Not in My District!

To the Editor:

I wish to strongly object to your editorial in the Nov. 13 issue, “Polishing the Diamond District.” While the diamond district could certainly benefit from more help from City Hall, giving tax incentives to one prospective landlord (in this case, Extell Development Co.) will do little to improve the quality of this cherished New York City institution. On the contrary, there is a real danger that giving preferential treatment to one property owner could severely undermine the economic viability of the entire diamond district.

Your editorial repeats the very dubious argument made by Extell that a new building financed with city incentives would enable New York City to better compete with overseas diamond centers. The fact is that many of these foreign diamond complexes are primarily manufacturing centers, and manufacturing is not coming back to New York City. Manufacturing left New York because of our high labor costs, not because of high real-estate costs. Real-estate incentives will not reverse a decades-long process.

New York City remains a vibrant world diamond center today because of the vitality of the many retailing, wholesaling and distributing jewelry companies that are located here. Tax incentives would subsidize rents low enough to allow Extell to poach existing tenants along 47th Street—not bring in new tenants or new jobs. This would concentrate businesses in one building and eliminate the lively street life that is such an attraction for tourists and shoppers alike. If the city wants to help our industry, it should help all of the businesses on 47th Street, not just one landlord.

Kenneth Kahn

Executive Manager

Coalition to Save the Diamond District


Hillary Fools No One

To the Editor:

Am I missing something, or is this charade just what it looks like: a mega-media politician trying to look like someone you would want to invite home for dinner [“Hometown Hillary Spends Stretch as Small-Town Girl,” Choire Sicha, Nov. 13]?

I loved Mr. Sicha’s piece, as it points out what a phony she really is. It might take a village to raise a family, but it doesn’t take a bit of intellect to figure out that Mrs. Clinton is totally trying to fool not only the people of New York, but also the country. She is in this horse race for the power, not to serve the people of New York. If she were interested in serving the people, she would have done a lot more to bring jobs to upstate New York, an area that is really struggling for viability. No, she goes and has her coffee and fries and pretends that she is one of them, but we know better. She is a major part of the Washington establishment and, most of all, interested in gaining as much power as the country will stand. We don’t want any part of her phoniness and disingenuousness.

Nancy Barell


Israel’s Growing Pain

To the Editor:

The readers of The New York Observer should know that the inclusion of Avigdor Lieberman and his racist policies and comments in the government of Israel produced a wave of nausea in most Israelis [“Israel’s Demographic Surgeon: The Lieberman Solution,” Joshua Mitnick, Nov. 13]. In surveys, Israelis consider Mr. Lieberman and Mr. Olmert to be the most corrupt ministers in the government. Israeli intellectuals, newspapers and talk radio led a valiant effort to prevent his inclusion, but sadly, it failed.

In my opinion, the Labor Party should have walked out of the government immediately. But many of the ministers shared Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog’s view, as stated in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz: “[T]he Labor Party will be erased if it leaves the government, whereas today it is in charge of such crucial matters as infrastructure, education and the Israeli Arab population …. I actually see a reverse process: Lieberman joins the center, loses his identity and is erased—and we have a chance to form various kinds of connections to a million Russian voters and to bring them into the mainstream.” Mr. Herzog and the other Labor ministers believe that Israel paid a heavy price over the last several years for the lack of the Labor Party’s participation in the government.

My idealism, which includes no tolerance for bigots, needs to be tempered by Israel’s present reality. Israel is a nation at war with the Palestinians, and possibly soon with Iran and Syria. Wartime is not the time for new elections. Political stability is not a luxury; it is a necessity during these perilous times for the state of Israel.

So forgive Israel its Strom Thurmond. We are only 58 years old and still experiencing growing pains in the establishment of our democracy. You can be sure that Israelis like me will not tolerate the implementation of his policies.

Laura Goldman

Tel Aviv, Israel