What if Tom Friedman is right?

Without warning, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman dropped a bombshell smack into the middle of his opinion piece on Feb. 10. Titled “The Many Mideast Solutions,” Friedman surrendered his decades-long belief in a two-state solution in negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. 

“The peace process,” he wrote, “is dead.” He continued: “It’s over, folks, so please stop sending the New York Times Op-Ed page editor your proposals for a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians. The next U.S. president will have to deal with an Israel determined to permanently occupy all the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.”

Friedman’s erstwhile commitment to the two-state solution was both personal and professional. He is a committed Jew and liberal Zionist who hoped to see Israel flourish as a Jewish and democratic state. He is also a seasoned observer of the Middle East who, in the course of having won three Pulitzer Prizes, did tours of duty as a New York Times reporter in both Beirut and Jerusalem. It was Friedman who proposed to the Arab League in 2002 that it recognize Israel in return for a full return to 1967 borders — only to be surprised when then Saudi prince Abdullah informed him in Riyadh that he had just such a proposal in his desk drawer. Over the years, there have been few more persistent supporters of the two-state idea than Friedman.

Although he has many critics on both the left and right, it is not so easy to dismiss Friedman. He seeks to avoid ideological extremes in the name of common sense. And his common sense tells him the clock has struck midnight on the idea of two states between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The combination of unrelenting Israeli settlement on the West Bank and Palestinian intransigence and dissimulation has delivered the death knell to the division of the land. A motley crew of unlikely allies who support a one-state solution will rejoice at Friedman’s call — Israeli right-wingers who believe in a Jewish state from the river to the sea, as well as a mix of far-left Israelis, Palestinian activists and Western proponents of BDS who call for a single, decidedly not-Jewish state.

What are those who do not count themselves among the advocates of a single state to make of Friedman’s declaration? Perhaps he is wrong, and time does remain to realize the two-state vision. But if so, there is very little time until the presence of 600,000 Israeli settlers becomes irreversible.

And if Friedman is right, what are we to do? In the first instance, we may want to scour the dustbin of history for alternative visions, ones that dwell between the poles of one and two states. For example, Jewish, Arab and British leaders during the Mandatory period proposed various kinds of confederations. David Ben-Gurion advanced in the 1930s the idea of a confederation of a Jewish state with a larger regional Arab state. Others, such as Mandate-era Palestinian official Musa Alami and, more recently, Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Meron Benvenisti called for a division of the land in demographically concentrated cantons. And in 2014, a group of academics and diplomats proposed a scenario in “One Land, Two States: Israel and Palestine at Parallel States (edited by Mark LeVine and Mathias Mossberg, Berkeley: University of California Press) in which a Jewish and Palestinian state held joint ownership over the land between the river and the sea. 

Even as we set about thinking of future alternatives — for we no longer have the luxury of avoiding doing so — we should also remember that there is much work to be done in the present. Rather than lapse into despair, it is necessary to recall that the fight for justice and equality continues every day. This struggle is different from the efforts of politicians and diplomats to achieve an overarching, top-down solution. Rather, it is a bottom-up, grass-roots, people-to-people campaign to assure dignity to all who live in Israel and Palestine. The good news is that there is a remarkably vibrant culture of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Israel that engage in precisely this kind of campaign. The bad news is that there are high-ranking government officials and Knesset members who are doing all within their power to silence and shut down these NGOs, especially the New Israel Fund, the remarkable organization that supports a wide range of important social justice causes that has become the chief target of vilification (and with which, in the name of full disclosure, I am affiliated). It is not enough to acknowledge these NGOs as symbols of the morality of Israeli society. One must actively and constantly support them. 

Whatever the ultimate political disposition of this land will be, we are not free to desist from working toward a more equitable, harmonious and just society for all, one in which the marginal and disenfranchised — Arabs, Mizrahim, women, Ethiopians and immigrants, among others — find their rightful place as equal partners. This is not work for the messianic era, but rather for the here and now. 

David N. Myers is the Sady and Ludwig Kahn Professor of Jewish History at UCLA. He is also a member of the board of directors of the New Israel Fund. 

Charlie Hebdo columnist was killed for being Jewish, cousin says

A Charlie Hebdo columnist was killed because she was Jewish, the victim’s cousin said.

Elsa Cayat was the only woman killed in the targeted attack Jan. 7 on the satirical magazine’s Paris headquarters by two al-Qaida operatives, brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi.

Cayat received threatening phone calls in the month before the attack on the magazine, Sophoe Bramly said.

“You dirty Jew. Stop working for Charlie Hebdo. If you don’t, we will kill you,” the phone calls said, Cayat’s cousin told The Independent in an interview published Monday.

“It seems she was selected to be executed because she was Jewish,” Bramly said. “They had a list of who they wanted to shoot and said they weren’t killing the women. But she was the only woman who wasn’t spared.”

Sigolene Vinson, a writer, told reporters that one of the masked gunmen pointed his gun at her and did not shoot, saying, “Don’t be afraid, calm down. I won’t kill you. You are a woman.”

Cayat, a psychoanalyst, wrote a column for the magazine and was there the day of the shootings for the weekly editorial staff meeting. She was born in Tunisia and moved to suburban Paris when she was a toddler.


Art Buchwald, humor columnist, 81

Art Buchwald, Humor Columnist, 81

Do you know anyone in American history, or world history for that matter, who has gone from dying in a hospice to living another year with renewed fame, international acknowledgment, plaudits and gifts from world celebrities?

During his last year, one man wrote a dozen newspaper columns to add to the 8,000 he already had written, added a new book to the 30 he already had published.

The man is Art Buchwald — a Jew, a writer, a celebrity and a mensch.Suffering from kidney disease, Buchwald entered Washington Hospice Center Feb. 7 after deciding that he didn’t want to prolong his life by having dialysis five hours a day, three days a week.

From February until July, he entertained family and friends, political and artistic glitterati at the hospice. When he didn’t die and his kidneys seemed to be functioning again, he returned to summer at Martha’s Vineyard, continuing his tradition of working the annual auction to raise funds for local social service agencies.

The hospice stay became almost a well-publicized celebrity roast. Visitors came by the hospice not only to shmooze and reminisce but to bring Buchwald his favorite foods. The mere mention from Buchwald that he liked hot pastrami resulted in 10 sandwiches from guests the next day.

Born to Joseph and Helen Buchwald in New York in 1925, Buchwald saw his mother institutionalized for acute depression when he was 3, and never saw her again. His father, unable to care for Buchwald and three older sisters, placed them in a Seventh-day Adventist home in Flushing, N.Y. Two years later they were transferred to the Hebrew Orphan Asylum in Manhattan.

Buchwald ran away at age 17 in 1942 to join the Marines. He said he hired a guy from Skid Row to act as his father because kids under 18 needed parental approval to enlist. He served more than three years in the Pacific and, while never a great supporter of war, he always cherished and helped the Marine Corps.After World War II he attended the USC and edited the campus magazine — but he never graduated because the school discovered he didn’t have a high school diploma. So Buchwald went to Paris, where a small job at the International Herald Tribune morphed into several humor/gossip/satire columns that were very well-received by expatriates, tourists and soldiers.

In 1962 Buchwald took his column to Washington, churning out three columns a week that were syndicated in 700 newspapers.

He always seemed amazed that politicians made his job so easy: “Just when you think there’s nothing to write about, Nixon says, ‘I am not a crook’; Jimmy Carter says, ‘I have lusted after women in my heart’; and President Reagan says, ‘I have just taken a urinalysis test and I am not on dope.’ You can’t make up anything anymore. The world itself is a satire. All you’re doing is recording it.”

Buchwald and his wife, Ann McGarry, adopted three children. Though they divorced in the 1990s, they remained good friends. He will be buried next to Ann on Martha’s Vineyard.

Buchwald always had a marvelous relationship with colleagues, readers and aspiring writers. Many stories tell of his availability, his phone number listed in the Washington directory and his invitations to aspiring writers to have coffee, bagels and talk.

A memorial service will be held in Washington, and lots of people will be remembering Art Buchwald with his own words. After all, how can you not love and quote the man who said, “Now that Henry Kissinger has left Washington, I am the last remaining sex symbol here.”

Lehitraot, Art.

From all of us.

— Dov Burt Levy, former political science professor and a columnist for the Jewish Journal–Boston North.


David Arditti died Jan. 1 at 75. He is survived by his son, Hal. Malinow and Silverman

Muriel Bleifer died Jan. 8 at 83. She is survived by her daughters, Alene (Dan) Whicker and Ronda (Gordy) Crane; son, Gregg (Lisa); eight grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and brothers, Sidney (Freida) and Alan Silverman. Mount Sinai

Harry Ferdman died Jan. 9 at 96. He is survived by his daughter, Lisa, and son, Dr Ronald (Susan). Mount Sinai

Ruth Goldberg died Jan. 5 at 92. She is survived by her daughters, Beverly (Dr. William F.) Bierer and Barbara Moore; and son, Joel. Malinow and Silverman

Sandra Hart died Jan. 8 at 46. She is survived by her husband, Robert; son, Daniel; parents, Paul and Marilyn Freeman; and sister, Louise (David) Goldstein. Mount Sinai

Frank hozinsky died Jan. 3 at 86. He is survived by his wife, Mildred; sons, Barry (Barbara), David (Yvonne) and Steven; four grandchildren; one great-granddaughter; brother, Harold (Rhoda); and sister, Ethel Einwahner. Malinow and Silverman

Ruth Kaminsky died Jan. 9 at 77. She is survived by her husband, David; son, Michael (Tamilyn); and granddaughters, Christine Perez and Jennifer. Mount Sinai

Steven Eliot Kaufman died Dec. 7. He is survived by his wife, Dr. Jill Taft-Kaufman; mother, Cynthia; brother, Bruce; sister, Glynne Rochon; niece, Cortni; and nephew, James.

Murray Kert died Jan. 8 at 82. He is survived by his wife, Beverlee; daughters, Sheila and Carolynn; and nephew, Marty (Felicia) Bresin. Mount Sinai

howard kunin died Jan. 1 at 75. He is survived by his wife, Claire; sons, Gary, Jeff (Audrey), Randy (June) and Bill; three grandchildren; brother, Larry (Sue) Kunin; and sister, Lorraine (Bob) Dennis. Mount Sinai

Ella Levin died Dec. 24 at 55. She is survived by her husband, Herbert; daughter, Jamie; and sisters, Yardena Cohen and Anat Finck. Chevra Kadisha

Loretta Dianne Nehouri Meraj died Jan. 8 at 61. She is survived by her son, Darian Merage; and cousin, Henry (Nouri) Nehouri. Mount Sinai

Dvosya Mintskovsky died Jan. 6 at 95. She is survived by her daughter, Bella Tsarovsky. Malinow and Silverman

Laugh at Death the Buchwald Way

Art Buchwald is living and dying in a Washington, D.C., hospice. If you don’t know his story, you could be forgiven for thinking this is a very sad time for the 80-year-old Jewish columnist.

Just the opposite, Buchwald says. “I am,” he announces, “having the time of my life.”

His family and friends, along with the political and artistic glitterati, are coming by to shmooze, reminisce and bring his favorite foods. He mentions that he likes corned beef sandwiches; the next day guests bring in 10.

He continues to write his column for the Washington Post and 50 other papers, but now the topics, still with his characteristic humor, are often about death, the hospice and making your own end-of-life decisions. Many people write to thank him for giving them alternatives to consider.

Here’s the story. Suffering from kidney disease, he entered a Washington, D.C., hospice in February after deciding that he didn’t want to prolong his life by having dialysis five hours a day, three days a week. He had already had his leg amputated for other reasons and he figured now: “I had two decisions. Continue dialysis, and that’s boring to do three times a week, and I don’t know where that’s going, or I can just enjoy life and see where it takes me.”

Life had already taken him, beginning at age 3, to two orphanages after his mother was institutionalized with mental illness from which she never recovered. Young Art ran away at age 17 in 1942 to join the Marines. After the war, he attended college and edited the campus magazine, but didn’t graduate because the school discovered his lack of a high school diploma.

So he went to Paris where a small job at the Herald Tribune morphed into a humor column, which in 1962 he took to Washington. During his heyday, he was writing three columns a week, syndicated in 700 papers.

His shtick was taking serious political and social issues and turning them into humor, which as we know, for whatever genetic, social or historic reasons, has always been a strong Jewish trait. Think Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl and a 100 others. In Buchwald’s day, he was better known than Al Franken and Jon Stewart are today.

Through it all, he never lost his sense of his place in the whole story, which most of the time was outside laughing in.

“Just when you think there’s nothing to write about, Nixon says, ‘I am not a crook,'” Buchwald once wrote. “Jimmy Carter says, ‘I have lusted after women in my heart.’ President Reagan says, ‘I have just taken a urinalysis test, and I am not on dope.’ You can’t make up anything anymore. The world itself is a satire. All you’re doing is recording it.”

When President Eisenhower’s press secretary, James Hagerty, took a Buchwald column seriously and called it “unadulterated rot,” Buchwald responded with indignation: “He’s wrong. I write adulterated rot.”

Buchwald has undoubtedly earned a place in my pantheon of personal heroes, men and women whose actions in the face of impending death seem to me both inspiring and heroic: Hubert Humphrey, tennis great Arthur Ashe, professor Morrie Schwartz of “Tuesdays With Morrie,” Christopher and Dana Reeve, Lenny Zakim, to name a few.

Talk about dying with dignity. Their deaths may have come too early and been too hard, but not one of them ever lost his heart or soul or kindness, nor stopped performing good deeds in this world. Nor did they kvetch, complain, blame. Buchwald fits in well.

Should there ever — sometime, somewhere — be a meeting of these greats, along with all our friends and family members who have inspired us in life and in death, you can bet Buchwald will be there, too. And you can bet he’ll regale them all with how he beat the doctors’ forecasts of his survival by hundreds of percents, just as he regales us now when asked about the afterlife.

“I have no idea where I’m going but here’s the real question: What am I doing here in the first place?” Buchwald says, part humor columnist, part rabbi. “It’s what you do on earth and the good deeds you do on earth that are important.”

Shalom u’lehitraot, Art.

This article originally appeared in The Forward (dblevy@columnist.com


Safire Says Book of Job Political

The Book of Job is commonly — and mistakenly — seen as a story of the “patience of Job.” And sometimes people have trouble locating its place in the Bible.

Asked by reporters last January to name his favorite book in the New Testament, Howard Dean answered, “The Book of Job.” He was one testament off, and returned later to tell reporters he knew it was in the Hebrew Bible. He said he liked it because it “sort of explains that bad things happen to very good people for no good reason.”

Dean’s confusion about the location of the Book of Job generated a fair amount of ridicule at the time from commentators — but not from William Safire, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist of The New York Times, who is speaking next week about Job at Sinai Temple.

In his column that week, Safire said that Dean, in his description of Job, was “on to something.” The book, Safire wrote, is the “most controversial book in all theology” — the outraged cry of a blameless sufferer, a call for someone to “take God to court on a charge of moral mismanagement” (and perhaps breach of contract).

The story of Job is one of a righteous man from whom everything is taken — all his sons and daughters, all his wealth and then his health — and who rejects the comfort and counsel of his friends, with their established wisdom about God.

Job’s friends tell him he must have done something wrong (“Happy is the man whom God corrects”), that the experience should lead to greater piety (“If thou wert pure and upright, surely now God would awake for thee”), that in the end everything will be all right (“though there be darkness, it shall be as the morning”).

But Job is not consoled. On the contrary, he is outraged at the injustice. “The tents of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure.” But as for him, “I looked for good, and then evil came. When I expected light, then came darkness.”

Job curses his life and dreams of escaping God: “For now I shall lie in the earth; thou wilt seek me, but I shall not be.” Above all, he wants it known that “God has wronged me” — and that God should respond.

At the end, after a series of speeches by Job of unusual power and eloquence, God does appear. In the longest speech by God in the Bible, Job receives his response — and it is a non-answer. God simply invokes sheer power and superior knowledge: “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if you have the understanding.”

As Safire noted, not everyone thinks God comes off well in that response. Others fault Job for his confrontation with God, or for his subsequent response to God’s speech. The ending to the story is controversial. But what is indisputable is that the confrontation caps a literary, religious and political story that is among the greatest of all time.

Even if viewed only as literature, the Book of Job is extraordinary. Thomas Carlyle said there is “nothing written, I think, in the Bible or out of it, of equal literary merit.”

Alfred Lord Tennyson called it the “greatest poem of ancient and modern times.”

Cynthia Ozick went even further. In an essay devoted to Job, she says the words in the book spring from “an artistry so far beyond the grasp of mind and tongue” that we think of the Greek plays; we think of Shakespeare — and still that is not marvel enough.”

Safire added a new perspective on Job, interpreting the book as a political parable. Since his college days, Safire had been collecting books about Job, and in 1992 he published a remarkable book titled “The First Dissident: The Book of Job in Today’s Politics” (Random House). Reviewing Safire’s book in Commentary, Edward Luttwak called it a “profound discourse on politics and theology.”

Safire viewed the story as a victory for Job — because Job called the Lord of the universe to account. It was the archetypal dialogue between a powerless individual and an all-powerful authority — a model for the miraculous things that, in modern times, powerless individuals had achieved, standing only on the moral questions they raised: Andrei Sakharov in the Soviet Union, Ghandi in India, Martin Luther King Jr. in the United States.

Job’s questions of God — why do the wicked thrive, why do the innocent suffer — endure (in Ozick’s words) in “death camp and hatred, in tyranny and anthrax, in bomb and bloodshed.”

In Archibald MacLeish’s “J.B,” a character notes how many modern Jobs — blameless sufferers caught in unspeakable conditions — there have been:

Millions and millions of mankind

Burned, crushed, broken, mutilated

Slaughtered, and for what? For thinking!

For walking round the world in the wrong

Skin, the wrong-shaped noses, eyelids:

Sleeping the wrong night wrong city —

London, Dresden, Hiroshima.

And after Sept. 11, we can add: for going to work on time in Manhattan on a beautiful fall day; for boarding a plane in Boston on a trip to the coast; for dancing in a discotheque or eating at a pizza parlor in Tel Aviv. The world is not just. It is not Eden. But that awareness is the beginning of the story, not its end.

Safire’s book drew from Job a message about political injustice: It need not be accepted. On the contrary, justice must be pursued, and established authority confronted. One person can make a difference — and ultimately justice in this world is not God’s responsibility, but our own.

In his 1999 book, “Making Loss Matter: Creating Meaning in Difficult Times” (Riverheads), Rabbi David Wolpe drew a similar message from Job about confronting life’s inexplicable injustices. His book did not seek to explain God, but rather mapped a path to making our inevitable losses meaningful, even absent an explanation for their origin or cause. He saw in Job a larger lesson about the nature of our lives and our relationship with God.

Written thousands of years ago, with literary beauty, religious insights and political lessons still relevant today, it is hard to think of a more remarkable book than Job, or more important books than the ones Job has inspired.

On Nov. 20, William Safire will speak at a luncheon at Sinai Temple on “The Book of Job and Today’s Politics,” followed by a dialogue with Rabbi David Wolpe. He will speak at a brunch on Nov. 21 on “The Significance of the Election on the Next Four Years.” Reservations are required. To R.S.V.P., call (310) 474-1518.

A Woman’s Voice

Since 1987, Bill Rosendahl has been airing significant public affairs programs on Adelphia cable.

This week he told me he rarely sends cameras out in the community for tapings. Adelphia is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and Rosendahl’s former bosses back East are under indictment for various forms of corporate fraud. The situation has left the broadcaster facing an uncertain future and Rosendahl challenged for cameraman cash.

The issue came up at a media roundtable discussion at the Islamic Center of Southern California in which Rosendahl and I took part Tuesday morning. About two dozen mostly young, articulate local Muslim Americans voiced their frustration with media outlets that they feel refuse to present stories that reflect moderate Islamic voices. As if to help them make their point, a local CBS-TV cameraman did show up, but turned off his equipment halfway through, then left.

Rosendahl said he would have wanted to tape the discussion and air it, but he simply must be frugal with what resources he has. In years past, Rosendahl has tirelessly provided coverage of local news and, through shows like “God Squad,” “Local Talk,” “Beyond the Beltway” and “Orange County Perspective,” a rare broadcasting platform for a wide variety of community voices. These programs reach some 2 million homes.

Now, while teams of local commercial news crews spend hours covering every Winona Ryder court date, Rosendahl is hoping to find a few good Angelenos willing to sponsor programs to help create an informed citizenry.

The problem with Adelphia may only be a few bad apples. But the deeper problem with our broadcast media stems from a combination of the aftereffects of Reagan-era deregulation and the subsequent abandonment of any meaningful public programming requirement. The even deeper problem, of course, may be our own: we demand so little of those who profit from public airwaves, and we get what we ask for.

Thinking about such things takes on deeper poignancy this week with the passing of two people who were committed, absolutely committed, toward serving their community.

One was Ira Yellin, a visionary who sought to revitalize downtown Los Angeles and, through development and philanthropy, more than fulfilled what he he once told me was his sense of “an obligation to give back” (see obituaries page 56).

The other, of course, was Marlene Adler Marks, our senior columnist who passed away on Sept. 5.

In her weekly column for this paper — which she started writing in 1987 — Marlene dissected local politics and local politicians with insight, wit and a sense of high moral purpose. Any line you draw from I.F. Stone and Murray Kempton to national columnists like Molly Ivins and Maureen Dowd to local columnists like Patt Morrison and Steve Lopez would have to pass through the collected works of Marlene Adler Marks.

Her column became part of this paper’s identity and its import, though I always thought it was misnamed. “A Woman’s Voice” seemed too limiting for words that often spoke to and for so many of us.

Marlene was not only a superlative writer. She was a loyal, challenging friend, a mentor to many of us here at the paper, a deeply loving mother.

She brought all her many qualities to bear in her fight against cancer, and her columns about that struggle are a legacy in themselves.

Marlene’s funeral reflected her life: hundreds of friends and admirers, important politicians, more than a minyan of rabbis — from a man in a black hat to a woman in Anne Taylor — and plenty of laughter interspersed with the tears. It was a big, fat Jewish funeral and she would have loved it.

Shortly after the funeral, KCRW’s “Which Way L.A.” host Warren Olney asked me how The Journal would find a replacement for Marlene, if such a thing were possible. To replace her as a person is impossible.

But one way to perpetuate her legacy is to ensure thatjournalists like Rosendahl are able to meet the challenges of providing truelocal news coverage. Ask him how you can help at bill.rosendahl@adelphia.com . I’m certain Marlene would want a column dedicated to her to at least score some points for the kind of journalism she so admired.

Another way we can honor her legacy is to nurture the next generation of civic journalists. The Journal will shortly announce plans for an annual award in memory of Marlene Adler Marks. The award will go to a person whose writing presents critical civic issues with an informed and passionate voice. Los Angeles desperately needs such voices, for we have just lost a dear one.

Honoring Marlene

Marlene Adler Marks’ first column for this paper appeared in March 1987. It was titled “The Unwanted Visitor.” It was about a rabbi who showed up to comfort Marlene as she waited in the hospital for her husband, Burton, to come out of surgery. “It hadn’t been comforting to me,” Marlene wrote, shortly before Burton died. “I couldn’t handle it. There is a time when even a rabbi can do no good at all.”

After that column came 700 more — the great majority of them thought-provoking, poignant, hard-edged, insightful. Though she left her position as managing editor of this paper several years ago, she has continued to write a column, almost every week for 15 years.

That is a hard, hard thing to do. Marlene made her task more difficult by refusing to settle for mere musings. What she wrote was the result of hours spent interviewing, attending events, researching, phone calling. She treated the Los Angeles Jewish community as the big, serious enterprise it is. She brought out its diverse, often conflicting voices, she dissected our relationship to the larger society, she examined our spiritual lives and ethical values as they are tested in real life. “Jews are the link between those who feel comfortable only with the haves and those who speak only to the have-nots” she wrote in a column just after the 1992 riots. “This is where Jewish power lies, though for who knows how long?”

Marlene reported from the intersection of Jewish power and Jewish insecurity, of Jewish pride and Jewish doubt. She beat the drum for the kind of liberalism that many in the community have come to reject. Even in liberalism’s post-Dukakis Kick-Me phase, she defended it, “in the old-fashioned meaning of tolerant about the extension of rights and freedoms within American society. Jewish liberalism results from our experience in exile,” she wrote, “our tradition of empathy for the stranger, our knowledge that all freedoms are knit together, the precious garment we all wear.”

But a close reading of her columns proves that she has been anything but knee-jerk. She criticized the Reform movement for pandering to the least-committed among its members; she took after feminists who were too eager to undo all tradition, she praised modern Orthodoxy for nurturing, “close-knit community, beliefs worth fighting for, an ambitious standard of integrity.”

The ongoing struggle of Jewish Republicans to create a more tolerant party always drew her support, or sympathy. Marlene made enemies and friends — a good columnist inevitably makes both. But what stunned me when she announced in these pages that she had cancer, was how much goodwill and concern poured in for her from friends and enemies. She has fought the cancer — yet another unwanted visitor — more bravely and openly than anyone could be expected to. Her columns detailing that struggle comprise some of the most powerful writing I have ever read.

Marlene is being honored by Congregation Kehillat Israel in Pacific Palisades this Sunday night, April 28, at 6 p.m. I can’t think of a more appropriate time to honor her: 10 years after riots tore apart the city she loves, and 10 years after that city has struggled to understand itself and go forward.

Marlene, more than most of us, knows what it means to understand oneself, and move forward. She has been a gift to this paper, and this community.

For information and reservations for the benefit honoring Marlene Alder Marks, call Kehillat Israel, 16019 Sunset Blvd., Pacific Palisades, (310) 459-2328.

Keep Your Opinions to Yourself

Recently, The Jewish Journal announced that it was hiringreporters and stringers to cover the San Fernando Valley andsurrounding areas. In response, we received numerous resumésand clips of people looking to write…columns. Is that, we wondered,a particularly Jewish phenomenon? Why report what others say and dowhen you would rather report to others what you think?

Whatever the case, we are full up on columnists, though we alwayslook forward to your letters and submissions to the “Other Voices”guest column. What we need are sharp, eager, insightful reporters toadd to our growing paper. The Journal has been a breeding ground forfine journalists — Joe Domanick, Steve Weinstein and Duke Helfand toname a few all got their starts here before moving on to the LosAngeles Times and books.

If you are interested, please send us your resumé andwriting samples. Columnists need not apply. –Robert Eshman,

Managing Editor


“Israel, for example, is a major center of the prostitution slavetrade,” Robert Scheer wrote in his Los Angeles Times column two weeksago.

A major center? Well, according to Scheer, that awful factcame straight from an article by Michael Spector in the Jan. 11 NewYork Times. According to Spector, indigent women from countries inthe former Soviet Union are brought by underworld traffickers throughHaifa under false pretenses. There, pimps destroy or withhold thewomen’s visas and force them into a life of prostitution. Thesituation is horrendous. But, as Spector reported — and Scheerfailed to note — Israel is not exceptional. As many as500,000 women — a far greater number than that in Israel — aretrafficked into Western Europe alone, reported Spector, not tomention Turkey and Asia.

There’s no doubt that Israel needs to take its share ofresponsibility for this human tragedy. But how can Scheer, whom wegenerally admire, be helping by singling out Israel? The Internet nowsings with the white slave trade libels that so enlivened19th-century anti-Semitism.

We called Scheer to find out if he knows something that Spectordoesn’t. So far, no response. — R.E.

Live from Algeria

The Torah scroll you see in this photo was hand-scribed on animalskin, not the traditional parchment, 400 years ago in Algeria. Theonce-thriving Jewish community there has dwindled to 300 souls. Whencommunal leaders learned that the current government was going toconfiscate important religious artifacts, they put the Torah on acamel and sent it across the Sahara. Eventually, it was procured bythe parents, students and staff of the Abraham Joshua Heschel DaySchool in Northridge, who raised money for its purchase throughperformances of “Fiddler on the Roof.” For more information, call(818) 368-5781. — R.E.

Everyone’s Got a Story

Are you now or have you ever been part of the establishment of theState of Israel?

If you have, or if someone you know has, the Jewish Federation ofGreater Los Angeles and the Simon Wiesenthal Center want to hear fromyou. The two organizations are preparing a commemorative album for aCBS Television special that will celebrate Israel’s 50th birthday,and they’d like to publish your account. If you are a current or pastCalifornia resident with a story about your experience to share, call(818) 597-9523 and ask for Sheli. — R.E.

Be a Star, Help a School

Ohr Eliyahu Academy is a Westside Orthodox day school with areputation for fine Judaic and general studies, a superb specialeducation program, and, lately, financial difficulties. A benefactorhas come to the school’s aid with a most interesting offer: buy aguaranteed walk-on in a new film by Tony Scott, the maker of “TopGun,” “Crimson Tide” and “Beverly Hills Cop,” and the money will bedonated to Ohr Eliyahu. The walk-on will be sold by voice-mailauction, so call (213) 969-4960 to place your bid. See you at themovies. –R.E.
Denzel Washington and apreviously unknown actor in “Crimson Tide”