October 13, 2019

Letters to the editor: Nancy Kricorian, Hannah Arendt, minimum wage and more

School Chums Discuss Middle East Problems

Rob Eshman and his old school friend who is working with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement tried to find common ground on Israel-Palestine and raised the question: Do you have a better idea or a better strategy to get there (“Nancy and Me,” April 29)? I would like to suggest that Jews and Muslims in the U.S. need to work together. Start by making personal friendships and connections. In her book, “Refusing to Be Enemies,” Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta, a Quaker-Jewish activist, promotes non-violent approaches to do so. It’s a start.

Gene Rothman, Culver City

Many thanks to Nancy Kricorian and Rob Eshman for this illuminating dialogue. Like many other people (Jews and others) who want to see an end to the Israeli occupation, I have wondered what precisely BDS policies are. Boycott goods produced by the occupation in the West Bank or all Israeli goods, etc.? Kricorian’s response to the question of why single out Israel and not Syria, North Korea or Saudi Arabia is a pretty good one: The United States throws tons of money and arms at Israel, so I, as a taxpayer, am complicit in what Israel does. But I shared in Eshman’s disappointment at the full measure of BDS’s demands, which clearly would mean an end to Israel. 

Kricorian asks if there is a better idea. Yes, there is, and it is being represented by J Street, which is very seriously pro-Israel and pro-peace, and lobbies for the two-state solution. There is an increasing visibility in the media for Street’s policies, and an increasing number of representatives ready to listen.

Alicia Ostriker via email

If Nancy wants to perpetuate the violence and injustices experienced on all sides, she has chosen the right path. If she wants peace and justice for all of Israel/Palestine, there is a very simple “better idea” working to move both sides closer to a vision of two states for two people … and there is much, much difficult work to be done to do that. It may not happen — and even if it does, it won’t happen with one simple piece of paper signed and state created — there will need to be a plan to get things there over an extended period of time.

But Nancy’s “answer” is a road to nowhere. “Ending the occupation” is a slogan, not a plan … and it is always easier to chant a slogan than to plan.

Lawrence Weinman, Jerusalem

Zimmerman Story Hits Sour Note

In the Katie Iulius article on Simone Zimmerman, although I agree with much of what the writer has to say, when was she appointed to speak for all, or most, “young Jews” who are interested only in the Kardashians or “cavorting” with Israeli soldiers (“To Simone Zimmerman, From a Schoolmate — and IDF Soldier,” April 22) — the author’s assumptions turned an interesting article sour and bitter, and a little ugly.

Richard A. Stone via email

Taking Issue With ‘Banality of Evil’

The allegation that Hannah Arendt’s construct, the banality of evil, is often misunderstood is invalidly employed to imply that if someone doesn’t accept it as a valid Holocaust explanation, then that someone is unable to understand it (“The Enduring Relevance of Hannah Arendt,” April 29).

Ada Ushpiz hasn’t made a film titled “The Enduring Spirit of Lucy Dawidowicz.” One might ask why Arendt is routinely celebrated as an intellectual while Dawidowicz is not? If Arendt hadn’t been willing or able to sufficiently fulfill her publishers’ dark objectives, I assert they would’ve promoted someone else.

Ivan Smason via email

Word of the Week: Praise

I’m well aware of the Mimouna celebrations, which have become increasingly popular in Israel, but I never knew what the word “Mimouna” means. Now I know: the Lucky Girl! (“Hebrew Word of the Week,” April 29).

We’re lucky that professor Yona Sabar is sharing with us his unique knowledge of Hebrew in such an interesting and fun way in his “Hebrew Word of the Week” feature. Although I’m an Israeli with a solid knowledge of Hebrew, I always find new (even surprising!) aspects of the Hebrew language in Sabar’s posts, which I share with my family and friends during Shabbat meals.

Rivka Sherman-Gold, Yodan Publishing

Wage Hike and Small Business

Like Dennis Prager, I, too, was opposed to the recent arbitrary wage increase foisted upon small business owners in Los Angeles and the state (“Why Do Jews Support a $15 Minimum Wage?” April 29). 

Besides the economic burden to squeeze out what minimal profits some businesses operate on (such as the 4 to 6 percent profit margin of restaurants, for example), what about the question of the moral “rightness” of the government altering the once “free” enterprise system?

I guess social democrats are happiest and feel the most fulfilled when they kowtow to labor unions and the working poor, so, what do they care about small, middle class-owned businesses?

Rick Solomon, Lake Balboa