Letters to the Editor

Ashland's summer water system is unfair

Your front page news story, "Ashland saves water," does not mention the sacrifice made by homeowners whose property is in drought on the north end of Ashland. As a result of the Talent Irrigation Ditch water being diverted for drinking water, the north ditch is dry and no irrigation water runs in our lines.

While Southern Oregon University is a lush green and the median strip on Siskiyou Boulevard is well watered, to say nothing about Lithia Park, we're trying to save our plants by making use of city drinking water. Our automatic irrigation system is useless without ditch water. We drag hoses to keep plants alive along a 300-foot, flag-lot driveway and a landscaped yard. At age 85, this isn't easy.

The current system is not fair. We're using much less water in the house by not flushing toilets and collecting shower water in buckets. This doesn't make up for the drinking water we must use outside. Even then, we wait until leaves wilt, turn yellow or drop off.

If the city has the ability to install a 24-inch pipeline over several miles, isn't there enough engineering skill to fairly distribute the available ditch water — say alternating weekly the areas that receive water?

Maybe something can be done, and if not, an explanation given us other than that we're just unlucky to be at the end of the line. Maybe the Daily Tidings would want to tell the whole story.

Bert Anderson


'Proportionality' meaning varies

I studied the editorial in Tuesday's Daily Tidings by Dore Gold ("How can Israel defend itself without being accused of the principle of proportionality?") as part of my continuing effort to locate an informing humanitarian perspective that I can trust. Such an effort is clouded by physical distance, by intricacies in the conflict's long history, by the legalese of U.N. resolutions, and is especially vexed by the need to read between the lines in order to define the bias of any writer. The devil is lodged deep in the details.

Glossing Gold's long piece is impractical, but sharp focus on key sentences underscores the way trenchant phrasing can subvert a reader's trust. The heart of the editorial is the paragraph beginning "It should be recalled that proportionality in international law has a very specific meaning. It refers to the calculation a military commander must make as to whether the military advantage to be gained by the use of force is greater than the probable harm that may be inflicted on the surrounding civilian population." From these two sentences the conclusion is drawn that any objection to this reading obliges an opposing party to find a different, "exact" solution.

The "very specific meaning" is not found in any of the prime commentators on the principle of proportionality — in Europe or in American law schools, in the "fair" and "just" concepts of the Rome or Geneva protocols — and indeed situates Gold's definition on the margin. Samuel Estreicher at NYU Law School comes as close as anyone to even-handedly defining mutual responsibility of IDF and Palestinians. But the most intriguing view that I can find comes from Amichai Cohen at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (of which Gold is president) on "Proportionality in Modern Wars." There he approaches Gold's take but with all due diligence: "Yet a third approach may (emphasis added) be more suitable "¦." In that context, the commander must weigh targeting an enemy against collateral damage to innocent people; but the wide array of subordinate, necessary cautions gives the decision to strike, destroy and kill the thoughtfulness demanded by this tragedy.

Robert Griffin


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