Israeli policies toward Arabs; Doyle McManus on WikiLeaks; California’s state rock

Israel and its image

Re “Report: Threats against Jews on the rise,” and “Israel razes Bedouin homes,” July 28

The Times recently published an article regarding the rise of threats against Jews.

In the same day’s newspaper, you could find one of the contributing factors to the rise of those threats.

Alongside an article describing the removal of Bedouin homes in long-disputed territory ran two pictures that once again make the Israelis look like bad guys and the Bedouins like victims — unless the reader takes the time to read the entire article, almost to the end, where it indicates that the Israeli government offered to have these Bedouins live in Israeli cities with water, electricity, sewers and schools.

So what does the reader come away with, after reading the first two columns?

Robert Passin


The Israeli government is forging ahead in colonizing all of Palestine.

If President Obama and our government really believe our country supports the rule of law, he must speak out against these home demolitions and other stealing of land from the Palestinians.

As a Jew, I have a hard time justifying the actions of the state of Israel to my non-Jewish friends, who clearly see American hypocrisy in supporting such abuses. How can Obama continue to speak about “shared values” between Israel and the United States?

Lillian Laskin

Los Angeles

Not ready to move to Japan

Re “We need a case of ‘Japan syndrome,’” Opinion, July 29

Steven Hill cites statistics to argue that Japan’s economy has surpassed ours. But how many Americans would enjoy living where half the rural population uses outhouses, where urban homes average 1,000 square feet and “suburbs” include cramped high-rise apartment buildings?

A realistic measure of economic success must reflect a society’s values, some of which are less objective than life expectancy or crime rates. For instance, Hill puts a high value on income equality. Though that may align him with a majority of Japanese — not to mention the U.S. Congress — it contradicts traditional American ideals. This is a land of opportunity, not a laboratory of social leveling.

Michael Smith

Cynthiana, Ky.

What WikiLeaks accomplished

Re “The candor war,” Opinion, July 29

Doyle McManus is correct that almost all of the information contained in the WikiLeaks documents was available from official sources, so the usual culprit — government secrecy — is not entirely to blame for this information being missing from the national debate on the war in Afghanistan. If the media had gotten off their collective butt and done some research, they might have fulfilled their true role of informing the electorate.

The only service WikiLeaks performed was to repackage the information in the shiny tinsel of controversy to attract the attention of the feckless media and to distract them from their preferred role as stenographers for the powerful.

Charles Berezin

Los Angeles

The publishers at WikiLeaks may or may not provide a useful service to humanity, but only when they begin leaking critical information from Al Qaeda, the Taliban and the countless repressive dictatorships and regimes in the world will they really achieve anything productive. Or is it only democratic and free societies that deserve their scrutiny?

Imagine if the Wikis could leak the location of the next mass suicide bombing. Now that would be a leak worth hacking for.

Michael Blum

Seal Beach

A proposition we don’t need

Re “To Fiorina, Whitman, green is for wallets,” July 29

Framing the issue of protecting the environment or creating jobs is just a creation of spin doctors and PR firms hired by the Republican Central Committee, Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman and the two Texas-based oil companies providing most of the funding for Proposition 23.

The real choice is between protecting the environment or letting oil companies cut corners to increase their profits. California’s environmental regulations create better-paying and newer technology-driven jobs that will last much longer than those offered by oil companies, without sacrificing the environment.

Les Hall

Santa Ana

Mastering the music

Re “Strains of a dying skill,” Column One, July 28

Several years ago, I heard a wonderful concert featuring the oud and other instruments central to Middle Eastern music given by the highly regarded members of the ethno-musicology department at UCLA. It was so inspiring, I entertained a fantasy I might learn to play this instrument, but it is not something one can pick up easily.

I discovered, however, that there is a large community in Los Angeles who also play and teach related instruments, as well as many forms of dance.

I began to study the doumbek. To my surprise, my Armenian neighbors did not recoil as they listened to me repeatedly attempt to master the rhythms that are central to the music. Instead, they encouraged me and shared their love and knowledge of the music.

It was a great experience in expanding my cultural awareness, not to mention sharing recordings from “home” while drinking deliciously strong coffee and nibbling on homemade baklava.

Ruth Kramer Ziony

Los Feliz

Symbolism of the state rock

Re “Don’t fear this rock,” Opinion, July 27

As a native Californian and mesothelioma widow, I find David Ropeik’s Op-Ed to have misrepresented the controversy surrounding SB 624. Delisting serpentine as our official state rock is not fear-based but symbolic.

Symbolism brings facts to life. In 1965, serpentine was designated the state rock through lobbyist pressure because of the once-lucrative asbestos mining industry in California. Serpentine is the host rock for asbestos, a human carcinogen.

History is a great teacher to those who listen. We cannot undo the human suffering and deaths from asbestos, but we can send a strong message throughout California and around the world that protecting public health is paramount to our California Legislature.

Californians do not need to glorify serpentine any longer as our official state rock.

Linda Reinstein

Manhattan Beach

The writer is executive director and co-founder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, which has worked to pass SB 624.

Parolee attack was a warning

Re " LAPD seeks state probe of shooter’s parole,” July 20

We’re appalled that Los Angeles police officers recently found themselves under attack by an armed parolee. Their outrage is justified. Every one of us should be outraged by the parole policies that allowed this to happen.

We spoke out strongly against the corrections reform bill SB18 (3X) — not just because it violates the state Constitution but because the early release of so-called nonviolent felons would be a public safety disaster, as it clearly is.

That’s why we’ve filed a lawsuit against the governor and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to put an end to this dangerous law — a law that violates the recently passed Marsy’s Law and that is putting law enforcement officers, parole agents and every California family in harm’s way. We hope that the LAPD and law enforcement leaders across the state will join with us in this lawsuit. All our safety depends on it.

Harriet Salarno

Auburn, Calif.

The writer is president, Crime Victims United of California.