August 15, 2002
Prime Time for Hitler
Well, Hitler, has made it to prime time ("Prime Time for Hitler," Aug. 2). How about a joint project about the life and times of Yasser Arafat? However, we will need to determine his true story, or should we just file his under TV fiction? Why not do a movie-of-the-week on the eating habits of Jeffrey Dahmer, or a show based on the inside story of child pornographers? Since it seems the U.S. public has an appetite for reality shows, why stop at Hitler?
Allyson Rowen Taylor, Valley Glen
Your article on the upcoming CBS miniseries, "Young Hitler," noted that several years ago, another such program, "Nuremberg," almost reduced the greatest international trial in living memory to a sappy love story between the American prosecutor and his assistant. But that, too, had a precedent.
In "Wallenberg," back in the 1970s, not only was a fictitious lover created for Raoul Wallenberg to pursue across half of unoccupied Europe, but a classically obscene line of dialogue was actually written for actor Richard Chamberlain, "I would give up everything, even this rescue mission, if only you would be mine."
Realistically though, none of this is new. Seventy years ago, Irving Thalberg, MGM's "boy wonder," greenlighted "Rasputin and the Empress," instructing playwright-scriptwriter Charles MacArthur to turn Czar Nicholas of Romanov Russia into a gentle, kindly, sensitive soul. MacArthur finally asked, "How can you portray him as such a sympathetic hero in light of what he and his family did to your people for 300 years?"
In an answer that could just as easily come from Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS, and Nancy Tellem, his entertainment chief, in summer 2002, Thalberg replied, "It wouldn't be fair to the company stockholders to jeopardize any market just because I'm a Jew."
The expression, "With Jews like you, who needs anti-Semites?" didn't originate in Hollywood, but nowhere else has it blossomed and flourished so gloriously.
David R. Moss, Los Angeles
15 and Counting
I applaud President Bush's firm denouncement of the horrific Hamas attack at Hebrew University last week and share his fury at the depraved indifference of terrorists to the sanctity of human life ("15 and Counting," Aug. 9). However, the time has come to recognize that peace will never be possible in the Middle East nor will worldwide terrorism be defeated unless the United States uses military and monetary force against all agents of terror.
The attack was a clear and direct assault against America and its citizens. The five Americans who were killed were not "collateral damage" in the eyes of the terrorists, but were successfully destroyed targets, no different than the victims of Al Qaeda's strike on Sept. 11. We can no longer simply provide verbal support to Israel, but must also take action in defense of our own country and citizens.
Carolyn Blashek , Encino
The problem with the Bush administration's Middle East policy isn't its failure to intervene militarily in the conflict It is the failure to aggressively intervene politically. A policy that is contingent on a change of Palestinian leadership is a policy lacking in political imagination and political courage. In its eagerness to be un-Clinton, the Bush administration has caved in to the Sharon government.
Failure to actively create and push responsible Palestinian political institutions will leave the peace process continually hostage to elements committed to continued violence -- Palestinian terrorists and the Israeli right wing, with the death toll mounting.
David Perel, Los Angeles
Is France Anti-Semitic?
The American Jewish Congress (AJCongress) did not claim that France or the French people were anti-Semitic and never called for a boycott. It did, however, take strong action to question the wisdom of attending the Cannes Film Festival while synagogues were being firebombed or of vacationing in France when Jews were being physically attacked on the Champs-Elysee.
When Joel Kotkin says that anti-Semitism had become a cliche and worries about what could happen in the United States, he fails to understand the difference between state-accepted anti-Semitism and when governments use the full force of the law to prevent and prosecute anti-Semitic acts ("Is France Anti-Semitic?" Aug. 9). This is what is now happening in France under the new prime minister.
David Suissa says that only through pressure, such as demonstrations in front of the French consulate, did the French government begin to seriously address the problem ("Why I Stopped Hating France," Aug. 9). I am convinced that the actions of the Los Angeles Region of the AJCongress and the travel warning issued by the Simon Wiesenthal Center made a real impact on the French government. At each meeting with French government officials, they had copies of our ads and our Web site, and were really concerned about what other actions AJCongress might take.
What is the lesson and conclusion that can be drawn from our trip? First, anti-Semitism can rear its ugly head when the authorities let it and ignore it. Second, if necessary, pressure must be brought to bear against any government that condones anti-Semitism. I am ready to do whatever is necessary to protect my brethren in Europe or elsewhere and I salute those who will stand up against anti-Semitism wherever it rears its ugly head.
Gary P. Ratner Executive Director American Jewish Congress Pacific Southwest Region
David Suissa may have "stopped hating France," because the French are finally attending to the business of protecting their Jewish citizens and admitting that they had a problem. At the time that StandWithUs, Olam and Betar had our five consecutive Friday "Shame on France" rallies, the French government was making excuses about the attacks against Jews.
We consistently explained that just as America has a responsibility to protect its citizens from violence brought about by ideological differences, the French government has an obligation to admit that they have a problem.
It's nice to see that the statistics in France have changed. And that is precisely why we are no longer having our "Shame on France" demonstrations. It's wonderful to know that Deputy Pierre Lelouche has just introduced a new law in France that will increase the penalties for racist and anti-Semitic incidents. Again, that's why we no longer need to demonstrate our concern regarding this issue.
Suissa was very clear in our first meeting with the consul general's office in Los Angeles, as we presented our declaration to them. He said: "We want to love France again. You can help us love France again by making sure that the Jews of France feel protected. You can be a role model for other European countries to follow."
I agreed with Suissa then, and I agree with that logic today.
Everyone who attended the "Shame on France" demonstrations was simply saying: "Never Again." And in my mind, all our efforts were indeed helpful. No shame on us, and now, no shame on France.
Roz Rothstein, Los Angeles
Peace Now Ad
The Americans for Peace Now ad placed in your paper is the most misleading thing I have read in a long time (Aug. 9). I highly doubt that the people taking this survey -- if in fact there was a survey -- would agree so readily to giving up their homes. According to the Peace Now Web site, they "surveyed" 3,200 people. With approximately 200,000 people living in these cities, towns and suburbs, 3,200 people is not representative of the population by any stretch of the imagination.
Contrary to what Peace Now wants people to believe, soldiers are not stationed in these towns to protect the citizens, most of the people paid full price for their own housing, the tax break is a whopping 6 percent and there is nothing nefarious about building roads -- bypass or otherwise.
In response to the ridiculous statement that these citizens of Israel leave their homes to make aliyah, they don't need to make aliyah -- they are home!
Sue Mischel, Los Angeles
Embrace the Enemy
As a Jew in the Diaspora, my whole being bleeds with each injury, dismemberment and loss of life in the Middle East conflict. My heart is broken as I find myself, a lifelong liberal, proponent of civil rights and student of comparative religions and cultures, starting to have knee-jerk negative reactions to people that I deem by their dress and features to be Arab, and thus, my enemy. I don't want to feel this way. It shames me. I mourn my idealism and pray that the time be not distant when circumstances are such that I can more easily embrace the Arab community once again, in the same way I embrace my fellow Jews.
Carol Felixson, Culver City
The date and time listed for "A Yiddish World Remembered" were wrong ("The Lost Yiddish World," Aug. 9). The PBS special will air on Aug. 18 at 5 p.m. on KCET.
In "Silence Speaks Volumes" (Aug. 9), Marcel Marceau's age should have been listed as 79.
The opening paragraph of the article "Camp Supervisor Accused of Molestation" (Aug. 9) should have read, "A 35-year-old preschool supervisor at an Orthodox day camp was arrested last Sunday after two preschool boys told their parents that the supervisor has sexually abused them." The camp director has not been accused of any impropriety. Additionally, David Schwartz, a counselor for the preschool group, was not arrested outside Anshe Emes, but at a nearby synagogue.
The Jewish Journal regrets the errors.