Jennifer Loewenstein's readers ('Return to Rafah,' 12/22/06) would have benefited from reading excerpts from the charter of Hamas such as: 'Israel will remain erect until Islam eliminates it'; 'Zionist scheming has been laid out in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion'; 'there is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad'; or, perhaps, article 28, naming Rotary Clubs and Lions as 'spying associations' acting 'for the interests of Zionism and under its directions.'
There was no clue in Loewenstein's column that Hamas since the early 1990s has deliberately murdered, mostly through suicide bombing, hundreds of Israeli civilians, including children, and graphically indoctrinated children as young as kindergarten in the glory of such 'martyrdom.' Those murders were in response to Rabin's signing of the Oslo accords creating the Palestinian Authority and removing Israeli control over the day-to-day activities of 98% of the Arab population of Gaza and the West Bank until Arafat began a new suicide bombing war in concert with Hamas in fall 2000 after walking out of the Camp David talks.
Despite the glorification of civilian murder by the Palestinian leadership, in contrast to (admittedly sometimes failed) Israeli efforts to avoid civilian casualties, dead Israeli and dead Palestinian children are equally horrific tragedies. But the unceasing war for Israel's destruction begun in 1948 by Arab and radical Islamic states and organizations remains the central cause of Palestinian misery.
Jennifer Loewenstein writes that 'Mayor Dave didn't come [to a recent lecture by a Palestinian journalist], though he was invited; nor, with one or two exceptions, did members of the established Jewish community.' Using a number of statistics, which she backs up with no sources, she accuses these parties of 'collective punishment' because they were against adopting Rafah as a Madison sister city.
Having lived in Israel and reported extensively in the surrounding Palestinian Territories, including Rafah, I appreciate Loewenstein's efforts to open awareness to these troubled areas. However, it is appalling that she found it necessary to profile the attendees' religious creed.
My family members who survived the Holocaust came to America so that they would not have to wear a 'Jude' patch to public functions. Even more troubling is that Ms. Loewenstein, as a professor at UW-Madison, uses tax dollars to espouse these views both in public and in her classes.
While there is a real need to educate people and support embattled nations, Rafah ' a terrorist operating center ' should not be Madison's flagship; nor should Jennifer Loewenstein be at the helm.
What we're doing
Thank you for mentioning the Dane County Timebank in your story concerning Cheri Maples and the state Department of Corrections ('Outspoken Critic Loses Training Gig,'12/15/2006). The Timebank is a neighbor-to-neighbor service exchange where people and organizations catalog their skills, abilities and willingness to help others. They then provide services and get credit for their time, which can be spent for an equal amount of service from other members.
As reporter Bill Lueders points out, the Dane County Timebank is engaging in innovative community-based organizing to help returning prisoners successfully reintegrate into the community. Selected inmates are given the opportunity to earn credit, or Time Dollars, for volunteering in group-supervised activities.
Inmates have helped nonprofit groups with landscaping, stocked food at food pantries, and worked with a neighborhood organization to remove invasive species from natural areas. In exchange, these individuals make community connections, develop references, enhance skills, and build a bank that they can use to acquire services from other members once they're released.
While the program is still new, we expect returning prisoners to choose transportation for job interviews, get help with rÃsumÃ writing, and receive assistance with financial planning.
Depending on input from the former prisoner's supervisor, a returning prisoner with a history of violence may only participate in group-supervised activities, whereas an individual with a nonviolent record may be restricted minimally or not at all.
As Isthmus readers know, our state incarcerates an enormous number of people each year, especially people of color. Recidivism rates of released prisoners are high, especially when an individual is released into abject poverty and the same social contacts that may have contributed to criminal behavior in the first place.
Rather than simply wringing our hands about this problem, we are providing a system where people can assist in helping prisoners reintegrate into the community and make it less likely that former prisoners will re-offend.
Stephanie Rearick, Timebank director, & 11 Timebank board members, danecountytimebank.org
The wrong program
Your article about Howie Swanson states that working 20 hours a week and making minimum wage 'were huge leaps forward' for this man ('Work Made Man Freer,' 11/24/06). The next paragraph explains why: He was 'diagnosed as schizophrenic.'
Perhaps the author could have used more respectful language: 'He was diagnosed with schizophrenia.' Even better: 'This man was labeled with a psychiatric diagnosis.'
'Schizophrenia' is a diagnosis, not a state of being.
The National Alliance for the 'Mentally Ill,' which started here in Dane County, pushes the Program of Assertive Community Treatment, which also started here in Dane County. NAMI is largely sponsored by drug companies. For more, go to: www.projectcensored.org/publications/2001/8.html.
PACT promotes the biomedical theory of mental 'illness,' despite an eternal search for evidence. This model claims that a person with a psych label must take drugs forever. With the NAMI/PACT model, the client never receives any form of therapy, except that which is needed to 'monitor' the drugs.
Clients and taxpayers deserve a program that is committed to clients, not to drug companies.