sight is visible. The Corrie family has said that Israeli officials promised a full non-military investigation. So far, there has been none.

On blueberries and deer
Regarding Jim Minick's (YES!, Spring 2003) conversion to deer hunting as a solution to the problem of starving deer: Destruction of habitat and killing of predators have led to the current proliferation of deer. What we humans need to do is to feed the deer, while working to increase available habitat and to reintroduce natural population control—that is, predators.

This will involve sacrifice on the part of humans, but it is time that we start considering the needs of species other than just ourselves.

Bob Weber
Taos, New Mexico

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