Locked Up in Alabama
“The Return of the Debtors’ Prison,” by Hannah Rappleye and Lisa Riordan Seville [April 14], mentions so many injustices that I describe in my book Calla Lilies: A True Story of Four Sisters and Their Struggle to Survive Abuse, Addiction, and Poverty in America. The sisters, from Tuscaloosa, have a similar story to tell. It is not quite as bad as in Harpersville, but these women have repeatedly experienced debtors’ prison, which is exactly what I call it.
When arrested for misdemeanors like traffic tickets, they end up “sitting it out” in jail to pay for their fines and court costs. At least, unlike in Harpersville, fines can be paid off through jail time, sometimes lasting months. When will we learn that there are constructive ways of changing unacceptable behavior that do not destroy self-esteem and push people deeper into poverty?
We were traveling through Alabama, commenting on how often the speed limits changed. We came out of a 65 mph zone and into—a $175 ticket for going 30 mph over the limit! Spend it well, Alabama. You won’t get another chance at me.
Ben-Gurion Changes His Tune
Bernard Avishai writes in ”Truman’s Folly?” [April 14] that American Jews “typically” make no meaningful distinction between “the Zionists who wanted non-Hebrew-speaking people out of their work spaces and those who wanted non-Jews out of their country.” He then proceeds to claim that most American Jewish readers will therefore wrongly and “readily” assume that David Ben-Gurion was “being disingenuous, or merely tactical, when, by turns, he opposed Vladimir Jabotinsky’s call for a Jewish state at the 1931 Zionist Congress, then sought association with an independent Arab federation in 1934, then accepted a Jewish mini-state after the Peel Commission.”
American Jews and others who are aware of the dichotomy between what Ben-Gurion often said privately and what he said publicly would be correct in readily drawing the conclusions that Avishai dismisses. Ben-Gurion asserted during a meeting of the Jewish Agency executive on June 7, 1938, that there was a need to “build up a strong force following the establishment of the state,” and that then “we will abolish the partition of the country and…expand to the whole land of Israel.” This would not be achieved by “moralizing and ‘preaching sermons on the mount’ but by machine-guns, which we will need” (cited in David Hirst, Beware of Small States).