Letters to the Editor

BY DI READERS | JULY 24, 2014 5:00 AM

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Byrd wrong on Israel

Matthew Byrd (“Rethink our alliance with Israel,” July 9) demands that the U.S.-Israel alliance be ended for reasons of both values and interests. Israel, Byrd claims, does not endorse values of liberal democracy and diversity. Nor, in his opinion, does it offer support to U.S. geopolitical interests because of “a campaign of industrial and military espionage.”

Byrd clearly lacks any understanding of either the history of the U.S.-Israel relationship or the political and economic interests underlying it.

Israel is a free-wheeling democracy with an open press, contested elections, and an independent judiciary. Like minority communities in the United States, Canada, and other democracies, Arab citizens of Israel lack equal access to some services and opportunities that members of the majority have. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza face restrictions of movement, but their opportunities are more severely dampened by the incompetence and corruption of their own leaders than by the limitations placed on them by Israel.

The United States depends on critical intelligence and military coordination with Israel. That there is spying between the two countries is no surprise and takes nothing away from the shared regional goals and close strategic coordination between Israel and the United States. Israel’s economy — particularly in such sectors as high-tech and aerospace — is a global leader that trades with the United States and other major countries. It simply cannot be ignored.

In short, contrary to Byrd’s unsubstantiated claims, the long-standing relationship between Israel and the United States is mutually beneficial, based on shared democratic values, military goals, and economic interests. There is much to be gained from continuing the friendly relationship, and nothing to be gained from following Byrd’s advice and ending it.

Jerry Sorokin, executive director of Hillel Foundation

Subsidized housing unfair

Subsidized housing has always seemed unfair to me: Why do some people have lower-cost housing bestowed upon them by the government while the rest of the people must pay market rates?

The scheme is totally unfair and defies common sense.

Despite my objections, “affordable housing” will be with us for as far as anyone can see.

Though California is no model for anything having to do with governmental expenditures, the state has a reasonable approach to the provision of subsidized housing in new residential construction: require that the subject developers pay for it. No direct expenditures of taxpayer money is needed under this approach.

Of course, the developers “pay” for this burden by increasing rents and/or purchases prices for all the market-rate units. So people wishing to live in new developments must pay subsidies for people not able to afford living in these projects.

Market-rate buyers or renters willingly ante up for this subsidy. And, if they don’t want to pay it, they can live elsewhere where no subsidies are extracted from their pockets.

It’s far from a perfect solution, but it doesn’t require the direct expenditure of public funds.

Now, if Gov. Jerry Brown will drop his high-speed rail idea (a solution looking for a problem), another tiny step in the direction of fiscal sanity will take place.

Perhaps there is a lesson in this tale for the rulers of Iowa City.

UI alum Mike Norton

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