September 16, 2019

Letters to the Editor: Charlottesville, Israel, South Sudan and Donald Trump

Drama in Charlottesville Has Two Sides

I don’t need to be reminded by Rob Eshman who endangers Jewish lives (“Fanatics vs. Extremists,” Aug. 25). Two-thirds of my extended family were killed by the Nazis in Minsk. It is your favorite guy, Barack Obama, whose government appeased all Arab dictatorships; voted against Israel in critical U.N. Security Council resolutions; didn’t block the UNESCO decree, claiming that Jews have no connection to Jerusalem; encouraged all Jew-haters; and endangered Jewish lives.

As for Charlottesville, of course there were white supremacists and racists. But what about the other side? Are antifa people just choir boys with clubs? And what about the racist Black Lives Matter bunch? Both groups probably contained some decent people, but the prevailing mood on both sides was that of aggression, intolerance and hatred.

I can only repeat what Mercutio said in “Romeo and Juliet”: “A plague on both your houses.” Both sides have to be condemned.

Boris Kopelevich, Valley Village

While I disagree with Rob Eshman’s political commentary, he is deserving of credit for his balanced and thoughtful column. This was a service to the Jewish community, as was his Aug. 4 column (“Religion and Money”) about the many opportunities for Jewish involvement.

Daniel J. Friedman, Rancho Palos Verdes

The Important First Lesson About Israel

Of course understanding Zionism is essential, but the first thing we should teach all young high school and college students is where most of the citizens of Israel come from (“How We Should Teach About Israel,” Sept. 1). They come from the Middle East: The “ethnic cleansing” was of all the Jews who lived in all the Arab countries for centuries.

The Jewish communities in North Africa and the Middle East were treated the way we treated Native Americans and were forced onto a “reservation” — Israel. The history of the conflict also is essential. The myth that all the Jews in Israel came from somewhere else must be dispelled. 

Edward Gilbert, Studio City

Some Saw the South Sudan Crisis Coming

When I saw the recent cover story about the South Sudan situation (“The Fastest-Growing Refugee Crisis in the World — and It’s Not Syria,” Sept. 1), I was sad and surprised. I and many others have known about this situation for decades.

I recall that in the 1980s, a visiting professor at the UCLA School of Law spoke frequently about the persecution of non-Muslims in South Sudan. A devout Muslim from Sudan, professor Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im, adamantly opposed this persecution. An-Na’im was well aware of the human rights dangers posed by the Sudanese government. He had been imprisoned for advocating for the equality of women within Islam. He was released, in part, due to the actions of Amnesty International. He subsequently taught at UCLA law school and now teaches at Emory University.

I also recall An-Na’im’s interest in learning about Jewish traditions. On erev Purim, I took him to Purim services at two synagogues, Young Israel of Santa Monica and nearby Mishkon Tephilo. He really enjoyed the services, especially the noisiness and spontaneity, stating, “This is religion. This is the Middle East.”

It is truly unfortunate that calls to help the people of South Sudan, made decades ago, were not heeded.

Cherie S. Lewis, Los Angeles

Two Minds Think Alike About Trump

Brilliant column by Marty Kaplan (“This Is Your Brain on Trump,” Sept. 1). I’m a psychologist in central Louisiana and he articulated perfectly thoughts that have been percolating in me for a long time. Unfortunately, I don’t have the talent or brain to express those thoughts about President Donald Trump so cogently. Thanks.

John C. Simoneaux via email