Re: Sara Catania’s “Al-Jazeera All the Time” [November 9–15]. The report that the Israelis had maps to nuclear facilities is sheer invention by Al-Jazeera, and the Israelis have basically been cleared of everything except very common visa violations (see www.jpost.com/Editions/2001/11/09/News/News.37845.html). Note too that the Jerusalem Post story states that dozens of Israelis have been in U.S. jails for the past two months, just like other detainees. Meanwhile, Aztlan.org is notoriously biased in its reporting. See www.aztlan.org/castakip.htm for a good example: The crudely Photoshopped-on yarmulke is a good commentary on Aztlan’s incompetence, dishonesty and prejudices.

As for “What They Want” by Gendy Alimurung and Sara Clinehens [same issue], for many years Israel has had to take out terrorists who have been murdering Israelis, terrorists whom Arafat has encouraged and has been either unable or, more likely, unwilling to stop. Israel needs no false justifications, since it has the very valid reason of self-defense. Also, the claim that the Palestinian Authority wants Israel to accept a Palestinian state is completely disingenuous. The Palestinians could have had a state had they been even moderately reasonable; instead, they demanded that Israel commit suicide by letting in millions of very hostile Arab immigrants. The Israelis have accepted a Palestinian state; it’s the Palestinians who haven’t accepted a Jewish one.

—Richard Sol
Los Angeles



Re: “What They Want [November 9–15].” Yep. One might conclude that this is war declared by the center against the full spectrum of radicalisms, including rightist ones. Them militia peckerwoods are as nervous about the post-WTC paradigm shift as them anarcho-Marxist doinkers.

—Walter Alter
Portland, Oregon


Given the enormous scope of Los Angeles’ housing crisis, Harold Meyerson’s article “A Place for Us?” [November 16–22] is stunningly shortsighted. In campaigning to persuade the Los Angeles City Council to lay out $100 million annually for low-cost housing, Mr. Meyerson cites the Southern California Association of Governments’ conclusion that L.A. needs 60,000 new units per year to keep pace with population growth. Furthermore, he posits that only 8,000 new units are built each year, leaving an apparent shortage of 52,000 per annum. Mr. Meyerson laments the crowding of “two or three families (or 10 single men) . . . into apartments built for one family,” and that many victims of housing scarcity are poor immigrants.

Let’s review some other significant math that affects the L.A. shelter crunch: In recent years, a variety of private and public agencies have estimated that between 800,000 and 1,000,000 illegal immigrants reside in Los Angeles County. If America had a coherent immigration policy (or even a well-regulated guest-employment program) instead of the existing free-for-all, the 60,000-unit shortfall would diminish. Even using the Reggie White formula (in an address to the Wisconsin State Legislature several years ago, the former Green Bay Packers standout said that Hispanics excelled at sharing space, and marveled that they could fit 20 or 30 people into a single home), the return of illegal aliens to their countries of origin would free up between 33,333 and 50,000 units. An overdue crackdown on the widespread fraud artistry in the HUD Section 8 program would further close the gap by clearing out scammers and giving deserving low-income renters a fair chance at housing.

Meanwhile, businesses lure middle-class yokels from all points between and beyond the shining seas with visions of year-round frolic in the Southern California sun. In exchange, these suckered professionals work like dogs, sit stuck in traffic and gasp as the region’s high cost of living savages their salaries. Notwithstanding the difficulties that middle-class professionals (citizens and legal immigrants alike) encounter in locating reasonably priced digs, the tightness in the L.A. housing market is overall an immigrant-driven problem. Rather than peeling off $100 million (which Mr. Meyerson seems to regard as a trifling sum) from the civic wad, Angelenos should be pressing the federal government for a more rational immigration model and demanding that the city fathers (and mothers) immediately get busy at devising a long-term master housing strategy.

The housing crisis is a quality-of-life issue, and Angelenos must stop accepting the local governments’ ramshackle approach to it. The solution is thoughtful planning, not knee-jerk, palliative spending and piecemeal building.

—Scott Sawyer
Los Angeles


In “Focus Pocus” [New World Disorder, November 16–22], David L. Ulin writes, “My fellow Americans scare the hell out of me.” As one of his fellow Americans, I’d like to state that Mr. Ulin scares the hell out of me. The preamble to our Constitution states that one of the primary purposes of our government is “to provide for the common defense.” Our government failed miserably in that job on â September 11. While Mr. Ulin is complaining about the “morality of revenge,” the rest of us see the war in Afghanistan as an attack on someone who has said his goal is to destroy America, and to kill as many Americans as possible doing it.

The fact that Mr. Ulin cannot recognize that we’ve been attacked, and doesn’t feel that the U.S. is worth defending, is amazingly, horribly scary. While he’s busy cringing at his fellow citizenry for having the gall to call someone evil, we’ll be watching his back. It’s certain that I can’t count on him to watch mine.

—Richard Espy
Los Angeles


Ernest Hardy’s vicious, irresponsible condemnation of the film Punks [New Film Reviews, November 16–22] tells us more about Hardy’s personal hang-ups and his narrow, dreary vision of how black gay life should be represented than it does about the film he was supposed to discuss. While pretending to be concerned about the racial and sexual politics of representation of the film, Hardy completely misses the powerful statement the film makes by exploring the lives of black gay characters who are politically conscious and aware, but who are also complex and complete enough as human beings to think about issues like love, friendship, work, art, commitment, community and destiny.

—Dionne Bennett
Culver City


Re: the Topps Enduring Freedom trading cards featured in Judith Lewis’ “Back Story” piece for Week 9 [November 16–22]. You may be interested in the fact that some of us citizens out here on the Web who carry slightly less enthusiastic views than Topps on the current exercise of power — and the means by which it is being sold to the public — have created an entirely non-commercial set of print-’em-yourself trading cards as a political, counterpropagandistic response to the current war fervor. American Crusade 2001 Trading Cards, currently 37 in number, are at http://www.infinitejest.org/1/cards.html. Please note that each card depicting the weaponry of war — so lovingly fetishized by the Topps cards — correspondingly includes an inset picture of a dead or injured Afghan. That only seems honest.

—Ted McManus
Madison, Wisconsin

4 TO 40

Re: “A Letter From Pakistan” [November 16–22]. “Zahir Shah, now 87 years old, lives in exile in Rome. He had reigned as king of Afghanistan from 1933 until July 1937 . . .”

That should be July 1973, not July 1937.

—Daud Malik
Rawalpindi, Pakistan


Please be advised that this is T from the Weasels who was mentioned in Christine Pelisek’s article regarding the Love Ride [“Biker Life,” November 16–22]. I informed Christine that the Weasels is not a motorcycle club. Weasels is a social organization. Motorcycle clubs take the “MC” on their colors seriously and for good reason, as a specific commitment is made by club members to their club. It is not a commitment that is taken lightly, and it is a commitment that Weasels do not make, which is why we do not profess to be a motorcycle club, nor do we wear the “MC.”



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