Letters to the editor | VailDaily.com

Letters to the editor

Gilda and Werner Kaplan

A few weeks ago there was a local headline about “a generation gap” with sides allegedly lined up either for or against the changes that Vail is undergoing. One was led to believe that newcomers and young were for change, while older and long time locals were against.As Vail residents on the backside of 50, and homeowners just short of 20 years, no one asked us for our opinion on the subject! We are in favor of change. Change is sometimes hard to accept, but in the long run good. Whether some council members like it or not, change has already taken place and will continue to do so in the years ahead.Can one possibly imagine what Denver would be today if their City Council said the May D & F Tower is tall enough and we don’t want anything exceeding that height! Denver would still be what it was once called, a cow town.How disappointing that four council members went over the heads of the Pplanning commission and sent Mr. Knobel once again back to the drawing board. In return, Mr. Knobel withdrew his plans for the revitalization of Crossroads and we get to look at those old and ugly buildings for an undetermined period of time!Our 21- and 17-year-old grandsons spent last Christmas holiday with us. They had a great time skiing, but at night they had nothing to do in Vail. One wasn’t old enough to hit the bars, and the other doesn’t think hitting bars every night is fun! So they walked the streets and came back to our house to watch videos. Multiply these two by the many young seasonals who work in Vail, our guests who want to do more than go bar hopping, and those that still call Vail their permanent home. The message our town fathers are currently sending is to head downvalley because those towns are providing alternatives to bars for entertainment. This year the grandkids are going on a cruise. There’s a lot to do on a cruise, they said, and not much to do here in Vail after the lifts close.Vail “McMansion” prices have soared into the high teen millions, so anyone who thinks Vail hasn’t already changed had best look at the real estate ads. We are no longer the little Bavarian town we once were. No longer do we have simple cabins on Forest or Beaver Dam Road. It was great while it lasted, but those days are gone forever!Where in this town do we have a gathering place for those of us who haven’t fled to the suburbs down I-70? If you remember the Vail Tomorrow exercise, we remind you that a high community priority was for a gathering place. Have we received this gathering place? The answer is no! Mr. Knobel tried to give us a public plaza as a gathering place and an ice rink. He was met with opposition. Some of that opposition came from part-time adjacent condo owners whose views might be compromised. Unless one lives in a protected view corridor, we’re all subjected to view compromise. This was a very small, but vocal minority that influenced the council members into voting the project down. Or, perhaps there are other agendas lurking beneath the surface that influenced four council members to shoo Mr. Knobel away from what sometimes, and not very flattering, is called Disneyland Bavarian Vail.We need people in decision-making positions who have vision and don’t create paralysis by analysis. Every one of those fractional ownerships, condos or hotels that are going up in Vail Village is private enterprise. Knobel’s project was the only one offering something for the community. Keep this up, folks, and in less than 10 years why would any family want to settle or remain in Vail? Other than rundown theaters without adaptive access or bars, there’s not much else to do here once the sun goes down. Better to live where there are rec centers, new movie houses, ice rinks, skateboard parks, affordable restaurants and bowling alleys, to name but a few diversions. If the council’s objective is to turn Vail into a tourist-Mecca resort and do away with the community, then be honest and come out and say that the guest is more important than we are. In the meantime, come November the electorate will surely remember who has been responsive to the community and who hasn’t!Our thanks to those three council members who have some vision and see the future. We’re sorry you were outvoted. There appears to be so much sentiment about the council decision that perhaps this item should also be on the November ballot and let the community at large be heard.It’s time to realize that while the core of Vail Village can remain quaint, the day has long past that all of Vail should be quaintly Bavarian. We two senior citizens are all for progress, and we’re upset with decisions that overthrow a planning commission whose very name indicates that their job is “planning.” Adding insult to injury, the runaround that was given to Peter Knobel is an embarrassment to many of us who call Vail our home.We hope that both sides will come back to the table and work out a win-win for the community, as well as our Gguests.Gilda and Werner KaplanVailA history lessonI found Mrs. Rubin’s letter to the editor on Aug. 20 very interesting in that she laid out the situation with regard to land ownership in Israel accurately. I have been working with an international team on this issue for the past several years. We have been going into the U.N. and other archives, especially the studies that were done by the U.N. immediately following the General Assembly “Partition Resolution” (181) passed in 1947. These are the actual numbers: Israel is almost exactly 8,000 square miles. Of this, the Jews (before they were Israelis) had purchased 534 square miles, 5.6 percent of the total. The Palestinians owned 2,709 square miles. There were 4,768 square miles that were public lands (mainly the Negev desert) and if we divide this in proportion to the population, that then lived there, it would be attributed 32.5 percent to the Jews who numbered 608,000, and 76.5 percent to the Palestinians who numbered 1,269,000. The Palestinians object to this allocation as they point out that they had lived there since time immemorial, but the Jews were recent immigrants, many of them illegal. Ignoring this objection, we end up with the Jews “owning” 2,078 square miles, 26 percent of the total, and the Palestinians “owning” 5,932 square miles, 74 percent of the total. Israel really does sit on Palestinian land. What’s encouraging about Mrs. Rubin’s letter is that this message is starting to get out, and until there is an accounting of what went on in 1948, there is unlikely to be peace. There are about two dozen Israeli historians who have been pouring over the Israeli archives, reading documents like David Ben Gurion’s diaries, which are remarkably detailed, and re-evaluating Israel’s early history. They are generally referred to as the “new historians” and they are not liked in Israel – exploding Israel’s happy myths is not considered a good thing – and they are derisively referred to as “revisionists.” A more accurate description would be “counter-revisionists,” as they are countering the revisionism that went on in Israel in the early 1950s. As Tom Segev said: “We did not have history. We had indoctrination. We had mythology.” I work closely with one of these historians, Ilan Pappe. Your readers might consider books by Tom Segev (1949, “The First Israelis”), Benny Morris (“The Birth of the Palestinian Problem,” 1947-49), and Ilan Pappe (“The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict,” 1947-51) which lay out this history in detail. Israelis make a whole host of arguments to justify their taking the Palestinians’ land – at last count, I was up to 22. One of the more popular arguments is: “the U.N. gave us the land.” It did not. The U.N. never had the right to take one man’s property and give it to another man and it never attempted any such thing. It merely made a non-binding recommendation (all General Assembly resolutions are non-binding) that certain properties be included into a Jewish state (so that it would have a narrow majority of Jews), and certain properties be included into a Palestinian state. In fact, after the Palestinians had been driven out, the U.N. passed resolution 194, which made it clear that the Palestinians have the right to return to their properties. The U.N. has been at loggerheads with Israel ever since and has passed a steady stream of resolutions demanding that Israel comply with international law. Tom Hopkins VailVail, Colorado