My thanks to The Jewish Journal for opening its pages to a Palestinian American journalist living in Los Angeles to present a Palestinian perspective on why they initiated an intifada two years ago ("Intifada Fruits: A Palestinian Perspective," Oct. 4). At the end of Muhammed El-Hasan's article, he seemed to imply that the intifada grew out of Palestinian frustration at what former Prime Minister Ehud Barak had offered the Palestinians at Camp David and later at Taba, Egypt. The issues he presented for their frustration were not the real reasons for the failure. The two major items that separated the two sides were contained in former President Clinton's bridging proposals. They involved Jerusalem and sovereignty over the Temple Mount. It should be pointed out that Barak had agreed to Clinton's bridging proposals and Arafat did not. Furthermore, Arafat scuttled the peace talks in crossing Israel's most sacred red line by insisting on the Palestinian right of return.
While there was urgent need for further negotiations between the two sides, the Palestinians resorted to violence and terrorism. This is the major cause of today's tragic situation. It is indeed a pity, and it is about time the leadership of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people assume responsibility for the options they choose and their consequences.
Dr. Michael Ben-Levi President Meretz USA Southern California Chapter
In Mike Levy's piece, "Support for Israel Elementary to Watson" (Oct. 4), he described the recent "primary defeats of African American incumbents Earl Hilliard in Alabama and Cynthia McKinney in Georgia" and comments that the two incumbents "were defeated with the help of Jewish organizations and individuals." He should also have mentioned that the winners in both Democratic primaries -- Arthur Davis in Alabama and Denise Majette in Georgia -- are African American as well.
Hal Denner , Sherman Oaks
Jeffrey Dvorkin takes CAMERA to task but doesn't address any of its many complaints against NPR ("CAMERA Out of Focus," Oct. 4). He does not even address the issue raised by Andrea Levin that Israelis are not permitted to answer charges made against it by NPR. Dvorkin is an advocate, apologist and spokesman for NPR. This is not the legitimate role of an ombudsman.
Mike Michelson, Mission Viejo
It's Not Easy Backing Simon
The left (i.e., those who still believe that appeasement is the path to peace in the Middle East), are suddenly discovering that free speech isn't free. There is a price to pay for taking positions that are not popular, and there always has been. The fact that the vast majority of Jews in America reject the left's views does not mean that "honest and open discourse" cannot take place or that there are "some serious limits" on free speech. It means that they are losing the argument.
To illustrate the utter childishness of those on the left who are whining about their supposed inability to express unpopular views, all one needs to do is turn the page to the story about Dr. Joel Strom who was told, "You are a traitor to your people" at a Santa Monica synagogue for the grievous sin of supporting Republican Bill Simon for governor ("It's Not Easy Backing Simon," Sept. 27).
Which end of the spectrum was it that gave us political correctness?
Ira Mehlman, Marina del Rey
An Inch Late, a Dollar Short
Having read your "An Inch Late, a Dollar Short" (Sept. 27) three times, all sorts of memories spanning six decades came flooding back. The snubs, disdain, contempt, etc. inflicted on so many Jewish height-challenged fellas that I witnessed may be of use to you in some future article. The attitudes of so many Jewish females concerning height may be masking some deeper feelings that cause them to be so rejecting. There may be deeper issues behind the ladies' repugnance.
Name Withheld Upon Request, Glendale
Nobody Likes Saddam
President Bush has no proof on Iraq. Waiting for proof is like waiting for the sky to fall. Your article in this regard is quite an understatement ("Nobody Likes Saddam," Sept. 27). Should we be afraid of Saddam Saddam? Yes. Should and can he be contained? Yes. Through the U.N. inspections and resolutions. Saddam has been seriously weakened through embargo and exposure. Bush and his cohorts are frightened men and are fear-mongering and trying to distract us from the real fears of the weakened economy and business immorality.
The question of war is more than not idle. War is terrible, costly, and is a failure. Imagining terrible things happening in the United States without a complete and total wipeout retaliation of Iraq by our country is absurd and insane. That's insane, Hussein is not.
Isaac Motola, Pasadena
Kudos on Covers
Many thanks to Carvin Knowles for the thought-provoking covers of Sept. 6, Sept. 13 and Sept. 27.
It's not often that l am so moved by a front cover that I check to see the name of the designer. The one of Sept. 6, "A Time to Reflect," shows the reflection of the World Trade Center disaster on an apple that is next to a bee (our symbols of hope for a sweet upcoming year). This cover brings chills to me, whenever I see it. I have shown the cover to other people. I know the covers have been criticized in the past (Arafat caricature), so l wanted to express a thanks for these covers.
Judy Lederich-Mayer, Sherman Oaks
The Silencing of the Left?
The real loneliness has been on the right for many years ("The Silencing of the Left?" Sept. 27). Those of us who questioned the wisdom of Oslo were labeled as enemies of peace when all we said is that Yasser Arafat will never be a Nelson Mandela.
Oh, of course there was lip service for a variety of views. A great exhibit of this was some two years ago when The Jewish Federation put on a community meeting just after of the violence broke out. My solitary voice that challenged the then-accepted wisdom that Oslo was "good for the views" faced six other opinions that ranged from the extreme left of Peace Now to the moderate middle of "maybe there are some flaws in the process but essentially it is good." That was balance then and, alas, I doubt The Journal ever did a piece on the isolation of the right.
The problem today is not that the left is isolated because of some kind of group-think. Their intentions may have been noble, but simply put, their ideas have failed. Some still cling irrationally to a dream that has proven unrealistic.
The left needs to take some responsibility for what it has done. Today Israel, instead of being somewhat safe with the master terrorist cooped up in Tunis, faces an enemy armed by Israeli guns. Those guns, and the empowerment provided by the dreamers of left to the Palestinians has forever transformed the Middle East into a place much more dangerous for Jews -- and Arabs also.
Rabbi David Eliezrie President Rabbinical Council of Orange County
Jewish Values and Work
I took notice of two articles in the Sept. 27 issue: Rabbi David Saperstein and Rachel Wainer's article on "Sukkot and Our Duty To Alleviate Poverty" and Julie Gruenbaum Fax's article "The Silencing of the Left?"
In both articles, my colleagues passionately connected their work to Jewish values and Torah. Indeed, it is our passion for what Jewish traditions, history and values teach us that drives our social justice work, not just the other way around. The important work of the organizations that are summarily described as "the left" represent the support of significant numbers of affiliated and unaffiliated Jews.
Whether it be a focus in the Middle East or at home in the United States it is projects and organizations whose missions are driven by our Jewish traditions of tikkun olam that are resonating with increasing numbers of supporters, especially from many Jews in our community who have been disconnected from mainstream Jewish institutions.
Celia Bernstein, West Coast Director The Shefa Fund
Marlene Adler Marks
It's reflex, I suppose. I can't help it. Is anyone else out there opening The Jewish Journal each week since Marlene Adler Marks' passing, only to find herself or himself looking for her? I know that many of us would turn to her column soon after opening The Jewish Journal's pages. I miss it. I miss her spicy yet gently irate reactions to injustice. And even though I'm confessing this secret, I'm still looking.
Leah Schweitzer, Valencia