Letter Box


To the person who
stole from me ...

Editor of the Reformer:

To the horrible person who came into my home and stole my laptop and all of my precious sentimental jewelry last year from my house in Vernon. To you, my belongings were nothing more than something that you could take and pawn and have money to buy drugs.

To me, those things were a lifetime of love, family, friends and memories. None of it can ever be replaced. No amount of money could replace my grandmother’s rings or my great grandmother’s earrings or all of the little rings that my son proudly gave to me when he was little and that I saved all of these years.

My laptop was just a thing to be sold to you but to me it held many years of special photos that I treasured and looked at often. Many of them are even more precious now since my father passed away in January of 2014 and there were many pictures of him that meant so much to me.

Also, my beloved dog, Buddy, was just murdered and there were so many wonderful pictures of him that I cherished and that would mean so much to me to have now, especially since he has been taken away from me so viciously.

I’m sure I will never see any of these belongings again, that to me, weren’t just things, but my life.

I’m also sure that if you read this, it won’t mean a thing to you. But as I write through my tears at least I can finally tell you how I feel and how you devastated my life.

Monica Zinn,

Vernon, July 15

Another former Co-op board member speaks out

Editor of the Reformer:

Open letter to Brattleboro Food Co-op shareholders, employees and community members.

Tom Franks’ recent letter ("Brattleboro Co-op board member speaks out," July 17) explained why we resigned from the Brattleboro Food Co-op Board of Directors, so I won’t repeat what he said. But I do want to thank those shareholders who voted for me, apologize to you for not serving out my full term, and further explain my actions.

I’ve learned during my life, often the hard way, that compromise is sometimes essential in order to focus on what’s really important. But there are times when compromise just isn’t an option. When it came to listening to six employees, who are also shareholders, express their concerns, Tom and I had no doubt that the right thing to do was to listen. They felt that the grievance process was flawed and the board was their only reasonable alternative. I am still dismayed that our actions could result in lawyers being consulted and charges of misconduct being brought against us. I want to emphasize that our "offending" actions were only that we listened and then recommended that the full board also listen. Also, it’s important to note, the union was supportive of these employees reaching out to the board. I personally buy into the concept of our board "speaking with one voice" but I cannot buy into "listening with one ear."

I truly hope some good comes out of all this hoopla. The employees of our Co-op are the "engine," or maybe better said, the "heart" of our organization and they are what makes things actually work. The Policy Governance tool that our board abides by is a wonderful tool but like all tools, it has its limitations and weaknesses. One potential weakness is that the board can become too far removed from the employees and their concerns, which I believe has happened to us. It would be a mistake for the board to start micro-managing the organization but it is an equally serious mistake to become too distant from the concerns of employees.

When Patty and I relocated from Pennsylvania, one of the significant reasons we picked the Brattleboro area was because of our Co-op and the community atmosphere associated with it. I believe strongly in the cooperative concept. As a shareholder, I will place renewed effort into actively supporting our Co-op in meeting the needs of our community, shareholders, and its employees, in-line with cooperative values and principles.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Mike Szostak,

Guilford, July 17

On Reformer’s misuse
of Apartheid label

Editor of the Reformer:

According to Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States from 2009 to 2013, "... The war against Israel has passed through three phases. The first was the attempt to annihilate Israel by conventional means. It began with Israel’s birth in 1948, when Arab armies nearly captured Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and ended in the 1973 Yom Kippur War .... The next stage, starting in the early 1970s, sought to cripple Israel through terror. Suicide bombers nearly paralyzed the country, but by 2005 they too were defeated. That is when Israel’s enemies launched the third, and potentially most devastating, campaign: to isolate, delegitimize and sanction Israel into extinction ...."

The Reformer editorial "Is it apartheid?" (July 17) incorrectly uses a term that not only misinforms but feeds into the attempt by Israel’s enemies to delegitimize the Jewish state.

Apartheid, which in Afrikaan, means "apart-hood" comes from racist beliefs of South African whites who imposed strict legal barriers between themselves and all black people. Apartheid remains synonymous with undiluted racism, second only in hatefulness to Nazism.

However, what is happening now in Israel doesn’t even remotely resemble apartheid.

Oren notes that the vast majority of settlers and Palestinians choose to live apart because of cultural and historical differences, not segregation. The separate roads were created in response to terrorist attacks -- not to segregate Palestinians. Israeli roads are used by Israeli Jews and Arabs alike. The separation of schools is, again, a cultural choice similar to that made by secular and Orthodox Jews and Muslim and Christian Palestinians. Many Palestinians, however, study in Israeli institutions such as Ariel University, located in a settlement. Thousands of Palestinians are treated at Israeli hospitals.

Israelis can indeed vote for their leaders, and so too can the Palestinians, but the Palestinian Authority has refused to hold elections for years. Palestinians are indeed tried under Israeli (originally British) military codes for security infractions, but other cases are referred to Palestinian courts. And even on security-related issues, Palestinians can appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court.

The security barrier between Israel and most of the West Bank is a vital counter-terrorism tool. It is not permanent and has been moved several times to accommodate Palestinian interests.

The West Bank represents a complex historical, humanitarian and security situation. Palestinian leaders turned down Israeli offers of statehood in 2000 and 2008, and have now abandoned peace talks in favor of reunification with Hamas. They aspire to create a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza from which all Jews have been expelled.

In Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel, Jews and Arabs mix freely and increasingly live in the same neighborhoods. Arabs serve in Israel’s parliament, in its army and on its Supreme Court. And though discrimination in Israel, as in America, remains a scourge, there is no imposed segregation.

Israel is not an apartheid state and will not become one, even if the Palestinians continue to reject peace. Your editorial is a grave injustice to the millions of American and South African blacks who were the victims of true apartheid.

Martin Cohn,

Newfane, July 17


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