Freedom of the oppressed: It's unbelievable that the misconception is so prevalent that there's an "oppressed and occupied" Palestine ("Der Füror," Sarah Fenske, August 11). Your writer touched on the central point when she observed: "[The YWCA leadership] focused on the Palestinians' mistreatment without a word about [Yasser] Arafat's . . . unwillingness to accept a two-state solution."
The well-known Israeli diplomat Abba Eban often declared that "the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity." And on May 14, 1948, Jews unilaterally claimed their independence, which had been internationally supported for 25 years. Jews were immediately attacked by what was known as the Arab League (including Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq). Nineteen years later, Arabs residing in Palestine invited neighbors to attack Israel.
It's unbelievable to me that a body of people can be liberated by another political entity, make so many poor political choices, launch two massive failed military campaigns, continue in ad hoc aggression, and be depicted as "oppressed and occupied."
People like those governing the YWCA only give virtue to the misguided who commit acts of terror. Palestinians should be constantly reminded that the only behavior that will lead to international support is humility and subjugation. Until then, the wrongs Israel commits are merely responses to an un-recalcitrant foe.
For what it's worth, I'm not Jewish. However, I am a liberal (Democrat) who believes it's exactly this kind of unattractive single-minded pursuit of a cause that has made the Democratic party so very unpopular today. It's reminiscent of the anti-gun movement of the late '80s and early '90s. History and integrity are tossed out the window as individuals with an apparent need to identify with something create an "in" group and an evil "out" group. The movement becomes about preserving identity; it's not about the cause the "in" group claims to champion.
Mark Fuller, Tempe
Genocide, by any other name . . . : Sarah Fenske's screed against alleged anti-Israel bias in the Maricopa County YWCA is itself a good example of slanted reporting. The piece is shot through with innuendo against Connie Robinson, the YWCA's board of directors president.
Robinson is discredited as a frenetic, steamrolling politico whose beauty and ambition far outstrip her brains. Likewise, world YWCA Vice President Doris Pagelkopf is painted as "a well-meaning Lake Wobegon liberal who's spent all of two weeks in Palestine." That is, she's just another anti-Semite defaming Israel by exaggerating the plight of Palestinians in the occupied territories.
In contrast, Fenske's heroine, Barbara Lewkowitz, ex-executive director of the county YWCA, is a role model of "steely" resolve and virtue, who's got a "voice so sweet" and a "manner so kind." The photo of her crossing her heart was a nice touch.
But let's have another look at the specific passage of the "Witness Report" that stirred Lewkowitz to righteous indignation and set off the tempest in the local Jewish teapot: "Hitler tried to exterminate the Jews, and now a group of Israelis, not all Israelis, is trying to choke off and rid the land of Palestinians."
Does Lewkowitz actually believe that there is no faction in Israel that would do exactly that if it possessed the authority and power? Genocide, or ethnic cleansing, can be accomplished by means other than gas chambers. Does she believe that all Jews are above such bigotry and hate? If so, she herself is possessed by a racist mentality that sets up her group as morally superior to all others.
All criticism of Israel's policies in the Middle East is summarily dismissed by apologists as anti-Semitic, a red herring that even many Jews are well aware of. But Lewkowitz and her brethren should remember that Palestinians are Semites, while a large portion of the Jews in Israel aren't.
The red herring of anti-Semitism to deflect attention from the anti-Arabism in much of Israeli society and government is a fish that is increasingly failing to swim in international waters.
A. Wayne Senzee, Phoenix
It depends on what your definition of "is" is: In your article "Der Füror," I was mentioned as the "Jewish" consultant for the YWCA during a very challenging time for both the YWCA and the Jewish community.
I'm concerned that we're continuing to build a wedge between the Jewish community and the Christian community by ethnically labeling ourselves. I am a Jew and I am a consultant, but why am I a Jewish consultant? Is that relevant to this matter?
I also want the record to show that I never said the Jewish community should step aside. I did say the current leaders who have been engaging in this dialogue haven't successfully built a bridge to reconciliation, and as such, it's time for new leadership to intervene.
Lisa Benson, Phoenix
Bias fear: After reading your YWCA article, I want to point out a few observations, and one outrage.
First, did your writer read those lines of the Doris Pagelkopf report objectively? It seems that someone told her that the report was racist and biased, and then she just accepted it. The report uses the word "correlation." When someone makes a correlation, or observes similarities, between two things, this isn't the same thing as saying they are equal. Only someone who's reading the report with the predetermination that it's bad or wrong would interpret the word as meaning equalization of Hitler to Israel.
Second, your article mentions over and over that the YWCA report is racist and anti-Semitic. The report talks about "a group of Israelis." Israel is a country. How did this leap to racism happen?
Nicholas Collins, Phoenix
Freaks and Geeks
Investigate this: Step right up and see "Baby Man" (Joe Watson, June 9)! And in this ring: Big, Beautiful Women Who Go Clubbing ("Full Bloom," Inferno, Stephen Lemons, July 28)! Now, be sure not to miss Drag Kings ("The Man Show," Niki D'Andrea, August 11)!
Who's on deck? Elvis Impersonators and the Llamas That Love Them?
You've had a lot of good investigative pieces lately. Too bad they're routinely overshadowed by stories about entertaining characters, and the articles you've been promoting on your covers have been good.
I guess I just wish that John Dougherty articles were always your cover stories.
Stacy Holmstedt, Mesa
Fear and loathing in public officials: Oh my God, it just keeps getting scarier and scarier! Now we read in horror of Superior Court Judge Michael D. Jones' refusal to see the facts in New Times' lawsuit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio ("Histrionics Lesson," John Dougherty, August 11).
Can't the people of Arizona see this for what it is? Is every politician and government agency that afraid of going against Arpaio? This fear on the part of public officials is scarier than the crap Arpaio is getting away with. Isn't there a county attorney, an attorney general or a governor in Arizona who has the backbone to say enough is enough?
New Times, please don't give up your fight! Appeal your case to the highest courts. Sooner or later you'll have to come across an honest and fearless judge or government official who will do the right thing. Do it for your sake and for the sake of every citizen in Arizona.
Jim Davolt, Phoenix
Flouting the law: John Dougherty is one of the last investigative reporters on Earth who truly investigates! He doesn't let Sheriff Joke off with the quick canned answers that he loves to throw at the public.
How is it that Arpaio can get away with such blatant disregard for not only the law that he is sworn to uphold but those he is sworn to protect? Can we pose this question to those who let him operate with impunity, like the Superior Court judge who allowed Joke to sidestep the law?
That is a very black-and-white view, but isn't that where we are at this point? People are dying in Arpaio's jails! Do we have that little value for a human life?
Thank goodness for people like John Dougherty -- people who have the guts to stand up to the Joke Machine and, more important, the willingness to stand up again and again after the less than warm reception he keeps receiving.
I'm 31 years old, and I haven't had the pleasure of being inside any of the good sheriff's establishments. I had never voted in my life before this past election. I thought for sure that Joke would be ousted, that it would be the end of him. What do we have to do to get someone else in there?!
I read your paper every Thursday; it's now the only local paper that I do read. The rest of them seem like they are just filling the space. There is no heart in their work. No fire. You are the best!
Jerry Bailey, Glendale
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The view from within: The Arizona Republic recently published that the Maricopa County jails, under Sheriff Joe, collected about $11 million last year in commissary and phone charges, and that slightly less than half of that amount was spent on "inmate enrichment."
Whatever happened to the other half? I'd like to say that I spent 60 days in the Estrella Jail, and I saw no enrichment. Neither did the about 100 other guys in my jail dorm.
"Church" consisted of one hour a week when somebody told us that if we didn't accept Jesus, we'd rot in hell. "Recreation" consisted of an hour twice a week outside in a concrete yard with nothing. The Hispanic guys would play soccer with a rolled-up ball of socks. The two meals a day contained no vegetables and one piece of fruit. The commissary food was no better; the commissary sells high-salt/high-fat junk food only.
One fellow had severe abdominal pain for 36 hours before he was taken to a hospital for perforated ulcers. The jails in Phoenix are like Abu Ghraib!
Name withheld by request