November 21, 2018

Letters to the editor: Listening to teachers and understanding Israel and Hamas

Protesters of Violence Can’t Be Protectors of Hamas 

I would like to comment on Rob Eshman’s recent editorial in the Jewish Journal “Peaceniks for Murder” (Aug. 8). For the sake of openness, I do not read the Journal; I had ordered a pizza from a kosher restaurant and picked up the Journal to while away a few moments as I happily munched away. I am a British gentile — but I probably represent a lot of gentiles in being frustrated with Israel in its inability to find a way to peace, given its history, or even articulate the pressures it faces coherently, which for all its lobbying, it fails at daily.

I was very moved/inspired on a number of issues, having read your article, which was clear and very logical regarding the PLO/Hamas development. So I write this email to say thank you for a clear, well-written article, which has certainly educated me, and a better view on the situation than I ever heard on TV. 

Matthew Joynes, Westlake Village

I rarely agree with Rob Eshman, but I feel he was spot on in his article “Peaceniks for Murder.” Why is it not evident to the world that Hamas doesn’t care about its people? It only knows how to make war but doesn’t know (or want to know) how to make peace. Rob, I may yet become a fan!

Miriam Fisher, Los Angeles

Those Who Can’t Teach …

Ellie Herman points out that many of those driving education policy in the U.S. have never taught (“Why Aren’t We Listening to Our Teachers?” Aug. 8). The situation is even worse: Education policy makers are also ignorant of educational research. They are unaware that scientific studies published in professional journals provide no support for the massive amount of testing done in schools today, and that study after study shows that the most serious problem facing American education is our high rate of poverty, not the lack of tough standards.  

Educational practice should be influenced by the insights of experienced professional educators, as well as competent educational research. Policy makers today are ignoring both of these sources of wisdom. 

Stephen Krashen, Professor Emeritus–University of Southern California 

Thank you for assisting Ellie Herman in giving a voice back to teachers. While former Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent — and previously Vice Admiral — David Brewer came from a family of educators, he did not have the lower-grades classroom experiences of which Herman speaks. 

Indeed, it does seem that, today, the farther one is away from the classroom, the more ready he or she is to make pronouncements about, if not actually set, educational policy. At no time in my 50-year teaching career have I ever seen classroom experience, not to mention additional teacher education/training, so denigrated. Such invective has all too often led to inane, if not insane, pronouncements, such as, “Class size makes no difference in learning outcomes.” 

Scholar Seymour Sarason wrote, in 1990, a venerable book, “The Predictable Failure of Educational Reform.” Its thesis was that anyone who does not approach changing the course of schooling from the ground up, understanding the culture of the school itself in the process, is simply wasting everyone’s time.

Bill Younglove, Lakewood

A Century of Optimism

Kudos to the Jewish Journal for printing David N. Myers’ and Sam Harris’ viewpoints (“How Many More Cycles of War?” and “Why I Don’t Criticize Israel,” Aug. 1). It will bring clarity to partisan adherents. I support wholly Harris’ views. At the age of 100, these are mine:

Israel, from the very beginning, has had little choice but to do what is necessary for its survival.

The lessons of the Holocaust indicated the absolute need for a safe haven. Palestine was the logical place and choice.

With the withdrawal of the British in 1947 and the immediate attack by combined Arab states, it was obvious to the resolute Jewish defenders, who prevailed, that their survival necessitated the forming and building of a Jewish state.

From deserts and desolate land, and with many years of toil, sacrifice and innovation, it brought to fruition a Jewish dream.

Stability and peace was never an Israeli choice. Rabin and Begin came close to an agreement, but the intransigence of the Arab states negated their efforts.

Anti-Semitism is impossible to eradicate. It has, and does, erupt in destructive, hateful acts all over the world.

Only the Arabs can make peace. Agreeing to the Arab condition of “the right of return” would be suicidal for Israel and will never happen.

Unless the Arabs can control their hatred of the Jews, violence will continue, on both sides.

I am always cautiously optimistic. I hope I am around to see an Arab-Israeli peace. It could happen.

Morrie Markoff via email