Telegraph Ave. issues to face
I just finished reading your Dec. 7 front-page article regarding the dereliction and proposed renewal of Telegraph Avenue. Although there are references to such issues as homelessness, there was no mention of the elephant-in-the-room problem: People's Park.
I lived near Telegraph and was a student at Cal in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I can tell you the park as it stands today bears little resemblance to the vibrant catalyst for social change it was back then. The violent clashes between the "people" and local police are what linger in the minds of the general public and media. But most of the time the park was a gathering place where ideas, music, mutual assistance and a general sharing and proliferation of the more beneficial aspects of the '60s vibe were shared and exchanged.
What we have now is basically a trash-strewn, illegal campground for various drug addicts and confused seekers, with an unhealthy dose of criminals and potentially dangerous characters. If polled, I seriously doubt any of the current habitués of the park would have any real sense of the history and significance of the place.
Telegraph will never become the pedestrian and shopper-friendly place envisioned by the participants of the City Council workshop until this serious issue is addressed.
In order to preserve the memory and significance of People's Park and all that it stood for back then, I propose a monument and plaza be created, with enough green area for it to still be considered a park. The new park could also be tastefully lighted, with paths and benches, as well as some form of security system in place.
Perhaps a nationwide competition for design ideas for such a monument and plaza, jointly supported by Cal and the city -- think Vietnam wall, etc. -- would be a great start in the right direction. Not only would the monument preserve in perpetuity what Berkeley in the 1960s stood for, it would go a long way toward solving the crime and nuisance problem the current park presents.
In addition, I think it very likely the monument would attract tourists to the area from around the country, providing further inducement for the kind of attractive development the university and the city could be proud of.
Palestinians in United Nations
The admission of a Palestinian state to United Nations membership is a welcome event because it is a step in the direction of self-determination for Palestinian Arabs and counters Israeli denial in word and deed of the existence of a Palestinian nationality.
Golda Meir, the late Prime Minister of Israel, most famously expressed Israeli denial of Palestinian nationality, saying there was no such thing as a Palestinian (echoed recently by Newt Gingrich). Successive Israeli governments quite intentionally have made impossible the establishment of a Palestinian state by continually colonializing Palestinian territory.
Additionally, their membership in the United Nations may afford Palestinians a chance of finding justice before the International Criminal Court (ICC), something Israel may have reason to fear more than rockets from Gaza.
Israel's violations of international law and war crimes are legion, and a short list would include: the continued occupation and colonization of the West Bank; the collective punishment of Gaza, including notorious operations Cast Lead and Pillar of Cloud; and a 400-mile-long wall isolating the inhabitants of the West Bank, held to be illegal by the ICC.
Genuine peace requires recognition of realities and justice.
A day that will live in infamy
Before I noticed Nilda Rigo's Dec. 7 human-interest column, "Feeling the effects of Pearl Harbor," I'd started to write "How come such a loud silence on Dec. 7, the day that will live in infamy?"
After reading Rigo's warm and fuzzy words, I was even more strongly moved to cry out -- as a 91-year-old who sees things differently than what I saw as a 20-year-old in 1941. TV didn't exist, we had one another, newspapers and radios, were everywhere. I was a Navy (V-7 Reserve) UC junior, struggling to understand and to see something called a "future" following victory in that "noble war."
Is it possible that today's warm and fuzzy human interest echoes, on Page 3 of a weekly paper, about an event as huge as 9/11, reflect the guilty, down-deep knowledge in high places, that both sides were complicit; both governments had dirty hands and secret agendas?
All except the innocent victims in London, Leningrad and Nagasaki, and the sailors, soldiers and airmen on both sides, and their families. Our multiple deployments, without treatment for post-traumatic stress, make me squirm.
Political correctness has replaced those ethnic hatreds with several-decade layers of near East and Middle Eastern ethnic and religious hatreds.
Weren't they orchestrated in what has now become the all-encompassing "War on Terror," 9/11 being only the latest definition of "infamy," a naked manifestation of FDR's plea: "All we have to fear is fear itself." How prophetic.
And don't forget that the military-industrial complex, as well as our dynamic economy, were launched into overdrive after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Great Depression was forgotten, our economy recovered, and we prospered!
Sounds just like a prescription for America right now, eh? Is it possible that war in the Middle East and Muslims in re-location camps might be seen as an answer to Speaker Boehner and President Obama's prayers and fears about the fiscal cliff?
If I sound cynical and bitter, maybe I am.
Happy Hanukkah, Ramadan, Christmas ... and peace in 2013.
Stunning event in Hungary
As Hungarian-Americans and daughters of Hungarian Holocaust survivors, we are saddened and outraged to hear of the recent outburst by a member of the Hungarian Parliament asking for an accounting of all Jews in government for security reasons. We are stunned that this chilling echo of our painful past, which saw the destruction of nearly 600,000 Hungarian Jews by the Nazis with the complicity of the Hungarian Arrow Cross, could take place today in the context of a democratic session.
That there was not a single immediate response of rebuke by any other Parliament members is beyond belief. Certainly disappointing was that it took 16 hours for the Hungarian government to issue a response of regret to hearing the incendiary remarks of the Jobbik Party representative who, even in his backtrack, said that only those members with dual Hungarian-Israeli passports were of concern to him regarding security risk in light of the Middle East situation.
We strongly urge the passing of legislation to forbid such incendiary, inappropriate remarks in our homeland that needs to move beyond its age-old anti-Semitic history. We also urge Hungarians of all backgrounds to join together for peaceful coexistence.
Albany Shara Gemes Berkeley