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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 7/15/20

A surreal view of the beach at Oxnard last week after the fog rolled in—photo by Jerry Coben. Surreal and other-worldly, just like the times we are living in…

Good morning,



There is a debate going on at students across the nation, seeking to get colleges to divest themselves of investments in Israel (the BDS movement of “boycott, divest, sanctions”).

Each time there is a resolution on divestment from Israel that pops up at a college somewhere around the country, activists mobilize. Supporters of the Palestinian liberation movement are butting heads with Jewish organizations and speakers, in a series of “proxy wars.”. With this comes a lot of press play. But to what end? It is in the board rooms of trustees—not student organizations—where these debates are important. It seems to me that, in the end, all the dollars flowing to the “whack a mole” defense of Israel against these student government motions are dollars poorly spent.

I propose that the defenders of Israel consider doing nothing (*other than as noted below). Seriously. Here’s why:

1. It’s student government. Good lord! We all went to college and we know that the student government generally isn’t paid much attention by the student body.

2. You’re giving away free publicity. Those who push BDS are given a free media platform in which a rehashing of current Israeli government policy is attacked (some of it, I would argue, not unjustifiably). Publicity is given in local papers, in campus media, and sometimes on the national news, all because of a vote with no real consequence.

3. You’re not going to change anyone’s minds. Besides the fact that this isn’t the most important issue facing college students, many don’t have an abiding interest in the issues. Plus, how will the debate go? Wanting to debate the issues with a group already dead-set on its positions is an exercise in futility.

4. There is no practical effect, regardless of the vote. Who really cares? How a student government votes has no binding legal authority. It’s not as if the administration or the board of trustees are waiting with bated breath for direction on their actions.

5. Whatever interest there is in the vote will be short-lived. Once passed, any BDS resolution becomes yesterday’s news.

6. There are opportunity costs. Is it worth even devoting the money, time and effort? Shouldn’t there be other, better, ways to deploy resources?

We should avoid diverting attention and we should remove our children from a war-like stance with their contemporaries. I propose that a basic response be generated, to be utilized by Hillels and other student organizations that may be under-funded or under-manned, saying

“We are aware of the proposed action, we oppose the proposed action, we will take no further action to prevent the action from taking place. We will not appear at any hearing or meeting to defend our faith, the rights of our brethren to a nation of their own, or the actions of the Israeli government. We seek only to go on record in opposed to the action. The adoption of any resolution or the taking of any action will occur without any formal opposition in the forum you have chosen. We are, however, prepared to meet to discuss the valid concerns of Israelis and Palestinians in a conversation that can be constructive and educational. That can only happen if both parties acknowledge the two separate, yet valid, narratives regarding the history of the conflict.”

Let’s just deny them the platform to pontificate, deny them opposition to a kangaroo court debate, and save our breath and save our money for important fights.



The last time I wrote about movies, it was a focus on Boston-based dramas. But each city has its great films. Today, here’s a list of Los Angeles based movies, compiled with the help of Dave Swartz. The first five are to my mind, would be among the greatest movies on any list:

Chinatown—Arguably one of the best movies ever, anywhere… Set in 1930s Los Angeles amidst L.A.’s quest for water to feed a thirsty semi-arid landscape.

Devil in the Blue Dress—Some movies make you feel like you’re inhabiting a time period. This is one. Catch Denzel Washington as a

vet in the late-1940s, a private investigator with the great name of “Easy Rawlings.”

LA Confidential—Adapted from the great James Ellroy novel. Los Angeles is so integral to the feel of this film it should receive a Best Supporting Actor award. Great film, so evocative of 1950s Los Angeles (see Devil in the Blue Dress for 1940s and Chinatown for 1930s…!). Won many academy awards, including Best Screenplay. That is lost to Titanic for Best Picture is one of the great crimes against humanity…

Boyz N the Hood—Set in the 1980s and 1990s. I’m in love with Cuba Gooding. Here is one of his first breakout roles, as son to the tough loving Laurence Fishburne (with one of the great screen names, “Furious Styles”). Ice Cube figures prominently. Drugs, crime, racism, South L.A., growing up poor, coming of age

Sunset Boulevard—No Los Angeles list can be complete without this classic

LA Story—Steve Martin trying to get a table at a hot new restaurant (“it’s the new cruelty”) is reason enough to watch. But the freeway signs directed at him are a similarly special bit. Comedic, romantic, all-modern Los Angeles

Beverly Hills Cop—Stupid, hysterical, with a great sequel

Heat—De Niro and Pacino…

To Live and Die in LA—Not my favorite, but certainly notable. Dave, this is here for you.

Die Hard—Okay, not a “classic,” per se, but a great adventure/crime movie using L.A. as the backdrop, with just enough cynicism and humor to make it work.

Lethal Weapon—Not really an “LA movie,” it’s the prototypical buddy film. Danny Glover and Mel Gibson are the mismatched cops in this good—not great—movie that led to multiple sequels.

Training Day—brutal in many ways, Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke. Corrupt cops, drug wars, bad Russians—just like reading the morning news… Denzel gets Best Actor nod.

Speed—Keanu and Sandra Bullock going really fast on a bus. Completely unbelievable premise but fun…



There are several interesting interviews entitled “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man,” which Mandy Lowell and I commend to your viewing. It’s an interesting, conversational, take on the issue of race in America: You don’t have to agree with all of what Emmanuel has to say, but you owe it to yourself—and our society—to better understand.

That’s it for now.

Warm regards,


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