Enforce the Law
The fact that Jeffrey Levitt will be paroled after serving such a short prison term is additional proof that our judicial system has deteriorated to a nullity.
The time has arrived to revamp our entire penal system. Prison sentences should be lengthened and paroles limited so that the old adage "Let the punishment fit the crime" be fact -- not fiction.
Your newspaper is replete with stories about habitual criminals being returned to the streets and then rearrested for the same or more heinous offenses.
When the legislature meets in January, it should include in its agenda a much stricter penal code to protect the citizens of this state and its guests. After this has been accomplished, the criminal court judges should enforce the law to its fullest.
Norton B. Schwartz
Safety in Israel
Dennis Bartel published an Opinion * Commentary piece Nov. 17 entitled "Violence in Israel." The writer's only motive seems to be malicious slander of the country which he visited for two months.
He is aware that many more people die violent deaths in Baltimore in one week, than suffer that fate in an entire year in Israel.
However, Mr. Bartel treats us to a florid vocabulary describing Israel as a war zone.
I have no idea of where the author lived during his two months in the country he maligns.
But it is certainly not descriptive of the normal experience of visitors to a land where residents and tourists alike travel freely by bus, train, taxi and private auto, not only between all parts of pre-1967 Israel, but in the lands which Israel has administered since the Six Days' War.
Mr. Bartel frequently crosses the line separating objective reporting and propaganda.
The worst example came, however, when he informed us that "the U.S. State Department has issued a general warning to Americans traveling in the Middle East because of heightened tensions here."
Having dropped that innuendo, he evidently hopes that his reader will assume that tourists ought to avoid visits to Israel.
I realize that no one reads articles describing the tremendous success which Israel has enjoyed in creating a vibrant, democratic and creative society.
The sort of slander which flows so freely from the pens of Israel bashers like Mr. Bartel makes much more colorful copy.
Mr. Bartel might have done some good by writing an article on violence abroad, giving equal attention to Irish Republican Army bombs killing civilians in central London, French Corsican assassins at Napoleon's birthplace, German hoodlums of the far left and right assaulting the nation's chief executive, and Basque bombs detonating in Madrid.
He might have explored the fact that no sane person walks alone through large parts of America's urban bedlams.
I do not know Mr. Bartel, so I cannot guess what his motives might be for discouraging tourist visits to the Holy Land.
I can only say that I go there annually, travel everywhere, and feel perfectly safe, taking only a few prudent precautions required when visiting those limited areas where there is Arab-Jewish conflict.
Black, Strong and Proud
In commentaries about Malcolm X, consider the viewpoint that he was as American as mom's apple pie.
America is a country of revolution, evolution and change. Malcolm was about change. Each life experience took him to another level of experience and development.
At a time when this country is looking toward another, changing chapter in its history, the story of one of its sons is most appropriate.
I feel that the press is attempting to trivialize the potential positive impact of the movie "Malcolm X" by placing too much emphasis on the current marketing craze of trendy apparel displaying the X, and not the true intent of this epic motion picture produced by Spike Lee.
I feel that the fashion craze is not the major issue to address at this time. It is true that the movie has sparked the sale of these items, but this is not unusual in a materialistic society such as ours.
For heavens sake, the birth of Christ, the most sacred of all symbols in our society, is exploited every year with the materialistic attitude we continue to teach our children instead of the true meaning of Christmas.
I think this movie will serve as a vital tool in teaching people the legacy of a very great black man that our history books neglect to mention in any great detail.
The intentions of Spike Lee and all others involved in this project were, I am sure, in the best interest of portraying Malcolm X's life as accurately as possible.
I say it is about time that we as black people have an image that we can proudly display, and I do believe that good will result from this in that we can for once identify with this great man who was black, strong and proud.
We need to remember our past and honor such great men by remembering them, and Spike Lee is doing just that.
It is true that many young people are ignorant of the true story, but that is largely due to the fact that they were not taught anything about black history in the public school system.
This movie will serve as a source of knowledge and promote awareness for those who don't know the true story.
Lindakay Armstead Isom
After reading Rafael Alvarez's Nov. 14 report about the arson fire at Century Shoe Repair, an old Baltimore landmark institution at 207 Park Ave., I felt a tinge of sadness for Judy Elbaum and her mother, Beatrice Nathanson, the second and third generation owner-operators of this venerable family business that had a national reputation.
I do not know these people, but I was always fascinated by the gritty survival of the last of Baltimore's Century Shoe Repair stores that struggles to continue its old-fashioned service operation in a throw-away era when many people simply dispose of their old shoes.
But what really disheartened me about the fire was the number of "concerned" customers who showed up clutching their stupid little claim tickets, worried only about their shoes at a time when a big part of the lives of Mrs. Elbaum and Mrs. Nathanson had been destroyed by some idiot arsonist.
As always, Mrs. Elbaum was there trying to please her customers, but this time she was rummaging through the ashes of her memories and family history in search of shoes belonging to customers terribly concerned over the loss of something that at least can be replaced.
What manner of greed or self-serving has allowed us to desecrate Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Presidents Day with priorities set on sales, sales, sales?
Memorial Day was intended to pay tribute to those who have died serving their country. Veterans Day was to honor all who have served in the military, and Presidents Day to commemorate both Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.
All these holidays have lost their real meaning and turned into sales binges and three-day weekends. What further deterioration of our values do we need than to call attention to such materialism and greed?
While visiting Australia over their Anzac Day holiday (their equivalent of Memorial Day), I was so impressed and moved by their remembrance of their veterans' sacrifice.
All the stores were closed, the second Saturday closing in a row. (The first was Easter Saturday). Every town and city seemed to honor their veterans with parades and memorial ceremonies.
The parade I watched was 2 1/2 hours long and included every military unit from that area, including the Home Guard.
Some units contained a young boy or youth marching either with or in place of a veteran relative.
Veterans proudly displayed their medals, even those not marching. One crippled veteran marched toward the memorial behind the parade viewers, unable to keep up but determined to march anyway. What a marvelously patriotic feeling pervaded that day.
I was so ashamed that we Americans think sales are an appropriate way to celebrate such occasions. It has obviously eroded our society to such an extent that so far only Easter and Christmas are exempt.
What is left in our society to honor or celebrate? We have diminished all we should hold dear.