<b>West Bank settlements</b>
EDITOR: Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel have gone over the top again, deciding to "punish" the Palestinians for seeking quasi-membership status in the U.N. by announcing plans for more settlements in the West Bank — but this time in the critical E1-corridor, which will divide the Palestinians' West Bank into two.
Most Americans are unaware of the extent of the Israeli settlements (illegal under international law) — 500,000 Jews in 130 enclaves every 10 miles or so throughout the West Bank — and why Israel keeps pushing more of them.
Most Americans don't also know that the 15 percent of Israelis who are ultra-conservative religious and political Zionists, who consider the West Bank part of their "Eretz Israel" (the land of Israel), are aggressively driving Israel's policies. Their declared goal is to keep expanding settlements in the West Bank until a two-state solution — i.e. any Palestinian "nation" — becomes physically impossible.
Four million Palestinians have lived under Israeli Occupation for 45 years. No other large population has been denied self-governing nationhood for so long.
How sad their reasonable desire for recognition in the U.N. triggered this vindictive Israeli response, which will now make becoming their own country that much more impossible.
<b>Crossing the aisle</b>
EDITOR: Erin Carlstrom hit a home run with her very first vote on the Santa Rosa City Council and deserves a huge thank you from all of us ("Bartley new mayor of SR," Wednesday). She had promised to work across the aisle and, in voting for Scott Bartley for mayor, she lived up to her word.
I'm sure it was not an easy vote. A lot of people still see the council as "us and them." Many of those people are probably her long-time friends and supporters. I hope they see that she has truly made a significant contribution to our city and will cheer her for her commitment.
Kudos to the council for electing her vice-mayor as well. She and Bartley will make a great team.
<b>Agreements get revised</b>
EDITOR: The Drakes Bay oyster farm has been in place for more than 85 years, employing 30 people who help produce 40 percent of the oysters in California. Can we rely on the data sources that say this farm had a negative impact on eelgrass and harbor seals, or do we justify the decision not to renew its lease on a statute put in place 40 years ago and note that environmental "zealots" have chalked up another win in lobbying?
As an environmentalist myself, I understand protection of the environment globally, but upon examination of the facts, it appears there is sketchy justification for the decision to close Drakes Bay Oyster Co., other than Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's inability to see through the eelgrass and demand accurate data to make the proper decision.
The fact that the Lunny family has complied with all of the regulations in place to be sustainable should show the feds that another 10 years of operation would be admirable in this economy while sufficient information is reviewed and the decision process is addressed on a level playing field. Agreements have been known to be revised; look at what transpired with Native Americans.