November 16, 2023
With the passing of Eleanor Whitmore, the honorary chairwoman and namesake of the Eleanor Whitmore Early Childhood Center last week, we are reminded how one person can make a profound difference in our community. As a powerful advocate for working women and their young children, Eleanor had the vision and took responsibility for high-quality education and care for young children. Whether that meant creating an inviting learning environment, better staff pay and benefits, parent and family support, her commitment was unwavering for over 30 years.
Just two years ago, the center honored her at our annual fund-raiser at the age of 96. Eleanor was the star of the party. Engaging, grateful, supportive, and still passionate about the possibilities for the center. Eleanor’s rich legacy of advocacy and service to working women and young children will continue to guide us as a not-for-profit organization.
As I remember my conversations with her, her understanding of this community and its unique needs for affordable housing, nutritious food, responsible benefits and pay for staff and keeping child care affordable were always intertwined. The Eleanor Whitmore Early Childhood Center will miss Eleanor’s amazing resilience, kindness, and love for learning.
TIMOTHY C. FRAZIER
Eleanor Whitmore Early Childhood Center
Power of Music
November 18, 2023
To the Editor,
I wholeheartedly agree with Jack Graves in the views expressed in his recent column “Point of View: On Cutting Liberal Arts.”
And you are so correct, Mr. Graves, we are so fortunate to have many “fascinating, creative people” here in our midst. One such person is Michael Palmer, artistic director of the Hamptons Festival of Music.
Words just cannot describe my experience in listening to Beethoven’s “Heroic” Symphony performed this past September. This classical masterwork was performed within the uniquely intimate space of LTV Studios under the experienced and nuanced baton of our wonderful East Hampton neighbor, Maestro Palmer. And I was not alone; the entire audience rose as one to applaud and cheer this glorious performance.
To think this opportunity (and others provided by Hamptons Music Festival) are offered here in East Hampton! A true gift.
Opening the door to the extraordinary, and sometimes overlooked, world of classical music is the mission of the Hamptons Festival of Music. Whether through their offerings of full orchestral works or their smaller-ensemble gatherings, accessibility to classical music is made possible by the wonderful professional musicians brought together by Maestro Palmer.
The Hamptons Festival of Music is currently working to broaden its community outreach in order to bring classical music to our entire community. Classical music does not live in rarified air — it speaks to all of us.
To learn more about Maestro Palmer, the festival orchestra, and upcoming events, visit its website. Join its virtual music club. Consider supporting its efforts as they work to bring music to all.
As one young musician, newly introduced to the violin, said, “Music not only saved my life, it changed my way of thinking.”
Now more than ever, we need the power of music to unite us, inspire us, and bring us joy.
November 10, 2023
When Kevin McAllister speaks, people should listen (Letters, Nov. 2). His letter regarding sand replenishment and the enormous waste of huge sums to protect the coastal elite with our money is not only wrong and unjust on a colossal scale, but pure idiocy.
Kevin didn’t mention — and I encourage him to here — the dunes are created by an unobstructed wind pattern that the XXL houses perched on top of these very dunes, obscuring the wind flow, are a huge contributing factor to the erosion itself. In other words, they themselves are to blame.
Recently, looking over family photos, I saw huge dunes running the entire length of Dune Road in Southampton in 1991. I took a walk down last week and saw huge houses the entire length of Dune Road and saw very small patches of very small dunes.
So, David, why are Kevin and myself the only ones who know this? The coastal elite don’t care — they don’t actually live here, and, worse, the town leaders encourage it. Yup. Bizarro-world.
No man can hold back time or tide. Bravo, Kevin McAllister.
It Gets Better
New York City
November 19, 2023
Dear Mr. Rattray:
I’ve just returned from a beautiful late afternoon walk in Central Park. Loads of people in Sheep Meadow, sitting, lying out, rocking babies, tossing Frisbees in the receding sunlight. I love moments like this.
As I strolled the walkway near Le Pain Quotidien I saw an attractive middle-aged couple, the gentleman taking an iPhone photo of his lovely companion who posed by the chain-link fence, the meadow in the background. He finished, and I said, “Would you like me to take a picture of the two of you?” He replied, “No, we’re fine, but thank you.” And I said, “That’s okay, I was going to steal your phone anyway!” Then the lady punched me hard in the stomach. Okay, no she didn’t. We all laughed, and I walked quickly on my way, a bit concerned they may have thought I was serious.
But that’s not why I’m writing, Mr. Rattray. I’ve hesitated committing to a letter for a number of reasons that mostly involve the present state of the world and the country. So many horrifying things beyond my comprehension, beyond my ability to make a relevant contribution to the sorting process, politically, practically, emotionally. And normally I would want to do that, or to write something simply to entertain myself, and my 31 readers (yes, a few have dropped off, or moved to Flanders, to be closer to Costco — who can blame them?). But with the planet on fire, literally and in so many other ways, it hasn’t seemed appropriate to write some self-amusing nonsense. Until now.
I will relate several “incidents” that have led to this letter — whether serendipitous, magical, or miraculous, I leave for you to decide, Mr. Rattray. You may want to press pause on the stuffing of your bird, just for these few precious moments. Be sure to wash your hands. Ready?
Several weeks ago I was messaged by a Facebook friend whom I hadn’t seen in person in at least two decades. He wrote that he’d been cleaning out his parents’ home (which made me concerned for the well-being of his parents. Had they passed? I didn’t ask). He said he’d discovered two table lamps that they’d made from Bridgehampton Winery wine bottles, 1989 vintage. One was a riesling bottle, the other chardonnay, and that he’d like to send them to me.
As we know from my previous “posts,” I was the founder of the Bridgehampton Winery, in 1981 (closed in ’95). He included a photo of the wine bottle lamps, and I thought, “Well that’s a bit kitschy.” So I wrote back, “Oh, please don’t send them — they’re family heirlooms!” “Oh no,” he answered, “You should definitely have them!” Sure enough, less than two weeks later a distressed box containing the two bottle lamps, sans shades, arrived at the Amagansett Post Office. Marveling at the objets d’art, I said to Mary, “Where the hell would we put these things?” And she said, “Oh, we’ll find a place!”
Fascinating, right, Mr. Rattray? It gets better. That same day (night) we joined good friends at a small dinner party in East Hampton. Eight couples, all retired teachers, except me, and one teacher still working. This was a truly wonderful gathering of really smart, funny people, and I’m so grateful to my wife for bringing me into her circle of friends. One couple I’d never met before; when we were introduced the husband said, “Oh, I love reading your letters in The Star, but I haven’t seen any lately.” I didn’t go into the reasons for that but I thanked him, said I was very flattered.
Later, because it was fresh on my mind and I thought amusing, I told the story of the wine bottle lamps. And that same couple both said, nearly in unison, “We had our wedding reception at your winery in 1987!” And of course I thought, “Holy shit. That’s crazy,” Which I also said out loud. And I did say, “So, how many people did you have at your reception?” “Oh, about 175 if I remember,” the wife said. And I said, “Do you remember what we charged you for the space?” The husband answered, “I think $500. Maybe $700.”
No wonder we were broke!
Two weeks later, Mary and I attended the opening celebration of a new business in our township. There were at least 100 people in attendance and many familiar faces. A fun night for all. One of the women, a prominent figure in our community, came up to me and asked, “Why haven’t you been writing any letters to The Star? I look for them every week! I need answers!”
Mr. Rattray, at the intersection of ego and vanity is hubris, a word that I’ve never actually used before but that probably explains this letter. So please accept my apology for my hubrisity in writing it. I’ll try to wrap things up on a somewhat more serious note.
A few weeks ago, the winemaker who first joined me at the Bridgehampton Winery as a 21-year-old right out of Cornell, with a bachelor’s degree in plant sciences and viticulture, released the first definitive book on the terroir of and winemaking on the North Fork. Richard Olsen-Harbich’s book, “Sun, Sea, Soll, Wine,” was published by State University of New York Press and it’s a remarkable, scholarly accomplishment and soulful memoir from a man who’s been at the forefront of viticulture and winemaking in our region for over 40 years, the past 12-plus years at Bedell Cellars in Cutchogue. I am so proud of this man and what he’s achieved.
Finally (you’re welcome), the book I told you I’d begun writing over a year ago, Mr. Rattray, it’s nearly finished. It has not been easy, putting ideas and words to fulfill the title, “Uniting the States of America.” Every day the headlines make it seem an ever more distant goal. A lot of editing remains to be done, but I’m not stopping till I think it’s something worthy, something better than the intersection of ego and vanity.
Have a happy Thanksgiving with your family and good friends, and when you grab one side of the wishbone, think of me.
Helping This Community
November 14, 2023
To the Editor,
I just wanted to take a moment to thank all those who participated in the recent town elections, either as voters or as helpers or commentators. The democracy we have in this country is something to cherish. For too many, it is a right that has been withheld and we have to be sure not to take it for granted.
Being elected to the town board is an incredible honor. As I hope I made clear over the last year, helping this community is something I have tried to build my life around. We are fortunate to live in an incredible place, both environmentally and as a community. During my time in government my goal will be to protect and strengthen those two key elements.
Those of you who know me, I hope, would describe me as open-minded, logical, and forward-thinking. As we look to address the challenges facing our town, I look forward to working with all residents to find ways to do things better, to meet the evolving needs facing both us and future generations.
A Great Gesture
November 9, 2023
Although I generally vote Democrat, I think that the open spot on the town board created by Kathee Burke-Gonzalez’s election for supervisor should be filled by one of the three Republicans who ran for office this year: Gretta Leon, Scott Smith, or Michael Wootton. Collectively, that group received roughly one-third of the votes cast. Giving those voters 20 percent representation on the town board would be a great gesture by the board to show they do want to represent all voters.
November 19, 2023
To the Editor,
The fabric of rural, old East Hampton is quickly unraveling, with little left resembling just 40 years ago. Local families need help finding careers that produce income sufficient to compete with the disposable incomes of residents from away who have purchased a vacation home or moved into town in the last 20 years.
National ideologies band together participants in political parties, yet local issues seldom are framed by those ideologies. Those nationalistic ideologies that drive partisans distract from real-life serious solutions to local problems and prevent bipartisan collaborative approaches.
The East Hampton Town Board will be able to fill vacancies on the town board and numerous appointed positions. With a 2.6-to-1 Democrat to Republican ratio, party rule has gotten so dominant that dissenting viewpoints, even from elected Democrats, have been met with scorn and banishment.
History has shown that on most local issues, Republicans, Democrats, and citizens not aligned with any political parties desire the same end goal but differ on how to achieve the goals. In any political process, there are pressures unique to that political party. In a healthy government, there is a majority and a minority, each with a role to play. In those roles, checks and balances occur and bring about measured solutions.
Today’s the East Hampton Town Republican Committee has nominated more non-Republicans than our counterparts. We do not demand a candidate switch parties or adhere to a national ideology. We urge the town board to make appointments based not on political party affiliation but on experience and capabilities.
East Hampton Town Republican Committee
Disdain on Display
November 17, 2023
To the Editor,
The pervasive attitude and handling of the provision of emergency communications capability to Springs is disheartening. I won’t bother to review the long history of this failure, as it would only serve to memorialize the disdain that has been on display towards Springs’s second-class citizens, but I will summarize with one phrase from your reporting: “the new sites could be operational by Memorial Day.”
Now, why is it that Memorial Day is the target to get these long-needed emergency communications in place? Is it because the summer residents will be arriving and their lives are just so much more important than ours?
Addresses the Symptoms
November 19, 2023
I respectfully disagree with your editorial “Pies in the Oven, Problems in the Air” (Nov 16). The fearmongering and misinformation initiated by New York State, regurgitated by the state Energy Research and Development Authority, PSEG-LI, and the Town of East Hampton Energy Sustainability Committee is wrongheaded — it addresses the symptoms, not the cause of poor indoor air quality.
Your grandmother’s home never had mold or problems with indoor air quality because houses were built to “breathe” from air infiltration which increased air quality, but reduced energy efficiency. The problem with air infiltration in older homes: It’s not controlled. There’s more air infiltration when the wind is blowing at 50 miles per hour, less when wind is at 10 m.p.h.
Along with increased air infiltration is a significant loss of energy, wasted energy. Current energy codes require a Home Energy Rating System, or HERS, index, a measure of energy efficiency from insulating values to air infiltration from a blower door test. The Town of East Hampton adopted a HERS Stretch Code that reduced the HERS index even further, which increased energy efficiency and reduced air infiltration more, thus exacerbating the problem. This is the cause of all the symptoms you cited of poor indoor air quality resulting from the use of a gas stove.
Today we build homes with building envelopes built as tightly as possible to make the required HERS index. The problem is, the New York State Building Code never kept up with the energy code.
The solutions to increasing indoor air quality, eliminating the harmful effects of using a gas stove, are twofold. First, a requirement for direct, outside ventilation of the hood over the gas stove. It’s unbelievable a recirculating hood over a gas stove is still permitted in the building code: This should never be allowed for all the reasons you cited. Second, a whole-house ventilation system should also be required by code. With a whole-house ventilation system we can dial in how much indoor air is exchanged per hour based on the blower door test required by HERS. If a homeowner suffers from allergies, is prone to sickness from viruses for example or is using a gas stove, we have the ability to increase the air exchange, thus solving the problem for the symptoms of poor indoor air quality caused by the gas stove or any other health-related problem caused by poor indoor air quality, including mold.
When both the direct venting hood and whole-house ventilating systems are used together, when one system fails to remove all the noxious fumes given off from the gas stove, the other can serve as a backup, ensuring all dangerous gases are ventilated outdoors. We do the same with other thermal energy equipment, it’s called a chimney.
From a climate change perspective, using an electric stove on a fossil fuel grid emits three times more greenhouse gas emissions per British Thermal Unit than using natural gas or propane. The cost per B.T.U. for electricity is three times more than burning natural gas or propane, as proven by the energy analysis in my peer-reviewed paper published in the American Institute of Physics, Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy.
B.T.U. is a unit of energy similar to the scientific energy unit of Joules, with which there is a direct conversion. The cost per B.T.U. is important to understand because homeowners will pay three times as much to bake that pie if using an electric oven rather than a gas oven. This is contrary to the comprehensive energy vision the town board adopted, which requires there be a financial benefit for any climate change or energy-efficiency initiative it adopts.
Methane is the name of the gas in natural gas and propane; as you stated, it has a “big influence on climate change.” In fact, methane is 32 times more effective in causing global warming than carbon dioxide — it’s very bad. However, when methane is burned it is the cleanest burning form of fossil fuel compared to coal, fuel oil, diesel, or gasoline.
Biogas produced from biomass created in an anaerobic digester is considered a renewable energy. Biogas is also methane. The lowest-hanging fruit for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels is coal, fuel oil, diesel, and gasoline; this is what we should be focusing on, not natural gas, propane, or biogas. This is also very important to understand because dumping biomass in landfills, as we do now, releases methane directly into the atmosphere, increasing global warming 32-fold. The same is true when releasing natural gas into the atmosphere. It is more harmful to release methane in the atmosphere than if we burn it, unlike coal, fuel oil, diesel, or gasoline.
Methane created from fossil fuels or biomass will always be with us as a source of thermal energy because it is better for the environment to burn it than to release it into the atmosphere. Producing electricity from fossil fuels is only 33 percent efficient. The modulating, condensing propane boiler I use as backup to the renewable thermal energy sources in our home is 99 percent efficient. This is a no-brainer.
My plan is to replace propane with biogas to achieve the goal to be fossil fuel-free. From an environmental or climate change perspective it will make no difference since both are methane. I prefer using a renewable source for methane rather than a fossil fuel source by redirecting biomass from a landfill that would otherwise have released methane directly into the atmosphere, instead creating renewable methane to be burned, over all reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing global warming.
The climate change crisis will never be solved by government mandates or by altruistic solutions. Only when people understand there is a financial benefit in adopting renewable energy will a viable solution to the crisis exist. More information can be found on my website: www.frankdalene.com and my best-selling book, “Decarbonize the World, Solving the Climate Change Crisis While Increasing Profits In Your Business.” If we work together, we can, quite literally, save the world.
Nonviolent Hate Crime
November 11, 2023
Thank you for being so quick to report the latest nonviolent hate crime in Montauk — can you please have reporters use that term, instead of “vandalism” or “graffiti”? This is either the same people, or a copycat. Clearly not catching the first criminals, and the only consequence being some sad people at a gazebo, was not enough of a deterrent.
As a community, we really need the media to help, please. The word should be spread that this is a federal hate crime and not use the same language as if someone painted a Hello Kitty or Winnie the Pooh on a building; that’s vandalism.
Thank you for reading this and thank you for doing all you can do to help stop this hate in our town. Perhaps a call to higher authorities to actually find the criminals is in order.
Is and Is Not
November 17, 2023
To the Editor:
I enjoyed your reporters’ lengthy and thoughtful front-page article last week about the Sag Harbor cease-fire demonstration and counterprotest, in which I was quoted. I also happen to be the unnamed demonstrator who was called by one of the leaders of the countergroup — East End Jews for Israel — a “ghetto Jew.” Actually, he called me a “demented ghetto Jew,” which made me laugh. I am planning to have T-shirts made (let me know if you want one). At the same time, his colleague added, “You’re no Jew.”
These folks revealed with their rhetoric that they think they are a higher life form and that, in fact, they get to decide who is and is not Jewish. Please contrast the two groups: We abandoned our usual corner to them, with good grace, and went across the street. We didn’t cross over to harass them; they came to us to try to block us from view and to drown us out, and then insulted us in the most childish, bullying fashion.
Our group held signs for peace and a cease-fire. If you look at the photo of their group in last week’s Star, they are holding a sign which says “JVP [hearts] October 7.” That is a libel on Jewish Voices for Peace. I have attended some of J.V.P.’s demonstrations over the years. They are not supporters of terrorism but are compassionate and thoughtful Jewish people who have a right both under the laws of the United States and, by the way, of Israel (as our group also does), to disagree with the East End Jews for Israel.
As for my Jewish credentials, which I should not have to display, I attended Hebrew School and was bar mitzvahed at Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn. The current rabbi, Rachel Timoner, went to the pro-Israel demonstration in Washington this week as part of a “peace bloc,” according to the venerable Jewish paper, The Forward. “That’s the complexity of this moment for liberal and progressive Jews and liberal and progressive Zionists,” Rabbi Timoner told The Forward, “that we’re going to have a march where we know the people who are speaking from the stage — many of them — do not speak for us.”
In 1988, my wife and I were married in the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue by Rabbi Rick Jacobs, who has become nationally prominent in the intervening years as the president of the Union for Reform Judaism. Rabbi Jacobs, having called for a humanitarian pause in Gaza, was deluged with hate, I assume, by the same kind of human who called me a “demented ghetto Jew.” Rabbi Jacobs wrote in the Jewish Journal that we “should refrain from publicly attacking each other and weakening the Jewish community when its heart is already breaking.” But possibly the person who thinks I am “no Jew” thinks Rabbi Jacobs isn’t, either.
For free speech and democracy in East Hampton,
The World Changed
November 20, 2023
To the Editor:
I would like to express my profound gratitude to East Hampton Village Mayor Jerry Larsen, Police Chief Jeff Erikson, and the entire village police department for the help and cooperation in making the Rally in the Park for Israel and for Peace possible and providing security beyond anyone’s expectations. Were it not for these people, my partner Mitch Agoos and I could never have pulled it off.
I would also like to thank all the members of the community’s clergy for their beautiful speeches and participation. I also extend my gratitude to the local politicians who gave up a part of a beautiful Sunday to show their support for our cause. Lastly, I would like to extend my appreciation to all the attendees. It was a great turnout and their support for our community is, I am sure, appreciated by us all. I have attached my speech hereto that I was unable to make due to an unforeseen circumstance. I hope you can find a way to publish it:
The world changed on Oct. 7 just as it changed on 9/11. We can all feel it. We can sense it in everything around us. The original concept for this rally — grew from the idea that we all need to be strong and visible. We cannot hide behind walls. We need to show our strength as a society, as a people. The disgusting display in Montauk last week highlights that fact.
None of us are immune to the terrorism that is so visible in the world now. The idea of the rally then changed to a rally to show solidarity with each other. Solidarity with our neighbors, our friends, our relatives, the clerk in the — store, the counterperson at the deli.
East Hampton has always been a town where people can rely on each other — in times of need. Whether it’s a clothing drive or a fund-raiser for a family in need. East Hamptoners are always — there for each other. It’s a comforting feeling. So that was my second impetus for this rally.
And then it morphed — again — to anger. I hear the calls for peace and for cease-fire and humanitarian delay in the war, but I can’t — unsee the horrors of Oct. 7. I will refrain from describing those scenes, as I’m sure many of you have seen them, too. There — cannot be a rally of this type without mentioning the savagery, butchery, bloodthirstiness, sadism, cruelty, and — barbarity the terrorists of Hamas inflicted on innocent people in Israel, on kids, babies, women, elderly. I am not here to take sides but it is information that needs to be known. Clearly — there — are innocents being affected on — both — sides, but peace can come only one way. And that is with the elimination, — the obliteration of the terrorist forces in the Middle East.
Peace and Protest
November 6, 2023
I read with great interest the editorial in The Star on Oct. 26 titled “The World Must Protect Gaza’s Noncombatants,” which said, “Clearly, the sooner the fighting stops, the sooner the harm to ordinary people on both sides has a chance of ending.” How could any sane person object to humanitarian goals directed at saving lives? I also eagerly read the front-page article “East End for Ceasefire” (Nov. 2). One of the four Jewish founders was quoted as saying, “I’m a real believer in the basic human rights of every one of our fellow human beings.” What a noble, virtuous statement; I agree.
Hamas lives by a covenant that calls for waging jihad — a holy war — to “raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.” It lives by these words and it is unproductive (if not naive) to not take them at their word. Hamas’s updated charter (2017) says this although perhaps a little more circumspectly.
Too few people understand that Hamas does not seek a two-state solution. The slogan “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” is not a liberal call for democracy. It is a slogan intended to raise support for not only expelling Jews from land but actually eliminating (killing) them.
The Palestinian Liberation Organization, led by Mahmoud Abbas, similarly maintains a charter that calls for “death to the Jews.” For two decades (since 2003) they have been paying millions of dollars in monthly salaries to the families of those who martyr themselves (i.e., by suicide bombings in Israeli bus stops and cafes) by killing Jewish civilians. Paying “martyrs” — which encourages killing — is a law in the West Bank. No leader of this group has ever accepted a two-state solution, even after the Oslo Accords gave them more disputed land than they occupied. In fact, Dr. Abbas (who was elected to a four-year term as leader of the P.L.O. 20 years ago) wrote his doctoral thesis on the “fantasy” of the Holocaust. He sticks to his denial of the tragedy enacted by the Nazis because his goal in the Middle East is a similar “final solution” to his “Jewish problem.”
There are many, many easily available statements from Muslim Leaders that encourage the killing of “westerners” and, especially Jews. For example, Iran’s leader, Ali Khamenei, publicly congratulated Hamas on the brutality of their terrorist rampage during Oct 7 and encouraged celebrating the murders, beheadings, burnings, rapes, and mutilation of Jewish civilians. He loves to chant, “Death to the West!”
So, I call on pacifists, believers in nonviolence, and activists to include in their demonstrations and thinking a call not only for Israel to cease fire but to include Hamas-Hezbollah, armed Houthis in Yemen, the P.L.O., Fatah, and, especially Iran, to stop their violence and seek a sensible, humanistic negotiation for peace.
It’s not entirely up to one side to pursue peace. That’s been a major part of the problem in the continuation of the eight major wars, numerous intifadas, waves of suicide bombings and frequent ? if not constant ? attacks by rockets conducted by the Muslim states against Jewish Israel. It is quite an interesting phenomenon that Western messages of peace and humanity are mostly directed at Jews living in Israel while seldom addressing Muslim Palestinians and their brethren. Incidentally, in case you didn’t know, Palestine was never a state, and Israel was declared a state by the United Nations (1948) just as Jordan was in 1947 or Lebanon in 1943.
There are about 22 Arab nations and over 50 Muslim nations; there is only one Jewish state. Isn’t there enough room in all the surrounding Arab-Muslim countries to take in most Palestinians who want to separate themselves from the Hamas-Israel conflict?
The passage of humanitarian supplies could then easily flow to those in need. The biggest part of this problem is that all the nearby countries fear having jihadist-minded refugees inside their borders. But they want Israel to live next door to them without restriction. In terms of Hamas, it’s as if Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, and Jeffrey Dahmer were looking to buy the house next door to you, and the authorities told you, “Don’t worry. Be happy!”
So, in telling Israel what to do, is it possible for activists, believers in nonviolence, and pacifists to also tell — or even ask — the monarchies that fund Hamas terrorists and other terrorist organizations to change if they sincerely want peace? For example, say in public that they deplore the use of civilians as human shields and the taking of hostages, especially children and grandmothers. You could tell them to stop funding school books that indoctrinate readers with Jew hatred and stop challenging children to obliterate Israel. You could admonish Iran for creating and sponsoring terrorism. You could protest Iran’s support of Bashar al-Assad’s rule in Syria (actively supported by Putin’s Russia) that has killed more civilians and refugees than all the Israel-Palestinian wars combined. You might also tell them to cease building a drone factory for Putin to use in attacking Ukrainian civilians. You could tell the emirs in Qatar to kick Hamas’s leadership out of their posh local residences and make them face the realities of living in Gaza where money is stolen from humanitarian aid to build tunnels for jihad instead of providing aid and hope to their fellow Palestinians. You could demonstrate to get Egypt and Jordan to open their gates to civilians wanting to escape becoming “collateral damage.” You could use the million-plus Ukrainians sheltering in Poland as a model. You could, in addition to calling for an Israeli cease-fire, march, scream, and write editorials about changing the attitudes and policies needed for peace instead of jihad.
It’s time for a paradigm shift. Pundits and organizers who sincerely believe in peace need to spend some of their energy focusing on Arab and Muslim rulers who foment violence and pay terrorists. That is, if you truly want peace, justice, and western morality to prevail.
November 19, 2023
To the Editor,
Seeing a picture of swastikas is something else. It’s odd to think in other cultures it is used to this day as “good luck” and “prosperity,” along with a variety of other meanings.
In fact, the original graffiti with the phrase “Jeden die” spray-painted on a fence makes me wonder. Jeden in German is “every” — I guess it was meant for everyone. A “U” would need to be in place as the second letter for whom the target was apparently intended.
I learned from a young age of my family and our Polish heritage and the fears they had of Russia coming in from the east and Germany encroaching from the west. To the United States they came for freedom and served in the wars no one ever talked about. I was taught of those hardships my ancestors faced. Lessons included to never be silent, complicit, or live in fear.
Veterans Day also marked 105 years since Poland regained its independence. Szczesliwego dziekczynienia!
Two Unequal Parties
November 19, 2023
This week I received photos from a friend who has lived in Israel for the past 55 years. The pics were from 1967 on the beach at Eilat. She commented on how good we looked and how much better the world was in 1968 than today. We had hope and strong beliefs in some institutions even though we had Vietnam, race riots, and Richard Nixon.
Nixon was racist, antisemitic, and brutally ignorant about the world (China excluded. See: Kissinger). He kept us in Vietnam insanely. Yet what he did was in the context of the United States as a democracy, which he believed in. Today we have lost the threads that keep us moving toward a fairer, more functional democracy.
We completely blew the Israel-Palestine issue due to our existential ignorance about power politics in the world. In this conundrum there are two unequal parties. One is wealthy, established, and powerful. It has everything to lose. The other is poor, weak, and miserable. It has nothing to lose. The insanity of living with the threat of a violent disaster day in and day out is dehumanizing. Living without hope is similar.
The Hamas attack was Israel’s worst nightmare. “Never again” rings hollow and tinny. Finding a solution should be the only reason an Israeli government exists. Israel, in fact, is the only one capable of making it work.
What do you offer the Palestinian people for peace? How much time is it worth to guarantee that the nightmares go away? Not the idiocy of Netanyahu playing Hamas off against the Palestinian Liberation Organization while Israeli settlers take over the West Bank.
Sixteen years with Hamas and Netanyahu in power wasted by sophistry and deceit. Religion rearing its ugly heads on both sides.
Hamas and Netanyahu are disseminators of hate. They characterize the other as subhuman and their violence is rationalized. Master and slave. Oppressor and oppressed. No remorse. No guilt.
In 1968, Nixon might have thought “vermin” but would never dare to say it. Today, we are unleashed, untethered, deranged by our deviance yet undeterred by respect for our system or the love of our country. We normalize our deviance and are undisturbed by its violence. The state of Israel and Palestine is beyond depressing. The state of the United States is on the same track. Survival is that the people find their better selves and rise up against the madness. We need to hit the streets.
November 14, 2023
To the Editor:
The New York Times, Nov. 13: “At a campaign event Saturday in New Hampshire, Mr. Trump vowed to ‘root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.’”
What does “root out” mean? Will I — or you — be dragged from our houses for the books on our shelves, for supporting health care for all, for being grateful for our immigrant neighbors, for being a Democrat or a “Republican-in-name-only,” or for writing this letter?
“Vermin” was a word the Nazis used to dehumanize Jews, Gypsies, and homosexuals. So I declare that we are all under threat from Mr. Trump and we must take this threat seriously.
The only ones who can stop him are we, the people.
November 17, 2023
To the Editor,
George Santos, whose lies, fake news, and alternative facts almost make Donald Trump seem in comparison like an honest man, now claims that he won’t run for re-election; but given that his former campaign political action committee was titled “G.A.D.S.,” for his supposedly full name of George Anthony Devolder Santos, I’m afraid this basically fictional character might try to secretly sneak his name onto the ballot as any one of the two dozen alter-ego forms of his full four-part name: Santos George Devolder Anthony, et al. If he’s successful, I hope no one votes for any of them. Personally, George Santos has made me afraid to ever cast a vote for even a “George” Washington or a “Santa” Claus.