I was sad for Xavier Becerra, and for the entire Jewish community, because of some of the obnoxious, arrogant and inaccurate things Sheldon Teitelbaum said during his interview with the mayoral candidate ("One on One With Xavier Becerra," March 30). When Becerra talked of adding 300 teachers to LAUSD, Teitelbaum said sarcastically, "How many kids on the Westside attend public schools?" Well, I know that my son and many other Jewish kids attend an excellent LAUSD school on the Westside that has remarkable teachers and an amazing principal. When Becerra talked of hiring more police, Teitelbaum cracked, "Since when was law enforcement a problem for the Westside, give or take a freeway chase or two?"
Without intending to, Teitelbaum made us, as Jews, look like elitist and isolated folks, when in fact there are hundreds of thousands of Jews in Los Angeles who do care about public education, crime prevention, and mutual respect between classes and races. I happen to be voting for Antonio Villaraigosa, so my concern is not that Teitelbaum's remarks are going to cost Becerra some votes. My concern is that Teitelbaum seems deeply out of touch with the realities of how Jews participate in our multiracial city and that he's portraying a level of disrespect and indifference that most Jews do not share.
Leonard Felder, Ph.D., West Los Angeles
The Passover offering from Progressive Jewish Alliance's Douglas Mirell and Daniel Sokatch was a 15-point partisan attack on President George Bush and his "fanatic ideological conservatives" ("Where's the Outrage?" April 6). We "fanatics" really objected to the one item in their diatribe which actually deals with Israel. Mirell and Sokatch castigate the president for the "abandonment of a meaningful role ... in helping to resolve the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
The president, in office less than 90 days, has been very meaningfully involved in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He welcomed Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with open arms. The president correctly blamed Yasser Arafat for the violence, told him to stop attacks on Israel and has refused to meet with him. Bush instructed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that he needed to play a constructive role in the region and expressed concern about anti-Jewish hate speech in official Egyptian newspapers. The president had the State Department rap Syrian President Bashir Assad for comparing Israeli voters to Nazis. Finally, Bush vetoed an anti-Israel United Nations resolution.
While members of our community may or may not have voted for Bush, we expect that in this time of crisis, all members of our community will unite behind Israel and those who support her. While the Progressive Jewish Alliance may have 14 other reasons to disagree with Bush, on Israel the president has exceeded all expectations.
Nathan D. Wirtschafter, Valley Village
Bennett Zimmerman, Santa Monica
I applaud the articles by Gerald Bubis ("Jewish Ethics and Israeli Arabs," March 30) and Gary Wexler ("Defining Arab Issues in Israel," March 30). The New Israel Fund (NIF) has worked for over 20 years to promote equality, fairness and justice for all of Israel's citizens, especially those populations that have traditionally been at a disadvantage -- women, children, Arab citizens, Mizrahim, new immigrants and non-Orthodox Jews. Please note that the correct phone number of NIF's Los Angeles office is (310) 282-0300.
David Moses, Regional Director, New Israel Fund, Los Angeles
I appreciate and cherish the history of Jewish ethics and values, yet I take exception to Gerald Bubis citing ethics during this latest Muslim war. I suggest Bubis concern himself with finding Muslims with an ethical approach to Jewish survival amongst our enemies.
Lou Averbach, Santa Monica
Referring to the 25 percent who did not agree with his premise of how to treat the Israeli Arabs, Gerald Bubis wrote: "A small minority, led by one vocal person, maintained that the only solution was to deport Israeli Arabs to one or more of the existing 22 Arab countries." That one vocal person he was referring to is me.
The event Bubis was a participant in was University of Judaism's Day of Learning on March 18. This event began with a dialogue among three rabbis of the Reform, Conservative and Orthodox movements, very ably moderated by Dr. Robert Wexler. The panelists were respectful of each other, although their views differed.
Bubis was not fair during the question-and-answer portion when he cut me off immediately after I said a few words and he realized where I was going with my position. At a time when it is so critical for Israel's security, all options should be considered.
The issue of Israel's relationship with the Arabs deserves a much more open discussion. I therefore challenge Bubis to a debate with his views and mine. I have confidence in an American Jewish audience to hear both sides and decide for themselves.
Bernard Nichols, Los Angeles
Buford O. Furrow Jr.
Justice has not been served ("Furrow Sentenced," March 30). Buford Furrow is alive, Joseph Ileto is not.
Paul Davis, Van Nuys
Rabbi Ed Feinstein
A very grateful thank you to Rabbi Ed Feinstein for the profound yet disarmingly simple thoughts that he expressed in his Torah Portion ("Learning to Listen," March 30). His words rang true in my innermost core. I smiled with recognition as I read the piece. I know of what he speaks. Though our circumstances are different, I know about being thrilled to be here, even though the going can get very rough. There is just too much to be amazed at. Yishar koach to you, Rabbi Feinstein.
Judy Weintraub, Los Angeles
Before Rabbi Harold Schulweis swoons to a dead faint over Mike Tyson's act of kindness ("Recognizing Goodness," March 23), we have to ask: Is this the same foul-mouthed Mike Tyson who went to prison convicted of raping a women in his hotel room and who chewed off the ear of his opponent in the boxing ring?
Howard Winter, Beverly Hills
The article about kosher-for-Passover Coca-Cola says that seven out of ten staffers in your informal test preferred the taste of Kosher Coke to that of regular Coke ("Return of the Real Thing," March 30). The article implies that your result is meaningful (at least you say nothing to disabuse a reader of this conclusion).
Actually, if there were no difference and your comparisons are "blind," the probability is 17.2 percent that seven or more people out of 10 will say they prefer kosher-for-Passover Coke. There is another 17.2 percent probability that seven or more will say they prefer the corn syrup version. So there is no statistically significant evidence in your test for any difference between the two kinds of Coke. For a test with only 10 trials to be statistically significant, the verdict would have to be nine to one or unanimous.
You don't seem to be able to get beyond half-truths and falsehoods in your coverage of the Middle East in the issue, but it is probably beyond my power to write a letter that does much to correct that. However, kosher Coke is simpler than the Arab Israeli conflict, and the deficiency in your coverage of it is clear.
Howard Weisberg, Pacific Palisades
We regret that due to an oversight in production, the following information was omitted from the April 6 American Jewish Congress ad: The address of American Jewish Congress is 2950 31st Street, Suite 368, Santa Monica, CA 90405. They can also be reached by telephone at (310) 450-8740 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .