May 13, 2004
A Killer's Face
The article, "Inmate Wants New Label to Avoid Hate" (April 9), was greatly offensive. I can accept the need to address the rights of Jewish prisoners. I am unable to accept opening The Journal only to see the face of a brutal killer. Not only did he kill a dear friend of mine, he tore a very prestigious family apart. I am in a strange situation to know both families. The victim, though, was part of a Jewish community that was strong, united and shocked beyond belief.
Did Stephen Liebb expect sympathy? To see a photo of Liebb is offensive and spine-chilling to all who knew his victim and family.
Name Withheld, Valley Village
Your cover story, "Is Bush Good for Israel?" (April 30), was extremely disappointing. Anyone who asserts that President Bush is not an extraordinary friend of the State of Israel is mistaken to say the least. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is the democratically elected leader of the Jewish state. By definition, when President Bush supports Sharon, he is supporting Israel.
It is wrong to suggest, as your article does, that if President Bush would pressure Prime Minister Sharon, instead of supporting him, Bush would be better serving the interest of Israel. Imagine the British supporting our war efforts in Iraq and the French opposing our war efforts, because, in the opinion of the French, in the long run, it would be better for the United States not to be in Iraq. Would any clear-thinking person ask: Is France a better friend of the United States than Britain?
I go to synagogue and pray three times a day and ask God to bless President Bush and give him the wisdom to be our best friend.
Andrew Friedman, President Congregation Bais Naftoli
I find Jewish support for Bush incomprehensible ("More Jews May Hop on the Bush Bandwagon," April 30). It is exceedingly dangerous for any voter, Jew or otherwise, to support a candidate based on a single issue, particularly when that candidate is so weak in every other area.
Even if Bush were a strong leader on national security, he has handed over the national economy, ecology and institutions to corporate executives and right-wing ideologues and has conducted his government under a veil of secrecy. He says he wants democracy in Iraq, but he doesn't seem to want it in the United States.
What's more, when it comes to national security, Bush has already blown it. On Sept. 12, 2001, the world sympathized with us; thanks to Bush, that support is gone, and the war on terror is in imminent danger of being lost.
Judaism is close to unique in its emphasis on wisdom as the predominant human virtue, and I am amazed to find so many Jews taking leave of it. I fear for my country if Bush is re-elected, and I fear for my fellow Jews who have been duped by a man who, in addition to all his other flaws, professes a belief that they are going straight to perdition.
David Zasloff. Los Angeles
Last week's Journal (April 30) has two of the best things I have ever seen in your great periodical.
First of all, that it the best cover art ever on your or any other magazine ("Is Bush Good for Israel?"). I know it will stir things up a bit, but it is funny, thoughtful and brave -- in a word, brilliant.
The second is the article by Tom Teicholz ("The End of 'Friends'"). He hit so many nails on the head, he could have been building Monica and Chandler's new home himself. Keep up the good work.
Michael Raileanu, Fort Worth, Texas
I cannot get the image of the slaughter of Tali Hatuel, eight months pregnant, and her four daughters, Hila, 11; Hadar, 9; Roni, 7, and Merav, 2, out of my mind ("E.U. Condemns Gaza Killing," May 7). I can imagine her terror; I can hear her screams and the crying of her children. The begging for their lives. And I ask myself, "What kind of monsters could do this?"
Until Muslims who truly want a two-state solution, who truly want peace, who truly believe terrorism is wrong raise their voices in protest against acts of terrorism such as this and suicide bombings and demand that they stop, I will find it hard to believe that they exist.
Tobi Ruth Love, Thousand Oaks
Road of Deception
Rabbi Steven Greenberg may talk of a loving, accepting Judaism, but I am sure that he is just another Jew walking down that dark road of deception ("Gay Orthodox Rabbi Peels Back His Life," May 7).
As every Orthodox rabbi knows -- everyone that is worth his salt -- that the Law handed down to Moses from God still stands today. His behavior is not going to fly with God, and I back this up with Leviticus 18:22: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination."
In other words, refrain from homosexuality.
Joan Goldstein, Hancock Park
Send a Message
Regarding Carole Raphaelle Davis' article about the French Jews, "What's New in Paris?" (April 30), I would urge your readers to let the French consulate and/or embassy know how they feel about the government's unofficial sanctioning of the harassment against the French Jews.
I called the embassy in Washington, D.C., to let them know that I will not buy any products made in France until this stops. The number of the French Embassy in Washington, D.C., is (202) 944-6030; the number of the consulate office in Los Angeles is (310) 235-3200.
Gail Saunders, via e-mail
The First Fest
In the April 30 edition, the article on the Independence Fest by Naomi Pfefferman had a major error ("Independence Fest Turns Sweet 16," April 30). The article maintains that the Independence affair was 16 years old. This is not true.
The first Independence Day celebration in Los Angeles was held in May of 1972 at Pierce College, under the auspices of the San Fernando Valley Community Relations Committee and the West Valley Jewish Community Center.
How do I know? I was then the director of the Community Relations Committee, and the late Abe Boxerman was the director of the center. We were led by a remarkable woman, Harriet Rechtman, who chaired the event.
The police estimated that we had 30,000 people there, only outnumbered by the next Independence Day celebration at Pierce, where more than 40,000 people attended. That has never been equaled by any Jewish fest since.
How do we know that we had that number? Everyone who wished to do so was able to sign their name, address and phone number to a roll of butcher paper to wish Golda Meir a happy birthday. There were more than 20,000 names on that roll, which the Israeli consul took to Israel the next week.
Al Mellman, Los Angeles Not in Same Boat
I do not share professor [Samuel] Huntington's concerns either ("The Same Boat," April 30). However, I believe that there are enormous adverse impacts of mass immigration that have nothing to do with the question of assimilation.
At the current population growth rate of the United States, which is primarily due to the mass immigration policies of the federal government, the U.S. population will triple in this century. Think about it. Southern California will have to support three L.A. metro areas, three San Diegos, three Inland Empires. Northern California will have to support three San Francicso metro areas.
Already California is suffering huge adverse effects from excessive population growth, such as gridlocked freeways, overcrowded schools and medical care facilities that are shutting down right and left, because they can't handle the burden of large numbers of customers who are unable to pay their bills.
And that is just the tip of the iceberg compared to what is in store if the people of this state and nation allow the federal government to continue growing the U.S. population without consideration for the economic and environmental consequences.
It is time for people to get out of their tunnel vision in thinking that the only issue raised by mass immigration is whether newcomers will assimilate.
Lance B. Sjogren, San Pedro
I see no parallel between American Jews and Latinos. We are not in the same boat. Latinos need to begin practicing to be Americans by speaking English more and by stressing education in their homes, before you can consider us in the same boat.
Richard Leibowitz, Westlake Village
Out of Touch?
Ira Forman is entirely correct in his criticism of Jimmy Carter's bias concerning Israel and the Palestinians ("View on Mideast 'Embarrassing,'" April 30). However, his faith in the position of John Kerry should be tempered by the fact that Kerry recently suggested that Jimmy Carter and James Baker would be his peace envoys to the Middle East, should he win the election.
Both men have often expressed anti-Israel positions. Could Kerry have been so out of touch with their positions or did they reflect his feelings to some degree?
Mike Michelson, Mission Viejo
I would just like to commend the writer of the article about the synagogue in Yangon, Myanmar, and especially his note about the "richness of spirit" of the Myanmar people ("A Piece of Familiarity in Myanmar," May 7).
Much misinformation is written in the Western press about Myanmar, especially with regards to religious freedom. In the apartment I stay when I'm there, I can see three churches, three mosques and one Pagoda. And of course, there's the synagogue not far away!
Gerry Haines, Myanmar and Thailand
My forthcoming book, "Einstein in California," will be appearing this fall in connection with the Einstein exhibit at the Skirball Cultural Center. The book is complete, right down to the dust jacket, and that is why I need help.
Does anyone have a picture of Einstein addressing a Jewish group or, perhaps, your family member back in the early 1930s, when he was a scholar at Caltech and the most distinguished guest that Western Jewry ever had?
Contact me, professor Rabbi William M. Kramer at (310) 475-1415.
Rabbi William M. Kramer, Los Angeles