Program for April 11th
Maintaining and Expanding Our Parks
Nancy Skinner, East Bay Parks District Director, reviews the accomplishments of the Park bonds. She also discusses a proposal for improvements and purchase of new park lands to meet the demands of the region's growing population.
A West County Times article (April 7) offers an overview of the proposal, which would be funded by a $500 bond measure.
MEETING OF APRIL 4th, 2008
Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day
Prez Pam Jones rang the bell and called the meeting to order. Hank Covell led a moment of silence for peace on earth. Josh Surowitz led the pledge of allegiance.
- Nobuko Mukai was visiting from El Cerrito Rotary and encouraged everyone to join in a multi-club fundraising effort by buying some decadently delicious boxed chocolates. (Thank you for the samples!)
- Emmy Irobi was with us again after speaking at the Club last week. You’ll recall that Emmy is a Nigerian by birth, a resident of Poland, an active Rotarian, and a current Rotary Peace Fellow at UC Berkeley.
Rotarians with Guests
- Rafael Cartegena introduced his guest.
- Jan Brown introduced Jim Young’s guest, Laura Kuhn, a kindred graphic design person.
Bill Koziol brightly acknowledged his own return after a few weeks being gone and reported that Don Lau is doing well after surgery to remove a cyst from his throat.
- Rafael Madrigal reminded everyone of the Cinco de Mayo Parade on Saturday, May 3 (for which Rotary banner carriers are needed). The Festival will occur on Sunday, May 4.
- Josh Genser reiterated info about the fundraising event being held at his house on Sunday, April 27, at 400pm, for Beyond Emancipation, an organization that provides services to and operates group homes for young adults who have aged out of foster care but are not yet equipped to survive on their own.
- Erle Brown briefly reported that Richmond Rotary is still third in the District for per-capita contributions to the Rotary Foundation. He reminded new members that their first Paul Harris award can be achieved more quickly because the Club matches dollar-for-dollar with the first $500 in giving.
- Erle presented George Egan with his seventh Paul Harris, for which George received a new pin with one stone, a ruby.
Leslie Levy handled recognitions and happy/sad dollars.
- Dan Sanders was recognized for 33 years in Rotary. He started a new Paul Harris.
- Bill Koziol only winced a couple of times when the Club melodiously sang the happy birthday song to him. He’s now 33, having joined the world when Dan Sanders joined Rotary.
- Judy Morgan was belatedly wished a March happy birthday. Even with several airlines going out of business, Judy’s managed to adjust and salvage an upcoming birthday trip to Hawaii.
Happy and Sad Dollars
- George Egan had happy dollars for his new Paul Harris pin. He reminded everyone that contributions to the Rotary Foundation are tax deductible.
- Jerry Feagley had happy dollars for Gordie Miller, a Point Richmond Brickyard resident who just turned 100 years old. Jerry said Gordie’s professed secret to a long life is the giving and receiving of lots of “hugs”. Now there’s some advice worth taking!
- Josh Genser unloaded some happy dollars after returning from a good time on a trip with his daughter to the east coast with stops in Washington DC and New York City while college shopping.
- Nick Despota encouaged members who don't have a photo on our web site to see him after the meeting, when he would shoot one (a photo, not a member).
- Erle Brown was happy about the new Cal basketball coach who used to be at Stanford.
- John Wilson had happy dollars because of hope that a possibly increasing number of graphic and other design types within the Rotary membership might yet stave off a take over by lawyers.
- By way of leading into the speaker program, Leslie offered happy dollars for the great time she enjoyed while visiting Egypt in the early 90’s, making note especially of the friendly, welcoming attitude she found among the local people.
The raffle drawing was deferred until next week.
Two pathways to peace?
Liliane Koziol introduced the Honorable Abderahman Salaheldin, Consul General of Egypt, who is based in San Francisco. A gracious and good-natured fellow, Mr. Salaheldin has been here in the Bay Area since 2004 and travels throughout much of the western United States in his current assignment.
He spoke proudly of his country, noting that Egypt’s economy today is about 80% private-sector based, almost the exact opposite of what it was 30 years ago when he began his diplomatic career. He honestly acknowledged that Egypt’s infrastructure is in terrible shape but indicated that the main priority of his government is trying to move people to a more prosperous future.
Mr. Salaheldin said the United States should not underestimate its influence on the rest of the world, for both good and bad.
He urged all of us on the side of peace and moderation in these troubled times to tell the “good stories” of people reaching out to one another. Underscoring Leslie’s comment about her pleasant memories of visiting Egypt, he acknowledged that outreach across countries and cultures should not be limited to just governments. The people-to-people connections matter a lot.
He pointed out that the Egyptian peace accord with Israel 30 years ago proved that peace is credible and viable. He said it has withstood harsh tests and challenges. He referred to the process as “The Egyptian Way” (a fair deal) but he’s worried that “The Other Way” based on violence is gaining ground. For example, he points to Middle East headlines that say Israel’s most recent pullout from Lebanon was a result of stiffened resistance and violence, suggesting that way is working and more of it is needed.
Mr. Salaheldin maintains that it is not too late for the United States to exercise positive influence for Middle East peace based on a land-for-peace trade-off (Israel pull back to the pre-1967 borders), a sharing of Jerusalem, security arrangements, and international guarantees. He confirms that mechanisms must be set up to deal with differences in a constructive way.
He also spoke of the need to better educate our kids on what’s going on in the world, to encourage more study abroad. He said about 500,000 college-level foreign students study in the USA. Of the 250,000 USA students who study overseas, about half go to Canada and Mexico while a quarter go to the UK and Australia. Only about 3000 USA students study in the Middle East (about half of those in Egypt).
Mr. Salaheldin closed on this key point: somehow we must find a way to empower the moderates on all sides. He said if we allow the radicals to lead, we’re doomed.
In the Q&A, both Josh Surowitz and Bob Dabney, like Leslie, spoke of positive personal experiences while visiting Egypt.
Postscript: As the state of Israel approaches the 60th anniversary of its birth on May 15, your Scribe recommends a several-page special report section in the latest Economist magazine as well as Jeffrey Goldberg’s cover story in the May issue of The Atlantic magazine (“Is Israel Finished?”). In his stunning article, Goldberg pulls few punches: “The tragedy of this farce [the latest iteration of the never-ending Middle East peace process, launched in Annapolis late last year by President Bush] is that this could be the last time a two-state solution is seen as a viable option. It is a cliché for Middle East leaders to warn that time is running out, but today it seems that the possibility of a two-state solution is swiftly fading. Palestinian rejectionists and unbending Jewish settlement leaders are in harmony on this point.”
- Rotating Scribe, Tom Waller