Letters to the Editor: Israel’s renewal, Arab Spring, Boyle Heights, Glenn Beck

Evangelical Trouble for Salon Nation

David Suissa’s “Salon Nation: Israel’s Struggle For Renewal” (Aug. 26) was excellent in describing what common-sense actions should be taken. Unfortunately, too many changes are required before Israel could be considered a “light unto the nations.” In my opinion, the best chance for peace would have been Israel’s unilateral establishment of a Palestinian state after the victorious Yom Kippur War and the signing of the Egyptian peace treaty.

I have spoken to intelligent Jews who are delighted with Glenn Beck and the financial support that Evangelical Christians give Israel, saying “any port in a storm.” These Jews know that the Rapture, and Christ’s Second Coming, will mean the end of Judaism, but choose not to see that they are reinforcing the canard that Jews are only interested in money.

Martin J. Weisman
Westlake Village

Through the years I have mostly enjoyed David Suissa’s columns. He presents a more moderate view than most of your columnists. However, on occasion, Mr. Suissa lapses into progressive mantras. In his article, “Salon Nation” (Aug. 26), Mr. Suissa pleads the case for social justice in Israel. Many of his points are well taken; however, the danger of social justice devolving into a welfare state is real and dangerous. Israel, thanks mainly to Benjamin Netanyahu as finance minister, transformed Israel from largely a socialist state to a free-market economy, thereby vastly reducing and stabilizing Israel’s inflation rate, while creating a tremendous boom in technology. Israel must resist pressure to return to a welfare state.

Israelis have just complaints concerning the high cost of living; however, there is a big difference between necessary commodities and non-necessities. If, for example, the cost of cottage cheese is excessive, stop buying it. Free market supply and demand would soon adjust the price more favorably. The government, to be sure, must play a role when it comes to necessities, such as housing and gas prices. Israel must stop trying to appease the world with regard to a Palestinian state. Is it not clear to everyone that the so-called “Palestinians” are not interested in a two-state solution? Israel relinquished the territorial name to the Arabs. Prior to its becoming a state, all the people of that area were called Palestinians−I still have a pushka box I contributed to as a child. On the blue and white box were a Mogen Dovid and the name “Palestine.” They are all Palestinians.

Israel demonstrated poor judgment in welcoming Arabs after the war of independence. The Arab leadership used their impoverished people as pawns to eliminate the “Zionist entity.”  Now Israel must deal with the unintended consequences of a huge Arab population who does not profess allegiance to the Jewish state. Judea and Samaria rightfully belongs to the Jews, and building, which will alleviate many of the street’s complaints, should be intensified.

Perhaps I would be more sympathetic if and when the United States returns to Mexico the land that it had stolen as a result of Manifest Destiny. Mexico has a far greater claim to this land than the Palestinians have for Judea and Samaria.

Finally, Mr. Suissa says, “Israel, with all its flaws and mistakes, has invested great energy over the years trying to be loved by the world.” When speaking of “flaws and mistakes” Mr. Suissa should balance this remark with the flaws and mistakes of the Arabs and Islamists. By comparison they are negligible. Furthermore, Israel does not need to be loved by the world, which will never happen, but rather it needs to be feared.

C.P. Lefkowitz
Rancho Palos Verdes

True Roots of the Arab Spring

We are all inspired by the Syrians standing up to tanks and naval shelling and striving to be human, to be free (“Man Up,” Aug. 26). And the Libyans, and the Tunisians.

But have you considered that the Arab spring was, in fact, inspired by the overthrow of Saddam Hussein by the coalition led by the United States and President George W. Bush?

Those purple fingers, indicative of Iraqis who had voted, were not only seen in American newspapers, but also on Al Jazeera and throughout the Arab world. Arabs saw an Iraqi people for the first time free of a tyrant and trying to express themselves in new political ways.

Call it a coincidence if you prefer, but I see a direct connection between the sacrifice in blood and treasure on the part of the coalition forces and nations and the Arab spring that has blossomed.

David Schechter
Los Angeles

Rob Eshman is right in admiring the heroism and dedication of the unarmed Arab masses facing down tanks and armed soldiers. However, Eshman is making the mistake of superimposing our Western values upon Arab revolutions that involve other factors. In the case of Syria, Sunni Muslims and Kurds have been brutally ruled by a minority Alawite (Shiite) sect under the hegemony of nearby Iran. In Syria, Sunni imams have been exhorting the masses to revolt — hardly a Jeffersonian democratic revolution. In Egypt as well, the minority of western-style revolutionaries are overpowered by the Muslim Brotherhood. Israel is now keenly aware of the toxic effects the Egyptian revolution have unleashed. The newfound power of the Islamists with the recent ouster of Mubarak threatens the Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement itself, while in neighboring Libya al-Qaeda is currently seizing power under cover of the “rebels.”

Richard Friedman
Los Angeles

Boyle Heights Remembered

While it was interesting to read about Boyle Heights (“The Nickel Pickle,” July 15) through the eyes of Shimona Yaroslavsky, there is so much more to that town than there was in Shimona’s world. I went to Sheridan Street School and Hollenbeck Junior High with her from 1948 to 1953. We were friends, but our lives only overlapped in certain areas. While she introduced me to Zionism, Habonim activities and conversational Hebrew, my family’s Jewish world was centered on the Breed Street Shul. 

When I came to Boyle Heights in 1948, many Jews were already migrating west and north. I developed friendships with young people from an abundance of cultures, which provided insight that has served me for almost 60 years since my family moved west. 

In none of the stories I read about the “Jewish” Boyle Heights was there a mention of the State Street Playground or the Jewish Community Center. These were places that colored the “no computers” world of young people with a bevy of activities beyond home and school. The playground activities included girls’ and boys’ clubs, field trips to places like the San Diego Zoo and the Cabrillo Beach lighthouse,  putting on plays with costumes and American holiday celebrations. My memories of the Jewish Center include membership in the Blue Star Young Judea and Jewish holiday celebrations like Purim plays ( I played Ezra the Scribe) and parties.

I had Jewish friends from every spectrum of Jewish life (including young Holocaust survivors); Mexican friends, Japanese and Chinese friends, and one African American friend. I learned a lot from all these people and their families and from partaking in their cultural activities, as well as my own.

I wonder how many of your readers have similar memories of this wonderful place to live in a special window of time. Did they go up to the “haunted house” on Brittanica Street at Halloween? At one time or another we probably stood next to each other while perusing the comic book section of the magazine stand on the corner of St. Louis Street and Brooklyn Avenue.

Just reminiscing.

Shelly Iltis
via e-mail

Israel’s True Friends

With “friends” like Glenn Beck, Israel need not worry about enemies!

Aviva S. Monosson
Los Angeles

Israel Should Offer Know-How to Egypt

The Egyptian-Israeli situation, as described so eloquently by Leslie Susser (“Attacks Pose New Challenges for Israel,” Aug. 26), poses potential problems of the highest magnitude for the State of Israel and its people. It also provides a golden opportunity for achieving peace in the Middle East. Bear with me and I will explain.

The rebellion against Mubarak basically was a response to the Egyptian people’s strong desire for better lives for themselves and their children. Indeed, that is at the core of the Arab spring. Meanwhile, Israel has developed an outstanding economy and infrastructure, providing its people education, growing industries, jobs and healthcare. With that in mind, here is my suggestion:

Israel, with strong advocacy support from the U.S. government, should offer its know-how and intellectual resources to guide Egypt to become a more productive country, with well-paying jobs and health and educational facilities for its people. Israel would supply the know-how, including relevant consultants and expertise; and oil-rich Arab countries would provide the finances to implement the economic/infrastructure plan in Egypt.

Think of the far-reaching consequences of such a program. In the final analysis, it may well be the best way to achieve real peace in the Middle East. Action speaks louder than words. Seize the opportunity.

George Epstein
Los Angeles

Commandment or Suggestion?

Mr. Prager, I had one wife for 46 years until she died of a brain tumor. I never committed adultery and I remain a widower. In your column on the Ten Commandments (“Still the Only Solution to the World’s Problems,” Aug. 19) you write regarding the seventh commandment, which is do not commit adultery, “Observance or even near-observance of the commandment…” Near-observance? What a strange thing for you to condone. So I have to ask you this question, because you preach in so many of you columns, have you ever committed adultery in you marriage or marriages, whichever the case may be? If so, please write a column on it, for I find hypocrisy contemptible, because one who pretends to be what one is not should not be writing for The Jewish Journal or any decent publication. I suggest you get a job writing for NewsCorps or the Koch brothers. If I am wrong about questioning your keeping of having kept the seventh commandment then please explain to me and the readers of The Jewish Journal what you meant by “near-observance.” In my copy of the Bible, Exodus 20:12, the seventh commandment, states only these five words, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

Leon M. Salter
Los Angeles

Ageism From the Pulpit

Shame on Rabbi Hanish and shame on the Board of Rabbis as mentioned (“Hollywood Writers Help Rabbis Punch Up Their Sermons,” Aug. 26), one of whom is my own Rabbi Topp and another is my son’s Rabbi Brous, both of whom I love and respect.

Last year the Writers Guild brought a class-action lawsuit against the Hollywood producers and agents for discriminating against writers based on their age; “ageism” we called it. We won a large settlement in that action. And now again we, who were nominated for Emmys 10 years ago, are discriminated against by a rabbinical group, which should be the most tolerant of all.

I would venture a guess that only a group of rabbis from Chelm would turn down assistance on a speech from Neal Simon, Carl Reiner, Mel Books, Norman Lear or Woody Allen, all in their 80s.This year Rabbi Topp accepted a joke for his sermon from Shirley Turteltaub, my wife, age 78, which he repeated from the pulpit very well and got a big laugh for it.

Surely this is sloppy thinking on the part of Rabbi Hanish, which I will personally forgive him for if he doesn’t invite me to the next meeting. No writer of any age wants or needs another meeting.

Saul Turteltaub
Beverly Hills