Sir, - "No more excuses" (October 19) started off with a no-nonsense account of the terrible price Israel is paying for being soft on Palestinian terrorism and criticized our leadership for this self-destructive pattern. Your editorial's conclusion, however, reverted to the old, spineless whining: "Abbas should be told that if he doesn't take real action he will not be propped up... a critical test of America's resolve...."
But what about our resolve? After pointing out that we have allowed Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority to bully us by murdering our children, your answer was that we should say: "You'd better stop it or else we're gonna tell on you to our big brother, and then maybe you won't get as much money! And this time we really mean it!"
But that's what we said last time. So should we now say "...and this time we really, really mean it!"?
Needed - from our newspapers and our submissive leaders - is a demand for some honest justice for our murdered children and shattered families.
Sir, - It is precisely the tepid response on the part of the government that allows the terrorists to continue murdering innocent Israelis. When will we finally take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of our citizens as they go about their daily routine? ("3 dead, 5 wounded in shooting attacks," October 17.)
JERRY AND SYLVIA DORTZ
Terrorists disarmed? Doesn't look like it
Sir, - In a letter to Mahmoud Abbas, Russia's President Putin reportedly urged him "not to allow a long pause in the peace process, for otherwise the positive dynamism... achieved with such difficulties might be lost." If Putin is so interested in the peace process why doesn't he call on Abbas "to disarm the lawless militant groups" as Washington should be demanding? Such a demand is the duty of all the peace-seeking world, including Arab and Muslim countries. Otherwise Israel will rightfully not continue the peace process.
Yet in "PA has no intention of disarming terror groups" (October 18) Jibril Rajoub stated: "There is no decision to collect [illegal] weapons, and we haven't taken any steps in this direction."
Sir, - It's apparent that Mahmoud Abbas has no intention of disarming Hamas or any other group that threatens the peace process. Israel must not make any further concessions until the PA agrees to a full disarming of the radical groups, including those affiliated with Abbas's Fatah party.
Sir, - Your page 1 headline for October 16 read: "Afghanistan to open ties with Israel in a few days." Next day's headline, page 5: "Afghanistan says ties with Israel not imminent."
Living lesson of Succot
Sir, - Thank you for your important article on the former Gush Katif residents ("A bitterly appropriate festival," Succot supplement, October 17). They are truly teaching us the lesson of Succot - of "leaving" our homes and maintaining our faith in God.
Among the many special organizations assisting these people the World Mizrachi Organization, led by Mssrs. Rothschild, Sheffer and Sacks, provided over 400 succot for ex-Gush Katif people not housed in hotels. This was made possible by Mizrachi's members and friends worldwide.
Sir, - Leonard Cooperman is sufficiently proud of himself to admit to disturbing a man during his prayers. Zealot? Hooligan is more like it ("Zealot's confession," Letters, October 17). He may not agree with certain parts of Maj.-Gen. Elazar Stern's private or public life, but to attack him during the High Holydays at the Kotel, while praying to the same God he worships, has no excuse.
Sir, - I am quite surprised that David Blunkett received an honorary doctorate from the University of Haifa ("University of Haifa honors British cabinet member," October 17). In December 2004 Mr. Blunkett resigned as home secretary after it emerged that he had fast-tracked a visa application for his ex-lover's nanny. Over the past fortnight he has been a popular feature in the British news media regarding his various lovers. And this week he admitted failure in achieving aims in reducing child poverty, an area under his responsibility as secretary of state for work and pensions.
One might think the University of Haifa would be more scrupulous in its vetting process for honorary degrees.
Why I'm proud to be a liberal
Sir, - I am surprised by those who claim that the liberal Left in the US and UK is anti-Israel and pro-Arab. Living in the US, having spent much time in Western Europe and being a liberal Lefty myself, I must take exception. While I admit there are those on the extreme Left who blame Israel for many of the problems in the Middle East ("Academics against Israel," October 19) most of us are squarely behind Israel and support that great nation in her ongoing struggle for peace.
The Reform and Conservative movements are both considered liberal groups, yet both wholeheartedly support Israel and the freedom she represents. I and many Diaspora Jews like me are deeply committed to our homeland and to the pursuit of peace and liberty for all men. The ideals of Judaism are those of peace, liberty from bondage, social responsibility and devotion to what is good and just and right. These are also the ideals of the liberal movement in the West.
Sure, there are a few bad apples, as in any group. But on the whole the liberal Left is a staunch supporter of Israel and I am proud to be both Liberal and Zionist.
Keep rattling that cage!
Sir, - Though not a parent, I am of Larry Derfner's generation and the situation he describes does sound out of whack ("Parental guidance? Give me a break," October 16).
It seems like the worst things that have happened in US society are being paralleled in Israel's: First the dummying down of the people; and second their willingness to follow blindly, or reluctantly, rather than go against prevailing trends, however stupid.
Here in the US it is becoming increasingly scary to look around and notice the often zombie-like behavior of parents, consumers and employees. I just always had this view of Israelis as being more outspoken and brash and less sheep-like than Americans, but the more I hear of modern life in Israel, the more I wonder about that.
So I salute Larry Derfner for shining light on the issue of parental over-involvement in the school system, as a leader rather than as a follower.
And I hope he'll keep rattling that cage, for the kids' sake. Because if their parents don't show them they needn't be blind followers, who will?
Sir, - Larry Derfner's piece hit home. Speaking from experience - as a mother of 12 - it all begins at pre-school level and becomes an intensive and expensive ordeal without consideration or respect for parents' personal, family or professional life. Pressures of time and money accelerate as other children from the same family unit begin their school experience.
At a recent parent-teacher meeting for three-year-olds - the third so far this year - the teacher proposed extra weekly music and sports for the children, at an additional NIS 850 per year, per child.
Thus the saga continues through elementary school.
My mother registered me in kindergarten and took me to school on the first day; and that was that. I made it through university, and then some. Now I'm on my way to a parent-children's "get-together" to pick cotton from 4:15 p.m. to whenever - plus we parents had to prepare and bring supper.
Give me a break!
Sir, - During Shabbat services at Lincoln Square Synagogue in Manhattan our rabbi, Shaul Robinson (ex-Barnet Synagogue, London), pointed out that Harold Pinter is not merely critical of Israel but virulently anti-Israel, taking any and every opportunity to bash Israel. "Pinter wins Nobel for literature" (October 14) didn't reflect Pinter's hatred of Israel.
When is a kippa not a kippa?
Sir, - A strange and disturbing change has occurred in the pages of the Post during the past few months. The English word "synagogue" has virtually disappeared from your pages to be replaced by the German/Yiddish "shul"; and the Hebrew kippa is now gone, the Russian/Yiddish "yarmulka" taking its place.
Yiddish was the language of Ashkenazi Jewry; the population of Israel is now mostly of Sephardi background. Non-Jewish transients who read the paper are likely to be flummoxed by "shul" and "yarmulka." Among readers of English, Yiddish is now spoken largely by haredim, who understand "synagogue" and "kippa." The battle between Yiddish and Hebrew was resolved over half a century ago.
To whom is this dismaying (and retro) change meant to appeal? Is it worthwhile, and - above all - why?
The Letters Editor responds: "Shul" is frequently used in headlines, captions and introductions, where short words are a virtue and often a necessity; otherwise "synagogue" tends to prevail. "Kippa" is the term of choice to describe the male head-covering, except in the International Edition, where it is felt that "yarmulka" is better understood outside Israel. Op-eds and Letters to the Editor respect their writers' preference; and, of course, in direct quotes throughout the paper a speaker's terminology is not changed.