President’s role

Sir, – Thank you, David M. Weinberg (“The second coming of Shimon Peres,” Observations, January 31).

I always knew that President Peres, being an elite leftist, was opposed to anything really Jewish, yet I was appalled that he actually came out and said it – that we don’t really need to be a Jewish state. I mean, if it is unnecessary to recognize us as a Jewish state, then it’s not important enough to even be a Jewish state.

So what are we all doing here? Why did I make aliya? Tell me that, Mr. President.

LAURIE BENTNER Tel Aviv

Sir, – Both David M. Weinberg and Sarah Honig (“Headliners without hankies,” Another Tack, January 31) suggest that our need for a president is nil. Most Israelis agree that there are too many discordant “official” voices coming from here, which causes confusion and consternation among many true friends abroad.

Our democratic American ally has a president but no prime minister, which works very well.

As a considerable amount of US language and culture has been adapted here, it would be an improvement if also we were to have their model and abolish the extra, unnecessary, costly and controversial presidency, which has been weighing on our backs for far too long.

Many are our politicians who are eager to conduct camera- covered pomp and circumstance ceremonies and VIP meetings at suitable venues instead of having an artificially- created “president” assume the role “by right.”

ESTER ZEITLIN Jerusalem

Palestinian sacrifices

Sir, – Reader Shosh Rina-Batarieh (“Name one!” Letters, January 31) asks if anyone can name “one, just one, sacrifice, large or small, that the Palestinians have made.”

It seems to me that enduring a long-term military occupation that entails checkpoint indignities, middle-of-the-night house searches, et al, would be sacrifice enough. Come to think of it, we Israelis have made sacrifices maintaining this occupation.

Isn’t it about time we and our Palestinian neighbors occupied ourselves? For starters, we might seek to “do unto others as we would have them do unto us,” a reputedly Jewish value, as I recall.

HADASSAH HASKALE Jerusalem

Waste of a trip

Sir, – Regarding “ANC delegation due in Israel to urge South Africans to vote” (January 30), does the ANC really expect former citizens to vote in that country’s elections? Most of us left our former homeland because of the crime and corruption there. I am positive that most of us expats are non-supportive of the present regime and shudder at the prospect of voting for it. Ugh! Even though I left South Africa long before the black takeover and probably would not have rights anyway, I consider myself not South African but Israeli.

DAVE NESHER-ADLER Kfar Saba

The real battle

Sir, – Efraim Karsh’s “Michael Oren misunderstands the obstacle to peace” (Comment & Features, January 30) brings to light just how poorly the Foreign Ministry represents our cause to the international community.

We live in a dangerous part of the world surrounded by those who wish to do away with our presence in their midst. If our country is to survive we must acknowledge our failure on the diplomatic front and better prepare those who represent us abroad.

Diplomacy must be our highest priority, for that is where the real battle is.

MALKA MANDELBAUM Jerusalem

Mahal clarity

Sir, – With regard to the letter from reader Joe Woolf (“More than just one,” January 30) about my piece “Emanuel Winston: Photographic memories” (Comment & Features, January 13), Sol Baskin was the sole commissioned Mahal officer serving in Ariel Sharon’s unit – he was Sharon’s commanding officer – during the War of Independence, and not the sole commissioned officer in all of Mahal, as I inadvertently wrote.

More power to all the brave men and officers who came from America and other countries to serve Israel’s birth of a nation when seven Arab armies attacked her.

GAIL WINSTON Mevaseret Zion

Not the bad guys

Sir, – I have been mulling over “Do not imperil the Jewish communities outside Israel” (Comment & Features, January 28) for some days. It seems that once again there are Jews who really believe that we are the bad people because the press and the Palestinian propaganda machine would have the world believe it is so.

No, sirs, we are not responsible for the anti-Semitic acts committed all over the world. In fact, even the Palestinians know that if there were an earthquake or a flood in Gaza we would be the first to provide aid, even though we know that the next day would bring a hail of rockets on us.

We are not the enemy, believe me, but the world is being duped and there are only a few good men and women who are brave enough to say so.

FREYA BINENFELD Petah Tikva

No more monuments Sir, – I feel I have to reply to “Report: Israel has only five years left for a nationwide push to aid Holocaust survivors” (January 27).

The report’s authors are quite right, but where have they been for the last I don’t know how many years? It is indeed a national disgrace that there are survivors struggling to survive. These people went through hell and the money was to compensate them for this.

What difference did it make as to how much they earned or didn’t earn? This was compensation for a part of their lives that would affect them forever.

Why were they made to fill in forms time after time and have to relive the past each time? Many of them didn’t know their rights, and I am sure they missed out on what was due them. Surely the official government file should have been enough.

I know that many well-intentioned volunteers worked for the various organizations, but it should have been under one roof.

It caused misery for thousands.

I hope those at the top who have been responsible for the distribution of the vast sums of money will be able to meet their Maker with a clear conscience.

They know who they are.

Do something now! We don’t need any more monuments!

CAROLE OFFER Holon
The writer is the widow of a Holocaust survivor

Sir, – On January 27, Channel 1 presented a remarkable interview with pianist Alice Hertz Sommer, 110 years old and living in London.

She spoke of her life, especially her experiences in the Terezín concentration camp near Prague.

In this moving interview she mentioned her good friend, pianist Edith Kraus-Bloedy (at the time Kraus-Steiner). Both gave numerous concerts to large audiences at Terezín, which were deeply moved and strengthened by this contact with great classical music. Kraus-Bloedy said she gave some 300 concerts for the suffering prisoners, some like her Bach program, many times.

Both pianists came to Israel after the war.

After she retired from the Tel Aviv Music Academy, Kraus- Bloedy devoted herself mainly to performing music by the Czech and Terezín composers Ullmann and Haas, who were murdered in 1944. Some of this music was recorded on two CDs.

Edith was in weekly contact by phone with Alice. She died in Jerusalem at age 100 last September 3.

These two noble spirits deserve our greatest admiration. They will be forever inspiring.

BATHIA CHURGIN Kiryat Ono
The writer is professor emeritus in the music department at Bar- Ilan University

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