Sometimes the books I enjoy the most are not recommended by a friend or carefully selected from my “to read” list. They are, like “Footnotes in Gaza” by Joe Sacco, random picks from a library or bookstore shelf. I was not even looking at books for myself, I was in the graphic books section searching for something that will rather entertain my oldest son, when I spotted the title that arose my interest. The author’s name seemed vaguely familiar as well. Perhaps I read it in some magazine before -I am not sure. But the fact that he published in some of my favorites, such as Times and Harper’s , spoke well for the author and I knew that I had to borrow “Footnotes in Gaza” . I started reading it as soon as I got home and I got so absorbed by its lecture that I congratulated myself for following my instincts…
Yes history is actual, and perhaps there is no place better than Palestine and the Gaza Strip to look at as we try to understand how current events unfold from the old ones. How current conflicts are rooted in old wounds. Sacco notes in his foreword to the book the comment of an witness: « ” I still remember the wailing and tears of my father other his brother;” he said. “I couldn’t sleep for many months after that …It left a wound in my heart that can never heal. […] [T]hey planted hatred in our hearts.”» (p. ix, para. II).The witness was Abed El-Aziz El-Rantisi , a senior official of Hamas, the political wing of the Palestinian resistance movement that is often blamed (and culpable) for terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians. Terrorist attacks leading Israelis to intensify their efforts to eliminate the armed militants from Gaza Strip and destroy their connections with the outside world – the paths they use to bring in weapons and send suicide bombers into Israel. And since rockets and bullets do not make a difference between civilians and militants – the more aggressive are the Israeli attacks, the more likely to hurt Palestinian civilians.And given that the isolation enforced on the overpopulated Gaza Strip leads to less employment and trade opportunities and therefore more poverty… With each genetation there are more victims, more wounded hearts, more hatred…
On personal note, one question is following me since I finished reading “Footnotes to Gaza” : How comes that so many IDF soldiers showed cruelty or at best indifference and lack of human compassion towards civilians? Yes, some where potential enemy soldiers or murderers -yet many of them were old men or boys as young as 15, they were teachers and merchants , some of them were peacemakers, and some had been living exemplary lives. Considering the year when the killings happen : 1956, 11 years after the end of WWII and the average age of active soldiers in the IDF , the Israeli soldiers had to remember the years of Holocaust as something that happened in their own time. The memory of those times when they, the people of Israel, could have faced , and some of them had faced perhaps , humiliation and death. Just because everybody whith those religious beliefs, anyone who belonged to their nation was “the enemy”. No matter what they had done or how they lived as individuals. I think that memory had to be alive in their minds and hearts. And one hopes that the people who belong to a nation surviving so much harm, so much injustice are more likely to act humanly: showing mercy, compassion, acting justly and avoiding the gratuitous humiliation and violence against their prisoners. Yet, in spite of one what might hope, there is perhaps a harsher reality -most of us recall the fear instead. The thought that if they are acting too softly instead of being aggressively in offensive, they may end up being those oppressed, those victimized… the hopeless ones.
A complete book review is available on my “artsy” blog/page : Anaïs
“YPT’s mission is to provide career guidance, fellowship, and networking opportunities for young professionals in the transportation field. We are the future of transportation.
Our goals are threefold:
Professional Development: Provide a regular series of seminars from leading individuals or teams in the transportation field.
Fellowship: Provide an ongoing forum for mutual support and interaction between young transportation professionals, especially for those starting their careers.
Networking: Provide networking opportunities and seminars to help young professionals advance their careers and share innovative ideas”
So join us for the first meeting of our Pittsburgh Chapter on 7/27 at 6pm in Oakland:
Peter McFerrin, a research analyst for Brookings Institute that published the now (in)famous Missed Opportunities study about transit in US , writes at length about the opportunity for private transit in suburban areas in this article published on The New Republic.
And to an extent I do agree with Mr. McFerrin –private transit initiatives can provide a sound alternative to public transportation. The organization I belong to, ACTC, agreed that to allow a private local provider Lenzner Coaches to replace the service lost as a consequence of Port Authority ‘s recent cuts. The reason why we voted for this alternative service was that since as long as we represent the riders’ interest and we consider the typical rider on those routes a private alternative will be better than none]. And, it is my guess that, unlike the New York pilot program quoted by Mr. McFerrin, Lenzner is running a profitable service.
A recent article on Grist explainin “Why are we (Americans) so angry at the gas pump “– Because we have no choices- notes that suburban sprawl makes impossible (or at best impracticable) other transportation means such as walking, biking or taking public transit. We do have to drive to work, shopping, doctor, the kids soccer games ,family events, church and so on… So even with a gas efficient vehicle at $3 /gallon we’ve already spent a big chunk of our budget at the pump, if gas were $8.50/gallon as I understand it is now in UK , we’d probably had to stop eating because we would either be unable to afford a trip to the store, or if we put the gas in the car there will be nothing left to purchase groceries.
the first phase of several projects planned to improve the Route 65 Marshall Avenue Interchange
One of the solutions pointed in the Grist article mentioned above: limit sprawl from now own, rebuild within urban boundaries with higher population densities. Shorter distances will make all these options such as walking possible again. Agreed! But we need to do better, and there is something else we need to do first: we need to revise our outlook on accessibility. In many cases it is not distance, but lack of access for cyclists and pedestrians turning away most Americans living in suburban areas who may consider walking instead of driving.
And our priorities are so skewed that , even in the old city neighborhoods where pedestrian pathways survived the last six decades, we tend to ignore the fact that their role is not ornamental but quite pragmatic. Yes, people do walk on those sidewalks –especially when they are the pedestrian path to a bus route. So really, what were they thinking when they put up this sign?
I am unable to tell you what exactly where they thinking, but I can tell you how to fix it. You can file a complaint with Penn DOT here: http://www.dot.state.pa.us/penndot/districts/district11/d11ccc.nsf
Why file a complaint?
- Because Penn DOT through their local district is actually required to supervise and in certain cases approve every step of the project in order to comply with FHWA Work Zone Safety & Mobility Rule (23 CFR Subpart J)
- Because Penn DOT’s specifies in its Publication 46 that, when designing even a temporary traffic control plan, a contractor is required to provide bicyclist and pedestrian accommodations:
“Para 126.96.36.199 (c) Do not expose bicycle and pedestrian pathways to unsafe conditions…”, and obviously if your pathway is blocked therefore forces you to step out in traffic you are exposed to an unsafe condition.
- Because we need to remind Penn DOT that their pedestrian friendly policies are nothing if they are just ink on paper.
WE have the same rights as Pedestrians as we do as drivers!