Letters to the Editor: Muslims, Warsaw Ghetto, electric cars

Letters to the editor
November 9, 2011

Suspicion of Muslim World Is Warranted

Another word for “out of control” is anarchy (“The Muslim World Is Out of Control,” Nov. 4).

Anarchy is breaking out in Yemen, where the embattled president insists on holding his grip over raging tribal factions and youth resistance. Al-Qaeda has attempted to capitalize on this unrest, to some effect, despite the demise of key leaders.

The voluntary reforms of the kings of Morocco and Jordan are a welcome diversion from the generally violent trends sweeping the rest of the Arab world. Unfortunately, unless revolution bleeds, very few leads will report peaceful transitions of power.

Despite the more wily and youthful elements refusing to be dictated to by older counterparts in the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and despite the moderate stance of the “Enhada” party that has risen to power in Tunisia, I agree with the skeptics that these transitions of power will be short-lived.

Contrary to the writer’s contention, I see very little evidence that the rising Islamists are honoring the other monotheistic religions of the Book. The world cannot ignore the persecution of the Coptic Christians in Egypt, nor can we turn a blind eye to the recent and rapid expulsion of Libyan Jew David Gerbi, who attempted to reopen the Tripoli synagogue after the death of Muammar Gadhafi.

In closing, I submit that to remain suspicious of the growing tide of Islamic fundamentalism in the Arab world is not a dysfunction of simplistic thinking, but a reasoned conclusion based on the developments of well-organized yet latent forces which have been waiting to seize power and impose Sharia law in the Middle East.

Arthur Christopher Schaper

Ghetto Fighter Deserves Benefit of Doubt

I found the piece on “Tracking a Warsaw Ghetto Fighter” (Nov. 4) quite disturbing — not because of Leon Weinstein’s remarkable story of Holocaust survival, but because the article discredits this extraordinary 101-year-old man.

Tom Tugend lays out Weinstein’s heroic story and the loss of 90 family members who perished. Somehow, Weinstein endures to fight with the Partisans in the forest and later in the Warsaw Ghetto. After the war, Weinstein is able to reunite with the only family member to survive, his daughter Natalie, abandoned as a baby but found later, alive and well, in the care of nuns.

The story should have ended here as a glowing tribute. It doesn’t. Tugend states that he was “was intrigued and impressed by Weinstein’s story and had no reason to question it.” So why does he? He states, “We all tend to romanticize our pasts as the years pass.” I believe that the opposite is true. Holocaust survivors romanticize nothing. They repress and get depressed. They suffer nightmares and flashbacks. Exactly what about the Holocaust is there to romanticize?

Tugend then goes on to detail his extensive research into the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and is disappointed with the lack of archival material. He discredits Weinstein by “his seemingly contradictory recollections.” Tugend quotes experts who believe that only 12 to 20 escaped or survived the uprising; the implication being that Weinstein probably wasn’t one of them. It appears that Weinstein never kept a diary, never personally kept a suitcase full of uprising memorabilia and has nothing to prove his involvement other than “a romanticized recollection” of his participation.

It is not as if Weinstein has published a book, the veracity of which is being challenged. If Weinstein said that he smuggled guns into the ghetto, used rifles and grenades to fight the Germans and escaped through the sewers of Warsaw, or something less, he has earned the right to be believed. Tugend has no reason to dismantle the story under the guise of investigative journalism.

Douglas M. Neistat

Don’t Pull Plug on Electric Cars

Rob Eshman should be applauded for his valiant effort to incorporate an electric car into the driving-dependent L.A. lifestyle (“My 2011 Nissan Solyndra,” Oct. 28). Reducing reliance on oil clearly benefits the environment, thus actualizing the traditional Jewish value of tikkun olam. Moving away from petroleum also helps Israel by undercutting the economic base of extremist forces in the Middle East. The fact that right now there are few practical alternatives to gasoline simply indicates the mismatch between the current economy and our basic needs. Already the demand for hybrids shows that we are moving in the right direction; Eshman is just a little ahead of the wave on which we will all be surfing in the future.

Peter L. Reich
Costa Mesa

I, too, own a Nissan Leaf. I did homework on the car and did not just listen to sales people (“My 2011 Nissan Solyndra,” Oct. 28). I do get about 100 miles on a charge and that is because I try not to use the air conditioning, I use it in eco mode and I don’t need to drive on freeways. If Rob Eshman had done his homework, he would have easily seen that the car will get about 70 miles on a charge in normal conditions, and more or less based on driving conditions.  I am not sure why someone would get a car like this without seeing if it is a fit.  This is the first generation of electric cars and it certainly is a success to everyone I have spoken to. I think Rob should stop writing articles about his cars and continue to write how we should sit here in our beautiful homes in Los Angeles and tell Israel what they should do in order to make peace with their wonderful neighbors because we are so much more knowledgeable than them.

Scott Howard
via e-mail

I have a Nissan Leaf and am very happy with it. I drive on average 20 miles a day and believe the car is not a good fit for you because you drive longer distances.  I enjoy not having to buy gas and service the car due to its lack of an engine.  The melodic sound emitted when the car turns on and the lack of noise while driving it makes it feel like a spa on wheels.

Sylvia Lowe
via e-mail

Where Anti-Semitism Takes Root

For nearly 30 years, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has taught secondary-school teachers about the Holocaust (“ADL Successfully Expands Holocaust Education Workshop,” Nov. 4). The program includes a workshop on “The History of Anti-Semitism.” All well and good. But what if I told you that anti-Semitism is being taught today in our junior-high schools — even without realizing it.

When my granddaughter was in seventh grade, she came home all upset. Her class was learning about the formation of the State of Israel and the subsequent Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Her homework assignment (in part) was to explain how the Jews took away the homes of the Palestinians when Israel was formed in 1948. Note that this statement presumes a priori that the Jews forced the Palestinians living in Israel (actually Arabs, since the PLO had not yet been formed) to leave their homes. 
[We] discussed this with her teacher. She explained that she was simply using material taught in the textbook. I carefully examined the book (published by Prentice Hall, with a long list of reviewers). There were two sections devoted to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. All of the information was factual. But, having done considerable research in preparation for leading a discussion on the Conflict at our senior center, it was quite apparent that the textbook omitted considerable information that would have shed a much different light on the issue. Reading the textbook as published, I could understand how a teacher/student would get the impression that the Jews had taken away the homes of the Palestinians (Arabs) when the State of Israel was formed. (This is analagous to the researcher who uses only the data that proves his hypothesis, while discarding the rest of the data.)

That also made me understand why a teenage boy at the school had produced a collage consisting of a series of anti-Semitic photographs as his entry into a school-sponsored art exhibit/competition. Perhaps this explains why so many college kids are anti-Israel.

I submit that the ADL ought address this issue at its earliest convenience.

George Epstein
Los Angeles

Occupy L.A.

Nothing displays the devotion of The Jewish Journal to leftist politics over Jewish interests better than your cover story on Occupy L.A., by Jonah Lowenfeld (“Go Figure … Occupy L.A. Raises More Questions Than It Answers,” Nov. 4).  Poor Mr. Lowenfeld could find only one borderline anti-Semite?  If he and The Jewish Journal bother to Google Patricia McAllister and LAUSD you will find dozens of media stories in outlets ranging from KTLA to the Huffington Post about this open anti-Semite fired from her job because of remarks made at Occupy L.A.  Shame on The Jewish Journal for not reporting THAT story. The Journal should also Google “adbusters anti-Semitism.” Adbusters started the Occupy movement, and even The New York Times reported on its anti-Semitism.  Note to Johah Lowenfeld:  Terms like “Rothschilds, international bankers, Zionists, etc., are actually cover terms for anti-Semitism.  As for the presence of Jews there —a lot of Jews thought the Bolsheviks were their friends in 1917.  Go and study.

Jules Levin

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