November 20, 2018

Letters to the editor: UC Irvine Hillel; Prager, Carson and guns; Solar power

Even Exchanges vs. Excuses

David Suissa mischaracterized the work UC Irvine Hillel is doing on campus (“The Knife War Is Not Evenhanded,” Oct. 23). UCI Hillel students are proud Jews who’ve had diverse Jewish and Israel experiences, represent the breadth of the religious and political spectrum,s and see Israel as central to their Jewish identity.

UCI Hillel engages students in serious learning about Israel and the conflict. This month alone, they learned with Chief Justice Aharon Barak, Rabbi Uri Regev and Washington Institute Fellow Mohammed Dajani. They fight Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaigns and combat efforts to spread its lies. In an environment where the conflict polarizes student communities, Hillel students engage in meaningful dialogue with their peers, quietly making important inroads even with those hard to reach. Still, they worry that Palestinian incitement threatens the progress on campus toward a more civil campus climate.

Through partnerships between the university, the Rose Project of Jewish Federation and Family Services, Hillel and others, UCI has seen a dramatic reduction in anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activity, more Israel education opportunities, and greater academic and artistic collaboration with Israel.

Our students are simply seeking out the people they sit next to in class, libraries and coffee shops to educate them about the Israel they love. Let’s give them the space to navigate their community.

Lisa Armony, executive director, Hillel Foundation of Orange County

David Suissa responds: The writer proves my point. Even when Jews are blatantly attacked simply because they’re Jews, releasing an evenhanded statement is justified because of some broader “context.” My point still holds: When Jews are directly targeted for violence, it’s not just absurd to pretend that both sides are equally responsible, it also lets evil off the hook.

Words of Warcraft

Dennis Prager questioned my opinion piece this week, “Could Guns for German Jews Have Prevented the Holocaust?” (Oct. 30; published earlier online)  — as did a number of readers across the country in a more virulent fashion — in the belief that I was arguing against the use of guns by Jewish resistance fighters during the Holocaust (“Jews’ Anger at Ben Carson’s Comments Needs Explaining,” Oct. 23). 

Of course, I did no such thing. My specific point was that if German Jews had armed themselves with guns and killed some Nazi storm troopers in the pre-World War II Hitler era, it would have led to the additional slaughter of the more than 100,000 German Jews who were able to emigrate in time.

But what has really riled me is the attempt by Ben Carson, the National Rifle Association, et al, to misuse the Holocaust and bolster their machismo by advocating high-caliber guns in every American home and kindergarten class.

Tom Tugend, contributing editor, Jewish Journal

Incite Violence, Lose Sight of Peace 

I agree with Micah Halpern’s column, “Official Misconduct: How Mahmoud Abbas Lies to Incite Violence” (Oct. 23). Until the Palestinians stop inciting their own people to cause violence through lies and hatred, there will never be peace. Until Abbas is willing to speak truthfully to his people, the violence will never end. Halpern’s opinion on the situation in Israel is reality instead of wishful hopes for peace that, unfortunately, the Palestinian leaders do not want. It is time to hold people responsible for their actions.

Michaela Rosenberg, Los Angeles

Solar Power 102

Thanks for publishing “Solar Power 101” (Oct. 23). Even though adaptation of solar is a win-win situation (better for the environment and cheaper than conventional grid power), lack of information/understanding is a major reason why few U.S. homes currently have solar panels on their roofs. Unfortunately, the article’s section “How solar works” is mostly incorrect and might dissuade people from obtaining solar panels for their homes. 

Solar panels on the roof of a house absorb sunlight and generate a direct electrical current. An inverter then converts the direct current into alternating current, which is the type of electricity that powers our home appliances. In the simplest (and most common) type of solar system, this alternating current is fed into the common grid and the home in question obtains its electrical energy from this grid. It is possible to store electrical energy in batteries and take energy from the batteries when needed so that a home is entirely “off-grid,” but such solar systems are currently much less common than those connected to the grid.

Ben Zuckerman, professor of physics and astronomy, UCLA