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Richard Goldstone's backtracking; the Chowchilla kidnappings; Obama's racial identity

April 10, 2011

Findings on Israel's action against Gaza

Re "Goldstone's flip-flop," Editorial, April 5

One innocent civilian death attributable to a war is one too many. But to believe that the occurrence of less than 2,000 Gazan deaths (in a population of about 1.6 million Gazans) because of the war constitutes proof that the Israeli government ordered its military forces to punish, humiliate and terrorize the citizenry while seeking to destroy terrorists and their infrastructure is irrational.

If that were the case, the Israeli military either overwhelmingly defied the order or were not instructed how to carry out such an order. The Israeli war objective was to halt the firing of thousands of rockets into Israel prior to the war.

There are legitimate complaints that the Palestinians may bring against the Israeli government, but this complaint about Gazan civilians being punished, humiliated and terrorized in the war because of an Israeli war policy targeted against them is not one of them.

Marc Jacobson

Los Angeles

Congratulations to Richard Goldstone for offering modifications to his report on Israeli war crimes. Goldstone says that there was not an Israeli policy to kill Palestinian civilians, although his report documents that at an operational level that is exactly what happened.

The new facts do not negate six of Goldstone's seven accusations of Israeli war crimes — for example, that Israel's siege on Gaza is illegal because it is collective punishment, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Conventions, and that that Israel systematically destroyed civilian infrastructure and property that had no security significance.

Regardless of Israeli statements, the bulk of Goldstone's report stands, and Israel must be held accountable for its war crimes. If not, the 20th century effort to establish international law will be undermined.

Jeff Warner

La Habra Heights

The Goldstone report is a "bell" that has rung, and there is no amount of explanation that would "unring" its negative consequences for Israel.

If Goldstone were to rightfully, and with sufficient supporting evidence, recant some or all the other major charges that his report wrongly accused Israel of, it would nevertheless be regarded with great suspicion by the international community and the habitual haters of Israel.

Israel is in a lose-lose situation here.

David Guttman

Sherman Oaks

Revisiting Chowchilla

Re "Kidnap memories won't be buried," Column One, April 4, and "Kidnapper's parole upheld," April 6

How anyone could refer to the Chowchilla kidnappings as "more of a mad prank than a vicious crime" is completely beyond my comprehension.

The only reason the perpetrators did not end up facing 27 counts of murder was because of the heroism of the bus driver and the eldest boy who was kidnapped. It was their commitment to the younger children that enabled those children to escape.

There are some crimes that deserve life without the possibility of parole, and this was one of them.

Stacey Cole

Lancaster

It greatly saddens me to be reminded how little we understand mental health and emotional trauma. Retired Court of Appeal Justice William Newsom is the epitome of this ignorance when he says the kidnappings were just a "mad prank" and not serious because there was no bodily harm.

The children may not have suffered "bodily harm," but there is no doubt many of them suffered severe emotional trauma, which can be much more damaging and long lasting than physical injury.

I don't know the legal definition of "kidnapping with bodily harm," but if it doesn't include emotional harm, then it is time for the law to be revised.

Joe Palacios

San Gabriel

Public unions

Re "L.A. labor — getting the job done," Opinion, April 4

Harold Meyerson paints public and private unions with the same brush. Trade union members work for privately owned contractors that must competitively bid projects. They must be productive for their companies to be successful, and worker productivity is measurable and those who do not perform are quickly laid off.

Public union members have successfully weaned the words "competitive" or "measurable" from their vocabularies. Unlike trade unions, there is no economic motivation to be productive.

Meyerson also attempts to cast the Wisconsin and Ohio battles as "anti-union," when in fact the movements are anti-spending. With our $26-billion budget gap, $500 billion in unfunded pension liability and our top-10 ranking in tax burden, California would be lucky to have such leadership.

Tim Mayeda

Yorba Linda

Racial identity

Re "An issue in black and white," Opinion, April 4

I am irritated by Gregory Rodriguez's column concerning President Obama's or anyone else's racial identity. He may have made a more tenable case by proposing the abolishment of all racial categories except human; but if racial choices are given, one should be able to identify with a specific group.

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