Eugene Weekly : Letters : 1.8.09


Israeli Defense Forces have struck the Gaza Strip, killing or wounding hundreds and continuing the cycle of violence. There is limited value in debating how it began. But perspectives differ.

Israel and the U.S. claim Israel is defending its right to exist and protect itself from rocket attacks by terrorists. 

Israeli peace activists claim Israel broke the truce with Hamas with a raid on the night of the U.S. elections and has continued “calculated raids and killings, whenever the shooting of missiles on Israel decreased.”

Critics even charge the Israeli government is playing politics with the tragedy, calling Ehud Barak’s declaration that he is stopping the elections campaign to concentrate on the Gaza offensive “a joke.” “The war in Gaza is itself Barack’s elections campaign,” says Gush Shalom spokesperson Adam Keller, “a cynical attempt to buy votes with the blood and suffering” of Israelis in the cities targeted by rockets and of Palestinians in Gaza. 

An April 2008 Vanity Fair article claims the U.S. plotted a coup against the democratically elected Hamas govern-ment, triggering the Hamas takeover of Gaza.

The Israeli blockade of Gaza is causing immense suffering and has been called “collective punishment,” a war crime under the 1949 Geneva Conventions. 

The U.S. should initiate urgent diplomacy to reinstate a cease fire, end all military operations, stop the attacks on Israel and lift the Gaza blockade. This would serve the best interests of Israel, the Palestinian people and the U.S.

Robert Roth, Eugene


Valori George (letters, 12/18) raises important questions. Why have we heard so much for so long about the Nazi genocide and so little about the brutal Nakba committed by Zionist terrorists against the largely helpless Palestinians in 1948, which has continued under the radar for 60 years until today’s outrageous imprisonment of 1.5 million people in Gaza?

Dr. Jeff Halper, director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (, who recently spoke in Eugene, describes the Israeli “ware-housing” of Palestinians as a key element in “disaster capitalism” related by Naomi Klein in her book The Shock Doctrine. This method of containing and progressively erasing “surplus humanity” reliably produces an outlook of helplessness and hopelessness in the captive and deprived population, an outlook long noted by psychotherapists in clinical depression

Psychologist Martin Seligman has demonstrated the development of “learned helplessness” in laboratory animals subjected to conditions where they could neither predict nor control events of importance in their environments, producing behavior in other species analogous to depression in humans.

When your lands are arbitrarily stolen, your homes arbitrarily bulldozed, your olive groves arbitrarily uprooted and your children and brothers arbitrarily murdered with no legal recourse, you will learn abject helplessness through unspeakably violent lessons. Veteran war correspondent Chris Hedges reports that in no other armed conflict has he ever witnessed snipers deliberately target unarmed children as do Israeli soldiers.

Gaza is an intentional disaster, and it is unsurprising that more than 50 percent of Gazan children under the age of 12 have been found to have no will to live.

Jack Dresser, Springfield

EDITOR’S NOTE: This letter, and the next, were submitted before the Israeli attack on Gaza. 


I was pleased to see the letter by Valori George wondering why Americans are standing passively by as Gaza is besieged by Israel. I wonder also.

This December an Israeli drone fired a missile toward a group of Gazan children, killing two boys (blowing one to bits) and injuring two others. Yet another statistic representing Israel’s 60 years of Nakba is the unrelenting, brutal dispossession of Palestine’s 94 percent indigenous 1948 population including 33 massacres, 531 ethnically cleansed villages and more than four million U.N.-registered refugees to date.

In 2006, Israel blocked Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the U.N. appointed head of a fact-finding mission, from investigating the killing of 19 Palestinians in Gaza. Also denied Gaza entry recently was Jewish-American Richard Falk, U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in Palestinian territories. Falk said the civilian population in Gaza was “being collectively punished by policies that amount to a crime against humanity.” He proposed that the International Court “determine whether the Israeli civilian leaders and military commanders responsible for the Gaza siege should be indicted and prosecuted for violations of international criminal law.”

Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions director Jeff Halper, recently returned from the first boat lift breaking Israel’s siege on Gaza, describes on how Israel’s “warehousing” of Palestinians reflects an on-going strategy of nishul, Hebrew for displacement. Halper’s detailed “Matrix of Control” analysis reveals how Israel progressively “wipes Palestine off the map.”

Mariah Leung, Eugene


I would like to take the opportunity to respond to Camilla Mortensen’s article (News Briefs) Dec. 24. Mortensen’s and Josh Schlossberg’s questions about Homeland Security can easily be answered by looking at my voting record. I voted against the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, against the misnamed PATRIOT and Protect America acts that gave the Bush administration unchecked power to spy on Americans, against warrantless wiretapping and against immunity for telecommunication companies that helped Bush carry out his domestic spy program. The agency did not need and did not seek my permission in advance, nor are they required to consult with any member of the legislative branch regarding their day-to-day operations. Additionally, the surveillance was legal thanks to the broad powers granted by a Republican Congress. 

The Homeland Security Committee has oversight capabilities that have been curtailed by an unresponsive Bush administration. For example, in 2007 and 2008 the Bush administration denied me access to classified information about the White House plan for operating the government after a terrorist attack despite repeated requests and having the support of the committee chair.

Obama’s team is already taking at look at all of the Bush administration’s executive orders. Hopefully, the most questionable ones will be repealed with a stroke of the new president’s pen next month. It is my belief President-elect Obama will work more cooperatively with the Homeland Security other congressional committees. I also my hope his administration won’t see individuals’ constitutional rights being in conflict with national security concerns.

Finally, I hope EW will seek a comment from my office before going to print on such stories.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, Springfield

EDITOR’S NOTE: Our reporter did leave a message at DeFazio’s Washington, D.C., office Dec. 22, but did not receive a call back either before or after deadline. More often than not, we do get calls returned from DeFazio’s office. A DeFazio aide says they have no record of Schlossberg’s six months of calls and faxes, except for one.


 In response to two letters by Jeff Innis, Dec. 18, and John Hickam, Dec. 24, regarding proposed LTD service cuts and the latest West Eugene EmX extension boondoggle, I agree! Why be cutting service and eliminating routes right and left due to a lack of operational money, while at the same time planning a $50 million plus BRT route that will eliminate more routes (i.e,. through replacement)? How does this compute?

And yes, contact Congressman DeFazio; he’s chair of the Surface Transportation Sub-Committee. Be heard and he will respond, I guarantee it (from experience).

The federal government provides money for capital projects (i.e., construction of new facilities and routes and the purchase of new buses for said projects), and does not fund operating costs. Maybe our voices can be heard by pushing for a change in the fed’s subsidies, and have them subsidize mass transit operational costs like in many other countries.

EmX is not needed if connector routes are not kept or created! So why spend all of that money if you can’t get to the bus?

Jozef Siekiel-Zdzienicki, Eugene


I feel the new ordinance in Cottage Grove is most certainly aimed at getting rid of panhandlers in their town. To try to claim it is about road safety is dishonest and insulting. At least be honest in your intentions.

I understand that many emotions come up when someone asks you face-to-face for money. One might feel anger, guilt, misplaced anger perhaps, concern, sympathy, compassion, empathy and maybe even complicity over aiding in another’s addiction. Of late I personally try to not over-analyze this or even judge someone I certainly know nothing about. When I am asked for money, if I have it, I give some spare change. If perhaps I feel a bit more ahead at that moment, I give a dollar or two. And if I have no cash I can still wish them well, acknowledge them and share a smile and kind thought.

I have read articles about the reasons people are on the streets and forget the percentages. But the circumstances included veterans, addictions to alcohol and drugs, mental illnesses and an expensive illness causing folks to lose their homes and their savings (likely to be more common in these economic times). But to be honest I don’t feel I need to know the reason why they are hungry, cold or homeless. The fact that they are is enough for me. 

It is not an easy thing for folks to ask for help, so I do what small thing I can do and hope others will help me in my time of need. The old saying still applies: treat others as you would wish to be treated.

I would encourage those in Cottage Grove and surrounding areas who feel similarly to please speak up. In my view a society that wishes to hide and run off
those struggling and less fortunate because it is uncomfortable seeing them is a society I have no wish to be a part of. Where is the love, caring and sharing, Cottage Grove? Please rethink this.

 Tim Boyden, Eugene


Obama’s gonna be hard-pressed to locate “saved money” to keep his promises. A first act that would get national and worldwide applause would be to cancel the Inaugural Ball. It’s an in-house vanity fair entitlement paid for with taxpayers’ money.

Ball it, already.

Lori Kasprzak, Eugene


It is a changing environment in which we live, whether you are speaking of the ecosystem, the political climate or the industrial food chain. Things are changing, many of them for the better. However, amidst all this potential for a greener future, some dark stains are being left with seemingly little attention paid to them or care given.

One such stain is the impending move of Emerald Valley Kitchen from here in Eugene to a new site in Portland. In a piece that I read (12/18) right here in EW, the Eugene-Springfield Solidarity Network, ESSN, awarded the title of local Grinch of the Year to Eric Eddings, CEO of Monterey Gourmet Foods and new owner of Emerald Valley Kitchen. The reason for this award was his decision to move Emerald Valley out of Eugene, an action which will cost the jobs of the 25 employees who work in a company that uses locally grown food to make some of the finest organic salsas and bean dips available on any market.

Well, here I am writing to EW’s editorial page because ever since the 18th, a letter writing campaign has been going on, all in hopes of showing Eddings the error in his decision, which was based almost solely on increasing his bottom line. Emerald Valley Kitchen is already one of the most profitable and efficient components of Monterey Gormet Foods, but Eddings was not satisfied with that profit margin and the impending move seems a done deal. That does not have to be the case, though, because as people have shown in the past, enough public outcry can change even things that seem set in stone. I hope that is the case with Emerald Valley and the 25 jobs that are at stake right here in Eugene.

Michael Hester, Eugene


I am a mother and a regular LTD patron. I have a request of my fellow riders: Please get up and move for those of us who have children. We should have priority just like disabled people. It’s unsafe for our children to be standing while the bus is in motion. If we have a car seat and stroller, where are we suppose to put them when there are no seats available to us? 

Perhaps LTD could post signs to this effect.

Destiny Coates, Eugene


To have every person living on Earth catch up to the level of consumption of most Americans, it would require several times the current level of resource use. That means several times more oil, water, food and many other resources we rely upon.

As a species, we are already struggling to find enough resources to meet our current demand, yet we’re trying to grow even bigger.

Where do we expect to find 3 or 4 times more clean water, oil, trees, fish, farm land and all the other resources we use to meet our growing human needs? What about three times the pollution and loss of other species ­ how long can that go on before it backfires?

Our current economic system’s great for a small percentage of people (the most competitive ones) for the short-term, but can’t go on much longer — there’s not nearly enough Earthly resources to meet the massive and growing human need.

If we are to find a system that works for all of us and life on Earth, we will have to create a social and economic system that is not based upon growth and competition.

I believe our only chance to survive the mess we’re making is to place cooperation above competition — “together we stand, divided we fall,” “love one another,” “share,” “respect all life,” “take care of one another” and all that good, lovey-dovey stuff.

Our time’s quickly running out. Competition’s leading to not only the demise of many other species, but to our own as well. 

Patrick Bronson, Eugene