Peretz wins, democracy wins...
Sir, - The defeat of Shimon Peres in the Labor primary was a victory for Israeli democracy ("Surprise, surprise," November 11). The unlikely Peres-Sharon combination was an oxymoron, engineered by Sharon to enable his government to stay in power.
Now, with Labor out from under the Sharon umbrella and early elections looming, there will be a much more vigorous contest and the Israeli voter will have a much clearer choice.
Massapequa Park, New York
Sir, - Amir Peretz's victory is what was needed to save the Labor Party from disappearing. Now Israelis have a real choice in the next election. Win or lose, Amir Peretz is the first real leader that Labor has had in 30 years; too many of his predecessors were jobniks who would compromise any principle for a seat in the halls of power. Peretz has shown that his interest is the people of Israel and not the possession of power. Today the Labor party is no longer the possession of the vatik from Eastern Europe. For the first time it is a party of all of the people.
...but Labor will lose
Sir, - While Amir Peretz, a relative newcomer to Labor Party politics, managed to defeat the legendary grand master of the party machine; and may also inflict an unexpected defeat on Ariel Sharon's government ("PM, Peretz mull elections in 4 months," November 11), if Peretz continues to flog his antiquated and failed statist economic policies, he will probably achieve a worse electoral debacle than that of Amram Mitzna.
KENNETH S. BESIG
Sir, - The ascent of Amir Peretz at a time when Israel's economy is showing signs of growth and recovery is a disaster. Forget about the Palestinian territories, this guy is a socialist and Socialism is bankrupt.
Don't he and his supporters realize that raising the minimum wage, to take just one important example, would destroy jobs and hurt the very people he claims to be helping? Making labor more expensive results in higher costs of goods and fewer purchases. Fewer businesses will thrive. Tax-and-spend will abort the current recovery. I fear for Israel if he prevails.
Sir, - I'm shocked at the results of the Labor leadership race. I haven't seen any mention of the irresponsible behavior of Amir Peretz when he was Histadrut chairman, in creating havoc with his frequent nation-wide strikes, which cost the government millions of shekels. Is it possible for anyone to rely on him to act for the benefit of our country?
...or will it?
Sir, - The victory of Amir Peretz is nothing less than a political earthquake. It's as though the Pied Piper of Sderot has come to lead his flock of development-town citizens (as well as the rest of us) to glory! I can recall only one other political event of equal force: when Labor's "fat cats" were thrown out of office by Menachem Begin and his newly created Likud party. The victors, supported by the populace of the neglected development towns, defeated the previously unbeatable office-holders.
Peretz appeals to those in development towns, whom he calls his brothers, and I believe they will follow him to a great victory in the coming election.
Sir, - After the stunning success of Amir Peretz in the Labor primaries, what he needs most of all is time: Time to consolidate his position within the Labor Party and time to explain his ideology to the Israeli public. What he does not need now is new elections in four months.
Sir, - Shimon Peres is a lucky man. He has a nice, cozy apartment to go home to. Even better - he can stay there ("Peres, humiliated, takes a time-out," November 11).
Not like the people who used to live in Gush Katif. They do not have any nice and cozy homes to return to any more, since Peres supported taking everything away from them.
Kibbutz Ein Harod
Order in the court
Sir, - Justice Barak's remarks that Prof. Gavison's agenda "looks bad to me because it goes counter to what I believe the court must do at this point in time," are remarkable. His statement shows that the purpose of the court is to advance a particular "political" agenda rather than to adjudicate matters of law. Since the court's judges are not elected, this is clearly an inappropriate statement and policy.
It would seem that politics trumps justice.
Sir, - If I wished to state a case for appointing Prof. Gavison to the Supreme Court, I could not have done so more eloquently than Justice Barak did in stating his reasons for opposing her appointment. Apparently Barak believes that all are entitled to their own opinions, as long as they conform to his.
Fact vs truth
Sir, - The headline "50% say Rabin was right on Oslo," (November 9) could just as easily have stated that "50% say he was wrong." Semantics may be picking nits in many cases, but here we are talking about the results of a life-and-death process. Tragically, mostly death has resulted so far. Don Quixote was quoted as saying "facts are an enemy of the truth."
Please Israel open your eyes to the truth.
Sir, - Am I callous to ask what is so special about the terrorist bombings in Amman that made CNN and BBC give it such blanket coverage? They didn't do likewise after bombings in Haifa, Sbarro, the Dolphinarium, the Park Hotel, Tel Aviv, etc. ("Abdullah vows to pull the terrorists from their holes," November 11).
Perhaps it was because there were "only" a relatively small number of victims in each of the Israel-based attacks. However, altogether, the Foreign Ministry lists over 1,000 Israeli civilians killed in terrorist attacks since 2000.
What happened in Jordan is terrible, but if the world had paid a little more attention to what terrorism has done to us, and condemned it the way they are reacting now, they might not have had to deal with Amman, Sinai, London, Madrid and, who knows, even New York.
Ramat Beit Shemesh
Sir, - According to former president Bill Clinton, Diaspora Jews and friends of Israel "have a special responsibility to give financial, moral and technical support to the Palestinian people to help the Gaza gamble succeed and to the Israelis to give them time to sort through their political situation," ("Clinton: Unilateralism not the answer," November 13). I find the above statement most disturbing. The help to the Palestinian people should be coming first and foremost from the Arab countries in the region. These nations should not be looking the other way.
Sir, - Former president Clinton has it all wrong when it comes to the Jewish Diaspora assisting the Palestinians of Gaza. What he is suggesting is the perpetuation of of an entitlement society. Rather, he should be suggesting that the Palestinian Diaspora get involved both physically and financially to convert Gaza from a social welfare state into a productive, stable, self-sufficient economy that will be home for the hundreds of thousands disenfranchised Palestinians living in numerous Arab countries.
Sir, - While the cause of Yasser Arafat's death may require investigation ("PA seeks new probe of Arafat's death," November 11), his practices while alive are no less worthy of inquiry. Yasser Arafat had a disturbing history of financial corruption. The November 22, 2004 issue of Time magazine reported on Arafat's financial empire and pegged it as being worth some $3 billion. Don't the Palestinians want their money back?
Sir, - I was really relieved to read about the "official" marking of the death of Simon Wiesenthal by MKs and ambassadors ("Israel finally honors Wiesenthal," November 10).
Why not commemorate Wiesenthal by naming some places after him? Indeed, the idea of renaming the German Colony to honor him is excellent ("German colony," Letters, November 9). There are German colonies all over the country. The one in Haifa in particular has been beautifully renovated, with the cleaning up of all the German plaques and making the houses look better than new.
Please, somebody out there, take care of the precious memory of Simon Wiesenthal.
Sir, - The fact that Rabbi David Rosen was the first Israeli citizen and the first Orthodox rabbi to be invested with a papal knighthood ("Rabbi David Rosen of the AJC invested with papal knighthood," November 4) reminds me of the Pessah seder night: Why is this knight different from all other knights?
Scene of the shrine
Sir, - When last in Israel, we stumbled across the Rabbi Uziel Amuka Shrine. Partly as we had seen so few tombs, shrines, memorials or commemorative spots of any kind dedicated to women, my wife (at the time, girlfriend) took great joy in hanging out at this pretty shrine dedicated to women.
I was shocked upon return because it is now a filthy, rubbish-strewn pit, suffering from great neglect. I can't imagine a worse scene for one of the few places in this country dedicated solely to women.
I'm not sure which authority is responsible for the upkeep of this area, but it is obviously not being afforded the resources it needs. Cynically, we noticed the dozens of shrines and tombs which commemorate men seem immaculate. Something seems out of whack here.