Letters To The Editor


November 14, 2003

Security fence is really a barrier to Mideast peace

Aron U. Raskas' article on Israel's West Bank security barrier confuses several issues ("Israel rightly builds fence to save its citizens' lives," Opinion Commentary, Nov. 11).

As with so many other aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the achievement of a legitimate goal is here undermined by the illegitimate means being used to pursue that goal.

In this case, it is the confiscation of Palestinian lands on the West Bank and displacement of tens or hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their lands, communities and livelihoods that has brought widespread condemnation. Contrary to Mr. Raskas' assertion, construction of the barrier has not been achieved with "minimize[d] disruption to Palestinian life," and this has been widely noted in both the Israeli and international press.

Israel could protect the lives of most of its 6 million-plus citizens with a barrier constructed along the pre-1967 border, the Green Line. For the sake of tens of thousands of Israeli settlers, whose presence in the West Bank is not internationally accepted, and who could also be protected by other means, the barrier is being built in a way that serves to convince the Palestinians that Israel is not serious about a negotiated peace.

Mr. Raskas' comparison of Israel's West Bank barrier to our border fences in the Southwest is instructive: If the American government built its border fences several miles into Mexican territory, disrupting the lives of thousands of Mexican citizens, we would be roundly and rightly condemned.

Robert Morrison


Let's make DSS accountable to all

Thank you to the lawyers who are bringing public attention to the poor quality of service provided to the Department of Social Services foster children ("Report argues DSS puts city children at risk," Nov. 12).

As anyone in the system will tell you, DSS is not doing its job, and not just in Baltimore, and not just with children. We cut corners, we don't follow policy, we distort data to hide the problems. We minimize the human effects of this dysfunctional system. How else could we keep doing this work? No foster parent, social worker, administrator or legislator wants to proclaim, "My work is substandard; people suffer needlessly under my watch."

Our task is impossible with the resources allotted; everyone knows that.

Periodic outrage is helpful if it motivates effective change. Otherwise, it's hypocritical.

What can be done?

Many things. DSS could be as effective as any other government agency.

Any system protects itself first, but if DSS is given the same scrutiny and obtainable goals that other government services receive, protection of the vulnerable is possible.

Irene Reville


The writer has been a foster parent, an adoptive parent and a social worker for DSS for 20 years.

School vandals hurt motivated students

Recently, my colleague brought her son to work with her. I introduced myself and learned that he was a fourth-grader at Montebello Elementary School.

I asked him, "Why are you here today?"

He stated, "My school is closed because people have vandalized it" ("Vandals damage Montebello Elementary," Nov. 11). Then he said sadly, "I really wanted to go to school today."

I was very saddened to learn of his situation. A wonderful young man who wanted to go to school could not because of the selfishness of others.

Beth Dochinger


`Real' elephants are free elephants

In her article about the elephants at the Baltimore Zoo, Elizabeth Heubeck laments, "Where else can a child see a real elephant but at a zoo?" ("Elephants' departure to leave huge void," Nov. 12).

Let's face it: No one ever sees a "real" elephant in a zoo.

A "real" elephant is not taken away from her mother and other family members and forced to live her entire life on concrete surrounded by iron bars, does not suffer the stresses of unnatural confinement, and is not put on daily display to amuse humans. The animals we see in zoos are mere shadows of their true selves.

Ms. Heubeck's love for Anna and Dolly and the other animals at the zoo seems to rest only on their entertainment value to her and her children. I submit that if she truly loved these animals, she would be more than satisfied with seeing them on the Discovery Channel -- living free, natural, enriched lives.

She asks, "Who ever heard of a zoo without elephants?" Sounds like heaven to me.

Jacque M. West


JHU sculptures are worth making visit

Cyril T. Zaneski's article "JHU's sculptures see a renaissance" (Nov. 11) caught my attention.

The pictures accompanying his article struck a chord in my memory. In the late 1960s, I lived in the San Francisco Bay area. Beniamino Bufano's sculptures were scattered around the city. I loved his work and always paused when I came across his sculptures to reflect on his unique artistry. In the intervening decades, I've often recalled the unique beauty of his work, and hoped to return to San Francisco to again enjoy them.

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