I will not attempt to deny any of Ms. Youngs second-hand accounts of incidents described to her in Israel, however I would like to counter her letter with some first-hand evidence (re: Letters, 12/8).
I had the opportunity, honor, and great privelage to work alongside the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and never once witnessed a single incident of unprofessional behavior. In fact, in my 22 years of army service (working with many foreign armies) I never worked with a more professional and disciplined military force than the IDF.
I personally witnessed several incidents where these men actually held their fire at great risk to themselves in order to prevent possible civilian casualties; and I know, if it had been me, a highly trained U.S. soldier, I probably would have reacted differently.
To besmirch the men and women of the IDF based upon heresay (and I suspect a certain level of anti-Semitism) is disgraceful, as the nation of Israel is a true friend and dependable ally in a part of the world where these qualities are rare.
Michael W. Rutledge
SFC, USA (Ret)
Michigan & Israel
I find it unconscionable that Governor Granholm would consider encouraging companies from Israel to invest in Michigan.
Israel is about the size of Baghdad and a little smaller than New York City, yet it receives one-third of all U.S. foreign aid. Yes, our tax dollars. It has the sixth most destructive military in the world and has nuclear weapons. It has defied hundreds of U.N. resolutions going back to 1948. It is wreaking death and destruction on the people of Palestine with U.S.-made weapons.
Most of the people of Israel abhor what their government is doing. Michigan can help them in their quest and set an example for human rights. The South African government stopped their repression only after the international community used the financial power of divestment and other economic tools. Michigan needs to do the same with Israel.
Economic times are tough in Michigan, but we need to put our morality above our wallets and find better investors.
Arnold Stieber Grass Lake
I was moved by Nancy Vogls article, Breaking the Cycle of Racism. The Record-Eagle did a responsible job reporting the Hampel story, and the community made a wonderful statement when it rose with one voice to speak against racism. But Vogls piece in the Northern Express was something special -- something memorable.
Vogl did something only a neighbor with a big heart in a small community can do -- she went next door and knocked, and the door opened on a larger understanding of a divisive problem. Vogl is an excellent writer with a sense of drama. More important to me, she conveyed a courageous sense of faith in the ultimate rightness of our community. She discovered in a person who was scorned for a mistake a redemptive humanity.
Thanks to Vogl and her neighbor, Rod, and to the Express for this very meaningful article.
Grant Parsons TC
I am writing to marvel at the beauty of a memorial service that seemed to embody Lori Hall Steele.
There was a blend of Celtic, Christian, gutsy blues, solo guitar, a touch of rock and roll, precious children -- especially Jackson, Loris son -- who directed a
solo concert with one rehearsal in the back of the church right before the service. The entire event was slightly edgy, as passionate people are. In the end, a beautiful woman emphasized the power of love.
A better way
My Grand Vision is for anybody to safely cross Division Street in Traverse City.
Ideally, residents on either side of Division should be able to send their kids to Ace Hardware or the Grand Traverse Pie Company and feel good about it. As it is now, there are no totally safe options. There are stop lights on the Parkway, Front Street and Seventh Street, but with the amount of traffic and the vehicles turning right with the light and on red lights, it is still too dangerous.
Step one could be renaming the street. How about Water Street? There are Water streets in Petoskey, Cadillac and Boyne City, so this could in a way be a regional connection. The street takes anybody entering town from from the south straight to the water, the main reason for visiting Traverse City.
Step two would be changing the newly named street from a four-lane road into a three-lane road with a center left turn lane. There are numerous studies that explain how three-lane roads move traffic efficiently and are much safer than four lanes. A four-lane turns into a three-lane as soon as a car has to wait to make a left turn. A three-lane would eliminate getting stuck behind someone making a left turn and all the lane changing that happens from trying to avoid being stuck behind someone making a left turn.
A three-lane road would be much easier for pedestrians and bike riders to cross. It would also help connect the west side to the rest of town. It would in effect make the neighborhood feel of Traverse City expand. As it is now, Division Street is an unattractive river of metal-in-motion.
With the west side more connected to the rest of town (including the Grand Traverse Commons) property values and livibility would improve on that side of town.
To get an idea of how it would work, 14th Street between Division and Union is a three lane and Eighth Street between Rose and Garfield is a three lane. These are still busy streets, but they are safer, calmer and more crossable than Division Street.
Division Street is a busier street, but it would be good thing to slow people down when they come in to Traverse City. Tourists would be more likely to go downtown or the Grand Traverse Commons than to blow through town on their way to Leelanau County. Traverse City would be a more welcoming town with Division/Water Street as a three-lane.
No one likes being stuck in traffic, but for businesses, traffic means prosperity -- something we could currently use more of around here. It is up to us to make our roads safe and comfortable for everybody, including motorists, walkers and bike riders. Maybe a lane change would make it comfortable enough where more people would walk and ride bikes and there would be less traffic.
Patrick Ivory TC