November 9, 2009
Downtown Los Angeles is composed of many districts – jewelry, fashion,
toys, flowers, produce and others. A concentration of skyscrapers,
uncommon to the Southern California landscape, differentiates it from
the vastness of the Greater Los Angeles area. It was during the last
decade of constant increase in real estate prices that old buildings,
often from utilities or institutions, were converted into affordable
Once dangerous and unwelcoming, Downtown went through a process of
revitalization, its face today unrecognizable to past visitors. Back in
1984 I elected to go to UCLA rather than USC due to the neighborhood.
Things have drastically changed. Downtown has become a center where
young people live, it is safe to walk at night and there is bustling
nightlife in place of the notorious cardboard and tent homes.
Today, at a lecture held Downtown by a self-declared "Palestinian from
Palestine,” I heard that the new Ritz Carlton hotel and condominiums
complex, immediately adjacent to the Staples and Convention Centers,
drove away the Latin community and was built on the ruins of their
homes. I actually remember an empty surface parking lot, where I used to
park going to register for the LA Marathon. But then again, figments of
imagination of the "Palestinians” never deterred them from making up
stories, fabricating reality or adjusting it to suit their narrative.
The speaker raised numerous complaints against the United States, while
no one in the audience protested the egregious allegations. More than
120 people, children to the elderly, White Caucasian, Latin, African
Americans and others sat and applauded. Is it really that bad here that
we should blame and castigate others? From where does this sense of
I expected some to celebrate all that America has afforded each and
every one of us. I was astonished at the shared feeling that America has
wronged so many, that there is nothing good to be found in progress and
opportunity. In 2009 we have a President whose skin color is black, a
Justice of the Supreme Court who is the first Latina. The list goes on
and on, yet no one said a word to defend America.
Planting Discord in Los Angeles
As I was leaving, I was asked my opinion of the talk. I replied: Nothing
should surprise me any more.
The reason was simple: Everyone was focused on the subject matter –
Israel’s control of water as a tool of Apartheid and means of ethnic
cleansing – and thus failed to look closer to home first. Our own
problems will not be solved by diverting resources away from Israel or
by focusing our energy at boycotting or destroying her. If anything, we
stand to lose and the "Palestinians” will have to face – along with all
other (Jewish) inhabitants of the land – very harsh new realities.
Water is interesting for several reasons: We see green all around us,
front lawns and trees and shrubbery, we see gardeners and homeowners
cleaning the curves with fresh drinking water and we forget that we live
in a desert. Also, polluting our water sources or affecting the methods
of transmission can be a form of a terrorist attack, resulting in
heightened security since the September 11th attacks on the USA. Lastly,
we are all witnessing a simple truth: The only way to effect behavioral
change, such as changing consumption or usage, is by attacking one’s
Despite unprecedented population growth in the Greater Los Angeles area
over the past several decades, needs are still being met. It is exactly
because of drought and other increasing pressures that we must all
conserve. This applies equally to everyone, whatever one’s gender,
political affiliation, skin color or economic status. Imagine the
speaker telling us that water is a form of Apartheid against a specific
group here in Los Angeles and that this group is the victim of
Anyone who grew up, went to school or lives and works in Los Angeles
will be furious over such allegations. There is diversity in our great
city the likes of which can be found nowhere else. Los Angeles is a true
melting pot, the essence of America. Water conservation applies equally
to us all, whether Latin, African American, Korean, Chinese, Japanese,
or any other of our very many communities.
Instead of celebrating all that Los Angeles has to offer, the speaker
raises allegations of Apartheid, discrimination and other atrocities. Is
it not always easier to blame someone else than face the situation and
try to find actual, constructive solutions? Blame alone is doomed to
fail. It is wrong and those using it as a method for personal gain must
be held accountable.
The speaker’s flawed arguments and hateful speech must be countered.
They bring harm and discord; they divide, destroy and diminish all