On April 1, Los Angeles County children's social worker Jules Weingart sent the Los Angeles Times a letter protesting its predilection for calling Palestinian suicide-bombers "militants." As a courtesy, Weingart attached a list of normative definitions of the terms "militant," "terrorism," "terror" and "extremist."
On April 18, Weingart received a response from Times Readers Representative Jamie Gold. "The word terrorist is not applied to combatants in Israel," Gold informed Weingart on behalf of the newspaper, "because it is considered a politically loaded word."
That this is some perverse form of political correctness, few can doubt. But as Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center has asked repeatedly over the last year, "Political correctness for whom -- suicide-bombers?"
Reluctant at first to pronounce outright support for Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, extreme right-wing, militia and neo-Nazi groups within the United States entered the post-Sept. 11 period blaming Jews and Israel for the attacks on New York and Washington.
In the days following the attacks, domestically based extreme-right organizations struggled to formulate a position that balanced their ostensible nativism with an otherwise tailor-made opportunity to lash out at Jews and U.S. support for Israel. Typical of their commentary:
During the first weeks following the terror attacks on New York and Washington, Israel's Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem instructed officials charged with explaining Israel's position to avoid, when possible, interviews and media queries. Meirav Eilon Shahar, Israel's consul for communications and public affairs in Los Angeles, recalls a prevailing sense within the diplomatic community that no matter how sympathetic they were to America's plight or how good their terrorism expertise, Israelis should realize this was not their fight.
The media war over Israel, running hot and heavy in the months before Sept. 11, took a dangerous turn following the tragic terrorists attack on America.
Just when you thought things in Israel couldn't possibly get worse, a new novel comes along to prove that you don't know the half of it.
High-power Israeli Defense Force (IDF) squads have been traveling to choice tourist destinations worldwide this summer, but not for vacation.
To his mates in the New York prison where he awaits sentencing for a drug-smuggling conviction, the bearded, soft-spoken Israeli, who Customs Department officials say regularly ministers to a small flock of religious Jewish prisoners, is known as "Rabbi Ya'akov."
So whaddaya know? The election is over, we've got a new mayor, and no sign yet of the apocalypse the other candidates promised would befall this city, no matter who won. Newly minted 9th District Councilwoman Jan Perry knew it was a new day when, shortly after her own election, Jim Hahn called to extend his own congratulations.
Read any good Hebrew books lately?
If you live in the Valley -- we'll assume you read Hebrew -- you'll most likely have picked up the latest Ram Oren techno-thriller or Naomi Ragen frummie-potboiler at the recently opened Steimatzky bookstore on Ventura Boulevard near Corbin.
Shortly before or perhaps just after World War II, actor Kirk Douglas asked Dorothy Buffum Chandler why the Los Angeles Times seemed to pander so wantonly to the anti-Semitism then still rampant among many of the city's more refined elites.
"Why, darling?" cooed the doyenne of the Chandler newspaper dynasty. "We do it because it sells papers."
About two months ago, Dr. Mark Capritto, the tough-minded vice principal of Agoura High School, came face-to-face with one of Zionism's most unusual developments: a nice Jewish gang.
Just when we thought it was safe to proclaim the mayoral campaign free from the kind of race-baiting that has tainted previous runs for City Hall, we get this bogus automated telephone message, falsely attributed to Republican candidate Steve Soboroff, attesting to his supposed reliance on "Jewish money."
Aping the famous Army recruitment commercials, the mayoral candidates have all urged Los Angeles to "be all you can be." But City Attorney James Hahn, ostensibly the one shoo-in for the run-off election in June, has come up with a novel approach to realizing his own mayoral ambitions -- by being the people's second choice. Hahn knows that outside of his base constituency within the African American community, few people are genuinely fired up about his candidacy. But that's okay, he says, because only one of his rivals is going to win the primary in April. And the people who supported the others, often with great passion and fervor, will most likely transfer their allegiance to their second-choice candidate -- himself. It's a strange race, to be sure, and its Aesopian undertones may well inspire future tales of "The Tortoise and the Hahn." Still, at press time Hahn's lead over Steve Soboroff and Antonio Villaraigosa had narrowed -- and while Hahn shares the endorsement of the Los Angeles Times with Villaraigosa, the Valley-based Daily News has endorsed Soboroff.
State Controller Kathleen Connell comes to the race for mayor with a bit of a reputation as an ice queen.
Trust current mayoral candidate and State Assembly Speaker Emeritus Antonio Villaraigosa to come up with a uniquely strategic location for his storefront headquarters.
Real estate broker, Parks and Recreation Commissioner, and Staples Center deal-maker Steve Soboroff likes to speak of his summer job, when he was growing up in the San Fernando Valley, driving actor Kirk Douglas around town and answering his fan mail.
The call came in last Wednesday from one J.R. Durrer, an Encino resident who works in Boyle Heights. Durrer had been heading west up Seventh Street, where he caught a red light at the corner of South Boyle.
He says he's 61, but you wouldn't know it either to look at him or the paper-shrouded desk in his downtown office. After half a life crusading, his batteries retain their charge even as his office space threatens to succumb to the ever-encroaching mudslide of municipal files. I am told that City Councilman Joel Wachs prefers holding forth from his offices in Studio City. But today is a day for meetings and interviews -- it is past 3 p.m. and I am his third griller of the afternoon. He is always this busy, even more so now that he is running for mayor, and his desk is always on the verge of collapse. "I haven't taken a day off in 20 months," he confides.
The more time I spend trailing the Los Angeles mayoral candidates, the more I find myself musing about rehabilitating the commissariat as a form of government. Or, failing such "Red Dawn"/"Red Alert" scenarios, perhaps we might seek something akin to the national unity administration now under contemplation in Israel. I say this not just to be provocative -- well not only. It just strikes me as a huge waste of precious talent, integrity and commitment to be forced by a winner-takes-all electoral system to have to pick just one of these outstanding people for mayor while jettisoning the others.
We've elected an "Education President." Now, get ready to choose the "Education Mayor."