Letters for the week of June 30-July 6, 2004 

Irate El Cerrito taxpayers, contrite Oakland court official, and perhaps the last of the passionate anti-Semitism letters.

"Will Landlord Kill Hospital Over Money?" City of Warts, 5/26

One hospital is enough
Sorry, Chris. I live in El Cerrito and I voted NO on the measure. Creating another "public" hospital is not going to make a damn bit of difference. Something like 75 percent of people treated at Tenet had no insurance. The bills are not paid, or at best, paid only in part. The hospital gets stuck with the rest.

Now we are expected to provide another hospital for the uninsured. Who will pay the bill? We will, if this measure passes. The district will need more and more money to cover unpaid bills and expenses. Where is that money going to come from? We already have a county hospital in Martinez. The uninsured can go there. I am already paying for that hospital, and I am not going to pay for another.
Scott Dillard, El Cerrito

"Pixar's Iron Curtain," East Side Story, 6/2

Take down these errors
I would like to commend your publication for Justin Berton's well-written and entertaining story on Pixar. There are two tiny errors I wish to point out.

1. It is Hollis STREET, not AVENUE.

2. The unnamed Reaganesque speaker paraphrasing Reagan's Berlin Wall speech uttered "TEAR down this wall," not "TAKE down this wall."

Oh, and while I'm at it, Lois the Pie Queen is in Oakland, not Emeryville, as your restaurant listing suggests.
Frank Grimes Jr., Emeryville

"The Molesters' Hero," Feature, 8/20/03

Please, stop the hate
While searching the Web to see if my father had died yet, I came across this article on Mr. Najera. I had mixed feelings about the article.

As you probably don't know, I was one of the daughters in the case Mr. Najera presented to the US Supreme Court. Yes, although I feel revictimized by the court's decision, I hold no animosity against Mr. Najera. If I understand the law system correctly, Mr. Najera does not pick and choose the cases he wants. The state assigns them to him. Our laws are here to protect us, and as much as we want them to go our way they don't always work that way.

I lived with anger for a long time and I appeal to all involved to stop harboring anger and resentment; that's what the perpetrators want you to do. Yes, it happened, but there's nothing we can do about it now. Our God is a loving, forgiving God, and he knows who they are. Turn it over to him and he will see that justice is served. Do not waste another minute of your life hating. I pray for peace; here in the US and in the Middle East. Please, stop the hate. Life is too short to be revictimizing yourselves. Please.
Margaret Vaughan, Gulfport, Mississippi

"Adding Insult to Injury," Cityside, 5/26

Working to improve service
I am writing in response to an article by reporter Kara Platoni. The article involved the Berkeley Traffic Division of the Superior Court in Alameda County and three case studies of persons who have encountered difficulty resolving their various traffic violations.

As court executive officer, one of my highest priorities has been to improve customer service at each of the seven courthouse locations serving the public in Alameda County. One particular goal has been to make our courts more accessible to the public. For example, those who have traffic matters are able to pay fines online via our Web site or in person at six of our seven court locations. I was, therefore, surprised by what the case studies seemed to reveal about our traffic court process in Berkeley.

Based upon further research into these cases, I have found that in two of three instances the individuals themselves bore responsibility for both the delay in their cases and the consequences that followed. The third case seems to have taken place elsewhere, for there is no record of a traffic proceeding in Alameda County for the person named. Without dwelling on the specifics of each case, I would like to take the opportunity to help inform your readers of the importance of diligently pursuing their legal matters -- even minor traffic violations.

As many know, when you are cited for a traffic violation, a courtesy notice explaining what action you must take is sent to you. What many are unaware of is that the notice is sent to the residential address appearing on your driver's license at the time of the violation. If this information is wrong, or if you later change your residence and fail to inform the court of your new address, you will not receive important correspondence from the court and legal deadlines for taking action will be missed. Some people mistakenly believe that by informing the Department of Motor Vehicles of a change of address, all government records containing their driver's license information are automatically updated. That is not the case. Traffic court case records are not linked to DMV databases.

You must inform the court of any change in address until your matter is resolved. Failure to do so can result in the kind of problems experienced by those noted in the article, including the impoundment of your vehicle, suspension and seizure of your driver's license, as well as putting your auto insurance coverage at risk.

Finally, if you are unfortunate enough to have multiple traffic matters, each must be treated and resolved separately. For example, if you obtain a continuance of a hearing or the extension of a deadline in one matter, the continuance or extension is only for that single matter -- not all matters you may have pending before the court. Failure to handle each one separately will result in important dates being missed and if you fail to appear in court on the date set, your license can be suspended.

Despite the severe budget reductions we have experienced in recent years, we remain committed to providing the highest level of customer service. Ms. Platoni's article caused us to reexamine our procedures and, in the last month, we have taken further steps toward streamlining the flow of traffic citations as well as adopting a more flexible approach to accepting documentation in traffic cases. I sincerely hope this letter clarifies any misconceptions the public may have had.
Arthur Sims, court executive officer, Oakland

"Berkeley Intifada," Feature, 5/19

States have no rights
Most of the letters published last week effectively demolished your grievously flawed article. Corrective letters, however, don't accomplish what you should do yourselves, and that is to apologize publicly and clearly to the Berkeley community for the harm you have done with this scurrilous hit piece on the Palestine/Israel freedom movement. It's really not rocket science.

Berkeley Hillel, from which has come much of the propaganda line followed in "Bitter Education," has claimed that anti-Semitism is that which questions the "right to exist" of Israel as a Jewish state with secure borders. Any historian, indeed anyone but a fanatic, can tell you that states are not divinely ordained and have no "rights" to anything during their (necessarily) temporally limited existences. Israel is no exception, and, as its most famous fascist, the late Meir Kahane, stated flatly, "You can have a Jewish state or you can have democracy, but you can't have a democratic Jewish state." That's it in a nutshell, Express writers and Jewish students at Cal. You want to keep living in denial? Then keep up the Zionist propaganda, and watch Israel, with its endless brutalizing of the Palestinians, drag the world into endless war. Want a better future for Israel, Palestine, the Middle East, and the rest of us? Then get together with your Jewish and gentile brothers and sisters and try to figure a way out of the Zionist nightmare with a vision in which some animals on the Israeli animal farm are not more equal than others.
Ken Scudder, San Francisco

Danes did something
Abdul Sarwari's letter (June 9-15) was interesting but needs one small correction; he never should have included the Danes in a "do nothing" category. He writes, "In fact, to stand by the wayside and not be an advocate for the Palestinian people is not so unlike the millions of Poles, Czechs, Danes, Frenchmen, and Germans who witnessed the beginnings of the slaughter of the Jews, Gypsies, gays, etc., and DID NOTHING."

The people of Denmark did everything they possibly could to sabotage the Nazi occupiers at a cost of many brave people who were caught and killed by the Nazis. One incredible action was, under the noses of the Gestapo, managing to secretly transport more than 90 percent of their Jewish citizens across to Sweden where they were safe.
Hal Dreyer, El Cerrito

Give 'em enough rope
What was most remarkable about the Arab response to "Berkeley Intifada" is what was not said. Neither Mr. Ghannam nor El-Nachef denounced or distanced themselves from anti-Semitism or anti-Semitic hate crimes. While being careful to point out that it was Pakistanis, not Arabs, at the Muslim Students Association West Conference, an assertion open to question, neither had anything otherwise to say about the openly seditious, racist, and anti-Semitic speeches delivered there, which the author transcribed verbatim.

One of the most salient attributes of militant Islam, which is closely allied with the pro-Palestinian movement, is its anti-Semitism. Jews and Israel are routinely confounded, routinely equated, and equally despised.

The Arabs' lengthy and redundant attacks against "Berkeley Intifada" basically came down to "You did not tell our side of the story, which is that we are the victims, we are always the victims." But the article speaks for itself. It cast a cold objective eye and told the truth. In fact, the most damning part of the article was the words of the Muslims themselves.
Allan Marcus, El Cerrito

Lost in translation
Ronnie Schreiber in his letter "Allah, he is greater" shows what a potent combination ignorance and bigotry can be. Not only are his linguistic facts inaccurate, but he seems to lack even a basic notion of what monotheism is. In Allahu Akbaru, akbaru is what is called the elative form in the Western tradition and the "noun of preeminence" in the Arabic tradition. While this includes the comparative meaning "greater," it is also used to indicate the meaning "greatest" or something like "especially great" or "very great." As is often the case when translating, a word in one language has a far greater range than it would in another language. This is the case with akbaru. Even if we decide that the comparative meaning is most appropriate, it does not make much sense to assume that the comparison is with other gods, like those of Judaism and Christianity.

A more likely translation and that of the Arabic scholar W. Wright is that he is greater than all other beings, i.e. people, angels, animals, etc. First of all, to say that Allah is greater than the gods of Judaism and Christianity is a contradiction, since Allah and these gods are the same god, that is the God of Abraham. Allah is not only used by Muslims to refer to God, but also by Arabic-speaking Christians, showing that these groups do not consider themselves as worshipping different gods. Second, to say that it is a comparison with other gods would amount to polytheism. Thus, in the call to prayer, assuming Mr. Schreiber's invidious and inaccurate translation, the statement which follows "there is no god but God" would contradict Allahu Akbaru.

Perhaps, in the future, Mr. Schreiber should leave translation to other people and stick to T-shirts.
Andrew Simpson, Hayward

EDITOR'S NOTE
The Express received several honors at last week's annual convention of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. "2003 Illustrated," our comic-based Year in Review issue, which was conceived by Managing Editor Mike Mechanic and art-directed by freelance Berkeley cartoonist Jesse Reklaw, won a first place award in the "format-buster" category. Other writers and artists who contributed to the feature included Wahab Algarmi, Alixopulos, Stephen Buel, Josh Frankel, Fredo, Malcolm Gay, Hellen Jo, David Lasky, Thien Pham, Lark Pien, and Chris Thompson. Jesse also took first-place honors in the cartoon category for his syndicated strip Slow Wave. Art Director Mark Gartland received an honorable mention for his editorial layout of the "Gary for Governor!" issue, and restaurant reviewer Jonathan Kauffman won an honorable mention for food writing.

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