Saturday Mailbox


June 03, 2006

Forcing foundation to sell just isn't fair

Lorraine Mirabella's article "Renewal project stalled in city" (May 29) describes a purported impasse between the Baltimore Development Corp. and one of Baltimore's most prestigious and philanthropic foundations, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.

In 46 years of generous giving to the Baltimore community, first Harry Weinberg and later the trustees of the Weinberg Foundation have given millions of dollars in service to the most poor and most vulnerable among us.

The foundation has funded a cancer center building at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and a state-of-the-art emergency department at the University of Maryland's hospital and provided funds for myriad other health-related projects. It has trained and funded the leaders of dozens of nonprofit groups.

Therefore, it is of great concern to me that there is talk of forcing the foundation to give up its downtown properties, to "sell, swap properties or work with the New York developer" on the "superblock" project, with the not-so-veiled threat that the city could condemn the properties if foundation officers don't give in to this demand.

Shale Stiller, the president of the foundation's board, reportedly declared that the foundation will move ahead with a plan to redevelop the block on its own, working with a local developer.

There is no reason to believe that it will not do so, and city officials would do well to respect the board's decision.

It is my sincere hope that this impasse can be resolved in a way that respects the rights and recognizes the incredible contributions of the Weinberg Foundation while facilitating long-term, collaborative development of this important downtown area.

Sidney Ford


The writer is a graduate of the Weinberg Foundation's training program for nonprofit managers.

Israel isn't moving toward apartheid

The anti-Israel diatribe by Fred Schlomka in Sunday's Sun was replete with errors, deceptions and inaccuracies ("Toward a third intifada," Opinion

Commentary, May 28).

To focus on the most egregious slur, Mr. Schlomka writes: "The Hebrew term hafrada, which means `separation' or `apartheid,' has entered the mainstream lexicon in Israel."

This inflammatory insinuation that mainstream Israelis support apartheid is blatantly and demonstrably false and represents a mockery of a vigorous Israeli democracy in which citizens of all ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds are free to vote.

Mr. Schlomka seems unaware that a substantial number of current members of Israel's parliament (the Knesset) were elected on Arab political slates and is ill-informed on basic language.

The word hafrada in Hebrew means "separation" but not "apartheid"; the former South African practitioners of apartheid were guilty of practicing heinous racial separation, or hafrada giz'it - and until 1994, the three officially designated nonwhite groups in South Africa were systematically deprived of the right to political participation.

Israel does not seek racial separation; it seeks to separate suicide murderers from its cities with a security fence.

And as Mr. Schlomka notes, Hamas could "cancel its 15-month truce" and decide to resume murdering Israelis at any time.

Abe Mittelman


When will we end disastrous wars?

For God's sake, when is this war going to stop?

The Sun's article "CBS team fatally attacked in Iraq" (May 30) reveals more U.S. soldiers and reporters killed.

On the same day, 33 other people in Baghdad were killed in bombings and shootings.

The headlines about the war change from day to day. But the result is the same - more U.S. soldiers and civilians dead and wounded, more Iraqi soldiers, police and civilians dead and wounded, more families mourning.

We've put thousands of U.S. citizens in harm's way every day - even al-Qaida couldn't do that.

As awful as Saddam Hussein was, the war the United States launched now appears to have caused the deaths of more Iraqis than Mr. Hussein did.

And for what? For a horribly mistaken, misguided, botched policy by leaders who have no idea how to get us out of this terrible quagmire.

Our so-called policy in Afghanistan is failing, the Taliban is getting stronger, Iraq is a disaster and Osama bin Laden is still broadcasting.

And our president believes his major mistake has been to use unsophisticated rhetoric such as "bring it on" and "dead or alive" ("Bush says he erred in Iraq war," May 26).

We are not bringing democracy to Iraq, and we are threatening it at home.

When are we going to stop being mesmerized by repetitive headlines and shout, "Stop. We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore"?

Stan Markowitz


Everyone shares the duty to serve

I would like to commend Dan Rodricks for his column "Draft might breathe new life into a listless U.S." (May 21).

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