I want to correct several points regarding anarticle which concerned a meeting in which I was involved, relatingto this community’s upcoming celebration of Israel’s 50th birthday(“Strains in the Relationship,” Aug. 22).
First, we are planning a year-long series ofevents which we anticipate will bring this community together tocelebrate the modern miracle that created the State of Israel. Wehope that every segment of our community will be involved. Part ofthat celebration will be a television program to be broadcast onApril 15. The article in question erred when it stated that BillyCrystal and “three other Hollywood stars” were reluctant to appear onthis program. As someone intimately involved in its planning, I cantell you that neither Mr. Crystal nor any other performer has beencontacted at this point by anyone at the meeting referred to in thisarticle.
Second, Lew Wasserman, another participant in themeeting, did not decline comment and told me that he was notcontacted.
Third, the article noted that anger over the issueof pluralism in Israel was having an adverse impact on the UnitedJewish Fund campaign. The facts are that as of Aug. 31, the campaignis some $1.5 million ahead of last year — 10 percent ahead on acard-for-card basis.
This community has seen a lot of divisiveness,especially during the past year. I believe that commemorating theexistence of the State of Israel is something all of us can agree on.We plan to have an exciting series of events that includes allsegments of our diverse community, and I believe that requires, atthe very least, responsible reporting by the Jewish Journal.
Herb Gelfand, President
The Jewish Federation of LosAngeles
L.A. Life Lost in Attack
We thank the Lord that our family is OK.Unfortunately that is not the case with dear friends of ours. We justfound out that our daughter Noa’s girlfriend from her class in theart school is one of the victims of the latest bomb attack inJerusalem. Yael Botwin was the same age as Noa, 14. She is survivedby her mother and two sisters. She was the middle daughter. They madealiyah from Los Angeles some years ago. They were members of ourlittle community on Hildesheimer.
The religious art school moved its premises thissummer from the Gilo neighborhood to a new building downtown behindthe Hamashbir department store. The building had been totallyrenovated and the new academic year started on Sunday with such highhopes and optimism.
As the school year had not gotten under way withits full timetable of lessons, the girls were released at 2:45 p.m.Some girls went to purchase more school supplies and Noa’s friendwent to the Ben Yehuda mall. She was walking past at the wrongmoment. Yael Botwin, originally from Los Angeles, was one of thethree Israelis killed.
The family made aliyah but the father diedsuddenly some years ago from a massive heart attack. Julie Botwin hadthe task of bringing up three girls on her own. Life was juststarting to be good again when tragedy struck once again. It is tooawful.
Noa had been with Yael in class since kindergartenand became quite close. Yael was a regular visitor to ourhouse.
Noa’s decision to go to the Hamashbir store ratherthan the Ben Yehuda mall, most probably saved her life. When thebombs exploded, all the girls rushed back to the school and a listwas made of every pupil. It wasn’t until 5:00 p.m. that the schoolrealized that Yael was missing. At 9:00 p.m., phone calls started andthe worst news became reality.
We are all terribly distraught. The academic yearstarted so optimistically and then this…
Stand Up to Arafat
As I write this, it is less than 24 hours afterthe bombings in the center of Jerusalem that took the lives of threeschool girls and a young man. My youngest daughter, a 16-year-oldhigh school senior, was on an adjacent street at the moment of theblasts, and heard it. Immediately afterwards, she saw a man coveredin blood, racing away from the attack; he collapsed on the streetnear her. Speaking as a mother, I can only be grateful that my childis alive and physically well, while I grieve for the other childrenand their parents.
Last month these twin emotions –deep relief thatmy child is all right, mixed with the pain and horror and mourningand prayers for the victims of terror and their loved ones –followed the Mahane Yehudah bombings. My son called to say thatalthough he had been at Mahane Yehudah prior to the attack, he hadleft minutes before the charges were detonated.
Thank G-d, the overwhelming majority of us hereare privileged to hear the words, “I’m O.K.,” the overwhelmingmajority of times. Let there be no mistake — Jerusalem, despitethese serial attacks, still remains safer than New York City despiteits improved record in combatting violence. But even one attack isone too many.
The United States, in furthering its goal ofpromoting the Oslo Accords, is funding the Palestinian Authority onthe premise that the PA is combatting terror. Let us not quibbleabout how many known terrorists are walking freely and openly in PAcontrolled territory. Nor about how many suspected terrorists havebeen arrested by the PA, and soon after, released. Nor about whatpercentage of Israeli requests for extradition to Israel — infulfillment of the Oslo Accords — have been ignored byArafat.
Not only does Arafat resist serious concreteactions against terrorists, he has refused to verbally condemn themby standing in front of the congregation in a mosque and saying, inArabic, unequivocally and consistently, “These attacks must stop!” Onthe contrary, despite his pronouncements in English for the foreignmedia, when speaking in Arabic to the Palestinian population, hepraises suicide bombers for their zeal and martyrdom. Arafat clearlylacks the bravery of a Martin Luther King or the decency of aGhandi.
That the double-entendres of his words impugn themoral fiber of the Palestinian people is a Palestinian problem. Butwhen Arafat places himself outside the pale of the Oslo Accords, thenfunding him is a United States concern. As an American Jew– as a taxpaying citizen — isn’t this a personal issue?
Please, I appeal to you as a mother in Israel:Contact your representatives in government. Enough of our childrenhave been buried already. Don’ t, through silence or acquiesence, letyour tax dollars support Arafat’s yellow light to terroristsanymore.
Susan Hersh Sachs
Imagine my surprise upon opening the JewishJournal to discover that the downtrodden, misunderstood, andbeleaguered developer Ron Weiner has probably hired a PR firm tobring his story to the world (“Down and Out in Beverly Hills?” Aug.29). His persistent attempts to turn his four unkempt and bedraggledbuildings, into an exemplary model of assisted senior care, on thealmost-corner of North Arnaz, has been going on for years.
The residents of North Arnaz, Clifton Way, andHamel Drive, have patiently listened to his plans and pleas and areconvinced that this commercial usage of the property would not be inthe best interest of the local area.
The neighborhood consists of two-story apartments,duplexes, and single family homes. The residents have pleaded withWeiner to scale down the project so that the size is not so out ofkeeping with the immediate environs. (One has only to walk one blocknorth to see how a behemoth building destroys the residential qualityof an area.)
I believe the residents of the area are reasonablepeople who understand and appreciate Weiner’s need to maximize thevalue of his property. They ask that his development be done with aneye to preserving the unique quality of this quiet, tree-linedstreet.
On a personal note, we are not opposed to theproject being dedicated to seniors. The problem is the height andlack of street and/or alley service areas. We are concerned that thiscommercial development, south of the park will have a domino effecton the properties north of the park and would change the wholecharacter of this small area.
Helen Walder and J. Roy Rogaway
Editor’s note: Last week, Beverly Hills’ citycouncil rejected Mr. Weiner’s petition.
The article about Jeremy Hershman was much moreinteresting than the usual ones about the political merry-go-round inIsrael (“Dorm Dilemma,” Aug. 29). But I wonder if Jeremy owes it tohis fellow students to show them how a Jew lives. Surely if Lot couldmanage in Sodom for a time and countless Orthodox Jews could survivethe concentration camps, this bright young man could manage to be alight to the heathens infesting a Yale dormitory. Perhaps he mighteven find a medicine man with whom to commune. Just a thought.
A Better Way?
As a Holocaust survivor, as an agnostic and as aliberal Jew, I am stunned by the brutal battle taking place in thepages of the Journal. Diversity may devastate and destroy us.
Neither traditional religion nor Israelinationalism will save us. God is forever silent — if such a higherpower exists at all. I have survived the horrors of Auschwitz,persecution as an ethnic German in Czechoslovakia; persecution as acapitalist without capital in 1945. I have survived an incurabledisease. This agnostic survived 35 family members. Where wasGod?
Rabbis pray, synagogues burn, Hamas attacks,neo-Nazis burn houses, Israel destroys houses of guerrillas. Violencebrings more violence without end and carries hate through generationsof Arabs. Is there a better way?
I offer no magic solution. God can be seen as acrutch. There will always be war. But let us hope if we cannotbelieve in any God, maybe in an invisible power beyond ourcomprehension.
The world is kind and brutal; I am not naive. Butlove can unite and guide us in a tragic world. It will not changeit.
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