November 17, 2005
Larry Greenfield's article pointing out the reasons why Tookie Williams should die defeats itself by way of his last paragraph ("Should Tookie Die?" Nov. 11). In it, he writes that if Williams is allowed to live, the tears of his victims' loved ones will not dry, their bereavement will not find closure.
True. But juxtaposed against that unhappy truth is a fact that a substantial number of potential victims will have their lives spared because of Williams' extraordinary about-face, which has resulted in a truce between two of the most violent street gangs and which has undoubtedly prevented a number of the very crimes he perpetrated from taking place
So one would not have to search too deeply into the meanings beneath the surface of the Torah to conclude that allowing Williams to live and go on with his work balances favorably against taking his life.
Only a pessimist would argue that Judaism has no interest in encouraging and rewarding the process of teshuvah. Long ago, Ezekiel declared in God's name (33:11): "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live."
Tookie Williams is not the same violent person today that he was at the time of the murders for which he was convicted. Much evidence establishes that Tookie has gone through a moral metamorphosis during the years since 1981.
Larry Greenfield dismisses all of us who seek from the governor clemency for Tookie as "misguided leftists who are all too eager to be kind to the cruel." If the governor extends clemency to Tookie, it will be an act of legitimate mercy to a man who will continue to work effectively against gang violence, while he remains in prison for the rest of his life.
To execute Tookie will pour more blood on the ground, both his and that of countless young people whom he would have influenced to change their ways. Please go to www.savetookie.org and sign the petition requesting clemency for Stanley Williams.
Rabbi Jerrold Goldstein
California People of Faith
Working Against the Death Penalty
In your excellent cover story debate, Daniel Sokatch argues not only that a Death Row murderer has "rehabilitated" himself, but also that we should abolish capital punishment due to racism and nondeterrence.
He is far off the mark on both accounts. A huge percentage of national and California executions are of whites. And, legal executions certainly prevent many murders of prison guards and inmates by convicts who have nothing to lose by murdering again.
Furthermore, does Sokatch really oppose capital punishment for genocide? For mass terrorist attacks? For the torture and mass murder of schoolchildren?
In my view, Larry Greenfield concisely won the debate with one powerful sentence: "....The value of innocent human life is best established by exacting a proportionate and ultimate sanction upon a murderer."
Do the Right Thing
Last year, and again recently, Donald Trump had an opportunity -- in front of tens of millions of television viewers -- to send the obvious message that bigotry is unacceptable in American society, and people who make bigoted remarks cannot work for him ("Anti-Semitism Trumps Sex," Nov. 11).
In a world where serious and sometimes violent anti-Semitism is growing, it becomes all the more important that a powerful figure like Trump does the right thing.
Trump's words carry considerable weight in business, and more lately, in the world of reality TV. He should have said to Clay -- just as he should have said to Jennifer Crisafulli last year: "There is no room in my company for someone who makes anti-Semitic statements. You're fired!"
Dr. Rafael Medoff and Benyamin Korn
Director and Associate Director
The David S. Wyman Institute
for Holocaust Studies
Return to Party
Reading that Lewis Libby is Jewish just adds to the shame that many, if not most of us, Jews feel about the merger of Jews, Republicans and neocons ("Libby, Judaism, and the Leak Probe," Nov. 11).
Libby, Jack Abramoff, Paul Wolfowitz, Ken Mehlman and the rest represent greed at its worst, ethics at its lowest and Judaism with a black eye.
I urge all reasonable and moderate Jewish Republicans to come back to the Democratic Party and work for change within the party. For those Jews of the extreme right, please stop admitting that you profess to be a Jew --you are embarrassing us.
Call me crazy, but is there another actress out there who could've handled the role of the Jewish mother in the movie, "Prime," other than the amazing Meryl Streep ("What, Meryl Worry?" Oct. 28).
How about the amazing and Jewish Barbra Streisand or Lanie Kazan or Julie Kavner or Amy Irving or Bette Midler or Valerie Harper (is she Jewish)? And that's just the short list.
Taking nothing away from Streep, but is she the only "name" that could've opened the picture? Of course not.
What is this fear of casting a Jewish woman who might look, uh, you know, Jewish? Yeah I know, plenty of Jewish women are tall, thin, have Nordic noses, straight blond hair and alabaster skin, just not the ones most of us have seen and will see the rest of our lives.
Have we fallen over in our attempt to bend over backward not to stereotype ethnicity, culture or religion (especially our own)? Give me the curves, curls, eyes, mouth and nose of a Jewish woman every time, especially when that is what the role screams out for.
It doesn't take a therapist to see behind the curtain here. Keep your anxious, assimilationist, green-light Jewess-a-phobia where it has lived for 20 years, cowering and casting the Jewish male as the permanently flawed, shiksa-chasing, nerd supreme of the universe. Thanks for the choices guys!
Have you seen this movie ("What Makes Bombers Tick in 'Paradise,'" Oct. 28)? I had no idea what the movie was about, and my friend and I were completely upset when we left the theater. We both called to ask how this movie was allowed to be shown in his theater.
It was pro-Arab, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. I would not have minded seeing a movie that was about the Arab culture, customs and family life.
The trailers made the movie seem like these Arab terrorists would change their mind and not go through with the assassination of innocent people. I don't consider myself prejudiced and know there are good and bad people in all cultures. I do resent giving my money to pay for a movie that is anti-Israel.
The Laemmle theaters are owned by a Jewish family of Holocaust survivors. My friend and I were very angry and upset to know that this movie may make Jews and non-Jews alike become not only sympathetic with the Arabs but believe they are right in becoming human bombs and destroying Israel's people and property.
My friend and I were assured that the Anti-Defamation League, The Jewish Journal and other Jewish organizations had passed this movie as "OK" to be shown in his theaters.
I have a hard time believing this. Is it true? I have not read your paper for the past month or so and do not know if you had any articles addressing this movie and what our Jewish leaders' opinion of it is.
If so, then where do we stand as Jews?
The State of Israel and Jews around the world will be more hated by those seeing this movie. It presents a view that all of the problems in Palestine are caused by Israel ... specifically that the Arabs have been treated inhumanely and their dignity has been stripped. That because of the Jewish people, they are poor and their streets are dirty.
Name withheld upon request
Rabin Wasn't Right
Yitzchak Rabin's assassination was an evil act, but that doesn't mean Rabin was right when he and Shimon Peres initiated the disastrous peace process ("With Us -- Always," Nov. 11).
Rob Eshman says that Rabin realized that "ultimately, a nation cannot survive in constant conflict with its neighbors." True enough, but the only way to end that conflict is by a decisive victory, allowing one side to impose terms on the other (for the Arabs, that has always meant destroying Israel), exhaustion by both sides leading to a realization that peace is the only way out or a real change of heart by both sides.
Unfortunately, none of these events has happened. Rabin and Peres deluded themselves into thinking that their sworn enemy had changed, with the horrific results we can all see.
Distortion of Values
Your piece on Tookie Williams sickens me ("Should Tookie Die?" Nov. 11). The manipulative use of a noose on the cover implies an innocent black man is to be killed. And in your twisted use of Jewish values, you make the religious side look cold and unsympathetic.
So I ask you two questions:
1 - Did you ever consider the pain and suffering of the victims' families, one of whom was a military vet? How do they feel about this murderer being made into a hero?
2 - Do you really want school kids to look at his example and think, "Gee, Tookie killed people, but he did some good stuff, so now it's OK, and if you kill people, as long as you try and do good stuff, it's OK."
Jewish people should be outraged at The Journal's distortion of Jewish/Torah values in this case. What really concerns me is that in your self-righteous delusion, you actually think you're "doing good stuff".
Name withheld by request
Very interesting that The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles' David Gershwin objects strenuously to Oxford University Press' depiction of Exodus in newly opposed textbooks - "There is no historical record of the Exodus!" - but that no one in the organized Jewish community -- including The Federation -- uttered one word of dissent or criticism when Rabbi David Wolpe made this identical declaration to his congregation four or five years ago. Age-old disease of the human race: "It's not what's being said that's objectionable, but who's saying it."
Oh, and just for the record: When I wrote a letter of protest to The Jewish Journal pointing out that Rabbi Wolpe was setting a dangerous precedent for anti-Semites, the letter, of course, was never printed.
But whaddayaknow? Not too long after that, the Arab nations were chanting the same line, and naturally, we were up in arms. How hypocritical can our hierarchy be?
Let's clean our own house before castigating condition of anyone else's.
David R. Moss