July 18, 2019

Letters to the Editor: Week of July 6

On May 17, the UCLA registered student organization Students Supporting Israel (SSI) sponsored a panel discussion titled “Indigenous Peoples Unite” to discuss the history and experience of Armenian, Kurdish and Jewish people. Protesters entered the room and disrupted the event, intimidating the panelists and interrupting the program (“Protesters Disrupt UCLA SSI Event,” May 25). 

To their credit, the event organizers remained calm and invited the protesters to join the discussion, but the protesters refused to do so. Campus police officers soon entered the room and, consistent with their training, ushered the disruptors out of the room so the event could continue. Although no one was physically hurt, the behavior of those disrupting the event is intolerable; we have activated UCLA’s student conduct process and have provided information concerning some of the protesters who are not students to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office for review. 

This entire academic year, UCLA has worked hard to design policies that manage speech and protest during major events. Although we have done so successfully for various large-scale events, smaller ones such as the May 17 event did not trigger the preparation that might have helped minimize the disruption. Moving forward, we plan to increase our vigilance as well as improve education and training so that the basic rules of engagement are clear. UCLA respects freedom of speech and the freedom to engage in lawful protests, but we will not tolerate disruptions that are so severe as to prevent speakers from reaching a willing audience or prevent an event from proceeding. 

Multiple campus departments, including campus police and Student Affairs, are working together to ensure that our policies are understood and followed, and if violated, enforced. 

Despite this incident, we are proud to host a wonderfully diverse community, including Jewish students, staff and professors who have created a vibrant Jewish community on our campus. Jewish students receive the same protections as any other students here at UCLA, regardless of their religious or ethnic identities or political beliefs. We will hold everyone to the same standards,suchthateveryorganization, community or identity group can share their ideas and exchange their views without the bullying tactics we saw at the May 17 event. At UCLA, this is what we stand for.

Jerry Kang
Monroe Gorden
Kang is UCLA’s vice chancellor of equity, diversity and inclusion. Gorden is the vice chancellor of student affairs. 

It is unreasonable and presumptuous for Shmuel Rosner to reject Washington’s new Israeli-Palestinian peace plan without knowing what the plan contains (“Rejecting Peace, Free of Charge,” June 29). Your readers would expect Rosner would give peace a chance, especially given the heavy costs of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

President Donald Trump appears to view his plan as the basis for Israel-Palestine negotiation, while the right-wing Israeli government appears opposed to peace negotiations. No wonder the government hopes the Palestinian Authority will say no to the plan so Israel can blame the Palestinians for its failure. Peace advocates, on the other hand, hope the Palestinians will use the plan to restart negotiations.

Barry H. Steiner
Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Cal State Long Beach 

In his column “Charles Krauthammer and July 4th” (June 29), David Suissa tactfully blames both political parties for rising incivility, but the new Democratic policy of “public shaming” is over the top. 

To his credit, Sen. Chuck Schumer criticized Rep. Maxine Waters’ call for public harassment of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet members, but most Jewish liberals are afraid to speak out. The decision of Jewish liberals to join the demonization of Trump has been a disaster from the start. The Democratic boycott of the Jerusalem embassy dedication, for example, was an insult Israelis won’t soon forget. And what did we get for it? Jews are still detested by “progressive” liberals who rail against “white privilege” and think Jews are the worst examples of it. 

Rueben Gordon via email 

Steven Windmueller has written an insightful exposition of the philosophical and political differences between Jewish conservatives and liberals (“Jeffersonian vs. Jacksonian Jews,” June 22). But in a certain way, I think he puts the cart before the horse. 

Many Jews who grew up as liberal Democrats joined the Republican Party because they decided that party is better for Israel, a subjective and debatable proposition. After becoming Republicans, they then adopted many conservative views on domestic issues. 

As a moderate Democrat who loves Israel, I find it impossible to become a Republican. To me, the Republican Party has long been the party of selfishness (guns), greed (taxes) and intolerance (immigration). In the past decade, it has also become the party of lies, demagoguery and authoritarianism. These are not my idea of Jewish values. 

Surely, there must be a way for Jewish Republicans to support Israel without abrogating such central Jewish values.

Michael Asher via email 

I was pleased that the Journal ran the story of the Altalena, which happened 70 years ago, and chose a cover photo of the ship in dark and gray colors (“Sinking the Altalena,” June 22). 

Indeed, this was a dark time in the beginning of the new State of Israel. It is important that David Suissa wrote in the same issue of the Journal that we have to “struggle with our demons.” The Jewish media and community will generally not present this story as the Journal did, perhaps in an attempt not to deal with those dark days and not to be blamed for evil deeds. 

We should never forget the dark days in the history of Israel and we must learn the lessons for the next generations. I’m glad that Israeli President Reuven Rivlin feels the same way.

Tamar Youssefian via email 

Governmental agencies must consider unintended consequences when estab- lishing laws and policies. Just because a cause seems compelling does not mean that Congress, the president or the courts should rush blindly to “fix it” without con- sidering consequences. 

Such is the case with immigration, asylum and, currently, migrant child separations (“Immigration Attorney on the Nuts and Bolts of Migrant Child Separations,” June 29). There is a legal procedure for foreigners to apply for immigration or claim asylum. Many do and many also cross the border illegally. When this happens, they are usually incarcerated until a court decides what action to take. When a woman is incarcerated, the normal and safest approach is to not have her child incarcerated with her — bad people are in jails. If a citizen or legal resident is convicted of a crime and is sentenced to prison, her child or children do not accompany her. Why is migrant child separation any different? 

We are a generous and sympathetic country, but we cannot take in an unlimited number of migrants. There must be reasonable limits. It is past time that we find a sensible solution to the immigration and asylum problem that shows compassion but that also works for our country. 

C.P. Lefkowitz Rancho Palos Verdes 

IfNotNow Contradiction 

The story by Gil Troy explained how the anti-Israel organization IfNotNow teaches young Jews to view Israel only through the prism of Hamas and the Palestinians and to continuously protest against Israel (“The New Jewish Temper Tantrum,” June 8). Yet, two weeks later, in your What’s Happening section, you then promote IfNotNow with an item about its (anti- Israel) film series and its latest film. In 14 days, did you change from being pro-Israel to anti-Israel? 

Richard Melman via email 

I read Steven Windmueller’s story “A Deep Dive into Jewish L.A.” (June 29). The story provides an overview of the religious, cultural and political components of Jewish Los Angeles as a part of community building. Interestingly enough, it does not talk about actual “Jewish Community Centers” being a part of the “community building.” 

My husband and I recently moved from Orange County to West Los Angeles. We resided in Orange County for 30 years. We were active at the Alpert JCC in Long Beach and the Merage JCC in Irvine. Much to our dismay, we have not found a Jewish Community Center on today’s Westside that provides similar opportunities to meet our needs. 

To me, this is a travesty. Although the JCC on Olympic near Fairfax is named the Westside JCC, the Jewish population has migrated much farther west to cities such as Santa Monica, Venice, Pacific Palisades, West Los Angeles, Brentwood and Beverly Hills. The entire Los Angeles Jewish community should be entitled to a state-of-the-art JCC on the Westside that offers an array of intergenerational social, religious, cultural and educational programming and services. 

The visionaries of our synagogue, Wilshire Boulevard Temple, were able to think outside the box and create a thriving second synagogue/campus on the true Westside at Barrington and Olympic. Surely, the Los Angeles Jewish community, perhaps with the assistance of The Jewish Federation, should be able to raise the necessary funds to build a state- of-the-art JCC that is truly on the Westside.

Melanie Alkov Los Angeles