Monday, July 18, 2011

Humanitarian crisis in Gaza

To the Editor:

For many years Israel has intentionally been creating a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Israel denies this but the suffering has been documented by Amnesty International, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, UNRWA (UN Relief Works Agency), CARE, SAVE the CHILDREN (UK) and others. Many people living in Gaza have no electricity, medicine, food or water. Over the years the mass destruction, death and suffering inflicted by Israel upon the captive population of Gaza would not have been possible without US weaponry and US foreign aid (paid for by your tax dollars). In the West Bank of Palestine house demolitions, land theft, and attacks by Israeli Defense Forces occur regularly.

Israel and her supporters do not want this ugly truth (or others) to be exposed and carefully manipulate politicians at home and abroad, like successfully pressuring the Greek government to scuttle the humanitarian Freedom Flotilla before it set sail to Gaza. Unfortunately, IsraelĂ­s callous and brutal behavior and apartheid policies towards the destitute and disenfranchised Palestinians are causing much of the world to question the legitimacy of the state of Israel. For long term peace and stability Israel must cease her inhumane and self-destructive policies and embrace a course which will allow both Israelis and Palestinians to "stay human."

Eli Kassirer

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What issues are we missing?

Dear editor:

The articles in the Woodstock Times are more and more feeling like a kind of PR for our local Chambers of Commerce-- (pumping up the Playhouse and Shandaken's eateries in the last issue for example.)  Why can't we expect some authentic journalism in our weekly paper?  We already know Woodstock's radio station is doing "international" rock muzak and couldn't give a hoot about anything of consequence in our area.

However up the road there exist some pretty impressive journalism models.  There are two new radio stations (WIOX Roxbury and WGXC in Catskill/Hudson) which take their communities quite seriously.  The Catskill Mountain News is doing world class research into local issues covering the local environment with responsible reporting in depth.

What issues are we missing? Well, fracking for one. Does anyone in Woodstock want to know the status of local leases and the position of the DEC and the NYS forestry service? Or what about our local legislators?  What is their position on fracking?  The New York Times took fracking quite seriously with extensive FOIA work and a comprehensive look at the economics of what some have called the "Enron of the environment".  And how about Round Up?  Recent reports indicate that the ubiquitous herbicide has caused birth defects and cancer in lab animals.  Why is it being sprayed copiously next to the tourist rail tracks and our state highways-- often just a few inches away from reservoir feeder streams.

And there is real international news in which Woodstockers are a crucial element.  This story has made headlines from China to Paris to Johannesburg. The US Boat to Gaza was organized by Woodstock citizens.  Three of our neighbors have put their lives on the line to stand up for justice in the Middle East:  Richard Levy, NIck Abramson and Gail Miller have been on the boat and have been active in the actions with include hunger strikes and attempts to run the blockade enforced by Greek officials doing the bidding of Israel and the U.S.  Woodstock and Saugerties residents Jane Hirshman, Laurie Arbeiter and Helaine Meisler are key support persons in Greece for this action.

There is no community of this size in the United States that has sent so many people in the defense of Palestinian rights. And this is not newsworthy?

For shame,
DeeDee Halleck