May 15, 1997
LettersNo to Peace Now
Regarding "Opposing Har Homa" by Richard Gunther (March 28), I believe that people like Richard Gunther hinder a peace process. They make true compromise more difficult as it is seen as a sign of internal strife and weakness. Unfortunately, Mr. Gunther would not be in Israel to suffer the results of his group's actions.
For some reason, American's For Peace Now's definition of peace is that whatever Israel does is wrong and that Israel should give in for peace. Somehow, this never extends to the other side. Things such as terrorism or promises not kept or broken are just ignored in the one-sided diatribes.
I am always reminded of Atlee saying "peace in our time" and the terrible price that England paid for it. Unfortunately, Israel does not have the conditions to survive this which England had at that time.
Stanley M. Gottlieb
An Outsiders's View
If American Jews could clone 61 Stanley Sheinbaums, persuade them all to make aliyah and run for the Knesset, peace between Israel and the Arabs would be a snap.
I have the good fortune to know many Jews cut from the same ethical, rational cloth as Stanley; unfortunately they are still a minority. Given what the Zionist Movement and the State of Israel have done and are still doing to the Arabs of Palestine, it's people like Sheinbaum who keep the self-respect of the Jewish people hanging on by a thread.
Donald S. Bustany
Our Community's Future
The recognized leaders of American Jewry are -- by and large -- dedicated to liberal solutions, inclusive of that ultimate melting pot, the public school. Into that pot goes any reminiscence of the millennia of Jewish religious culture. Hebrew language and the Jewish philosophy, being two intertwined disciplines, are lost as study objects; and the products of the public school system obtain only a rudimentary knowledge or understanding of Judaism. Very few will be impelled to venture forth on an expedition of discovery. The result is alienation, intermarriage, non-marriage, careerism, and negative population growth.
So, it is left for the leaders to alter their own views as to what will serve them and preserve us. The first step is a bill of divorcement from a commitment to public education in favor of a vouchered system of family choice. Rather than submitting to a government-administered secular value system, by aligning ourselves in the ranks of those who favor true freedom of choice in primary education, we can change the doleful statistics and brighten our community's future.
Theodore S. Brandwein
Politics in Israel
The Journal's feature story about Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Deri-On Scandal ("Bottom Line," April 25) was heralded as written by "our correspondent in Jerusalem." A correspondent is not a commentator. One would expect the news to be fair and unbiased. But Ina Friedman (Jerusalem Correspondent) in all her writings, has been so far left that to her, covering both sides of a question is to start on the far left for one side and the extreme far left for the other.
We, the readers of The Jewish Journal, should be informed that all the prime ministers of Israel, starting with Ben-Gurion, have been saddled with the worst and most antiquated form of government, which allows a one percent floor leading to over 20+ political parties. Since the beginning of the State of Israel in 1948, no political party (including the two major parties, Labor and Likud) has ever received enough votes to have 60 or more Knesset members to form a government without a coalition.
This "unprecedented scandal" appears to be the result of Netanyahu's efforts to keep the Shas Party (that Deri heads) from bolting. Why doesn't Friedman mention that Deri was originally indicted for fraud in 1993 -- when Rabin and Peres were in power? They, too, needed the Shas Party support to keep their coalition.
Because of the numerous parties in Israel's political system -- the Shas Party, with only 10 votes, represents the third largest party in Israel behind Labor and Likud. With a measly 10 votes out of 120, they represent the balance of power.
Let's put aside our left or right bickerings long enough to fix Israel's political structure, so that no prime minister, right or left, will have to contemplate distasteful ways to keep the government from failing.
In Marlene Adler Marks' column ("The Jewish Vote," April 11), she asks rhetorically, "Would it have been better for the city if it lost Dreamworks SKG?" It sounds to me as if she hasn't examined this issue very closely.
First of all, is there any sign that Spielberg et al. would consider moving their studio out of Los Angeles? No. The other locations they are considering are all in Los Angeles. Why not put Dreamworks in part of the city that badly needs the rejuvenation of new industry, instead of on the only remaining wetlands in Los Angeles?
Second point, and most important, the controversial building project under consideration is not a movie studio. Dreamworks SKG is only a tiny fraction of the gigantic office-retail-housing project being planned by Maguire Thomas. The developer is holding up Dreamworks SKG, which everybody wants, as a figurehead, to fool us into thinking that the Playa Vista project is something we want.
Does Los Angeles need 13,000 condominium units stacked four-stories high in its last remaining undeveloped area? Twice the size of Century City, more traffic than LAX, 10 tons of smog each day -- that's Playa Vista.
The Ballona wetlands are a welcome and delightful break in the urban sprawl of Los Angeles. It shelters wildlife, including many endangered species. It's a vital resting place for migrating birds on the Pacific flyway.
Let Steven Spielberg build his studio, right where he wants it, on the northern edge of Ballona. Just don't let Maguire Thomas fill in more than 70 percent of the wetlands with ultra-high density construction.
Everyone who uses the 405 freeway has a stake in preventing the traffic problems that Playa Vista would generate. Everyone has a stake in preventing the environmental degradation. And everyone who wants to work toward tikkun olam needs to be aware of the facts, not the publicity, concerning Dreamworks versus Playa Vista.
It seems to me that the Los Angeles School teachers are at fault every time the school system comes up with low grades and averages.
I am a volunteer at the Saticoy Elementary School in North Hollywood. I work two days a week, every week, for two full hours. I work with students that teachers assign to me who need help in math, reading, spelling, etc. Some of these students are eight and nine years old. They can't tell time, can't add two-plus-two, can't distinguish between coins, (pennies, nickels, dimes, etc. ) and, yet, at the end of the semester, they are pushed into the next grade and, some even go on to middle school, then on to high school. Why? Does this happen in other schools too?
I would like to know whose bright idea it is to allow this? It seems to me that if one can't pass the subjects, one should be held back. Otherwise, the student says, "I'm not learning anything. l'm going to drop out."
I want you to know that the teachers I have dealt with at Saticoy School are very dedicated teachers. They want to do more but their hands are tied. Their classes consist of 30-35 students in a double-graded class, in grades three through five.
All this is cause to re-evaluate the teachers, the schools and put the blame where it belongs.
Searching For Lisa Spott
I am searching for Lisa (aka Elizabeth) Spott, daughter of Benno and Rosa Spott of Berlin, Germany. Ms. Spott left Berlin in, approximately, 1938, at the age of 12, on a kindertransport to Liverpool, England. During the war, she lived with Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Harris (deceased) in Liverpool. I have no idea if Ms. Spott still lives in England or if she has ever married. If you have any information, please contact Mitch Levine at (310) 540-8400.
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