September 18, 2019

Letters to the Editor: Harvey Weinstein, the Kurds, Taxes and Iran deal

Weinstein-Jewish Connection

One of the few positive things to come out of the discovery of Harvey Weinstein’s serial predatory side is that all of the reports I have seen and read refer to Weinstein as an alleged “serial sexual predator,” not a “Jewish serial sexual predator.”

I still wish his last name was O’Leary, or something similar, however.

Michael Gesas, Beverly Hills

Take a Closer Look at the Kurds

Jonathan Spyer presents a compelling and fascinating description of the case for Kurdish independence (“Kurdish Independence Movement Deserves the Support of Western Nations,” Oct. 20). Spyer asserts “the West should recognize its failure in Iraq and embrace Kurdish aspirations.” That is an oversimplification.

The Iraq War yielded mixed results. Saddam Hussein, the late-20th-century mass murderer/monster (under whom the Kurds suffered) is no longer. (Saddam’s stated desire to destroy Israel and develop nuclear weapons is beyond dispute.) It is the U.S. handling of the aftermath of the Iraq War that provokes much discussion today, including the premature withdrawal of U.S. troops eight years ago, which left a power vacuum enabling the creation of ISIS.

However, the Kurds gave us the most inspiring tale of all. While Hollywood produced comic book movies like “Wonder Woman,” the Kurds transformed this legend into reality. The Kurdish female Peshmerga soldiers fearlessly confronted ISIS, the most evil military on the planet since the Nazis, while instilling terror and fear into their enemies, who believe that death from the hands of a female condemned them to eternal hell. Now there’s a good start.

Richard Friedman, Culver City

Talk About Taxes

I appreciated the recent op-ed on tax reform, “Republican Proposals Are a Good Start,” (Oct. 27) by Larry Greenfield.

While I consider myself a left-leaning, bleeding-heart liberal, I also am open-minded and willing to change my opinions if a better idea is put forward. I have come to realize that perhaps our welfare and tax systems are in need of some reform and that our current trajectory is set to fail.

I note Greenfield’s suggestions for workable changes that could be implemented to put things on a better course.

Spencer Miller via email

I think Larry Greenfield offers true and courageous points. For example, he recommends a GOP plan that focuses more on cutting income taxes for high- and middle-income earners, instead of handing out more breaks to corporate billionaires or to low-income taxpayers who don’t pay any income taxes at all. He also is fair in promoting that blue state taxpayers deduct state and local taxes on their federal returns.

Who can disagree with a call to simplify the tax code? I’d like to see a flat tax in my lifetime. I applaud his reasoned analysis.

Rick Montaine via email

Kaplan’s Artful Discussion

Marty Kaplan’s column (“When Bad People Happen to Good Art,” Oct. 27) is rational, balanced and important.  At a time when our people are dysfunctionally polarized and unable to have nuanced discussions on controversial topics, it is a pleasure to read such a reasoned argument.

Al Jerome via email

Inspired by David Katz Story

In a few days, I will be turning a third of a century old. And until I read the story by Deborah Danan about David Katz, I never “met” anyone who has the same visual situation as me (“Legally Blind Photographer Comes Into New Focus,” Oct. 20). I have 15 of the 17 markers of albinism.

Danan wrote from the heart and medical know-how to express Katz’s life as someone legally blind. Tears still come prolifically when I watch his video, “Through My Lenses,” over and over again. I would like to send a personal note of thanks to Deborah and David, but know I have to start here.

Thank you for opening the public’s eyes regarding a disability that is not very noticeable on the outside, and for giving a voice to those who do not speak.

Faith Goldman via email

Dermer and the Iran Deal

Ambassador Ron Dermer began his presentation at Stephen Wise Temple with a plea for unity, for Jews to applaud our differences and to find strength in them (“Ambassador Discusses Israel’s Perils, Success,” Oct. 27). He posited right vs. progressive, secular vs. traditional, and made a compelling case that Israel’s values are strong, at least when compared to its neighbors, and that those values, more than military, economic and diplomatic accomplishments, are the bedrock of our strength.

But then, he dramatically changed course and dove headlong into the most raucous debate that just months ago threatened the American Jewish community, namely the Iran agreement, the unprecedented Benjamin Netanyahu speech before the U.S. Congress, indeed the partisan position taken by our own Federation. He presented strong support for President Donald Trump’s speech to decertify the agreement, to change it, and was presumptuous enough to claim that a better agreement could have been achieved but for the U.S. to join executing the agreement with its co-signatories.

Mr. Dermer, where have you been? Do you realize that you are driving a wedge between those of us who believed then, and still believe, that the agreement was the best possible? That the Netanyahu speech destroyed AIPAC’s years of nonpartisanship and attempted to place the badge of shame on Democrats who supported the agreement? Don’t you understand that the agreement is not the only remedy, that the United States and others can take aggressive action to stem the Iranian threat and still honor the agreement? That the agreement had only one focus — the imminent nuclear threat — and that the agreement succeeded in dramatically reducing it?

We understand that you are Prime Minister Netanyahu’s spokesman here in our country, but we would have thought better of you than to belie your own words and be so divisive.

Louis Lipofsky via email

Regarding Tom Tugend’s report on Ambassador Ron Dermer’s speech at Stephen Wise Temple, Dermer is correct in stating that President Donald Trump should cancel or renegotiate the Iran nuclear deal.

Iran has publicly stated that it wants to destroy the State of Israel. Iranians regularly chant “Death to America” and Iran is the biggest sponsor of terrorist organizations. Iran is responsible for the deaths of over 1,000 Americans. The Iran regime has executed more people then any other country except China.

This deal gave Iran $150 billion, which it can use to fund its terrorist ambitions and its nuclear program. There are legitimate concerns about canceling the Iran deal, but the U.S. still should try to change the terms in order to prevent the deaths of innocent people around the world.

Menashe Benperlas, Los Angeles

The Heart of a Champion

I read the online article on Tal Flicker (“Israeli judo champion sings Israeli anthem to himself since Abu Dhabi wouldn’t play it,” posted Oct. 26), and I don’t think it is OK to live in a world where two types of people hate each other so much that one of them couldn’t even show the smallest amount of respect by just displaying the flag and playing the anthem of the country the winning athlete represents. I also think this is an act of anti-Semitism because Israel is a Jewish county. I disagree on the United Arab Emirates’ decision on this situation.

Daniel Harpaz via email

Protesting Kuwait Airways

I want to thank Aaron Bandler for bringing awareness to an important topic with his online story “Germany to Investigate Kuwait Airways for Israeli Discrimination,” posted Oct. 25. I strongly agree that Kuwait Airways is discriminating against Israelis and that there should be no tolerance for this. Kuwait Airways has admitted refusing to carry Israeli nationals. In December 2015, the United States found Kuwait Airways violated the law by refusing to allow Israelis to fly between New York City and London.

I feel, as a community in Los Angeles, we need to protest, as anti-Semitism is still very much alive. We can’t let it continue and have airlines deny people entrance just because they are Israeli. I would like anyone treated like this by these airlines to report it.

Ely Gabbaypour, Beverly Hills