I'd like to clarify some points made in a letter by a retired history professor who objected to a large cross and figures representing our Founding Fathers sharing the same float in Patchogue's July Fourth parade ["'Nonsense' float mixes up founding," July 18]. The Patchogue Lions sponsor the parade each year with the support of the village and other organizations, but this particular float, which was mistakenly attributed to the Lions Club, did not belong to the club.
The Patchogue Lions Club would not endorse any particular religion, nor does it discriminate against any race, religion or nationality. All of the groups that build floats display things that represent who they are. This particular float was built by a local church. I don't believe it was the church's intention to force upon anyone its beliefs about religion or history, but merely to display a love of our country and celebrate Independence Day.
Dan King, Patchogue
Editor's note: The writer is president of the Patchogue Lions Club.
I take exception to the letter writer's remark that as an American, he was offended by this float. The float did nothing but depict an important time in history. It did not allude to any state religion. It certainly did not besmirch our national traditions, and the children on the sidelines saw a bit of history with no editorial comments.
H. Gilbert Balkam, Ronkonkoma
I was shocked by the letter that objected to a parade float that included the words "God Bless America."
Religion has been entwined with American history since Pilgrims fled religious persecution. The Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, mentions the word "God" in the first sentence, and "Creator" in the second.
Our founders also took pains to establish the freedom of religion in the First Amendment. And one of the first actions of the newly formed U.S. Senate in New York in 1789 was to form a committee to seek out a chaplain.cq
Three of my ancestors fought in the American Revolution, two of whom were shot during their service. They fought for American values: freedom and tolerance.
It's disturbing that some people today want tolerance shown to them, but seem unwilling to extend it to others.
Leslie Dimmling, Garden City
I was a little taken aback by the criticism of the float. The Lions Club, which sponsored the parade but not the float, does a tremendous amount for charities. I feel the writer is more offended by the cross and the words "God Bless America" than the float's portrayal of our history.
Kevin J. Mullen, Holtsville
Israeli-Palestinian bloodshed in focus
For those who question Israel's morality in killing civilians, let us make one thing clear -- as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put it so succinctly, "We use rockets to protect our children while Hamas uses civilians to protect their rockets"cq ["High toll in Gaza fighting," News, July 21]. Hamas missiles and rockets are hidden in people's homes, in schools, in hospitals, inviting Israel to target those sites.
That Israel has the decency to warn Gazans to evacuate is a fact that is not considered by Israel's critics.
Molly Ratner, Fresh Meadows
As the world cries out for peace, Israel continues its offensive against the Palestinian people while hiding behind the apron strings of the United States, knowing that our politicians would sell their souls before risking the loss of major funding and votes by special-interest groups.
We pump billions of tax dollars into Israel, but refuse to demand fairness and justice in its policies toward people it has treated horribly. It only takes watching and reading the news to see what is really going on. The deaths of three young yeshiva students is the excuse given by Israel to launch an offensive that is akin to shooting fish in a barrel, even though the killers of the teens have never been identified and the Palestinian government helped in the search.
Israel extends the olive branch with one hand as it builds more and more illegal settlements and restricts the flow of basic resources with the other. Palestinians -- including my father, a Methodist minister who had to flee -- have suffered like few other groups. Since the formation of Israel, they have had their homes, land and assets stripped away. Those with the means to leave did so at great financial loss, but many could not or chose not to and now decades later have been imprisoned behind walls. The Gaza Strip has been described as the world's largest outdoor prison, where people are crammed in and denied the basics of human life. Doctors and others must smuggle in medical supplies and food from Egypt.
The extremists on both sides must be stopped. So what does this all mean? It falls to people of peace worldwide to bind together for justice.
Marie Khoury Polifrone, Hewlett
We don't understand where President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are coming from regarding Hamas and Israel.
They initially sound good, saying that Israel, our longtime ally and the only democracy in the Middle East, has a right to defend itself from the hundreds of long-range missiles Hamas has been hurtling into the civilian populations in Israeli cities.
On the other hand, Obama and Kerry tell Israel to be careful not to harm the civilians the Hamas terrorists hide behind. Israel warns the civilians in Gaza when they'll be attacking so they can flee. However, Hamas warns the civilians to stay put so the world can condemn Israel for killing them, while the terrorists hide among them.
In addition, I'm perplexed that the president used his influence to lift sanctions imposed on Iran, which has been supplying these rockets to Hamas and Hezbollah. Of course Iran is also intent on the destruction of Israel.
Bottom line, the U.S. administration is no friend to Israel.
Marty Orenstein, New Hyde Park
Your July 19 news story "Targeting tunnels" is accompanied by two photos: Israeli troops in Gaza, and a crying Palestinian child.
The juxtaposition of the photos created an inescapable subliminal message that Israel causes distress for innocent children and Palestinians generally. The fact is that the tunnels, rocket aggression from Gaza and Hamas' terroristic quest for sympathy caused the child's cries.
Blame, fears, tears and grief exist on both sides of the border. Stop projecting Hamas' photo-op propaganda.
Bernard Sosnick, Melville
Letter: Arizona execution achieved its goal
News reports tell of a "bungled execution" in Arizona because it took two hours for a convicted murderer to die ["New outcry over lethal injections," News, July 25]. In my opinion, the execution was not bungled -- the convicted murderer died.
The guy killed two people. Only the civil liberties types are mourning his passing. The family of the victim has suffered for 25 years. What's two hours in comparison?
Michael P. Fried, Woodmere
Letter: Spanking poses serious danger to kids
I do not believe any kind of spanking is justified ["Court: OK to spank child," News, July 22].
All levels of hitting have the potential to cause serious physical harm to a child's sensitive skin and developing organs. Second, it would only be logical to assume that an impressionable child will think it's OK to use physical force when he or she is upset or angry. I do not know of one accredited pediatric or psychological association that agrees with using physical force to "teach" our children anything other than how to hurt another person.
This terrible ruling by the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court should not be allowed to bring spanking back into our thoughts or vocabulary -- or to let parents think they're justified to hit at will.
Carolyn Mann, Massapequa