HISTORIC FALLOFF

Excellent piece on Seattle's recent bumpy ride with historic preservation ["Endangered Seattle," Jan. 29]. There are several reasons I can think of for

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"How dare Miller make fun of innocent children struggling to live through the daily humiliations and crimes of brutal Israeli occupation."

HISTORIC FALLOFF

Excellent piece on Seattle's recent bumpy ride with historic preservation ["Endangered Seattle," Jan. 29]. There are several reasons I can think of for a falloff in historic preservation activism. (1) Most Seattle residents are newcomers. They don't have a personal feel for the old icons. They love the city for what it is today. (2) Courts have ruled that the landmarks board generally cannot extend new controls on churches. That leaves out some prime real estate. (3) The historic preservation community retains some vestige of its elitist roots. After much hype in the press, there was a defining silence in the city as the Kalakala was towed into its home port. This dream-date-turned-fish-processor appeared like an unwanted reminder of what time and neglect can do. A finicky lot, the preservation crowd turned its back. (4) The Landmark Preservation Board is no longer an activist entity. It sits prepared to act based on the activism of others, more like a court than prosecutor—the result of somewhat precarious political support and prior well-intentioned misadventures.

Geoffrey Spelman

Former Member, Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board

SKOLNIK'S SNIT

Reasonable people may differ on the need to restore the Kalakala to her "Buck Rogers brilliance," but Art Skolnik might consider minding his manners if he wants my support ["Endangered Seattle," Jan. 29]. His attack on our "spoiled population" for our "lack of imagination" and preoccupation with our families is not the best way to win this family man over. His insinuation that we have some kind of moral obligation to save the boat is ludicrous. I'd like to think this is just an intemperate outburst as the project nears the end of its rope, because if it is characteristic of Skolnik's attitude, it's no wonder he has had so little success.

Howard Fitzpatrick

Seattle

RUMBLINGS FROM MT. JOEL

The Seattle Weekly seems to wet itself at the prospect that Seattle will soon be a one-newspaper town, with the Post- Intelligencer forced out of business ["Patty's Papers," Jan. 29].

I've wondered what's behind this. Criticism of Knute Berger's hero, Jim McDermott? The prospect that, instead of very rarely, P-I reporters will never butt in on KUOW bull sessions featuring the Times' Joni Balter and the Weekly's George Howland? Or just deficient reporting, focusing on noisemaking by Fairview Fannie and speculation by those who know nothing?

Before the latest speculation, your staff should have gone to the Web site of Editor & Publisher, Jan. 28, for this quote from a well-placed source at the P-I's corporate parent: "Hearst is not going to be chased out of Seattle. I think there could be a prolonged struggle if there is an effort to dissolve the JOA."

Well, that gives the Weekly time to get the story right.

Joel Connelly

Staff Columnist,

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

For more wet speculation on the future of the two newspapers, see the cover story.—Ed.

BAD DEVELOPMENT

J. Kingston Pierce's excellent article missed an issue about to bubble up in the Cascade neighborhood ["Endangered Seattle," Jan. 29]. On the proposed site for a new development west of REI is a designated historic landmark, the New Richmond Laundry. Landmark advocates are concerned that the New Richmond may be subjected to what preservationists call a "facadectomy," whereby the facade is preserved as a historic wrapping around what is otherwise an entirely new building. This superficial "facadism" is generally frowned upon by preservationists. When buildings with landmark designation status are subjected to this strategy, it erodes city ordinances in place to promote preservation.

Recognizing this, the landmarks board rejected such a proposal for the New Richmond a few years ago. But the proposed development is coming from a powerful team: Harbor Properties, joined by Paul Allen's Vulcan Properties, Pemco Insurance, and Seattle-based architects NBBJ. Hopefully, they'll take the high road and decide to preserve the New Richmond in its entirety. If this team wants to go the facadectomy route, the landmarks board will have to stand up to some intense lobbying.

Colleen Dooley

Treasurer, Cascade Neighborhood Council

HELP WANTED

J. Kingston Pierce's "Endangered Seattle" [Jan. 29] was very telling, but he missed one project: the restoration of the last three worker cottages in Belltown. A bunch of us volunteers, along with professional contractors, are well underway to preserving this piece of Seattle's history. Richard Hugo House will place writers or artists in residence as tenants in two of the units. The third may be used as a community center or for a commercial tenant, and the grounds will blend with the P-Patch next door.

Like many historic restorations, we have plenty of enthusiasm but find ourselves coming up about $16,000 short of what we need for completion. Not as big a hurdle as the folks at the Kalakala have, but if readers have ideas for solving that problem, maybe they'd like to apply their talents to ours as well (e-mail glenn@speakeasy.net).

Jay Jiudice

Seattle

CD STILL CENTRAL

Priscilla Turner's timely and well-written "An Acquired Taste for the Suburbs" [Jan. 22] erred in attributing the forum that took place at Mt. Zion Baptist Church this past fall entitled "How Central Is the Central District to Seattle's Black Community?" The program was sponsored by the Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas as a part of our ongoing Which Way Seattle series. The panel discussion concerned gentrification in the Central District and explored challenging questions about recent demographic and economic shifts and their impact on black Seattle's sense of identity.

Our organization's name ties the Central District to African Americans because, while migration is a part of our social dynamic, the Central District is the historical center of community for African Americans in Seattle no matter the racial background of its current inhabitants. As in Turner's article, our audience touched upon the reasons why some long-time community members choose to leave. The issue is a complicated one that forces African Americans to choose between self and community. We believe nostalgia should blind us to neither the racist covenants nor red lining that restricted blacks to the Central District for a time, nor to the cohesive and nurturing community that grew out of that necessity.

We welcome Turner's article as an important part of the dialogue begun by our program. To continue the dialogue, we have created a chat room on our Web site. Anyone can visit and post by going to www.cdforum.org/participate.html.

Stephanie Ellis-Smith

Founder/Executive Director,

Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas

THE GAZA LETTERS

We received a huge response to Brian Miller's review of the documentary Gaza Strip ("Throwing Stones," Jan. 29). Some of the letters are printed in the paper; many more appear below. The letters are largely unedited; any factual information they contain has not been confirmed by Seattle Weekly.

Brian Miller's embarrassing review of Gaza Strip illustrates why there can never be an honest discussion of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in the American media. If anyone tries giving an uncensored account of the Palestinian side, someone like Miller goes ballistic. His indignation rises to outlandish levels. He cannot even stomach scenes of Palestinian children playing tag. The idea that they might be innocent appalls him.

The real problem for Miller isn't that the documentary is one-sided. (It's about life in the Gaza Strip, for crying out loud! What did he expect?) It's that his lazy, ill-informed views have been challenged.

C. Debrot

Seattle

Brian Miller's review of Gaza Strip shows no understanding of the history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. His anti-Arab sentiments ooze out of every sentence. He is little more than a puppet, regurgitating headlines from network news. Miller does not mention the nerve-gas attack documented in the film where the emergency room was full of writhing victims. Did he miss the part where the Israeli tank dropped off booby-trapped boxing gloves that caused the death of one child and injured two others? This film gives information about a people who have no voice in the world. Palestinians are not miserable people (as stated by Miller) but are kind and generous people living in a miserable situation.

Tom Glass

Seattle

Brian Miller's critique of the beautiful documentary Gaza Strip sickens and disgusts me! His obvious political bias and shocking hate and racist remarks have hit an all-time low. How dare Miller make fun of innocent children struggling to live through the daily humiliations and crimes of brutal Israeli occupation. Let me guess. He gets two paychecks: one from the Weekly and one from the mass murderer Ariel Sharon.

Jad Melki

Seattle

Brian Miller's critique of Gaza Strip is an example of how the U.S. media are brainwashed by Israeli propaganda. It's sad to see a "movie critic" forgo objectivity and turn his writing into a "political statement." Maybe Miller feels the guilt of being an accomplice to the crimes committed in this movie with his tax money and, by attacking it, wants to feel better.

Majdi Badarin

Redmond

Brian Miller's review of Gaza Strip is welcome in that he is unafraid to call mindless propaganda what it is. Life for Palestinians may be hard, but the trend of presenting them as innocent victims is pathetic. Innocent victims don't answer peace proposals with bombs on buses. Well done for allowing the unpopular truth to be heard.

Gregg Rossen

Los Angeles, CA

I am surprised that the Weekly feels comfortable publishing racist comments in a film review. I appreciate that Brian Miller has never been to Palestine to see for himself the brutality of the occupation, but this does not excuse his biased review of a film that, at last, presents the reality of life there. No doubt he would have treated with equal scorn the sufferings of black children in Soweto or Jewish children in Warsaw. Or would he? Perhaps it is just Palestinians who are denied their humanity.

Stephen Williams

London, England

How many films have been made about Israel? How many articles have been written about how Israelis are afraid to go to a cafe? I don't remember the Palestinian perspective ever being addressed. Why should Gaza Strip, which is about Palestinians living under military occupation, provide a podium for Israelis? We see that every day on TV, read it every day in our newspapers.

I grew up on the Holocaust and WWII stories. My involvement in human rights was sparked by a movie about concentration camps that I saw in fifth grade. Somehow, I was able to step back, see that I was only getting one narrative, and ask questions. Brian Miller, it appears, has let this one narrative rule his mind to make him very prejudiced. He should open his eyes.

Edith Garwood

Concord, NC

Brian Miller's article about Gaza Strip is the lowest form of journalism. I don't care if he likes the film; what I care deeply about is his unapologetic racism. When he says that Palestinians don't care about their loved ones, that their emotions are only for the benefit of the camera, he has crossed the line between film critic and racist bigot. Seattle Weekly readers deserve an apology for this bigoted piece of yellow journalism.

Rizk Ikhrais

Bastrop, TX

I was shocked and surprised by the tone and tenor of Brian Miller's review of Gaza Strip. Miller could not have done a worse job in assessing the film on its merits, preferring instead to dismiss the work based on his ill-informed political opinions and his aversion to what he calls "victimology," which I have a sneaking suspicion does not enter Miller's mind when writing about other conflicts and/or tragedies.

As a Jewish American who has made numerous trips to Israel and the Gaza Strip/West Bank, I can say that Miller's interpretation of the documentary is ignorant and myopic. His inability to grasp the nature of genuine Palestinian suffering by calling for "evenhandedness" completely misses the point and shows both his bias and general obtuseness. There is no shame in presenting one side of the story, especially if it is a side that is routinely ignored by virtually every media outlet; particularly if it is a tale that is virtually unknown in the United States. Miller claims to have seen in-depth portrayals of Palestinian suffering on CNN; he must have a different version of that channel than I do.

This is precisely the irony of Mr. Miller's review: The very reason he is unable to surmount his prejudices and recognize the genuine suffering (and white-washing in the American press) is the fact that "evenhandedness" has never been a characteristic of this conflict on these shores. By refusing to acknowledge the truth of both sides' suffering, and by consistently debasing the Palestinian struggle for equal rights (which is at the heart of the conflict, not political football of Arab states), Miller does a disservice to his readers and to himself. His clear lack of knowledge on the subject, illustrated in several places, ought to have been a red flag to the editor that perhaps Miller was not the man for this assignment, and that his review has little to do with the merits of the film and everything to do with Miller's own bias and ignorance.

Chaz Bartok

Seattle

Thanks to Brian Miller for reviewing my brother's film, Gaza Strip. I am glad to see it covered in the Weekly. Sadly, the review only shows the picture through Miller's cracked lens of prejudice.

James employed a style of documentary without narration, forcing the viewer to draw his or her own conclusions about the film's meaning. By choosing this method, he avoided placing his own interpretation on the material. The weakness of the technique is evident in Miller's review: He saw what he wanted to see. He saw footage of horribly injured civilians, children cowering by their school under a hail of Israeli bullets, and people living in dusty refugee camps. He condescendingly admits that this is daily life for many in the Gaza Strip during the Intifada.

Then Miller point to James' interview with 13-year-old Mohammed, whose best

friend was killed, as evidence that James is being manipulated. Let's see what Miller sees: While trying to salvage a chunk of metal near an Israeli checkpoint, a young boy is shot in the head and killed by a trained sniper. Mohammed takes this opportunity to manipulate a gullible American filmmaker, and, by extension, you and me, into sympathy for suicide bombers? The conclusion is surprising, to say the least.

Miller's dismissal of Mohammed as a "robot, programmed to weep" shows that the real puppet is Miller himself. He is programmed to fear this grieving boy as a potential terrorist, and so cannot see him as a child enduring great hardship. What Miller sees through his filter is that Palestinian boys are just suicide bombers waiting to happen. I cannot help but think his assessment of Mohammed would be different if he was from Tel Aviv, or from New York.

Israel regularly punishes uninvolved people for the crimes of suicide bombers. But he seems to think that Israeli bombing victims ("liberal, Labor-voting, Peace Now supporters," in Miller's words) are somehow more victimized than Mohammed's friend. This film is not about drawing such distinctions.

Perhaps Miller's lens is distorted by the one-sided news coverage available through the American media. Go ahead and open The New York Times. In their news pages is extensive coverage of Israeli suffering whenever it occurs, but a scant few words to describe the atrocities committed every day against the Palestinians. As Miller astutely notes, every conflict has two sides. But the Times only sees fit to print one side of this struggle. Palestinians are not interviewed or listened to; they are routinely written off as "alleged militants," "accused terrorist masterminds," or the unnamed collateral damage of Israeli "targeted execution" attacks. In his

review, Miller is far too eager to do the same.

"How small do they make those suicide bomber belts?" he asks. How small is Mr. Miller's mind?

Sara Longley

Brian Miller states in his review of the excellent documentary Gaza Strip that Mohammed, a 13-year-old child, is "a puppet, a robot programmed to weep for his slain buddies." The rest of the world cries naturally at the deaths of friends, but according to Mr. Miller, Palestinians must be "programmed" to cry. Young Mohammed doesn't throw rocks as his only means of expressing his child's outrage and confusion at the horrors he sees inflicted on the people around him from a foreign force, the injustice, and the denial of any form of normality to his short life; oh no, he is a "robot," a "puppet," who must be "programmed" to respond naturally.

This kind of base dehumanization of a million-plus civilians—men, women, and children—this kind of racism, is precisely what allows their subjugation and wanton murder to continue, no matter the cost.

I'll tell you who's "programmed." The only one "programmed" is Mr. Miller: programmed with the self-justifying lies and one-dimensional Palestinian stereotypes drummed into would-be Israel supporters in a base attempt to deny to themselves and others the humanity of the Palestinians, and deny the apalling reality that has been created by the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories.

Leah Lunsford

Atlanta, GA

Mr. Miller's comments relating to the film Gaza Strip are deeply shocking for their racist content and contemptuous tone toward the Palestinians. Mr. Miller ought to learn that Gaza Strip's people are held under Israeli occupation in violation of international law and conventions as well as United Nations resolutions, not to mention plain, simple human-rights requirements. He ought to learn as well that he is bound to be held liable for his racist and outrageous remarks, the entire world not being affiliated to downright Zionism.

Nadine Acoury

Paris, France

It is absolutely incredible to read in the Seattle Weekly a film review with such racist overtones as one finds in Brian Miller's critique of the documentary Gaza Strip. Shame on Mr. Miller for such crass stereotyping and for so unabashedly flaunting his racism. And shame on Seattle Weekly for publishing such trash.

Babak Sani

Brian Miller is a clever writer, there's no doubting that. Clever, but not honest or knowledgeable—or even fair-minded. His slick line of anti-Palestinian patter contains plenty of stereotypical inaccuracies and pro-Israeli propaganda. There is no insight to share. No revelations of the terrible realities. Miller apparently subscribes to the view that victims whose outlooks are skewed by generations of oppression are entirely to blame for their plight.

For all the evil that occasionally rises out of the Palestinian sewers to strike cruel blows against innocent Israeli civilians, it should be clear to anyone who cares to look that the greater evil is the ongoing persecution of the innocent Palestinian civilians. The culture of violence is one that the Israeli occupation forces enthusiastically and routinely force upon the captive Palestinians. Is it surprising that the radical fringe reacts with such wanton savagery?

It is time that the blind supporters of greater Israel are held to account for their central role in promoting the cruelty, injustice, and violence that racks the "Holy Land" in their quest for an ethnic purity that excludes the indigenous Palestinian people.

John Mortimore

Australia

Shame on you for publishing Brian Miller's review of the documentary Gaza Strip. Illiterate Mohammed has more integrity than ignorant Miller.

The movie is lacking counterargument? Here's one—defending human rights of Palestinians is not anti-Semitic.

Nirit Ben-Ari

Brooklyn, NY

Brian Miller's review of James Longley's film Gaza Strip shows his obvious disdain for the Palestinian people and his complete lack of integrity as a critic for choosing to review this film as a political platform instead of for its cinematic worth. The film's title, Gaza Strip, should relieve Longley of any false assumptions about what this film is about. The film is not about the past 60 years of the Arab/Israeli conflict. Longley set out to document life in the Gaza Strip, and that's exactly what he did. Miller moronically questions why Longley doesn't show blown-up Israeli children. Well, hello, because there aren't any blown-up Israeli children in the Gaza Strip. If there were, maybe Longley would have shown them in the film. The film is not titled Tel Aviv.

In the United States, we are treated to a barrage of images of Israeli victims of suicide bombers, yet we hardly see any of the Palestinian casualties despite the fact that they outnumber the Israeli victims by a ratio of three to one. The American mass media does not present the Israeli/Palestinian conflict with any balance, so why should independent cinema be expected to do so?

Gaza Strip should be appreciated for the stark gentility with which it treats its subject, and Longley should be praised for daring to bring us an insider's glimpse of this ravaged piece of earth and the people who are forced to live there.

Nadia Meyercord

Oakland, CA

Brian Miller starts his review of Gaza Strip by insisting that he doesn't mind bias, as long as it agrees with his own. When he disagrees with a filmmaker's viewpoint, however, Miller demands that his side of an argument be shown.

In this case, Miller wants us to ignore the fact of Israel's military and ethnic dictatorship that has been imposed illegally on Palestinians for over 35 years in the Occupied Territories. Miller prefers to cluck his tongue over some unfortunate actions by the state of Israel, while still insisting Israel has no choice but to maintain that military dictatorship until Palestinians jump through further hoops, even while they are effectively imprisoned under military curfew on reservations. By this logic, Miller would have to ask for the return of apartheid to South Africa, since the violent resistance of the majority population—including bombs placed in civilian areas —must have, by Miller's logic, rendered them unsuitable for independence.

Miller's logic is bad enough by itself, but the review further contains remarks that demonstrate a racism against Arabs

that is more reprehensible still. If one of your writers reviewed a documentary about, say, the Jewish Holocaust and wrote about one of the survivors that "Little [Chaim] is little more than a puppet, a robot programmed to weep for his slain buddies and mumble rote phrases . . . ,"would you print it? Or would you not rather recoil in horror and decide that this writer needed some education before being assigned a serious topic again?

Edward Mast

Seattle

Brian Miller's review and attempt to dismiss and discourage Seattle Weekly readers from viewing the documentary Gaza Strip is utterly disgusting. The written words of your published review are racist, dehumanizing, and offer no objectivity. This is a documentary about a people, and Miller fails to recognize that. Miller provides misinformation, cleverly inserted in his review to seem as if his words are actually those spoken by the characters of the movie, and better yet, Miller inserts his own commentary and political mindset into the review. His comments as to why the film should not be taken seriously are unsupported, as explicitly detailed below.

Gaza Strip is an independent film made by an American who doesn't have a vested interest in the Israeli/Arab conflict. This film is an attempt to record daily reality in the Gaza Strip as he saw it.

Gaza Strip is not about Israel, so it does not need to represent the Israeli point of view. Their point of view is already well represented in the Western news media. The viewpoints of Palestinians are not.

The Gaza Strip is a Palestinian territory that has been turned into a Palestinian prison. If Israelis are in the Gaza Strip, it is only to occupy, humiliate, bulldoze, and kill.

The kids in the film were not coached. In fact, James Longley didn't understand much of what he was filming because he doesn't speak Arabic. He only learned the content of his interviews when they were translated into English in the U.S. Miller's review calls the kids in Gaza Strip "puppets" and "robots" because they are shown weeping over the deaths of their young friends at the hands of the Israeli soldiers. Also, Miller is critical of a 13-year-old kid living in Gaza because he's not pondering such issues as education, women's rights, and secular multiparty government.

Miller jokes in his review: "How small do they make those suicide bomber belts, anyway?"

Gaza Strip is a slice-of-life documentary that strives to document—without narration—the raw existence of a group of people. History, political subtext, and ideology are not what the film aims to achieve. Director James Longley does, however, provide some of this in the introduction to his film.

If your publication's intention was to close the eyes of your audience to the humiliation and everyday tortures of the Palestinian people living in the illegally occupied Gaza Strip and Palestinian lands, it will take more. What you have done is open up some eyes to question the credibility of your publication.

Jamil S. Ibrahim

Davis, CA

Brian Miller's personal bias converts his review of Gaza Strip into an anti-Palestinian tirade and distorts his report of the movie's content. The daily atrocities committed against Palestinian civilians by the Israeli military are rarely shown in the U.S. media. The movie provides a glimpse into what this side of the picture was two years ago. This documentary is also unusual in having been successfully smuggled out of the Occupied Territories, without the required Israeli military censorship. I've seen no other film that documents the Israeli use of what, by its effects, must have been a type of nerve gas.

Since the filming of Gaza Strip, the daily Israeli assaults upon the Palestinians have increased tremendously. The Israeli military continues its systematic isolation of villages, while using continuous curfews and blockades to deny the civilian population access to food, water, and medical care. The standard Israeli military procedures of land seizures; demolition of homes, businesses, and orchards; torture; arrest without charge; etc., continue to expand.

If the reviewer had interviewed the movie's director, he would have learned a great deal more about the Israeli milita

 
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