Letters to the Editor

06/13 What You’re Saying: Allan Lang, Susan Lewis, Peter Reitzes, Steve Harrison, Caryn Marjorie, Eric Knight and Lee Mortimer

Support schools budget

Durham County Manager Wendell Davis, stated that it is important to “consider the facts” in order to determine how much the county is going to give to the Board of Education to run the school system next fiscal year.

Enrollment is not the only fact that should be considered in considering county support for the Durham Public Schools system.

The school system has been running tissue-thin budgets for the past dozen years or so. The state government has cut funding for schools including elimination of the tax-free allowance for school supplies, cutting back on funds for books, supplies, using buses another year beyond their useful life and not providing funds for school boards across the state to meet the state requirements for nurses, therapists and teacher assistants.

County Manager Wendell needs to consider all of the facts.

Allan Lang


Council decision appropriate

Regarding the guest column “Rabbis call Durham City Council statement citing Israel a ‘punch in the gut’” (June 7):

The rabbis’ letter, while heavy on historical and emotional language, unfortunately leaves out some critical facets of police training with Israel.

Such exchange programs are mostly based on counter-terrorism techniques that have literally nothing to do with community policing. Just Shin Bet’s involvement alone makes it highly suspect, since they have been known to bend their own rules to the breaking point, much less the guidelines and statutes that American law enforcement officers are supposed to abide by.

The City Council’s wording could (should) have been crafted better, but the decision to avoid such inappropriate training was a solid one.

Steve Harrison

via Facebook

Rescind the statement

Regarding the guest column “Rabbis call Durham City Council statement citing Israel a ‘punch in the gut’” (June 7):

Thank you, Rabbis, for this excellent explanation, clearly stating why this has been so painful for the Jewish community.

I hope the Durham City Council now better understands the unintended implications and consequences of their actions and sincerely hope they work expeditiously to rescind the statement.

Caryn Marjorie

Chapel Hill

via www.heraldsun.com

Policing statement discriminates

The Durham City Council has discriminated against the Jewish community by singling out Israel as the only foreign country where Durham police training is not permitted while only military-style training is prohibited with other countries. Israel is of course the only Jewish-majority country on the planet. I have filed more than two dozen public-record requests with Durham, trying to understand exactly what happened.

On April 5, about 12 hours before a work session, Mayor Steve Schewel sent City Manager Thomas Bonfield and all members of the City Council the “Statement on policing from the Durham City Council.” Schewel sent the statement from his personal email account to the personal email accounts of Bonfield and all council members, thus keeping the statement out of the eyes of the media that regularly monitors council emails.

Thus, the mayor wrote proposed policy that I believe demonizes Israel before allowing even a single minute of public discussion. This is in direct opposition to the Council’s Code of Ethics, which grants “every citizen a fair and impartial hearing on any matter which may be heard before the public official.” I spoke later that day to the council and was dismayed to see the anti-Israel statement was published by the media during the meeting. It was clear that the mayor and council pretended to listen, but had already made up their minds and didn’t wait until the meeting was over to make their position public.

While deeply troubling, the City Council’s statement is not surprising. Mayor Pro Tempore Jillian Johnson sent an email after being elected to the council with information on Durham’s “Investment Portfolio” saying, “Thought I’d send this to y’all in case it has any use for future BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel] purposes.” A member of an anti-Israel advocacy group responded, “Wow, thanks Jilly…awesome looking out!”

On May 15, in response to my request for public-business emails in council member DeDreana Freeman’s personal account, Freeman contacted City Attorney Patrick Baker and asked, “Please let me know if it’s a problem to black out folks’ email addresses from my personal emails.” The public-business results sent to me from Freeman’s personal account consisted of a string of emails regarding an April 16 letter written by the People’s Alliance to Schewel and the City Council. The letter indicates the People’s Alliance is now asking Schewel and the council to turn their statement into a resolution. Freeman’s instinct to blacken out any part of this public record is concerning.

These are some the reasons that the mainstream Jewish community has asked the Durham Human Relations Commission to respond to the governmental discrimination we have endured.

Peter Reitzes

Chapel Hill

Shun extreme policing

Regarding the guest column by Steven L. Pomerantz “Support police participation in exchange programs with Israeli counterparts”:

A former assistant director of the FBI, who spent the better part of the last century infiltrating and criminalizing the civil rights and anti-war movements in our country, is now going to lecture us on policing in our community. Is this really the kind of voice you should be publishing?

This man profits off of the conflicts incited by the extreme policing employed in Israel, and he wants that to be the norm here. These cold-war ghouls need to be shunned; they endanger all of our safety.

Eric Knight

via Facebook

Nothing to learn

Regarding the guest column by Steven L. Pomerantz “Support police participation in exchange programs with Israeli counterparts”:

Durham has nothing to learn from a government that practices cold-blooded murder against defenseless protesters simply trying to escape from an open-air prison called Gaza that Israel uses to cut them off from even basic human survival.

Lee Mortimer


The Eagles and Trump

1. Donald Trump lied about the motivation of "taking a knee." Fox News assisted that lying by saying that was what the Eagles were doing when they were praying.

2. The NFL football players are protesting unfair treatment. They are being peaceful. This is an example of American democracy and freedom of speech.

3. Trump says he is patriotic; he got out of going to Vietnam several times for "heel spurs." He is not patriotic; he is self serving.

4. Donald Trump does not know the words to our National Anthem. He cares nothing about this country. Not really. He cares about himself.

5. Exactly what will it take for the United States to wake up? Some Republicans are starting to talk back, finally. I hope that we see more of this going forward, and thank you, Senator Burr. Where are you Senator Tillis?

Donald Trump has no business being president of the United States of America. We need to take our country back. Make America sane again.

Susan Lewis


Speak up

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