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Doing the Right Thing

To the Editor:

A long overdue thank you, Metroland, for your courage and perseverance in going beneath the surface of the issues that really matter! As I reflected on my short five years as a resident of Arbor Hill, your coverage of important events has been a tremendous help in overcoming the challenges in my neighborhood, but as Arbor Hill goes, so goes Albany.

Here are a few examples: Soon after I came to Albany, after efforts to offer an alternative plan failed, I joined Aaron Mair, Beverly Padgett and Eleanor Sanders in filing a suit against the city of Albany to stop the proposed North Swan Street project. The success of that suit led a cooperative 18-month process working with the city to develop the current, excellent Arbor Hill Plan.

Next, the Social Capital Development Corporation (Isla Roona, executive director) funded the four magnificent murals on North Swan Street in collaboration with artist Yacob Williams based on ideas from local students art contest. Another constant reminder of what can be accomplished when people work together.

Then the work of the Community Accountability Board under former Assistant District Attorney David Soares had a very positive impact. I saw firsthand how David, former Albany Police Cmdr. Christian D’Alessandro, officers under his command and members of the community found creative solutions that helped not only the offender, but the victims of their crimes. How refreshing to see these community members decide the appropriate response to illegal acts where everyone could benefit.

Last, but certainly not least, for the last nine months, Metroland has faithfully informed the city about the issues before and since the outrageous firing of Cmdr. D’Alessandro by its excellent, in-depth coverage. Although he was responsible for only half of the city (areas surrounding North and South stations), the negative impact of this firing on the whole city is yet unrealized. It has been my belief that Albany Police Chief Jim Turley and Assistant Chief Tony Bruno would do right as they told me they would. That is, after Chief Turley told me recently that “Chris is an excellent police officer” and Bruno agreed with that statement, they said they would use their influence to reinstate him. In fact, shortly before he was made Chief, Turley said if he were Chief he would make Chris his deputy. That certainly seems a reality now since the mayor has said that it is a Police Department matter.

It is interesting to me that in each of the examples that I have given, the people involved have accomplished much because they were doing what was right. As I bid a fond farewell to Travis Durfee, again I say “thank you” to all those at Metroland who have covered these stories and done what was right, too.

Helen Black

A Too-Simple Explanation

To the Editor:

Thanks to Bernard Continelli [Letters, June 3], I finally understand why Islamist fundamentalists attacked us on 9/11—“American support of a Zionist Israel.” I applaud his simplistic approach to a complex issue. Although I can overlook his calling Israel, Zionist (like calling the United States, American), I do have some problems with some of his other comments.

Why does he compare Israel to a fictitious Italian colonization of Ethiopia? Israel was not colonized by Jews. Even after Rome (Italy?) exiled most of the Jews, there has always been a Jewish presence there. Modern Israel was founded on socialist (not religious) principles by poor idealists fleeing Czarist Russia. Its Jewish population grew dramatically with the influx of refugees from the Holocaust and Jewish refugees who were expelled from their homes in Arab countries. Is this a traditional definition of colonialism?

American Jews, most of whom are not very religious, have little in common with “Christian Zionists.” The majority of American Jews support the goal of a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. By the way, so do most Israelis.

Contrary to Mr. Continelli’s suggestion, which I vehemently resent, most American Jews consider themselves “Americans” first. American Jewish support of Israel does not rely on ancient religious texts. Most support a Jewish state in Israel because it is the historic homeland of the Jews. I don’t understand why Mr. Continelli, a self-professed, proud Italian-American, cannot grasp the fact that almost all people of the world have their own sovereign countries. Italians have Italy. The French have France. Why shouldn’t the Jews have Israel? It’s where they started.

If Mr. Continelli thinks that the entire Moslem world hates the United States because of its support for Israel, then how does he explain the fact that both Egypt and Jordan have signed peace treaties with Israel? I wonder if the exploitation of the Arab world by American “Big Oil” has anything to do with it? If the Arab world really cared about the Palestinians, then why didn’t Jordan and the other Arab countries create an independent Palestine before Israel captured the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1967? Jordan, for its part, didn’t relinquish its claim to the West Bank until the late 1980s. Why hasn’t the Arab world done anything to alleviate the situation in Palestinian refugee camps? By the same token, why don’t the oil-rich Arab countries do anything to alleviate the poverty of their own people? Fomenting hatred of a foreign country is a traditional political tool of monarchs and dictators. Mr. Continelli’s conclusion doesn’t explain why the rest of the world also hates the United States. Islamic fundamentalists might express their hatred in violent ways, but few people around the world really like Americans. If he doesn’t believe me, then he should travel overseas. His conclusion also doesn’t explain the Islamist terrorism in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Morocco, the Philippines or Bali, which has nothing to do with Israel or the United States.

I guess I just have problems with Mr. Continelli’s self-described “principled, not anti-Semitic statement.”

Michael Kohn


In the 2004 Summer Guide, distributed with the June 10 issue of Metroland, the upcoming exhibits at the Albany Institute of History & Art were listed incorrectly. The corrected entry follows:

Albany Institute of History & Art 125 Washington Ave., Albany, 463-4478.
Through Aug. 22: In the Garden. June 19-Aug. 22: Don Nice: Hudson River Paintings. June 26-Aug. 29: Agricultural Works, photographs by James Welling.

In the article “Promise Unrealized” [June 10], a source was quoted as saying that the Albany City School District has no truant officers. In fact, there are four: two for the high school, one for the middle schools and one for the elementary schools.

Metroland welcomes typed, double-spaced letters (computer printouts OK), addressed to the editor. Or you may e-mail them to: Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length; 300 words is the preferred maximum. You must include your name, address and day and evening telephone numbers. We will not publish letters that cannot be verified, nor those that are illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.

Send to:
Letters, Metroland, 4 Central Ave.,
4th Floor, Albany, NY 12210
or e-mail us at

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