Jerusalem: Whole or in part?
Re "Orthodox rabbi breaks with norm," Oct. 27
If the division of Jerusalem were the only issue, Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky would have a good point. In reality, giving up a part of Jerusalem will not solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem, nor will removing the settlements from the West Bank. That was vividly demonstrated when Israel removed settlements from the Gaza Strip and Palestinians responded by accelerating attacks on Israeli communities.
I believe there is only one solution: Arab and Muslim children must be taught the Golden Rule. The term "infidels" and its connotations should be stricken from the Koran.
The situation in the Middle East is like a cancer: It can kill. Treat it by preventing its spread while getting at the root cause. Israel has been working on the former; the Arab world and Muslim leaders must work on the latter -- if they really want peace.
It's not about "dividing" Jerusalem; it's about sharing it. Forty years of "carrot and stick" diplomacy -- in which Israel gets billions of dollars in military aid and the Palestinians get the stick -- hasn't brought peace.
Maybe helping a Palestinian state work will. Israeli children have healthcare; why not Palestinians? We know the families and clans that can make this happen with our support, just as it is happening in Iraq's Anbar province. Will it be easy? Of course not. But building a society that works may succeed where the latest fighter aircraft hasn't in more than 40 years.
Kanefsky's talk of dividing Jerusalem is nothing new. Even if Israeli and Palestinian leaders were to come to an agreement tomorrow, you'd still have to deal with the facts on the ground -- the tens of thousands of Arabs currently living in East Jerusalem under Israeli control who don't want to be part of a Palestinian state. Arabs with Israeli passports or identity cards know that their rights, freedoms and benefits under Israeli sovereignty-- no matter how flawed now -- are much better than they would ever be as citizens of a Palestinian state. Since the security barrier went up separating parts of the East Jerusalem area from West Jerusalem, many Arabs who ended up on the Palestinian side of the barrier have moved to the Israeli side. They want to be sure they don't end up on the wrong side of the fence if Jerusalem ever is divided.
Kanefsky's plea that we seriously consider sharing sovereignty over Jerusalem with the Palestinians is much less controversial in Israel than in the United States.
Polls of Israelis show growing support for dividing Jerusalem if it will help to promote peace. Moreover, the proportion of Jews living in Jerusalem is declining as modern Orthodox and secular Jews flee and ultra-Orthodox Jews increase their presence. This higher profile of ultra-Orthodox Jews, combined with increasing numbers of Palestinians moving into Jerusalem neighborhoods, is an explosive situation.
The sanctity of human life is a major theme of Jewish teaching and one of the highest values of Jewish tradition. Giving up a piece of land that is most precious to us in the name of preventing bloodshed is surely a way to glorify God; it's not a repudiation of our spiritual patrimony.
The true test of education
Re "Make 'No Child' honest," editorial, Oct. 28
It takes only a C+ or even a C to note the pratfalls of the No Child Left Behind Act. The public needs to understand the vast intricacies of fairly assessing schools in order to find the mix that will assess while informing a school of what works best. It would take a B+ or better to convince parents that the days of the quarterly report card are over -- the cards give little evidence of how ready a student is to compete for a future. It would take an A or better to explain how the California high school exit exam has further muddied the waters of the testing environment.
Analyzing a bazillion lines of student data over a variety of tests reveals few surprises. Fixing some parts of No Child Left Behind may very well result in a new crop of inadequate measures. Such is the stuff of standardized testing, and such is the stuff of investing annual funding in testing to get results we already know.
Michael F. Katzman
The writer is a data analyst for Local District 5 of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
I completely agree with the editorial. I have worked as a volunteer tutor with Latino children in poor schools, and it was tragic that a fifth-grade student was reading at the same level as one of my first-grade students. Why? The school does not have the time or resources to concentrate on that particular student. The school is already crowded and cannot afford to have students stay back a grade. Also, many of these kids come from families that barely know how to speak English, let alone read it. We need to stop shoveling kids from grade to grade or else our society's future will suffer.
Slow burn over Valley power rates
Re "DWP plan would give Valley a rate break," Oct. 30
The San Fernando Valley would be in a separate summer climate zone from the rest of Los Angeles. Valley residents would be charged less per unit of power, even while using more power. Good plan, DWP -- save energy by charging less for it.
Truthfully, the idea of reducing rates makes sense -- if, that is, you believe that the residents of the Valley are victims. They were forced to live there at the point of a gun, or they would have opted for an area with a cooler climate. Also, they would have chosen a smaller, more energy-efficient home. But there was that gun pointed at them, so they capitulated and bought an energy waster in the Valley.
I propose that for every mansion and huge condo and apartment building approved for construction by city planners, air conditioners and water resources must be reduced by the ratio to the square footage of the building. Water meters would only allow enough water to maintain a sanitary and comfortable environment. I have a feeling there would be a lot more realistic downsizing, thereby saving our natural resources and producing a better quality of life for all of us.
I don't begrudge the wealthy their hard-earned money, but I do believe that the city should undertake a more realistic approach to diminishing water and power resources. That doesn't mean "sticking it" to those of us who don't live in the economic stratosphere of the wealthy areas of Los Angeles. Unabated rate increases, without controlled construction, is a plan for self-destruction.
Re "FEMA blasted for fake news briefing," Oct. 26
I don't understand why the Department of Homeland Security (and, by extension, the White House) is so bent out of shape about the Federal Emergency Management Agency's fake news conference last week. What's the difference between that and President Bush holding bogus town hall meetings, in which only pre-screened questions were allowed to be asked? Or, perhaps a better analogy, the White House feeding television stations video clips that it produced with phony news anchors? Isn't it all part of the Bush administration's long-standing manipulation of the media?
You can always tell when a news outlet won't play along. It's labeled as being unpatriotic, left-wing and giving aid and comfort to terrorists.
This is not a partisan issue; it is a corruption issue. It is a government agency presenting false information to the public and painting a false image of its performance. It is a huge deal.
Have we become so accustomed to our government lying that faking a news conference is just an "error in judgment"?
It is in fact a disturbing action that should be condemned.
Blame zoning regulators
Re "Living at the edge," editorial, Oct. 27
The Times' jaundiced view of real estate development "at the edge" would disappoint only those of us who are still looking to own our first home, and admittedly, if we ever got this far, we would immediately join your proposal for stricter land-use regulation to make any further development even harder.
Hardly any such fires originate in developed areas. Development pushes fires out of an area and does not cause them. The residents of these tracts commute farther and increase carbon emissions, you complain. I agree, but the culprits are the zoning regulators who prevent building on thousands of acres of vacant land near the city. Consider how many Malibu fires would have been prevented if we had allowed the building of the Mulholland freeway and opened up the Santa Monica Mountains to development, which the market would clearly still favor.