Schiff complained about Metroland’s news coverage of
the United We Stand With Israel and Against Terrorism rally
held at the state Capitol on Sept. 9 [Letters, Sept. 19].
He chastised reporter Travis Durfee for referring to the counterdemonstrators
as “pro-peace” and questioned if Durfee “is suggesting that
the pro-Israelis are anti-peace?”
I was one of the “pro-peace” protestors quoted in the article.
I believe that many, but certainly not all, “pro-Israeli”
people are anti-peace, often without realizing it. Generally
speaking in the United States these days, to be “pro-Israel”
means to endorse the policies of the Israeli government, including
the 35-year-old occupation, continuing land confiscations,
and settlements for Jews only in the West Bank, including
East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the Golan Heights. People who are
pro-Israel and anti- occupation are often labeled as “anti-Israel”
by the pro-occupationists.
The occupation is virtually universally recognized as a violation
of international law; it is also widely seen as being extremely
cruel and often sadistic.
I did not hear any of the dozen speakers at the rally call
for an end to the occupation. Most of the rally speakers clearly
support the continued occupation even if they do not acknowledge
it. Some “pro-Israelis” I have met over the years deny that
there is an occupation. To be pro-occupation makes one anti-peace
because the occupation can only be maintained via force and
Schiff called upon Metroland to pay more attention
to “the diversity of pro-peace plans in the pro-Israel community
rather than devoting so much space to the hoary and simple-minded
arguments of some anti-Israeli extremists.” I know many Jews
who oppose the occupation, but most are afraid to speak out.
However, some do.
Earlier this year, a diverse group of Jews and other supporters
of Palestinian human and national rights formed the Capital
District for Justice and Peace (CDJP). We believe justice
must exist before peace will take hold. More than 100 people
attended a rally in Albany on June 5 calling for an end to
the occupation; many of the speakers that day were (are) Jewish,
as were the rally participants. On June 14, CDJP held a forum
at the Albany Public Library on “What Life in Palestine Is
Like.” Two of the five panelists were Jewish.
Many people are trying to move forward on this issue, but
it would be helpful if the locally published Jewish World
weekly newspaper (which I once worked for) acknowledged, reported,
and welcomed a diversity of Jewish opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict. Jewish World is similar to the Sept. 9 rally
speakers: virtually no recognition of the hellish living conditions
the Israelis impose on the Palestinians; and little compassion,
understanding, or friendliness for the millions of Palestinians
who desperately desire peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.
am writing regarding your article on OxyContin [“Warning:
This Drug Can Kill You,” Sept. 19]. The article opens with
the circumstances regarding the death of Jesse Gifford, and
closes with comments from Mr. Gifford’s family.
While I have a great deal of empathy for Mr. Gifford’s family
and their loss, I think that their blame of a drug for his
death is misplaced. Mr. Gifford willingly ingested OxyContin.
To argue that he was ignorant of its potential or effects
does not alter the fact that the choice to take it
was his and his alone.
Instead of spending more time reregulating a drug that is
helping people with chronic pain—the audience for whom it
was developed and for whom it’s been a blessing—why aren’t
we doing more to determine what it is in today’s society that
spurs people like Mr. Gifford to seek out and partake in illegal
substances in the first place?
It wasn’t OxyContin that killed Mr. Gifford. It was Mr. Gifford’s
experimentation with drugs that killed him. To blame the drug
is to buy into the same simplistic logic that doomed Nancy
Reagan’s “Just say no” campaign.
Until we take the time to critically examine what people find
so lacking in their lives that they feel a need to alter their
reality, we are doomed to repeat the tragedy of Mr. Gifford’s
untimely end many, many more times.
again I must correct false accusations made by the Green party
[Letters, Sept. 12]. My previous letter, the information on
our Web site, and our public stances for four years make it
abundantly clear that the Marijuana Reform Party (MRP) is
primarily a single-issue party dedicating to ending marijuana
prohibition. By claiming that we do not support the full end
of marijuana prohibition, Peter LaVenia ignores reality in
order to attack and slander a serious grass-roots effort to
bring New York state into the national drug-reform movement.
He also ignores the fact that until this year the New York
Greens did not support the legalization of marijuana and had
actively worked against it by trying to throw the MRP off
the ballot in 1998.
This continued sniping by the Greens shows they are truly
desperate for votes and fear that our party threatens their
existence. Their attempt to win over our supporters by lying
about our platform is very childish and naïve. In light of
my past role as a key player in building the Greens into a
ballot line in New York, one might think they would express
gratitude for my hard work in helping make their organization
a viable political party in our state. Moreover, if they had
supported a legalization platform back in 1998, I would not
have moved on to form the MRP.
Mr. LaVenia ignores political reality by suggesting that a
party with a myriad of issues, that also happens to support
the legalization of marijuana, is better suited to achieve
that goal than a party that is focused exclusively on it.
I respectfully disagree. It is precisely because the Greens
stand for so many other issues that a vote for them
is not a clear vote for ending marijuana prohibition. But
a vote for the MRP is a very unambiguous expression of support
for ending marijuana prohibition and other drug reform issues.
Sadly, Mr. LaVenia ignores the suffering of many seriously
ill New Yorkers by demeaning our present focus on medical
marijuana, which is now the most pressing marijuana issue.
The villains in the drug war are the Republicans and Democrats.
If the Greens were truly serious about supporting drug law
reforms, they would attack the established forces that perpetuate
the War on Drugs instead of demeaning the only grass-roots
political effort in New York focused on ending the longest
war in American history.
Reform Party candidate for governor
Erin Sullivan, formerly Metroland’s managing editor,
now is news editor at City Paper, Baltimore’s alternative
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