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Letters to the Editor
Editor's Note: Our April interview with Palestinian shopkeepers stirred strong feelings among our readers. In addition to the letters below, please note our main story in this issue, on local Israelis' concerns for their families in the Middle East.
Appreciated the Palestinian Story
I was interested, pleased, and frankly surprised to see the April 2002 article by Olivia Boler, "Arab-Israeli Conflict Touches the Lives of Local Shopkeepers." I'm sorry if it sounds sour, but so often my local newspaper seems to be essentially for and about the Noe Valley resident as a goods and services consumer. Your journalistic resources are well applied in putting attention on this local "angle" on an international situation, and I do not think I am alone in applauding the Voice for expanding its range.
Stick to Brunch
I have been a resident, consumer, and supporter of Noe Valley for over 12 years. I shop on 24th Street almost daily and know most of the shopkeepers as well as the local residents. It is a neighborhood that is truly a "mix" of people from different cultures and backgrounds, all living in the beautiful sunny part of the city.
So it was truly shocking to me when, on Saturday morning, as I went to get my coffee and bagel, I picked up the Noe Valley Voice and saw the "article" on the front page of the paper. By its placement and style, this was not (supposed to be) an op/ed piece but an actual article that was over one page long.
I am an Israeli-born Jewish woman who has lived and been educated in this country. I have hundreds of relatives who live in Israel whom I talk to every week, to make sure that they were not blown up on a bus on the way to school or in their local café.
This was the least balanced writing I have seen in quite some time. It only asked the perspective of the Palestinian shopkeepers and their "stories." I know these shopkeepers and I am friendly with them, but by reporting only one side of the story, you are basically accepting their words as "fact."
Allow me to be specific: In regards to the gentleman whose mother had to take four hours to get to the hospital to have a kidney stone removed because she had to go through Israeli checkpoints, I respond with the fact that a few weeks ago, the Israelis stopped a Palestinian ambulance with a child in the back on a stretcher, but under him, soldiers found an explosive belt. So do you blame them for putting an ambulance through checkpoints?. . .
I could point out other inaccuracies, but my comments are not on the opinion of the individuals interviewed. They have a right to their stories and opinions. My complaint is specifically with the Voice, for the lack of balanced reporting on such an important issue.
This article just further divides us and in no way helps in bringing us together to support each other and to support a peaceful solution to the horrific situation that has developed in the region. Please refrain from presenting articles that are so biased, or if that is not possible, please refrain from addressing such important and impactful topics and stick with articles about where to go for brunch.
Jews As Deeply Affected As Arabs
Regarding "Arab-Israeli Conflict Touches the Lives of Local Shopkeepers" [April 2002], I would like to point out that Jews who live in Noe Valley are as deeply affected by events in the Middle East as are our Arab neighbors. Hundreds of Israelis, almost entirely civilians, have been killed in the past 18 months and thousands more wounded.
My relatives in Israel have all lost friends, and spend their days running from one funeral to another. I am constantly concerned for their safety. It has become impossible for them to take a bus, shop, eat out, or even worship without worrying about being shredded by a nail-studded bomb. I hope moderates on both sides can somehow prevail before too many more innocent people die.
Promote Peace Not Conflict
I'm a resident in Noe Valley and love reading the Noe Valley Voice -- it makes me proud to live here. Reading the article "Arab-Israeli Conflict...," I was dismayed and saddened that you would publish an article so heavily based on personal opinions, especially at a time when Middle-East conflict is used as a premise for anti-Semitism. I am currently grieving for a childhood friend who was blown to pieces by a suicide bomber. I worry daily for my family in Israel, struggling for their geographic survival surrounded by all Arab nations and for the right to be Jewish.
Israel captured the West Bank in 1967 after being attacked by four surrounding Arab nations. The Oslo Accords gave autonomy to the Palestinian Authority over Ramallah and parts of the West Bank in return for security and peace. Still, Israel has not received any peace from that agreement. Ambulances are in fact allowed into hospitals, but unfortunately must be searched first, because Palestinians have been known to transport bombs and terrorists in them.
People on both sides of the conflict are suffering right now. In America, and especially in wonderful areas like Noe Valley, we need to make sure that we empathize with anyone who has family and friends in the Middle East, but most importantly we need to promote peaceful living in our own communities. If Arabs and Jews can't live peacefully in America, then how can we possibly expect them to do so in Israel?
Perpetuating the Divide
I am a recent resident of Noe Valley and a patron of the shopkeepers mentioned in your article on the Arab-Israeli conflict. They all operate very good businesses and are very customer-service-driven. I understand and appreciate the businessmen's families' struggles in Israel during these times of terrorism.
These are difficult times for those who actually desire peace. Luckily, these businessmen have an opportunity to live in a country that enables all of us, regardless of our place of birth, to live in peace, raise our children, and have the benefits of "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness," as well as a free press.
However, a free press means a responsible press, which strives to present both sides of an issue, story, or situation. Given there were absolutely no comments from the other side, namely the Israeli or Jewish shopkeepers in Noe Valley, I found your "reporting" to be one-sided, pro-Arab, anti-Israeli, and not objective at all.
Moreover, it would seem all Americans, and the overwhelming majority of Arabs and Israelis living in the United States and the Middle East, are striving for peace. This story does little to promote peace -- it only perpetuates the divide and differences between people. Therefore, I would respectfully request that you place "commentary stories" on the editorial page and not treat them as "news" as in this case.
P.S. I found your web-site photo and caption [from the April Fool's pages, 2002] insensitive and insulting to the friends and family of those killed on Sept. 11. Since I had an office on the 85th Floor of Two World Trade Center, I knew several people who lost their lives, and I did not appreciate your "humor."
Israel Is a Democratic Society
As a former member of the Noe Valley community, and one hoping to return, I was very disappointed to read the article in the April Voice that so obviously ignores the strife of all parties involved. The conflict in the Middle East is sad, disturbing, and also very complex. While I have sympathy for Palestinians and their families, it never ceases to amaze me that the Arab people of the Middle East and around the globe take no responsibility for what is happening.
I am not a Sharon supporter, but unlike the people you interviewed in your article, I do believe Israel is a democracy. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where you can protest your dislike of your government and government policies. You never see protesters in the streets of Arab countries unless they are protesting against Israel.
I lived in Israel for a year, and I saw Palestinians in Israel proper on a daily basis and had many interactions, yet I had to worry, if my car broke down near an Arab village, about whether I would be safe.
There is a large Jewish community within Noe Valley -- interview some of them.
Diamond Café's a Sparkler
I was surprised that Lorraine Sanders' article "Noe Valley's Breakfast Champions" in the April issue failed to mention my favorite breakfast spot: Diamond Corner Café, at the corner of Diamond and 24th Street.
The friendly folks at Diamond Corner serve the best oatmeal in town, fabulous blueberry pancakes, and an entire range of egg and tofu scrambles, baked goods, smoothies, and more. When I want to indulge in guilty pleasures, there are chocolate croissants and almond scones. Their freshly made apple juice will make you wonder what's that stuff you've been drinking from bottles all these years. They open early enough to cater to the early risers among us, and stay open throughout the day. They'll even help feed and caffeinate me when I'm still too groggy with sleep to articulate my needs!
I hope you'll remember the Diamond Corner in the future. Thanks!
Grand View Terrace
Please forgive the omission. We were so blinded by the Diamond Corner's amazing peanut-butter cookies that we forgot it was a breakfast place, too. --Ed.
You're Hired for Next Year
I usually read the Noe Valley Voice with an airsick bag close at hand, ready to hurl if I learn yet another pedestrian has been run over while demonstrating Lamaze techniques in a crosswalk. So your April Fool's section [Voice April 2002] came as wonderfully welcome relief. It also stirred up some fond memories.
As adolescents, my sister and I used to make fun of the countless, self-satisfied adults around us in a weekly newsletter we wrote. Suddenly I realize: had we lived in Noe Valley, we could have produced whole encyclopedias.
Hooray for your silly change of pace.
Buses Causing Aural Agony
It was disappointing to see the limited coverage in the Noe Valley Voice about the insanely noisy new Muni buses, which are continuing to erode the peace in Noe Valley ["Rumors Behind the News," April 2002].
Muni claims to have "muffled" the screeching signals, reportedly with its high-tech application of... duct tape!! But any of the thousands of Noe Valley residents who live along the 24 and 48 bus lines can tell you that the problem is far from solved. For one thing, although some of the buses seem to be a bit quieter, not all of them have been muffled. In our block, Joe Hughes is still getting decibel readings of 77 to 84 when the buses pass by-- although Muni claims that all of the buses have had their signals lowered to a slightly more tolerable 65 decibels.
The 24 buses run all night long, roughly every 10 to 15 minutes, and awaken residents with their beeping and barking along their entire routes from Pacific Heights to Hunters Point.
What's more, the annoyance of the barking human voices hasn't been toned down at all. It's still in full cry. The electronic announcers shout at the street, pedestrians, and houses, at every stop, 24/7-- and bombard the passengers throughout their journeys. A hapless passenger is subjected to a verbal battering that begins anew in every block, warning them to Move to the Rear of the Bus, Stand Behind the Yellow Line, Allow the Elderly and Disabled to Occupy the Front Seats, etc. The command to Exit by the Rear Doors is particularly hilarious when the rear doors aren't working--a not uncommon occurrence--and the driver is yelling to the passengers to "Use the front doors!!!" All of this makes a cross-town journey an aural agony.
Anyway, I hope the excellent Noe Valley Voice continues its coverage of the Muni noise until it abates.
See this month's Rumors for more on the bleeping buses. --Ed.
The Horns on the Bus Go Beep Beep Beep
I read your story about the beeping buses and enjoyed it. I do not live by any of the bus lines, but sure understand how people feel. Many of the drivers [when I'm riding] put on the BEEP BEEP BEEP noise for a minute or two, turn it off for a half a minute, then turn it back on for another minute or two, off for half a minute, etc. Between that and the loudmouth recording, by the time you get to your bus stop, you are ready to swing from the rafters yelling, "Me Jane, you Tarzan!" It is certainly difficult to do the three Rs while on the bus: read, relax, or rest.
How Long Will the Juri Be Out?
Last fall, half of Juri Commons mini-park [off Guerrero near 26th Street] was closed to revamp the playground. A sign posted at the park said that due to the prospect of rain, the city was looking to complete work by the middle of February. Well, here it is going on six months, and work has not even begun. How can the city deprive us of this valued asset for this long without taking action? Couldn't they have waited until they were ready to begin work so as to enable the community to maximize enjoyment of this park?
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
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