Letters: Keeping Up With the News, Politics, Proud to Be Jewish

October 8, 2020

Keeping Up With the News
A friend asked me if I’m keeping up with the news. Yes, I said. I read the newspapers religiously. And other than the prospect of a 6-3 court, a stolen election, the dissolution of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and an imperial presidency, everything’s hunky-dory. Then I woke up (the day after the first presidential debate) and read the morning edition. And hoped I was still dreaming.
Hal Rothberg, Calabasas

Politics Shift in the Mideast
The Arab-Israeli conflict is over. The signing of diplomatic agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain signals that the Arab world no longer will be held hostage to the Palestinian cause. (“It’s Time to Look at Palestinian-Israeli Conflict With Fresh Eyes,” online Sept. 26).

Other Islamic countries are expected to follow the UAE’s lead. Many of them have had dealings with Israel, the world leader in water and agricultural management, and a technological giant.

Although the Palestinian Authority (PA) wasn’t included in the drafting of the agreements between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain, it has refused to acknowledge its weakening position. It lost its veto.

The American “Peace to Prosperity” plan offers the PA a little more land than Egypt and Jordan occupied from 1949 to 1967, plus a $50 billion development fund. (The agreement signed by Israel and the UAE requires Israel to halt its controversial plan to annex land in the occupied West Bank that long has been sought by the Palestinians.) The exact borders will be determined by Israel and the PA. The starting point for discussion is no longer the 1967 armistice lines. It is the Americans’ map.

Arab states have lost patience with the PA’s intransigence and Iranian-backed terrorism. It’s time for all the players to compromise and move forward together for a brighter future.
Len Bennett, Deerfield Beach, Fla.

Proud to Be Jewish
The book “I Am Jewish” was featured in a column by Judea Pearl (“RBG on ‘Being Jewish,’ ” Sept. 25). Many voices in that book, from the famous to the everyday, tell us why they are proud to be Jewish. I want to do the same.

I was born with cerebral palsy. My earliest steps into the Jewish community were in the late 1950s. Day camp, Sunday school, a part in a play that was on TV — there was always a place for me. I belonged. The precepts of our heritage were not only taught to me, but were shown to me by how I was treated.
Susan Cohn, dictated to Lis Peery, via email

Trump, COVID-19 and the Limits of Hate
There is a vast difference between expressing joy when a head of state is assassinated and taking pleasure when one contracts a deadly virus he downplayed and denied; of which he ignored the advice from his own scientists and public health experts; and mocked those who heeded that advice to protect themselves and others.
After all, during the reading of the Book of Esther, we boo and make noise at the mention of Haman’s name.

I think those of us who were mocked as having Trump Derangement Syndrome should be allowed a moment of schadenfreude for having suffered through everything we feared when he announced his presidential campaign — and more — having come true, and now him being hoist by his own petard.*
I don’t want the president to die. I wish him a full recovery — physically, mentally and emotionally — so he is deemed fit to stand trial for the many crimes of which he will be accused when the next administration assumes office.

In our system of justice, one is innocent until proven guilty, but based solely on the published evidence with undoubtedly more facts yet to come to light, convictions for tax fraud, insurance fraud, violations of many laws governing executive actions and possibly giving secrets to our enemies, appear possible.

*For those who haven’t read Shakespeare, that is a reference to “Hamlet,” Act 3, Scene 4. A petard is a land mine. One who steps on his own petard steps on the land mine he has planted.
Daniel Fink, Beverly Hills 

Inspired by a Store Owner’s Resilience
I loved and sympathized with Nedjatollah Harounian when the Journal wrote about his sad story in the June 12 edition, and now I love him even more reading his quote: “If you’re not working, you’re not being useful” as he works to rebuild his life (“Out of the Ashes,” Oct. 2).
Warren Scheinin, Redondo Beach

The Flu
I knew from how my stomach felt,
I had some sort of flu.
So I called the family doctor,
And he told me what to do.

To start, he called the pharmacy,
And ordered me some pills.
Which would hopefully eliminate
The fever and the chills.

He said it was imperative,
To rest all day in bed.
So I followed what he told me,
And did exactly what he said.
I had the flu a couple of days,
And wasn’t getting better.
But I remembered my mother’s chicken soup,
And frantically tried to get her.

She came and made me chicken soup,
Nice and steaming hot.
It looked and smelled delicious,
So I finished the entire pot!

Sure enough I felt better,
Soon I was up and around.
I figure with all the soup I had,
The virus must have drowned!
Alan Ascher, via email

No Stars in the Streets

Berkeley, 1979. Gaunt-faced man, still as stone, sleeping in a doorway, rain or shine, smiles and tells me over coffee how he was a Berkeley student, took acid in ’Nam, tried to kill his mother with a hammer and waits for Satan to tell him what to do. … I ask the lady I work with at the ACLU if this is normal and she answers, “Who are we to say what’s normal? We’ve got no right to steal his freedom.”

Soon, right and left step together,
shut the mind hospitals

Never try to fix what’s broken.
2020. Day after day, my husband, healer of minds,

laments the ones with haunted eyes
forced onto the streets where no stars can shine.

No place for them to heal
among the garbage and the needles

While “prophets,” jugglers and fools
shoot up our minds with “feel-good” phrases

Turning ancient truths upside-down
And people keep dying.
When will we ever learn?
Mina Stern, Venice


A credit accompanying a photo of AJU’s Brandeis-Bardin’s campus with a story about Sukkot (“AJU’S Brandeis-Bardin Campus Provides Weekend Getaways for Sukkot,” Oct. 2) should have read “Photo courtesy of AJU.”

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