An unscientific, random sample of moviegoers who turned out for the new Steven Spielberg's film, "Munich," overwhelmingly liked what they saw. All of these patrons saw the film at the ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood.
There were three acts to the small luncheon held last Sunday in a private dining room at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel. The first act was the only pleasant one.
Ten Los Angeles Jews gathered at the invitation of philanthropists and activists Stanley Sheinbaum and Alan Gleitsman to share a meal and views with Syrian Minister of Expatriots Dr. Buthaina Shaaban, an adviser to President Bashir Assad, and Dr. Imad Moustapha, Syria's acting ambassador to the United States, on what was their first official visit to Los Angeles.
The meeting was arranged at the initiative of Dr. Hazem Chehabi, a nuclear medicine specialist who also serves as Syria's honorary consul general in Southern California. The doctor attended the lunch along with his wife and two aides. The idea was to have a frank, cordial and completely on-the-record interchange of views between two groups who rarely, if ever, interact: American Jews and Syrian Muslims.
"President Bush has the best interests of the United States and the world at heart ... if push comes to shove, I would fight with the American Army," said Jacob Proud, a 20-year old freshman in bioethics at the University of Judaism (UJ).
"I question the real motives for this war... I want my country and Israel to be as just and righteous as possible," observed Mark Goodman, 26, a second-year student in the UJ's Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. The opinions, expressed in separate interviews during the first week of the war in Iraq, illustrate an obvious and a more subtle point.
For one, not all students think alike, not even in a university whose students are, by self-selection, dedicated to Judaism. Secondly, even within the UJ, undergraduates and rabbinical students sit largely on opposite sides of the fence.
Combative and fiesty, Larry Sternberg relishes the impact of his Libertarian views. When running in a congressional primary for Rep. Robert Badham's vacated District 47 seat, Sternberg advocated decriminalizing illegal drugs. Despite a lack of campaign resources, he stood out in a crowded field ultimately won by Christopher Cox. "It was fun; it was a crazy fling," said the semi-retired Tustin accountant.
The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America's (CAMERA) Andrea Levin wants to start a boycott. She has urged Jewish listeners to stop supporting National Public Radio (NPR). Levin said that NPR's coverage of events in the Middle East amounts to biased reporting and a "defamation of Israel."
In the opening book of his monumental code of Jewish law, Maimonides declared, "We are bidden to walk in the middle paths which are the right and proper ways...." The great medieval sage was articulating the golden mean, the principle that we should avoid extreme behavior, ethical or physical, at all times. The person who succeeds -- indeed, who navigates between indulgence and self-denial -- is, by Maimonides' standards, the wise one.