Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor: April 8

Horse arena

Facts were misrepresented

It is unfortunate that the covered arena project at Paradise Ridge is losing funding from Tom Stewart. A horse-lover himself, he contributed substantially over the years to support the equestrian community on the Island.

Even more unfortunate, however, is the article appearing April 1 which incorrectly conveys that Mr. Stewart’s decision to withdraw his offer was sudden, unexpected or unilateral.

Tom Stewart promised $220,000 for the project in the original agreement with Vashon-Maury Island Horse Association provided that the project was to begin no later than September 2007. He even gave half — $110,000 — up front, providing seed money and a base earning interest income for the association.

To date, construction still has not begun, which prompted me to inform the association six months ago that the donation could no longer go forward because the original terms of the agreement were not met by the association. The association returned the contribution.

To be perfectly clear, the association did not live up to its commitment regarding the time schedule.

This fact directly contradicts the erroneous statement in the story that “Friend and Twist agreed that organizers and designers…held up their half of the bargain under the agreement.”

As your story correctly reports, I said, “It didn’t happen within the time limits.” There is simply no way to conclude from this statement that I agreed that organizers had “held up” their half of the bargain, unless you mean by “held up” that they delayed and did not meet the terms of the letter.

Tom Stewart was asked last month to reconsider his decision — which he did. His final decision remains the same and must now take into account the economic picture, which has changed dramatically during the last two years.

— Steve Twist, general counsel for Services Group of America

Wildlife

Protect predators

It is with great sadness that I heard of the poaching of the young wolf from the Lookout Pack. I have high hopes that Washington State will become the example of how people live with big predators. It is sad when one individual has no respect for the law and no understanding of how nature works.

Most of us know that predators keep wild populations of animals like deer and elk healthy by taking the easiest to catch. Often this is the sick or heavily parasite-loaded individual. If we kill off our big predators, there is nothing left to do this service.

Why should we care? If you are farming, especially organically, you want wildlife to be healthy around you. Your livestock, being ruminants, can catch the same diseases and parasites that the wild ruminants, such as deer and elk, carry.

Nature has a clever and intricate balancing system. Do you know that wolves control coyote populations? If you take an apex predator out of the picture, serious balancing problems occur.

I know organic farmers who have terrible problems with parasites in their livestock. It is a very serious matter. There are effective means of living and farming around big predators. If you need help or have questions, contact Wolftown at 463-9113 or wolftown@centurytel.net.

Of course the wildlife in our country are part of our heritage and add to the beauty and depth of our wild lands. They have a right to be here.

Would you wish our state to be like England, which killed off all its big predators? Don’t the wolf, the bear and the eagle define the West?

— T Yamamoto, director of Wolftown

Day of prayer

Keep it open to all

Again, we come to the National Day of Prayer (May 7, this year). Again, my heart cringes at the overt references to American Christianity, as though God hears only prayers in English and only from the lips of those who follow Jesus Christ.

The history of the National Day of Prayer is scattered with issues of exclusion, especially after the National Day of Prayer Task Force was formed, non-governmentally, by the organization Focus on the Family. This taskforce promotes a Christians-only involvement, even specifically excluding the Mormons from participating in 2002.

I am not inferring that the people organizing the National Day of Prayer on Vashon are a part of this task force. I have not asked them this question. I only raise this concern because, task force or no, the past years have reflected an exclusiveness that I find extremely offensive. 

Nobody has a corner on prayer. Nobody has God’s personal, unlisted phone number. Every single thing that breathes, and I include all that exists in that definition, is indescribably precious in the sight of the Creator. No one and nothing is excluded from the presence of God. And what is prayer, anyway, if not living in that presence?

I ask the folks who are organizing the Vashon National Day of Prayer to consider making it truly a day of prayer for all. We have a strong tradition on this Island of standing together, of rejecting prejudice. Let’s not make prayer a point of bigotry, not here.

— Debbie Butler

Middle East

Arabs’ land was confiscated

In response to Kathryn Ilsely-Shannon’s recent letter in The Beachcomber, although there are other inaccuracies in her facts, I would like to focus on the Israeli confiscation of Arab land.

Meron Benvenisti, an Israeli political scientist and former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, addresses the issue of Israeli land acquisition in an article titled, “With all due respect for the ‘blue box.’” This article was published in Haaretz, Israel’s oldest daily newspaper, on May 29, 2007.

Benvenisti states that David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, sold “abandoned” Arab land to the Jewish National Fund (JNF) on Jan. 27, 1949, a little more than six months after he took office. This was not only improper but illegal, as “even the laws that it (Israel) had enacted by then did not grant the state ownership of these lands.”

The impetus for Ben-Gurion’s transfer of land to the JNF was the UN General Assembly passage of Resolution 194 on Dec. 11, 1948. Resolution 194 allowed the refugees to return to their homes and, if they chose not to return, to receive compensation.

According to Benvenisti, Ben-Gurion sold the land to the JNF as “he did not want Israel’s sovereignty to be sullied by mat-

ters that stank of illegality, deviation from international norms and immorality.”

By this action, the voluntary purchase of land from Arab owners under the mandate and the “redemption of lands” from the Israeli government were intentionally blurred. The lands of the uprooted Arabs now became the land of the Jewish people. Under JNF leasing laws, which banned leasing land to non-Jews, discrimination between Jewish citizens and Arab citizens of Israel allowed for the confiscation (“purchase”) from uprooted fellow Arabs.

With loss of their property, 700,000 Arab Muslims and Arab Christians remained as refugees. The non-implementation of UN Resolution 194 has had a direct bearing on the Middle East crisis we see today. The owners have never received compensation.

— Maryrose Asher

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