Anger, fear leads to skewed misconceptions

Editor of the Reformer:

Stuart Richards’ op-ed, supposedly "In defense of Israel" (July 31), demonstrates the sadly myopic, militant polarization that disguises, distorts and exacerbates the issues. The wholesale abnegation of the tragic transgressions of the Israeli right wing does more harm than good to Israelis and Palestinians alike by perpetuating the bull-headed, holier-than-thou intractability displayed by both.

Yes; Hamas is murderously bad -- to the point where I suggest they must be removed from power, even though they do supply food and other essentials to the Palestinians who suffer greatly under Israeli and Egyptian blockade. No, the misdeeds of Hamas do not excuse the sometimes equally unfortunate behavior of the Israeli right. There are good reasons why many Muslims scorn Hamas, and many Jews rightly bemoan that Netanyahu is no Meir, Rabin or Peres.

The quote from Charles Krauthammer’s belligerently partisan, handsomely remunerated column is enough to taint Richards’ viewpoint. Krauthammer’s rose-colored delusions about the absolute beneficence of Israel match his incoherent denial of global warming. Richards’ scattershot regurgitation of the woefully incomplete, biased and manipulative narratives incessantly preached by the reactionary right follow suit. Richards further divorces himself from reality detailing the millions spent by Hamas on military action and preparedness.


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If he were to make an accurate accounting of the flow of money involved, he will find the massively lopsided tally clearly in Israel’s favor.

Why would Netanyahu bulldoze hotly contested property in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, building new settlements, against the ardent protestations of the U.S. Secretary of State? Is it to establish all-Jewish communities of "human shields," deter Hamas from negotiating, and goad them into shooting rockets, giving the Israeli Defense Force "telegenically" dead Israelis to justify new offensives? Skullduggery knows few political boundaries.

Richards decries Muslims who support Hamas, yet completely ignores hundreds of millions of Christian fundamentalists who unthinkingly and unconditionally support Israel’s aggressive "defense." Their influence on U.S. policy cannot be overstated. One elephant in the room is how the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is partly a proxy war between opposing, evangelical religions. In stark contrast to Judaism, Islam and Christianity are predominantly imperialistic faiths. This is at least one area where Jews are clearly not combative instigators.

I have family born and raised in Tel Aviv, including a cousin who served in the IDF and survived being aboard a city bus blown up by a suicide bomber. I understand the pernicious, yet abjectly futile appeal of partisan anger and fear. This anger and fear often inhibits perspective, resulting in skewed, simplistic misconceptions and woefully counterproductive actions. Vengeance does not equal justice, nor create peace.

Can we evolve beyond black and white, divisive and dangerously arrogant mindsets? Magical thinking and denial won’t stop global warming, nor help in the Middle East. The sooner leaders on all sides either learn these lessons or are maneuvered out of the way, the sooner we might enjoy genuine progress on our environment and the Middle East.

Daniel Kasnitz,

Brattleboro, Aug. 4

The rising cost of solar

Editor of the Reformer:

I’d like to add to Tad Montgomery’s op-ed on solar energy ("Solarize and the serendipitous solar lull," Aug. 4). He is correct in his assertion that the time is ripe for solar.

To add another piece of information that further supports his position, I’d like to make your readers aware that the federal "renewable energy tax credit" is set to expire at the end of 2016. Currently, the federal government will reimburse 30 percent of the total cost of solar PV in the form of a tax credit. This amounts to a $4,500 discount for the average 3kW solar system. Through participation in certain community solar efforts, even those without a tax burden can benefit from the 30 percent federal credit.

In the time before the tax credit expires, the demand for solar in the U.S. will increase as more and more people look to cash in on the current incentives. Along with the points made in Montgomery’s article, the expiration of this credit will have a clear effect on the cost to go solar in the future. For those thinking of installing solar, there has never been a better time to do so. And by the looks of our energy landscape, it may be some while before the sun is again as ripe for picking.

Nick Ziter,

Putney, Aug.5

Support for Bowman

Editor of the Reformer:

I write to support Joan Bowman for State Senate. Joan is knowledgeable about and dedicated to the local issues that matter most to me: Universal health care, renewable energy, job creation and education.

I got to know Joan when we shared office space in Brattleboro, and I was stunned by her tireless efforts. Joan brought such enthusiasm and focus to her work helping others. Seeing her in action, I was consistently impressed by how motivated she is to help people. Joan has learned the ins and outs of our universal health care needs by working as a navigator who assists people in overcoming the complexities of Vermont Health Connect; she has developed strong ideas about how to address this county’s employment and education needs by going to scores of schools and the largest employers in Windham County, helping administrators and CEOs implement anti-harassment policies; and she has volunteered for years as part of the Vermont Transition movement, directly addressing issues pertaining to our transition to renewable resources.

But what has impressed me most about Joan, is that even while bringing her deep well of enthusiasm, creativity, and intelligence to every project she tackles, Joan still always finds time to listen to the ideas and concerns of others with a compassion and openness that will make her an excellent state senator.

Debra Loevy-Reyes,

Brattleboro, Aug. 6

Support for White

Editor of the Reformer:

Let’s not forget there is a primary on Aug. 26, so I urge you to get out there and vote. Of particular interest in Windham County is the race for two seats in the Vermont Senate. There are four qualified Democratic candidates on the ballot so you have choices to make. I would like to urge you to cast one of your votes for Jeanette White who has served our county well for the last twelve years as senator of Windham County. She has experience and seniority and has served our county well. She deserves to be elected for another term. Please vote for her.

Kitty Shumlin,

Westminster West, Aug. 6

Remember the past

Editor of the Reformer:

I want to thank the author of the interesting article on World War I ("The lesson of World War I," July 29). As a young girl, I lived through World War II, but knew nothing about the first world war. Now I do. Thank you.

Hanne Steinmeyer,

Vernon, July 31