Two Families’ Dreams

I thought I was reading an excerpt from an Al Jazeera broadcast when I read “Two Families’ Dreams Were Not Demolished” (June 24).

The chattering liberals in Brentwood, donating funds for Nasrallah’s new home, have long ago made common cause with the Israel haters on the left. I expect little from them and more from The Jewish Journal.

Rachel Corrie’s accidental death is a tragedy, but so are the deaths of the Jewish teenagers intentionally murdered by Arabs last month. She chose to be in harm’s way. Not so the thousands of innocent Israelis murdered and maimed by intentional acts of violence by Arabs during the last four years.

When will the Brentwood Jewish bleeding hearts bleed for their own people?

Herb Glaser

What’s missing from your article is a discussion on what the Palestinian Authority has done for the Nasrallah family or why the Corrie family feels that the plight of the innocent Palestinian is worth more than the innocent Israeli.

Once again, the author and his subjects find plenty to complain about, but offer no real solutions about what Israel should do to protect its people and help the Palestinians, when the Palestinians (who are also funded by the U.S. taxpayer) won’t help themselves.

Ari Stark
Los Angeles

Thanks so much to The Journal for having the courage to publish “Two Families’ Dreams Were Not Demolished” by Howard Blume.

I have an idea of what kind of toll a backlash can take. My grandfather was an Orthodox Jew who survived Bergen Belsen and publicly spoke out in support of Jews and Palestinians living together as equals in peace. He became the target of the wrath of zealots who shunned him in synagogue, resulting in a painful isolation that led him to leave Holland and move to the U.S.

The Los Angeles Jewish community is not a monolith. We are much better served with a paper that reflects and embraces our diversity.

It was an honor to meet the parents of Rachel Corrie and the Nasrallah family, who exhibit incredible poise and commitment as they are warmly welcomed on their 20-city U.S. tour, carrying Rachel’s message of peace and justice.

Karen Pomer
Los Angeles

Thank you for having the journalistic independence to print the article, “Two Families’ Dreams Were Not Demolished” in The Jewish Journal. Regardless of how one feels about this issue, it is important that a free press has the courage to present all views.

Middie and Richard Giesberg
Los Angeles

I am writing in support of The Jewish Journal and its balanced, comprehensive coverage of the Middle East. Your paper gives me focus and detail that the mainstream media misses, and I appreciate it.

I have been a loyal reader for many years.

Keep up the good work and give a brave face to the extremists on both sides who would suppress the whole story.

Dr. Sandy Weimer
Los Angeles

Ten Commandments

I find it curious why anyone would want the Ten Commandments inside a courthouse (“Ten Commandments’ Future Unclear,” July 1). Without any commentary, the commandments alone are very cold and unforgiving.

They say “Do not kill,” but leave no room for self-defense. They say, “Honor thy parents,” not offering any olive branch for people who have had very abusive parents. They say, “Do not covet,” which is not technically a crime.

Furthermore, the first commandment is Adonai is your God and the second is, “You shall have no other gods besides Me,” which seems an unfair statement in a space that is supposed to be unbiased toward race and religion.

I believe that whatever hangs on the wall of a courthouse should be directed to the judges who serve there day in and day out, rather than to the people who come and go. It is the judges that need a constant reminder of why they are there, so as not to be jaded or forget their sacred purpose.

Therefore, if a courthouse desires to put biblical verses on their walls, instead of the Ten Commandments, let me suggest the following three verses from Deuteronomy:

“You shall appoint magistrates and officials … and they shall govern the people with due justice. You shall not judge unfairly: you shall show no partiality; you shall not take bribes, for bribes blind the eyes of the discerning and upset the plea of the just. Justice, justice shall you pursue…. (Deuteronomy 16:18-20)

Rabbi Zoe Klein
Temple Isaiah
Los Angeles

Gush Katif

This letter is in response to the letter to the editor by Jeff Warner of La Habra Heights on June 24, regarding the Israeli government’s intention to abandon Gaza and the northern West Bank (“The Battle Over Gaza in America,” June 17).

SaveGushKatif.org does not use the “G-d argument,” because if one doesn’t believe that G-d gave the Land of Israel to the Jewish people for eternity, then the argument is meaningless. Our entire campaign simply presents the security risks involved in giving away Jewish Gaza (Gush Katif) and the four communities in the northern West Bank that are still in Israeli hands.

I am sure that Mr. Warner loves Israel every bit as much as I do. I beg him to simply read the reports from security experts from Israel and the United States and then to draw his conclusions.

Mr. Warner can find the reports on our Web site at www.SaveGushKatif.org

Jon Hambourger
Save Gush Katif
Beverly Hills


Your article about dystonia (“Rare Ailment Occurs More in Ashkenazis,” June 10) was a moving and necessary reminder that not enough attention is given this disease in the research community.

Contributions to organizations, including the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (www.dystonia-foundation.org) and We Move (www.wemove.org) are critical to help raise awareness and education, and to help thousands of children like David Rudolph, the amazing 10-year-old boy featured in your article.

Thank you for helping shed light on this important topic.

Benjamin Krepack
Los Angeles

Summer Safety

Thank you for your valuable article (“Don’t Get Lazy on Kids Summer Safety,” June 24). Jewish Family Service/Aleinu Family Resource Center continues to work with Susan DiLeo and the Mothers Advocating Prevention program to develop school-based programs educating children and parents about child safety in a manner that is sensitive to the Orthodox community.

We also promote child safety at summer camps. For the second year, JFS/Aleinu is sponsoring a comprehensive training program on child safety for directors and head counselors of Jewish camps in the Los Angeles area.

We have developed guidelines for staff and counselors to help ensure that there is no inappropriate, illegal or confusing conduct taking place between staff and campers or among campers.

We offer a certificate to all camps whose directors complete our training program and whose staff agree to use these guidelines.

A list of camps that have participated in the training and earned this certificate is available online at www.jfsla.org/index.php?/programs/details/5/53.

We encourage all parents to require the JFS/Aleinu Keeping Our Kids Safe certificate from camps before registering their children.

Debbie Fox,
JFS/Aleinu Family Resource Center

Dreams Not Demolished

I have read Howard Blume’s article about the Gaza disengagement, the Nasrallah famil and Rachel Corrie’s death, and find it a good piece of journalism (“Two Families Dreams Were Not Demolished,” June 24). Far from being polemical or blatantly pro-Palestinian, it presents both sides very fairly. Blume should be congratulated, first of all for telling Corrie’s story, which too many American newspapers have ignored, and second for presenting a potentially emotional and divisive story in a calm, objective way.

Mary Johnson
Mount Kisco, N.Y.

With the exception of those parents who encourage their children to become suicide bombers, no other parent, such as Craig and Cynthia Corrie, wants to see one of their children, like Rachel Corrie, killed. It was indeed a tragedy.

I would like to respectfully ask them, and the Nasrallahs, and the Stanley Sheinbaums who, among others, offer them a venue at which they can condemn Israeli actions, Caterpiller, Inc., the settlements and Ariel Sharon, about whether they include in their screeds a condemnation of the bombings at Haifa University, or at the Sbarro pizza parlor or numerous busses? And more recently, have they condemned Wafa Samir Ibraim Bas, the girl who was carrying 10 kilos of explosives strapped to her underwear attempting to blow herself up at the very hospital that had treated her in the past, and who was quoted as saying that she wanted to kill as many children as possible? Have they condemned Fatah’s Al-Aqsa’s Brigade? You know, Abbas’ Fatah?

So the visitors were here to “…promote peace and raise awareness about the plight of Palestinians.” But what about the plight of innocent Israelis wantonly killed by Palestinians who subscribe to the Cult of Death? We all know by now the plight of the Palestinians, but fail to comprehend how that “plight” justifies the murder on June 24 of two teenage Yeshiva students by Palestinian terrorists from Hebron.

Has Sheinbaum endowed a chair at the Yeshiva to honor these two innocent students? Or at Haifa University to honor those innocent students and counselors who were murdered by a suicide bomber? Why not? Has he created a trust fund for the families whose members have been murdered or maimed by Palestinian suicide bombers? If not, why not? Or a memorial to Tali Hatual, eight months pregnant, who was murdered along with her four children in May 2004? Or is it the plight of the Israeli to be subordinated always to the plight of the other?

Why does Blume omit that though “The Gaza Strip was set aside as Palestinian in 1947,” the Arabs rejected the plan? When you reject a plan does that mean you’re still tied to it as though you had accepted it? Why does he also state that various “…Israeli governments tacitly or explicitly encouraged Israelis to move into the disputed “occupied territories,” without mentioning that Israeli did not do so until the Arabs met at Khartoum and rejected Israel’s plea for a quid pro quo, territories for peace, with their famous three Nos: no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no peace with Israel? Wasn’t that relevant to him? Partial facts can be as much a lie as a falsehood.

And finally, Mrs. Corrie should be disabused of the statement that “The U.S. government has funded the occupation.”

No, Mrs. Corrie, Arab intransigence has.

Jack Salem
Los Angeles

I didn’t realize that the Jewish Journal was now an outlet for Palestinian Disinformation.

The article starts by comparing the Jewish residents of Gaza with people who endorsed and shielded terrorists waging war against Israel’s civilians … and it gets worse.

It characterizes Rachel Corrie as an activist who died to protect Palestinian homes’ but it describes the ISM as “a pro Palestinian activist group that uses non-violent means to oppose Israel’s policies in the territories.” The article of course omits the deliberate shielding of terrorists by the ISM, or the on the record endorsement of violent “resistance,” against Israel’s civilians by the groups’ founders, Adam Shapiro and his Arab wife Hawaida Arraf on numerous occasions. Of course, a cute picture of “activist” Corrie is included – not the AP shot of a hate filled harridan in a Palestinian headscarf burning an American flag in front of a group of Palestinian children, screaming at the top of her lungs.

The article also repeats as fact allegations that the IDF bulldozed homes without notice and without regard for human life, as well as alleging that the IDF deliberately shot pregnant women and children.

Just because two parents with a long history of anti-Israel activism feel like propagandizing against Israel with a Palestinian in tow and are able to get the likes of Stanley Shienbaum to front for them is no reason for this kind of falsehood.

Robert Miller
La Crescenta

We have read the article by Howard Blume in the June 24 issue of your paper and wish to commend you and Blume for presenting a balanced view of two families made homeless by policies of the Israeli government. We believe that Israel will be secure and that peace and justice will prevail in the Middle East only when the truth on all sides is aired. We thank you for the step you have taken in this direction.

Kathryn J. Johnson
Executive Director
Methodist Federation for Social Action
Washington, D.C.

Thank you for the enlightening and moving article about the Corries and Nasrallahs, two unlikely families who forged a friendship through a mutual tragedy and have chosen to work together for justice.

Howard Blume should be congratulated for his detailed account of this sad story that never should have happened, and for giving the historical background which is usually missing in articles in our media about the Israel-Palestinian conflict. I am grateful to Tthe Jewish Journal for bringing us the story of these two fine, proud families.

Carole La Flamme
Studio City


Modern agricultural methods of factory farming are far more cruel and inhumane than most people could ever imagine (“A Holocaust Inspired Vegetarian,” June 24). [Noam] Mohr’s essay accurately described examples of how food animals are raised and slaughtered. I recommend the book, “Eternal Treblinka, Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust,” by Charles Patterson. I sincerely believe that if slaughterhouses had windows, everyone would be a vegetarian! — or at least, anyone with a conscience and any sensitivity.

Arlene Cohen
Los Angeles

The Evil Stepmother

Teresa Strasser’s article lifts the art of whining to new heights. In what has become the anthem of her generation — “I Am Victim, Hear Me Whine” — Strasser complains and annoys, never once contemplating the notion that possibly, she could have been even partly responsible for her own fate (“The Evil Stepmother Dies,” July 1).

It’s so much easier to blame everyone else. But then, that’s what Strasser and her ilk are all about. What a loser.

Rob Frankel,

Halachic Decisions

While I appreciate — and agree with — Jacob Neusner’s idea that every Jew has a contribution to make to the worldwide Jewish community, I must take issue with two of the premises in his article (“Why Reform, Chabad Are Necessary,” June 17).

The first is that “humanity and common sense” should be the “principal criteria in halachic decision-making.” By definition, “halachic decision-making” means that the principal criteria should be just that — halacha.

The second is that, somehow, Orthodoxy — i.e., halacha — has somehow managed to be applied with concern and compassion for several millenia, and continues to be so applied today. There is no need to reject it in order to apply it in a responsible manner, as true halachists — by definition — do.

Dafna Breines
Beitar Eilit, Israel


Your editorial “Shattered” on July 1, indicates that you are no longer able to abide by journalist Thomas Freidman’s sitting on the fence position regarding Iraq, but that you are also still unsure of what to do.

History may help you, and others, who ask “when will be bring the troops home?” to place that question in perspective.

Nazi Germany touted a totalitarian policy of world domination, wherein the Aryans were the best and only race/culture worthy of survival. All others were to be ruthlessly wiped out (murdered!) and/or subjugated.

In 1943, would you have asked, “When will we bring the troops home?”

Had we brought home the troops in 1943, America’s national language, today, would likely be German, and there would be no Jewish newspapers in the United States — for there would be zero Jews on Earth! Nor would we have freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, etc.

Today’s Islamists offer a totalitarian policy of world domination, wherein their philosophy is the best and only religion/culture worthy of survival. All others (the “infidels” of the world) are to be ruthlessly wiped out (murdered, beheaded etc) and/or subjugated.

We can either choose to fight to maintain the western culture and freedoms we cherish or simply stand passively and idly by, while our culture and freedoms are erased.

“Bring home the troops now” will do much to help the latter outcome.

Fred Korr
Los Angeles


911 Calls Ignored After OU Shooting

City officials and the LAPD are working with Jewish
community leaders to determine why two 911 calls went unanswered when a pellet
gunshot shattered the front window of a building where a Jewish youth group was
meeting the night of March 27.

Rabbi Alan Kalinsky, director of the West Coast region of
the Orthodox Union (OU), at whose headquarters the incident occurred, said
police have since been very solicitous and cooperative in trying to figure out
how the system broke down.

“They will do whatever they can to make certain that we not
only feel safer, but are safer,” Kalinsky said.

No one was injured in the attack.

Community leaders are particularly disturbed by the
incident, because the breakdown in communication came at a time when terrorist
threats associated with the situation in Israel and the war in Iraq have put
Jewish institutions on high alert. Since the shooting at the Jewish Community
Center in Granada Hills in August 1999 and again since the Sept. 11 attacks,
Jewish leaders have worked with the LAPD and city officials to fine tune
internal security at Jewish organizations and to streamline communications
between the institutions and the Police Department.

All that groundwork seemed to fall apart at about 9:30 p.m.
on March 27, when, according to witnesses, passengers in a silver sports car
shot a pellet gun at the tempered glass front window of the West Coast OU on
Pico Boulevard. Several teenage members of the National Council of Synagogue
Youth (NCSY), the OU’s youth group, were standing just to the east of the
window at the time called 911.

When no one showed up, NCSY Director Rabbi Steven Burg, who
was there with the youths, called again and then later left a message with
senior lead officer Mario Gonzales, a community liaison at the West L.A.
station house. Gonzales didn’t get that message until the next morning, at
which point the LAPD had already been called in by 5th District Councilman Jack

Gonzales is currently conducting an investigation into the
communication breakdown.

Weiss said he spoke to Police Chief William Bratton on March
28, who explained that the initial call that came into 911 was received by a
trainee, who took down the correct information. But by the time the information
was kicked up two levels of supervisors, one key word had fallen out of the
report: Jewish.

The incident itself, without the information that it was at
a religious organization, became an “information only” dispatch, since no one
was injured, and there was no license plate or clear description of the
suspects, Gonzales said.

“We are conducting an investigation and hopefully this will
never occur again,” he said.

“Everyone I’ve talked to in the LAPD has been genuinely
upset that they dropped the ball on this one,” Weiss said.

Weiss called for a meeting between the LAPD and Jewish
leaders from the Pico-Robertson area; it was scheduled to take place on
Thursday at The Young Israel of Century City.

“This was very disappointing, because my office has worked
closely to put the LAPD in touch with the Jewish institutions in L.A., and all
seemed to be going well, and then this happened. Now we realized that no matter
the level of coordination, we’re all just one 911 operator away from not being
that safe at all,” Weiss said.

After Sept. 11, Jewish organizations met at the Simon
Wiesenthal Center with city officials, the LAPD and the local office of the
FBI. Individual institutions also met with Gonzales and other officers to work
out security plans.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal
Center, just across the street from the OU building, said it is important to
determine whether this was a hate crime or a random occurrence. The OU building
was tagged with gang graffiti in January, and is in a location that sees heavy
foot traffic.

Cooper expressed concern that the shooting at an El Al
counter at Los Angeles International Airport last July 4, in which Yaakov
Aminov and Victoria Hen were killed, did not set a precedent in how these
crimes are labeled.

In the El Al attacks, “everyone from the FBI to the city
fathers did the equivalent of yoga manipulations to call it everything but what
it was — a terrorist attack. We want to make sure that the initial breakdown
wasn’t because an attack on Jewish institutions would be dealt with any differently
than an attack on one of the multitude of ethnic and religious groups in our
city,” Cooper said.

Weiss advised the Jewish community to be explicit when
calling 911 and not to assume the operator can do the proper analysis.

“When reporting a crime at a Jewish institution, the
representative needs to state very clearly that this is a Jewish institution
and if appropriate, indicate whether a hate crime may have been committed,”
Weiss suggested. “Make it crystal clear to the 911 operator what the situation
is and why it is important that there be an immediate dispatch.”