Letters to the editor

April haiku

It’s been a month full of weather

In the spirit, if not the verbal elegance, of those Hiway Haiku placed at the north-end dock, I herewith submit one more (it is a poor thing, but mine own):

Vashon April

Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain.

Gray skies, sun breaks, hope, showers,

rain, rain rain rain … rain.

Ed Leimbacher

Vashon’s water

Let’s take care of our aquifer

Here’s a question worth pondering.

A guest speaker at a Vashon school explains the water cycle and what “sole source aquifer” means. (The only water on this Island comes from the rain and from second-hand water from irrigation, septic systems, etc.) Then she asks this question: “Here on the Island, how many times during your life will you drink or use the very same water?” Silence in the room. Then a couple of high-pitched “Iccck”s.

It’s a question we should all ponder for a moment. Then take a second look at that orange and white flier that just came in the mail — Household Hazardous Wastemobile at the K2 parking lot this coming weekend (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, April 11, through Sunday, April 13).

This is a rare opportunity to gather up the old pesticides, cleaners, oil-based paints, oil, antifreeze and other substances in our houses, garages, sheds and barns and dispose of them. For free.

The Island has taken good care of its aquifer. But as the years go by, what slowly gets into the ground will became an increasingly difficult problem for our children and grandchildren.

Frank Jackson


Making the ferry system work

When I interviewed Rep. Sharon Nelson recently on Voice of Vashon Standing By, I especially loved her answer when I asked her assessment of our new ticketing system at the ferry docks.

“Wave2Go has a Ways2Go,” said Sharon. I couldn’t agree more. One of the biggest hassles regarding the new system comes when you have to put ferry tickets in multiple vehicles. If you’re not a daily commuter and have tickets in two cars, it can become difficult to get 20 rides in over 90 days. You also have to track which card has more rides on it so that they’re used evenly.

Well, here’s what we did, and it’s made life much simpler: We made copies of both our car/driver and passenger tickets. Then we had those copies laminated.

The originals are in one car. The copies are in the other. The bar code on the copy still registers just like the original and that’s all the ferry worker with the card-reader and the wrist brace (to ward off carpal tunnel) cares about.

It’s a simple way to avoid having to buy multiple tickets. As long as you leave the Island at least 10 times over 90 days, you won’t be penalized for not leaving the Island often enough.

Jeff Hoyt

Middle East

Column didn’t capture tragedy

Vashon Islanders for Peace is accused in an op-ed in last week’s Beachcomber about the Palestinian refugee situation of “oversimplifying” the problem.

There is no single authoritative source for the exact number of Palestinian refugees displaced or expelled during the 1948 and 1967 wars. According the United Nations, 4.3 million are registered with and receive assistance from the United Nations High Commission on Refugees. Another 1.7 million were not eligible or did not register for assistance. And another 400,000 Palestinians were displaced after the 1967 war who were neither 1948 nor 1967 refugees.

According to the Bethlehem-based BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, “The lack of a systematic register for all Palestinian refugees continues to obstruct accurate assessment of the size of this population.” So it is not surprising that there are conflicting numbers quoted from various sources, some with political biases.

However, the numbers quoted by Andrew Schwarz and Tom Bean — 7,000 or 8,000 — tragically misrepresent the size of the displacement of Palestinians from their homeland. For 60 years, at the very least, 4.3 million people have not had access to their homes, orchards and livelihoods. It is indeed a “humanitarian crisis” in the words of Schwarz and Bean. But who is “oversimplifying” the problem? Not Vashon Islanders for Peace, surely.

Schwarz and Bean tell us that 150,000 Jews were expelled from Iraq “in genocidal retaliation for the creation of the Jewish state.” We would agree that this was indeed immoral. By their own logic then, the displacement of Palestinians was and is “genocidal” as well. In the interests of peace we wish Schwarz and Bean had availed themselves of the opportunity to hear from an Israeli and a Palestinian, living there, who themselves are peace activists.

Kate Hunter, Vashon Islanders for Peace, and Maryrose Asher, Green Party Washington

Column was misleading

In a recent column, Andrew Schwarz and Tom Bean accused the sponsors of a recent event addressing the Palestinian/Israeli conflict of “seeking to oversimplify a complicated situation with misleading information about the Middle East.” Actually, Schwarz and Bean are guilty of misleading readers. The sole example they provided is that while the event sponsors stated that 9 million Palestinians have been displaced, one of the speakers, Eitan Bronstein, recently stated that the number was 7,000 to 8,000. At http://www.kboo.fm/node/5999, you can listen to what Bronstein said in the interview Schwarz and Bean reference:

“This is the tragedy of the Palestinians, when Israel, the state of Israel, was founded on the expense of most of the Palestinians living in this land. Most of them were expelled … from here, about seven to 800 people, eight thou-thousand (sic) people. Most of their villages and towns were destroyed.”

Bronstein stumbled in speaking the numbers. Obviously, he meant 700,000 to 800,000, the number commonly cited. The UN recognizes descendents of these people in its current refugee estimate of almost 5 million. Also, a huge number of Palestinians live under Israeli military occupation.

Bronstein’s answer to whether Israelis are aware of this history describes the principal obstacle to peace:

“Yeah, in a way, we the Israelis, we know it. … But it … is kind of suppressed knowledge. … It’s out of the discourse of the curriculum in schools, in public affairs, the media and so on. So, people know very little about it … We don’t learn about it. Even people who are living in … former … Palestinian villages … know very, very little about it.”

Most supporters of Israel like to say that the problem is “complicated.” The solution will be complicated because the problem has not been addressed for 60 years. The root cause, however, is simple: Palestinians were expelled from their homes and have not been allowed to return. There can be no peace until Israelis and supporters of Israel recognize this gross injustice and accept responsibility for it.

Richard Paulis

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