Jewish Journal

Letters to the Editor: Anti-semitism, Israel Independence Day, Barack Obama, bin Laden

Posted on Jun. 1, 2011 at 10:30 am

Different Kind of Anti-Semitism?

Danielle Berrin did the Jewish community a great service by showing why Lars von Trier should be singled out as the lone exception from a rogue’s gallery of anti-Semites, including Mel Gibson, Oliver Stone, John Galliano and Charlie Sheen (“Not Mel Gibson,” May 27). Both Berrin and Marvin Hier went beyond reactionary, black-and-white thinking to express their sense that it was ghosts in von Trier’s soul that had him behave in such a peculiar way at Cannes, and again as he sought there and in The New York Times to cajole his ghosts back into his tormented psyche. At least von Trier is struggling with his ghosts while the others have surrendered to them. Surrendering is the reason for anti-Semitism and all the other -isms that emerge from like minds.

Roger Schwarz
Los Angeles

Israel Independence Celebrations of Days Gone By

I read with anguish the inability of The Jewish Federation to hold an Israel anniversary celebration (“Can L.A. Support an Israel Festival?” May 20). It is just another example of The Federation not accepting the role of being the organized Jewish community of greater Los Angeles.

In 1963, the 15th anniversary of Israel’s establishment, the San Fernando Valley Community Relations Committee — I was the director; Abe Boxerman, the director of the West Valley Jewish Community Center; and a magnificent lay person, Harriet Rechtman — decided to hold an anniversary celebration in the Valley. Arrangements made with Pierce College were free, and every Jewish organization in the Valley was offered a booth. Theodore Bikel arranged for a daylong group of entertainers. The result was one of the largest turnouts of Jews in L.A. history. The police estimated the attendance at 35,000. The total cost to The Federation was $55, for mimeographed material and stamps.

Harriet had the brilliant idea to ask her butcher for a roll of wrapping paper, and everyone there signed a “Happy Birthday, Israel” to Golda Meir. Names, addresses and phone numbers were added by the attendees. Before this was sent to Israel by the Israeli Consulate, those names and addresses were given to the Valley Federation office, tripling the number of Jews on its rolls.

At the time, The Jewish Federation was reaching out to Jews in the county. Not now!

Al Mellman
Los Angeles

Border Lines the Source of Much Misunderstanding

Robert Satloff is simply wrong in claiming that President Barack Obama departed from long-standing policy by stating that final borders will be based on the 1967 lines (“Obama Walking a Fine Land on Borders Issue,” May 27). In 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was the administration’s highest-level administration speaker at the March 22 AIPAC conference.  The official State Department transcript of her remarks reads: “We believe that through good-faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree to an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the ’67 lines, with agreed swaps, and Israel’s goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israel’s security requirements. (Applause.)”

For Netanyahu and his supporters to now act surprised and misstate and mischaracterize our government’s position on the future boundary of Israel and Palestine is another reason why most Western democracies mistrust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, don’t believe he is sincere in wanting to resolve the conflict, and blame our country for enabling Israel, in the words attributed to Angela Merkel, to continue to fail to take “a single step to advance peace.”

Michael Several
Los Angeles

Cautionary Words for Reform Movement Head

Rabbi Richard Jacobs’ statement that leaders of the Reform movement must never be defined by organizational affiliations is both self-defensive and incredibly naïve. As the incoming head of U.S. Reform Judaism, his affiliations, presence at demonstrations, speeches, statements, writings and petition-signings carry with them the weight, and, by implication, the support of the Reform movement.

If Jacobs tries to pull the organization to the left, he will be playing with organizational fire and the Reform movement will be scorched.

Robert Friedman
Los Angeles

Get Serious About Serious Matter

Rob Eshman’s facetious idea — and I sure hope he was kidding — to hold a Free Syria concert next time an Arab mob pushes across Israel’s borders once again displays his naiveté and refusal to accept uncomfortable facts (“Street Smarts,” May 20). The Arab mob and the Arab street, inculcated with years of leadership-sponsored incitement, would still choose to remove us rather then join and sing “Kumbaya” together. Of course they prefer Western-style democracy to the wretched style of life they have now, but that doesn’t translate to mean they’ll be our BFFs once they achieve some form of independence. Eshman’s ideas are just “Blowin’ in the Wind.”

Allan Kandel
Los Angeles

Celbrate bin Laden’s Death?

When I heard President Barack Obama announce that he’d given the order for the Navy Seal raid on the suspected Osama bin Laden compound and that bin Laden was killed in that operation, I was thrilled that the evil mastermind of 9/11 and so many other deaths and injuries was killed (“Can We Celebrate the Death of Evil People?” May 27). The way I celebrated was taking pride that Obama, who couldn’t be sure that bin Laden was in the compound, staked his presidency by giving the order for the sake of our country and all those who had suffered and died because of the acts of bin Laden. I thought back to the news conference of George W. Bush when he said that he didn’t spend his time thinking of the whereabouts of bin Laden. Obama in his first day in office gave the order to find bin Laden.

Unlike Dennis Prager, I didn’t run to the Bible and Talmud to see how I should react to the death of an evil man. Unlike Dennis Prager, I didn’t write in The Jewish Journal or tell my family and friends, “Celebrating the death of bin Laden is a moral imperative.” Unlike Dennis Prager I don’t have the chutzpah to think I am the keeper and interpreter of the moral code of behavior and that code is written only in the Torah.

Leon M. Salter
Los Angeles

Disecting Hahn’s Record

Janice Hahn is hyping her pro-choice stance in an attempt to scare prospective voters in California’s 36th Congressional District from voting for her Republican opponent, whom she mischaracterizes as an “out-of-touch” Tea Party extremist (“The 36th Contenders: Both Pro-Israel, Different on All Else,” May 27).

In fact, Hahn has only confirmed how out of touch she is: out of touch with the needs of her constituents, and out of touch with the voters’ capacity to discern when a candidate is debating a valid issue versus simply throwing up a distraction to minimize a poor record of service. Hahn’s open attack is just a petty smear to distract the voters of this district from the economic realities, which would imperil any Democratic candidate’s candidacy.

The State of California has 12+ percent unemployment, worse than any other state in the Union. President Barack Obama, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic demagogues spent more time shoving an unwanted medical mandate down the throats of the American people instead of making necessary reforms to improve our nation’s economy. The United States is still facing trillion-dollar deficits plus a growing $14 trillion national debt which will sink our bond ratings, cripple our borrowing capacity, and scare away future investors. In two years, Democratic cabal of out-of-touch liberals in Congress have only deepened this nation’s economic crises. Janice Hahn would be one more nail in the coffin of this nation’s recovery from the Great Recession.

What is Hahn’s record for improving the business climate in her Council District? Pretty abysmal, at best. The cruise-line industry in the Port of Los Angeles is lagging during this nation’s slow recovery. Downtown San Pedro is turning into a failed ghost town. She even sat back while the parking fees went up 400 percent! Hardly a way to drum up business for a struggling business area.

During her tenure on the Los Angeles City Council, Hahn and her colleagues have failed to balance a budget, to resolve staggering pension liabilities and to stave off massive layoffs — all major problems which our next Congressman will have to face.

Hahn has not distinguished herself as a constituent, a councilwoman or a candidate for Congress. The CA-36th needs a Representative who understands the needs of the entire district, from San Pedro to Venice, and every city in between. We need a Congressman who will advocate for us in a chamber of 435 ambitious pols who stop at nothing to beef up their own districts. Hahn is nothing more than a limited, lackluster politician who coasted to office on the coattails of an established name, who seeks to advance only one constituency: herself.

Janice Hahn is not the candidate for the CA-36th.

On July 12, for California’s 36th Congressional District, vote for Craig Huey!

Arthur Christopher Schaper

It’s All About Land

In David Myers’ argument this past week for Palestinian statehood, he takes a selective historical view on the issue (“Accept ’67 Borders, Recognize Palestinian Statehood,” May 27). The professor tells us that “just as the land of Israel was ‘the birthplace of the Jewish people,’ so, too, the land of Palestine was ‘the birthplace of the Palestinian people.’ ” Now that’s what I call a moral equivalency!

What the professor does not tell you is that Palestinians only recognized the area as a “birthplace” because they realized sometime in the early ’50s that the Jews were a little tougher than they expected. The inability of the Arab world to extinguish Israel through war gave way to inventing a nationalism that before 1960 never really existed. In fact, the genesis for the formation of Palestinian nationalism (Fatah in the ’50s and the PLO in the ’60s) was not born out of a desire for liberty but to take back precious Muslim land from the infidel Jews.

We Jews are ready, in fact we have always been ready, to make the sacrifices to end this conflict once and for all. The vast majority of Jews inside and outside Israel want a peace treaty for all the important reasons the professor cites in his article. In fact, Jews want independence for the Palestinians so much that the professor points out that Jewish scholars and other intellectuals gathered a month ago to declare a Palestinian state. What’s missing here? Where are the Palestinians? Can’t they declare their own state?

Does anyone else see the irony in that?

Professor Myers does not address the right audience. Palestinians should be reading this article, not Jews.

The Arabs in that area have never accepted the Jewish state no matter what size it was, whether one small city or a country that expands from the Nile to the Euphrates. If it’s sovereign by anything else other than Muslim rule, it’s an abomination and Muslims are bound by their religion to destroy it. And, until they change that fundamental view, there will never be peace.

The question is not whether the Palestinians deserve a homeland. The question is whether they can accept Israel alongside it.

Professor, go tell it to the Palestinians.

Larry Hart
L.A. Jewish community examiner at Examiner.com

As I read — and re-read — the many articles in The Jewish Journal regarding the historic speeches by our President and the Israeli prime minister, something troubled me. Indeed, these speeches may profoundly shape the future of our world; but that was not what troubled me and stirred my thoughts (“The Face-off,” May 27).

And then, suddenly, as I lay in bed (after an evening of winning poker), it came to me:  As important as is the basis for territorial divisions between the Israelis and the Palestinians, more crucial is the Arab mindset which was recently explained to me by a bright young Arab man (also a winning poker player) who was born and raised in Jordan, well educated and worked in Jordan’s equivalent of our CIA. He explained that he, like most other Arabs/Muslims, had been taught from his earliest days that the land where Israel exists, “that land, all of it, is Arab land.” In my other discussions with Arabs/Muslims, that was the over-riding issue.

And that is the KEY point! So long as this position regarding the land remains firmly implanted in the minds of Arabs, especially Muslims, how can here be a real peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis? That is what leads to terrorists such as Hamas.  Yet, neither President Obama nor PM Netanyahu addressed this issue — the basic, root cause of the conflict; nor did any of the writers or religious leaders in the various articles published in The Jewish Journal. Logic tells me that it is imperative that the world deal with this issue — or else ...

George Epstein
via e-mail

David Myers calls David Ben-Gurion not the founder of the state of Israel, but a “Zionist leader.” More and more, the chorus of Israel haters are comparing Zionism with Nazism, racism and apartheid. They do not shy away from using anti-Israeli propaganda, but liberals are afraid to be “offensive.” Mr. Myer is a naïve liberal who cries wolf about the recognition of Palestinian state, but doesn’t care about safety and security of Israel. Mr. Myer, there is NO partner for peace! Most Palestinians are supporting Hamas!

Boris Blansky


An article about the conviction of Ezri Namvar on four counts of wire fraud (“Financier Namvar’s Conviction Reveals Community Wounds,” May 27) stated that Namvar can expect to receive a minimum of 78 months on each count, without the clarification stated by David Peyman, a Los Angeles attorney, that the counts should run concurrently under federal sentencing guidelines.  

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