September 5, 2002
We are writing in support of the opinion expressed by Steve Berman opposing the policy of United Jewish Communities (UJC) supporting settlers living beyond what will be the revised Green Line ("Withholding Our Funds From Territories," Aug. 30).
For almost 50 years, we have been significant contributors to the United Jewish Fund, et al., have held many leadership positions and have always been confident that the funds were used to build a strong and secure Israel. We were dismayed to read that there is a new policy where grants are now being given to settlers living in the West Bank. Although we understand the humanitarian purpose behind these grants, in our opinion the UJC is making a political statement by such support, and that is a position we strongly oppose. Continuation of the blanket support of settlements represents a most serious block to any constructive efforts to move forward the Israel-Palestinian peace effort. Therefore, any aid given to the settlers who are living beyond what will be the revised Green Line, even under the banner of humanitarian relief, gives support to the settler movement, which we feel is so destructive of efforts to build a peaceful and secure Israel. We care deeply about Israel and its struggle for survival and healthy growth.
There are many other worthy organizations whose total efforts are aimed at that goal. We find it difficult to continue support of the UJC, whose policy only makes any peaceful solution more difficult. Therefore we strongly urge this policy be re-examined, both at the local and the national level.
Richard and Lois Gunther, Los Angeles
Question of Blood
In Dan Gordon's article ("A Question of Blood," May 24) the following appeared:
"I heard a story, which I did indeed find chilling. It was told to me by Dr. David Zangen, chief medical officer of the Israeli paratroop unit, which bore the brunt of the fighting in Jenin.
"Zangen stated that the Israelis not only worked to keep the hospital in Jenin open, but that they offered the Palestinians blood for their wounded. The Palestinians refused it because it was Jewish blood."
On Aug. 25, there was a meeting in Melbourne, Australia, organized by the State Zionist Council of Victoria. The guest speaker was Zangen. I was not at this meeting, but I understand that Zangen categorically denied ever having said anything like that to Gordon, and denied being aware of any incident in which Palestinians had refused blood from the Israelis.
Harold Zwier, Melbourne, Australia
Dan Gordon responds:
I spoke with some 50 Israeli soldiers, officers and enlisted men, reservists, conscripts and career army personnel on site in Jenin, Bethlehem, Beit Jallah, at military headquarters (the Kirya) in Tel Aviv and in Jerusalem. I did not write the article in question until almost a month after my return from Jenin. Could I have misattributed a story told by one Israeli officer to another Israeli officer; in this case, Zangen? Yes.
I did not, however, misattribute who confirmed the story. That was Col. Arik Gordin (Res.) of the Israeli Military spokesman's office. On May 13, I received the following e-mail from Gordin:
"I made some inquiries about the blood donations. It was confirmed by the spokesman of the office of the coordinator of the government activities in the territories that the Palestinians refused our offer of blood. They said they would not take blood from Israel ... in short, the story you heard onsite is true."
If I misattributed the source of that story to Zangen, I again profoundly apologize. I did not however, misattribute the confirmation of that story, nor misstate it as it was related to me.
A Home for the Holidays
I could not believe my eyes when I read the article about alternative services at local synagogues ("A Home for the Holidays," Aug. 30). I counted 15 services listed, but not one mention of the Library Minyan at Temple Beth Am.
It does not do it for me to read that "this is just a small sampling...." To exclude Beth Am is somewhat ludicrous, because the Beth Am Library Minyan was the pioneer of alternative services in Los Angeles.
I remember when Rabbi Jacob Pressman introduced the idea, it was greeted with some hesitancy. It grew, and although the name remained the same, it had to move to larger quarters in the synagogue.
I know Julie Gruenbaum Fax is usually very thorough in her research, so I was surprised at this glaring omission.
Marjorie Pressman, Los Angeles
Larry Derfner thinks the only reason Israel has problems with the Palestinians is the presence of Israeli settlers and soldiers on the West Bank, "lording it over them" ("The Irrelevance of Arab Hatred," Aug. 30). He is wrong. The goal of the Palestinian Authority is to destroy the State of Israel and eliminate Jews from the Middle East. Yasser Arafat founded the Palestinian Liberation Organization, with the avowed goal of destroying Israel, at a time when there was no occupation; not one Israeli in all Judea, Samaria or Gaza.
The Palestinian Authority has changed its name, but not its goal, its leadership or its tactics of terrorism. It is the destruction of the Jewish state that Arafat seeks, not an independent state on the West Bank.
Deborah Koken, Costa Mesa
Larry Derfner's opinion piece is breathtaking in its wisdom. If only the world had been given the benefit of his insight in 1939. An article entitled "The Irrelevance of German anti-Semitism and anti-Slavism" would have prevented those sky-is-falling Jews and Poles and Russians from worrying about the oft-stated Nazi desire to kill or enslave them.
Chaim Sisman , Los Angeles
Jewish 'Life' in Simi
The anonymous writer (Letters, Aug. 23) responding to the article "Jewish 'Life' Comes to Simi" ( Aug. 9), makes an important point: There is and has long been a diverse and vital Jewish population in the area. Demographics also indicate this an area where Jewish families are moving.
We take pride in the fact that this is truly a community effort and feel compelled to correct two misunderstandings: "I hope the B'nai Emet people find a way to include Chabad."
First, the Jewish Life Center is a separate entity from Congregation B'nai Emet. B'nai Emet is donating land that will be the site of the Jewish Life Center. The sad fact is that in an area with over 8,000 Jews, there is no permanent home or Jewish center to serve the community: Congregation B'nai Emet leases space in an industrial park and Chabad operates from a modest storefront. Our board is representative of the entire community and includes people such as Margy Rosenbluth, immediate past president of The Jewish Federation/Valley Alliance; Arnold Saltzman of Mount Sinai Memorial Parks & Mortuary; and Glen Becerra, the mayor pro tem of Simi Valley.
Second, we have made efforts to include Chabad, discussing with its Simi Valley rabbi such things as creating a Jewish library and designing a kosher kitchen suitable for Chabad functions.
Those of us involved in The Jewish Life Center wish to create a warm, welcoming home where all can gather to share our traditions, culture and values.
Nancy Beezy Micon Board Chair
Mark Friedman Chief Financial Officer
The Jewish Life Center of Simi Valley
Thank you for the return of Jane Ulman. Reading her column on Jeremy's Bar Mitzvah was like turning on a 500-watt light in a darkened room ("The 'Contemporary' Bar Mitzvah," Aug. 9). The column brightened the whole paper.
Elvan L. Spilka Des Moines, Iowa
The recent Ventura County Jewish Festival was a great event in a county with a quickly growing Jewish population. Too bad that part of the region snubbed the event altogether.
Thousand Oaks, which is clearly in Ventura County even though it orients itself toward The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, failed to be represented by any congregations or organizations. Simi Valley is further east, but its congregation set up a booth, as did organizations from Los Angeles, including The Jewish Journal. Considering that the festival was held at the new CSUCI campus adjacent to Camarillo, a city that borders Thousand Oaks, these no-shows are sad.
Ventura County is full of Jewish newcomers, Jewish residents who travel into Los Angeles and Jews unaffiliated with the existing congregations. The entire Conejo Valley missed a stellar opportunity to reach out to potential members.
Steve Greenberg , Camarillo