June 6, 2002
Six weeks ago, I wrote a piece that was distributed to a few friends that eventually made its way on to the Web. It criticized a number of Jews. I have been frankly shocked by the level of communal uproar it has inspired. It is true that we are living in dangerous times, but that provides no justification for allowing our passions to overrule either our intellects or our sense of propriety. We all have too much at stake.
While my piece, written with admitted despair during a time of increasing violence in Israel, was never intended as a character assassination, the escalation in rhetoric it has generated is counterproductive and damaging to our community. I therefore wish to state publicly that it was improper for me to cast slurs on the motivations of fellow Jews, just as it was inappropriate to draw comparisons with a Holocaust-era situation. I implore all those who insist on using my words to threaten or berate members of our community, to cease from doing so.
Let me also state plainly to those who are now using my writing to inflame hatred: It is reprehensible to make death threats against any Jew or non-Jew and unacceptable to use language of extremism.
While I still believe that there are some very serious issues of balance and fairness that must be addressed in our community, any wound that I have delivered to any fellow Jew, in particular Chaim Seidler-Feller, however inadvertently, is deeply regretted.
Avi Davis, Los Angeles
The Bookstore and the Jew
In Hank Rosenfeld's article, "The Bookstore and the Jew," (May 24) Rosenfeld's "protest" was a demand that we "take that racist thing out of the window," as if we do not have a right to display a point of view. The clerk refused. A conversation ensued (our version is somewhat different than Rosenfeld's), after which Rosenfeld went into the window area and tore down part of the article he demanded we remove. At this point, he crossed every acceptable line.
Regarding his question, "whatever happened to 'the customer is always right?'"... the customers are never right when they abuse my staff and vandalize our store. What Rosenfeld calls "exercising the racist war sentence" is illegal. We take threatening behavior seriously.
Several weeks ago, when your paper ran what many considered a racist anti-Palestinian cover, there was another protest. Many people complained about what they thought was a disrespectful and insulting newspaper displayed in your free rack outside the front door. However, no one trashed your newspaper or demanded that we remove it (which we didn't do). Nor did they yell or swear at us or scream at our front door before running away, as one of your readers did.
On Sunday, May 26, a few days after the Rosenfeld piece appeared in your paper, someone went into the front window and tore down the entire Said article and a picture of Israelis in Tel Aviv demonstrating against their government. Was he seriously trying to emulate Rosenfeld? I hope not.
I do not think Rosenfeld is an evil or even mean-spirited person. But I do think he is arrogant and ignorant if he believes he has a right to behave in the way he did at our store last week.
Margie Ghiz, Midnight Special Bookstore
The recent decision by the Israeli government to fortify the border between Israel and the West Bank is every bit as important as the decision to go ahead with Operation Defensive Shield. In the long-run, it may well have a more lasting impact. Yet few periodicals saw fit to give this historic event the coverage that it deserves. The Jewish Journal is a notable exception. Rob Eshman's "The Good Fence" (April 19) put the issue on the map. This was followed by Ron Unz's "Sharonism vs. Building a Wall" (May 17) and Avi Davis's powerful rebuttal (Letters, May 24). The latest, "Do Fences Make Good Neighbors?" by Leslie Susser (May 31) covers all sides of the issue in a fair and objective manner. The coverage of this important story by The Journal is an example of journalism at its best.
Leonard Beder, Encino
The Curse of Certainty
After reading Alexander Maksik's article ("The Curse of Certainty", May 24), and the subsequent letters to the editor regarding it, I was left with a deep feeling of sadness and hopelessness. It seems to me that unless we as Jews can see and understand the world through the eyes of the other side (whether or not we agree with it), we will remain polarized and at war. Maksik should be commended for his courage as a teacher to open his student's eyes to different ideas and opinions.
Renee Sandler, Los Angeles
The arrival of your May 31 edition brought great joy as I saw the face of one of my Synagogue Softball opponents smiling at me from behind his catcher's mask. As one of the 400 players in the league and the manager of one team, I am quite pleased that word of the league's presence has been spread to the greater Jewish community.
I offer two items for your consideration. First, we play the "modified fast-pitch" version of softball, not "modified slow-pitch" (as noted in the text). Second, I was a little disappointed to find that the article did not include a list of the participating synagogues: Valley Beth Shalom, Kol Tikvah, Judea, Aliyah, Emanuel, Menorah, Beth Haverim, Ahavat Shalom, Adat Ari El, Sinai, Or Ami, Leo Baeck, Ramat Zion, Shomrei Torah, Stephen S. Wise and Beth Am.
Joe Blachman, Manager Temple Ahavat Shalom
I am offended about your comment about there being no females on the team ("Synagogue's Biggest Hit," May 31). As one of the starting catchers for Team Beth Am, and the only female on the league, I object to the concept that it is simply a boys' club. I am confused how it is possible for you to make such an error since I am in the picture on page 14.
Molly Weisser, Team Beth Am
Ed. Note: Sorry. We almost batted .1000.Checks and Balances
I wholeheartedly approve and support what Rob Eshman said in his editorial in the May 17 issue ("Checks and Balances"). Many Jews insist that Judea and Samaria are part of Israel, based on historical and biblical reasons. But the reality is that 4 million Palestinians demand their own state and will continue to wage war until they get it. So I can't conceive how we can deny them.
I watch the evening news and ask myself what can I do? Well, the only thing I can do is give money. So I will substantially increase my gift to the Jews in Crisis fund.
Dr. Donald Rosman, Beverly Hills
The May 31 issue of Seven Days included an incorrect phone number for the "Where Do Babies Come From?" box office (Friday, June 7). The correct number is: (323) 655-8587.