March 5, 2009
Age of Lieberman, Stanley Gold, Hollywood and the Jews
Age of Lieberman
I’ve had just about enough of Rob Eshman’s self-serving and ego-feeding editorials (“In the Age of Lieberman,” Feb. 27). Yes, I’m very happy for Eshman, who was treated to a private concert and who uses all these small gatherings to prove to himself that he wasn’t and isn’t wrong about the willingness of the Arabs to make peace with us.
These mixed groups, to the incredible disappointment and sadness of the majority of Israelis on all sides of the political spectrum, are meaningless in the face of the daily onslaught of Arab-educated hatred of Israelis and calls for not only the destruction of our state [Israel] but for death for all our people.
Should these minority mixers stop trying? No, but don’t tell me this is how good it could be if only.
If only we will be steadfast and united against an enemy bent on our destruction, maybe in a generation or two Eshman’s dream could become a reality. For now, it’s rather meaningless and stands for nothing in the real scheme of our lives in a very different and dangerous neighborhood.
Allan Kandel, Los Angeles
As an employee of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and as president of the union here, I can’t begin to tell you how dismaying it was to read your article about Federation Chairman of the Board Stanley Gold and the new direction he intends to take for The Federation and its affiliated agencies (“One Year Later, Gold’s Changes Face Kudos, Backlash,” Feb. 6).
You quote Gold ally Jay Sanderson as saying, “Most Jewish organizations in this community are completely overstaffed.”
I’d like to know whom he’s talking about. Is he talking about the Bureau of Jewish Education and its bloated complement of all 16 employees (down from 21 in 2001)?
Could he mean Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters with its multitude of 14 employees? [I’m speaking here about line staff and clerical, not management].
Perhaps he’s thinking of the staggering total of five employees working for the Jewish Community Foundation.
At The Federation, where I work, we are primarily involved in fundraising, which has increased each year during the past few years in good times and bad. We have done this despite dramatic cuts in the number of union-represented staff, from over 104 in 2001 to 84 today.
Or is he talking about the workers at Jewish Family Service (JFS), who struggle to keep up with the needs of children at risk, children with special needs, homeless, elderly, frail, indigent, hungry, battered women, the addicted, the psychologically stressed, refugees, disabled and vulnerable members of our community?
They have to work hard because the needs keep increasing, while the staff keeps decreasing. JFS is down to 211 employees and shrinking from the 253 in 2001. This does not take into account the many who have had their hours drastically cut.
The Jewish Community Centers employed 109 in 2001 and are down to a total of 61 now for all four JCCs. The credentialed teacher ratios must be met to keep licensing for the schools, yet the staffing is so tight at one JCC that the teachers have been unable to take their 15-minute rest periods — not even 15 minutes. Hours are being cut at another JCC as I write this letter.
At Jewish Vocational Service the number of employees went from 45 in 2001 up to 50 in 2002 and is now down to 31 for the entire agency, which has offices at 6505 Wilshire Blvd., mid-Wilshire, Canoga Park, the South Bay, Sherman Oaks and more. There is irony here as fewer workers diligently labor under increasing workloads, with more and more unemployed clients seeking their help to find jobs.
Claims of bloated staffing in an article about The Federation chairman of the board is what those in our community would call a real shonda — something to be ashamed of.
Andrea Houtman, President, AFSCME, Local 800
Hollywood and the Jews
The headline, “Hollywood and the Jews” (Oscars supplement, Feb. 20) overstates the singularity of Jewish contributions to American flicks. Chaplin, Keaton, Griffith, Fairbanks and Pickford were equally crucial to Tinseltown. Without their creativity — no Hollywood. The whole was a cultural fusion.
Jews told stories, sure. However, Native American stories (e.g., “Coyote”) are as ancient as the Old Testament. Not story-telling per se counts, lots of cultures can make that claim, but enactment of stories dramatically.
In the West, drama was invented in fifth century Athens. It was made possible by the Greek invention of the alphabet and the subsequent reorganization of the Festival of Dionysus (506 B.C.E.) to present new written plays.
Athens produced Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, upon whose work all Western drama, with respect to character arc and scene structure, is based. These playwrights came back into Western culture during the Renaissance. Their work was appropriated by Racine and Shakespeare, et al., and by the camera later, which allowed a production to be widely disseminated by filming it.
Watch “Oedipus Rex,” “High Noon” and “Collateral.” In overall and in scene structure, they are the same film, despite era and genre differences. I teach screenplay writing, and I use these films to demonstrate exactly that.
Neil Flowers, Editor-in-Chief, cinexxus.com
Madoff Funds Response
Alan Stern states (“Madoff Funds,” Letter to the Editor Feb. 27) that the view I expressed (in “Leaders Debate Actions to Recover Madoff Funds,” Feb. 20) — that the Jewish Community Foundation (JCF) breached its fiduciary duties when investing its clients’ funds with Madoff — is false and distorted. He fails, however, to address, let alone rebut, the bases for my opinion.
There may, though, be a better solution than furthering this argument — because no one within the community wants litigation. I would hope that the JCF is sitting down with its client organizations for some serious discussions, and would submit a claim against its Errors & Omissions (malpractice) insurance. That is what such insurance is for. By being proactive, the JCF can restore trust that is tarnished, help to make its clients whole and support the important missions on which so many people in this Jewish community depend. Surely these are goals we can all endorse.
Jon E. Drucker, Beverly Hills
Antidote to Gaza Meeting
Antidote is not what we need (“UCLA Israel Program Seen as Antidote to Gaza Meeting,” Feb. 27). Antidote is reaction to a problem. We need to be proactive to avoid a problem.
UCLA Israel Studies Program offers superbly what it was created for: presenting differing views by experts and dignitaries from the United States and abroad. On the other hand, the recent Gaza program and others like it, offer only Israel bashing — sadly, often by Israeli or Jewish speakers presenting distortions and biased views without any rebuttal.
The pro-Gaza symposium and others are often presented under the guise of literature or history or as part of a study program like the Near East Studies, which is taxpayer funded.
The role of the university is to present diverse views to students to promote critical thinking. It is imperative that both sides participate in the same dialogue or panel discussion to present varied perspectives, hopefully reducing misinformation and hatred. Particularly, a taxpayer funded university like UCLA should require balanced presentations, not hate fests.
The pro-Palestinian support programs bus in students from other universities to spread their venomous hate to large groups. I know first hand, I attended many of them.
Susanne M. Reyto, Los Angeles
I am an avid tennis fan, and I’m Jewish, too (“Double Fault,” Feb. 20). I watch tennis as a sport, and I don’t care if the player is from Saudi Arabia or India or wherever. I just love to watch good tennis.
I am completely dumfounded that the World Tennis Association has not pulled its tennis players out of this tournament. They are breaking their own rules.
I am so surprised, especially by Serena and Venus Williams, who by being black should know that terrible feeling of being ostracized because of their color. Where are their ethics and the ethics of the other tennis players who are continuing to play in this tournament?
In this day and age could you imagine if there was a tournament that did not allow black players? There would be a huge outcry.
Where is this outcry for a Jewish Israeli player who, by the way, qualified for this tournament with points? Yes, just throw some money at her, and she’ll go away. What is wrong with the players today?
Kudos to Andy Roddick. How great of him as defending champion to say that he will not play because Shahar Peer was denied a visa. I truly hope that the other players will follow suit and stand up for Peer’s rights.
Hilary Hadad, Santa Ana
I agree with the chief editor’s comments on the Barclays tennis tournament. Why expect those players not to compete, when here in the United States, anti-Semitism is rampant in universities.
By the way, Andy Roddick should be given a medal of honor.
Pablo Nankin, via e-mail