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Letters to the editor

Gunter Grass' controversial poem on Israel and Iran; President Obama and faith; annoying phone calls from merchants

April 12, 2012
  • Gunter Grass' poem has brought condemnation from Jewish leaders and German lawmakers.
Gunter Grass' poem has brought condemnation from Jewish leaders… (Jens Meyer / Associated…)

Israel's high ground

Re "Israel's poetry critics," Editorial, April 10

German poet Gunter Grass and I both inhabited the same country during World War II. The difference between us: I wore striped pajamas in concentration camps, and he wore the gray uniform of the Waffen SS.

I ask Grass: Why does he consider Israel a threat to world peace? Israel was not accepted by its neighbors when it was established in 1948 and was threatened with annihilation. Pronouncements by Iranian leaders denying the Holocaust and their threats to destroy the Jewish state are of great concern.

It is very sad to read Grass' poem drawing a moral equivalency between Iran and Israel, a country of

8 million people, many of whom are Holocaust survivors, their children and their grandchildren

Sam Goetz

Los Angeles

To say that Israel is a country that cherishes the rule of law is disingenuous. Israel's nuclear program is likely to be more advanced that Iran's, and its inhumane treatment of millions of Palestinians has brought condemnation from the international community for decades.

Grass being barred from Israel is more of a feather in his cap.

Julio Zamarripa

Long Beach

The poem by Grass, according to The Times, is his reaction to the announcement by Israeli officials that they will not countenance a nuclear-armed Iran and might move to destroy the threat. Why must Israel continue to defend its right to exist?

If a neighbor of the U.S. were to try to develop nuclear weapons and openly state that the country is dedicated to our destruction, who would criticize us for openly opposing such a program and, if necessary, unilaterally eliminating it at some point?

The Waffen SS, of which Grass was a member, committed heinous crimes. It is appropriate to deny Grass entrance to Israel with such an association on his resume.

Louis H. Nevell

Los Angeles

Religion and the president

Re "Judging Obama on faith," April 8

The article omits numerous issues, some dating to 2008, that have adversely affected the perceptions of President Obama's faith.

These would include the president's 20-year association with the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.; his refusal to defend the Defense of Marriage Act; his apathetic treatment of religious leaders and of America's top ally, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; and his stance on abortion.

While The Times and others may be impressed with the president's eloquence about religion, people of faith are more concerned with his actions.

Dave Mulnard

Newport Beach

It's pretty disturbing that now there is an apparent litmus test on the depth of Obama's devotion to Christianity. The idea of separating church and state is the most important tenet of the last millennium and is the foundation of modern democracy.

Do we want our president obeying the Constitution or "doing the work of God"? We just experienced a born-again Christian president who claimed divine guidance when he launched, on false pretenses, the catastrophic invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, which resulted in thousands of needless deaths.

Richard Parr

Santa Monica

Keeping personal info personal

Re "It's hard to give sales calls the slip," Column, April 10, and "It's time to take back ownership of our personal data," Column, April 6

Is your personal information for sale? Whenever a company tries to get more personal information and use it to turn a profit — and the users slap Facebook's or a company's hand — they apologize, pull back and try again later.

You may not fear being stalked or tracked by someone (you aren't Steve Martin or Lady Gaga), but what if someone's intent were to harm you? You can do a name search of yourself and there are websites that are selling your personal information.

They shouldn't be selling our information. If they do, then we should get a commission.

Dale Luther

Laguna Hills

Though I sympathize with Eagle Rock resident Bill Robbins and his frustration over unwanted telephone solicitors, I have a solution: Resist the temptation to answer a phone just because it's ringing. The "do not call" list is useless, and the only solution is to screen calls. Don't pick up the phone unless you know who is calling and it's a convenient time to talk.

Bonnie Ann Baker


Tough choices in tough times

Re "A hovering threat of bankruptcy," April 7

If public employee pensions and benefits would not suck astronomical numbers from taxpayers, there would be a little bit more money to go around.

These same workers, whose unions extracted disproportionately high benefits (and please don't give me the tripe about lower pay in exchange), forget that the money is coming not only from their children's and grandchildren's pockets but also from their own. They are taxpayers too. They are Peter; they are Paul.

However, privatizing any city operation could cost even more because the city simply writes checks without any oversight. Pick your poison.

Stephany Yablow

North Hollywood

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