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Mailbag: D.A. makes 'wrong kind of history'

September 21, 2011

History is being made in Orange County, but it is the wrong kind of history, thanks to Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. The prosecution of 11 Muslim students for interrupting a speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren at UC Irvine sends the wrong message.

These students had a legitimate reason to protest. Oren had a direct role in the military attacks on Gaza almost three years ago. During that attack Israeli Defense Forces massacred 1,400 defenseless Palestinians. Close to 400 of them were children.

These students — as a matter of conscience — had a moral obligation to protest Oren's military role in the Gaza attack. But it seems that in the process they violated an unwritten cardinal law in the land of the free: "Thou shall not speak critically of the state of Israel, or its representatives." When it comes to Israel, constitutional rights are suspended.

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The Orange County D.A. is making a mockery of justice as it engages in the meticulous and petty persecution of these students at the taxpayers' expense. The whole thing smells of persecution in a land where citizens are given the right to free speech.

Along with other interfaith leaders, including Jews, I stand firm with these students in their exercise of free speech. I say no to persecution, and yes to democracy!

The Rev. Wilfred Benitez

St. Anselm of Canterbury Episcopal Church

Garden Grove

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Remove trees from 17th and Irvine

Re. "Driver dies after tree falls on car" (Sept. 15): My family has lived in close proximity to Irvine Avenue in Costa Mesa for more than 20 years. This is not the first time these heavy giant trees have fallen.

There is not much soil in the center island dividing traffic in which these trees grow. They don't have a huge root system, and the ground foliage around it receives frequent watering.

I have personally seen huge branches fall in front of me in stormy weather, and there's nowhere for them to go but down onto traffic. I have seen these trees be pruned regularly, but I think they are no longer appropriate on Irvine Avenue. They are too big!

I drove exactly through the accident location on 17th Street and Irvine Avenue three times on a recent morning, as I do every day, along with hundreds of other cars. It is a miracle that only one person died, and only one car was involved.

Heather Oliver

Costa Mesa

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